Writers: First Paragraph Essentials

Sunrise, photo by Norm Arnold Photography
Begin your new day and your new opening with fresh eyes until you "get it right."
How many times have you written and rewritten the first paragraph of your first chapter? Ten, twenty, fifty times? Stephen King has said he words and rewords his opening paragraphs over weeks, months, and even years: "If I can get that first paragraph right, I'll know I can do the book." What are the essentials of the first line and first paragraph that will entice your reader to want more?

An Opening Checklist
The opening of a novel must accomplish a lot in as few words as possible. When I'm starting a new book, I prop before me Linda Sue Park's book, When My Name was Keoko, to use as a model. Of course, my book is completely different from hers, but the stage is set for her entire book by the middle of page two, and I work to accomplish this as early as possible in my book, following her example.

Park's book is told in alternating sections by Sun-hee and her brother, Tae-yul.

  • Consider the first line: "It's only a rumor," Abuji said as I cleared the table. "They'll never carry it out." Are you in? This first line makes you wonder: Who is Abuji? What is the rumor? Who is 'they'? And what won't they carry out? Without a doubt, trouble is brewing.
  • Consider the second line: "My father wasn't talking to me, of course. He was talking to Uncle and my brother, Tae-yul, as they sat around the low table after dinner, drinking tea." The main characters are introduced simply and succinctly. Page 1 to middle of page 2 add more information to explain what the book is about. In the middle of page 2, the main character's problem is expressed in plain language: "Nobody ever told me anything. I always had to find out for myself. But at least I was good at it. You had to do two opposite things: be quiet and ask questions. And you had to know when to be quiet and who to ask."
  • By the end of this first section, on page 4, the problem that the book addresses is explained. From page 1-4, the story is told by Sun-hee but her name is given only once, as a kind of chapter heading: 1. Sun-hee (1940), and once is enough. Numbering the chapters alternately, first Sun-hee talks, then Tae-yul, is unique and a great way to tell the story.
  • The setting is established early and by the middle of page 2 the reader cares about Sun-hee.  

Sage Advice from Stephen King
When Stephen King writes a first draft, he just writes. So, I understand this to mean that crafting comes with revision. And to draw your reader in, your opening line "should say: Listen. Come in here. You want to know this." He doesn't necessarily agree with advice many hear: to open a book in the middle of "a dramatic or compelling situation, because right away you engage the reader's interest."--called the "hook". He says that's true to a point. But the opening needs to accomplish more with few words, as Linda Sue Park's opening first line did. The opening introduces the writer's style, and more important, the writer's voice. King thinks readers "come for the voice." To find out more of Stephen King's advice and many examples that he offers on first paragraphs that he thinks are great, please go to: A July, 2013 article in The Atlantic.

A Personal Note
I started this post believing that the first paragraph of my WIP was finished. I began reading it and, a la Stephen King, wasn't happy. It is now revised for the umpteenth time. Was this the last revision? I can't say. But I must keep working until "I can get that first paragraph right."

Photo courtesy of Norm Arnold Photography: http://photos.normjr.com/Daily-Photos-from-daily-emails/

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 has completed her first book, a mystery/ghost story for children 7-11 years old, and is hard at work on Book Two in the series.  Follow Linda at www.lindawilsonauthor.com.

Writing a Premise Statement & More

Creating a good Premise Statement will guide the composition of your story or non-fiction piece. The premise is usually one or two sentences that describe the relevant facts. A Log Line is another name for a Premise Statement. It is a powerful key to what you’re writing about at its core. It gives a sense of the entire article: characters, setting, tone, and consequences.

It is hard to condense the focus and significance of a story or book into one or two sentences, but readers expect a preview to decide whether they would be interested in reading further or not. Readers want a piece to intrigue them enough them to say, “Looks good! I have to read this book.”

The premise or log line describes the main character or idea, the situation or setting, the conflict or risks, and the goal.

Now we can expand our premise to a summary. 

The premise, log line and summary are essential to marketing your article or novel. You will use them for your query letter, your book cover and promotion pieces.

A novel summary introduces the main character, and identifies what he or she wants to achieve. Followed by a description of the obstacles (first, second, third and ending crisis) that stand in her path for success. The summary will likely be five or six sentences long.

The format for an article or non-fiction work starts with introducing the purpose as the thesis, followed by one sentence for each major supporting point, and a sentence to describe that point. The concluding sentence re-states the thesis in similar words. The summary will be six to eight sentences in length for a three-point thesis.

Study movie or TV show summaries to become acquainted with how they are composed. Most summarize the main story line, crisis, and goal in one paragraph.  However, others are laboriously long and are better categorized as a synopsis that covers all from beginning to end.  

Deborah Lyn Stanley is a writer, artist, and editor.  She is a retired project manager who now devotes her time to writing, art and caregiving mentally impaired seniors.  Deborah writes articles, essays and stories. She has published a collection of 24 artists’ interviews entitled the Artists Interview Series.  Careful editing preserves each artist’s voice as they share their journey. The series published as monthly articles for an online news network, can also be found on her web-blog: Deborah Lyn Stanley--My Writer's Life .  Her “How-To” articles have appeared in magazines.
“Write your best, in your voice, your way!”

Preparing for Nano--Writing Tools to Help

Get ready for Nano

Image courtesy of punsayaporn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
The real Nano die-hards will have been setting themselves up for success for almost a month now. The plotters will have a flexible scheme of work, chapter headings, a synopsis and maybe even a blurb at the ready for the off on November 1.

The Pantsers will have character sketches of their main protagonists loaded with virtues and flaws--all motivated toward meaningful conflict.

But, whether it's for Nano or any other time of the year that you'd like to challenge yourself, let battle commence.

When Inspiration Flags

Look to writing software for help. Most writers now have heard of Scrivener but despite its wonderfully detailed manual, it has so many bells and whistles that it can seem a very steep learning curve. Find help from Gwen Hernandez, who is one of the renowned go-to tutors when you're struggling to profit from the software. The articles listed under Scrivener Help on her blog include several which focus on the usefulness of the software when accepting the challenge to write the statutory 50,000 words in November.

Scrivener does have a 30 day free trial to give you a chance to decide whether you find it useful or not.

If you are a visual learner you may find yourself opting for the new  program on the block. StoryShop developed by the Indie legends who make up Sterling and Stone has a strong visual base to help you see your story develop as you write. it has a 7-day all access pass but you can keep using the writing tool for free after that.

Scapple from the Scrivener stable is a beautifully easy mind mapper/text editor where you simply drop and drag items to connect them. Another helpful notebook and list organizer is WorkFlowy which comes highly recommended by many writers although I have not myself used it.

Another great book writing tool, which has been noted by Reedsy and Nanowrimo as one of the best tools to write books, is 

Speed up Your Writing

Image courtesy of Master isolated images at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Voice recognition software has come a long way since the earliest versions of Dragon. It does depend on your training it to recognize your voice and vocabulary. I suggest you read your articles or writing if asked to do this while training rather than giving access to your emails or documents.

For the writer on a budget, the new Google add-ons for Chrome are amazingly good--at least they suit me. You can upload the printed text to Google docs then download from there to your own computer.

Windows 10 has its own Speech Recognition option built in. Click on Ease of Access in the Control Panel and you will find the option to start it and to set up  a microphone if you wish to do so.

It certainly speeds up the writing, saves fingers and muscular strain.

What are your favorite aids for writing? Please share your ideas in the comments below.

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

Publishing Requires Advanced Planning

I started my writing career in the newspaper world. The deadlines were steep but it was an exciting experience as a writer. We’d have editorial meetings in the morning, get our story assignments, have an 11 am deadline to write and  turn in our story. Then we would read it in the afternoon newspaper.

Magazines are a little slower with working two to six months ahead on the various issues. As a writer you should understand that December issues are generally put together in July. You have to plan ahead for such issues—and the writer has to know about it to pitch appropriate seasonal stories.

Books are the slowest. Sometimes a book will take 18 to 24 months after it is contracted to get published. As a writer such information will feed into the planning of your publishing.

For Writers on the Move, I write once a month. I want to give you an opportunity to help me celebrate an amazing milestone. Billy Graham will turn 99 on November 7th. For the last six decades, Mr Graham has been on the list of the most admired men in America. He has mostly disappeared from the public eye except for rare occasions. I’m encouraging you to wish Mr. Graham a Happy Birthday and I want to give you some tools and ideas for those wishes. I’ve prepared a series of social media posts and some images that you can use at:

Beyond this advanced planning to celebrate Mr. Graham’s birthday. I’ve been working on the audiobook version of my book. You can hear the retail sample of the book here and even use this link to encourage your local library to order the book.

If you hear this sample, you will know that it is not my voice but Andrew L Barnes, an experienced audiobook specialist. As I wrote about recently here, audiobooks continue to explode in the book world and I’m happy to announce my book’s availability in audio.

How is advanced planning affecting your writing? Let me know in the comment section below.


W. Terry Whalin is an acquisitions editor at Morgan James Publishing. He has written for more than 50 magazines and published more than 60 books for traditional publishers including his latest Billy Graham, A Biography of America's Greatest Evangelist. Terry is active on Twitter and lives in Colorado. 

The Small Home-Grown Book Publisher - The Pros and Cons

I'm thrilled to announce that I have an article up at Writer's Digest!

It's about the pros and cons of working with very small book publishers. What I mean by "very small" is the publishers that are primarily one-man or one-woman businesses.

While these home-grown publishers can be a life-saver for the new author and certainly do have benefits, there are a few things to be aware of before jumping in.

Here's the very beginning:

As a new author or even if you have one or two books under your self-publishing belt, you may be thinking of entering the traditional publishing arena.

I’ve been there and have had my share of rejections from the larger well-known publishing houses.>

But, I didn’t let that discourage me … well, not entirely.

While disappointed, I dug in my heels and attended writers conferences and joined writing groups. In one of the online conferences I attended, small publishers were on hand to take pitches from authors. Naturally, I took advantage of this opportunity. I gave my pitch and the owner of the publishing house asked to see my manuscript.

Excitement, excitement.

Check out the full article - it has very helpful information and insights into publishing with a home-grown publisher:

The Pros and Cons of Publishing with a Small Publisher

HEY! While you're there, please SHARE!

Karen Cioffi is an award-winning children's author, children's ghostwriter, and author online marketing instructor with WOW! Women on Writing.

For writing tips or help with your children's story visit Karen Cioffi Writing for Children

Freelance Writing - How to Tell if It's Right for You

If you love to write, your own freelance writing business probably sounds like the best job in the world.

And it can be.

But it's a good idea to find out if you're really cut out for the freelance writer's life BEFORE you invest too much time, energy, and money starting your career as a freelance writer.

Here are six questions to ask yourself if you're thinking of starting a freelance writing career.

1. Can you juggle?

No, I'm not talking about throwing things up in the air and keeping them from falling to the ground.

Although, that isn't too far off the mark for freelance writers.

What I'm talking about is managing a variety of different tasks during any given workday.

Full time freelance writers are always looking for new assignments and working on current assignments.

This means they need to manage a variety of tasks each day.

If they spend all their time working on an assignment, with NO time searching for new assignments, pretty soon the work dries up and the paychecks stop rolling in.

They have to be able to balance their time so they complete assignments on schedule and always have a steady stream of new assignments coming in.

If you want to become a successful freelance writer, get good at juggling!

2. Do you like to spend a lot of time alone?

Many people SAY they want to write a book.

But when it gets right down to it, very few of these people are willing to sit down at the computer and spend the hours and hours it takes to complete such a big project.

It's just too lonely.

Yet, if you want to earn a substantial income as a freelance writer, you will probably need to get used to spending at least several hours alone at the computer each day.

But you can take on smaller projects that take less time than books.

Write articles for magazines, become a professional blogger, write short children's stories and picture books.

Set aside short time frames throughout the day to work on your assignments.

Then, schedule an hour or so with friends or family during the day so you don't become a total recluse.

However, if you just can't sit still long enough to even write a grocery list, then freelance writing will feel more like constantly having a homework assignment hanging over your head than a dream job.

3. How do you handle deadlines?

If you can't handle deadlines, then freelance writing is probably not for you.

Editors generally tend to take their time getting back to writers with assignments.

But when they do finally give a writer an assignment, they usually want it fairly soon.

As a writer, you need to get used to fast turnaround of your work.

You also need to get used to working on many projects—all with different deadlines—all at once.

If you don't like deadlines, then freelance writing will drive you nuts!

4. How well do you take direction?

Many writers long to tell their story.

But professional writers learn to work with editors who can help turn these stories into marketable manuscripts.

If you think everything you write should be published AS IS, then professional freelance writing won't make you happy because you'll constantly be complaining about having to make an editor's requested revisions to your articles and stories.

5. How do you handle rejection?

Freelance writing is a business.

As such, your writing is a product.

To make a living from writing, you have to see that your product finds its way to the right customer or buyer.

It's as simple as that.

Sometimes your work can be well written yet it still does not meet the needs of a particular publisher.

Professional freelance writers quickly get used to constantly submitting a variety of queries and completed manuscripts to publishers, fully realizing that any or all of these materials will probably be rejected at least a few times before they make their way to the right buyer.

If rejection makes you take to your bed for weeks, then you'd better toughen up—or find another line of work.

6. Does talking about money/payment make you squeamish?

Like I said, freelance writing is a business.

As with any business, you expect to be paid for your products or services.

Yet, many writers have an underlying belief that writing is a noble profession and it's wrong to ask for and expect to be well paid for such a service.

If you believe this you'll be taken advantage of as a writer.

You'll either end up writing for free or you'll be underpaid all the time.

You'd be better off working at something you feel comfortable getting paid for.

As you can tell, freelance writing is NOT a dream job for everyone.

Yet, for people who like to juggle and revise, don't mind deadlines or spending time alone, can handle rejection, and feel they should be well paid for their work, writing can be a great way to make a living—and a life!

Suzanne Lieurance is a freelance writer, the author of over 30 published books, and a writing coach.

Visit her online at www.writebythesea.com.

Twitter Chats 101

Want to step up your game on Twitter? Explore Twitter chats. They are a great way to meet new people, learn new things, and expand your network.

What is a Twitter Chat

A Twitter chat is a conversation on Twitter, noted by a particular hashtag. It usually revolves around a certain topic, and is hosted by the same person or group of people at the same time every week. While some are run by big brands, many are organized by individuals (experts, consultants, bloggers), who share a passion for a particular topic. 

Many Twitter chats have special guests who answer questions from the hosts. The format is simple. Q1 with a question is tweeted and people reply with A1 and then the response. Attendees are welcome to add there two cents - 140 characters - as well. Btw, not even addressing the news that Twitter is testing out expanding to 280 characters. Twitter will always be 140 characters to me.

You can use a website, like TweetChat, or a tool, such as Hootsuite. For TweetChat, type in the hashtag and then click to enter the conversation. It's very easy to reply and retweet messages. Plus your hashtag is automatically added at the end of each tweet. For Hootsuite, simply add a column with the hashtag you want to follow.

How to Find Twitter Chats

There are several different Twitter chat master lists, like this one from TweetReports and the Kneaver Chat Directory. Search the page for one of your keywords or read through the lists to see what appeals to you. Another way to find a specific type of Twitter chat is to simply search your topic of interest and then "Twitter chat." For instance, search for "Twitter Chats Writing" or "Marketing Twitter Chats," and you will find lists of top chats on the topic. 

Once you see a few chats that interest you, test them out. Make appointments with yourself to try one or two chats a week until you land on a few good ones to join regularly. 

Chat Etiquette

Before you get started, here are a few things to keep in mind.

- Follow the hosts. This is something you can do before you even get to a chat. Find the hosts, follow them, and tweet that you are looking forward to their chat. You may want to retweet some of their tweets prior to the chat.

- Follow the guests. Follow the special guests, as well. And if they give you other ways to connect, like on LinkedIn, you might as well do that too. Just add a note that you met them on this chat.

- Introduce yourself. Usually at the beginning of the chat the host allows time to introduce yourself with some sort of ice breaker. Jump on in. 

- Observe. You may just want to read the tweets your first chat or two. As I previously mentioned, attendees are typically welcome to reply. However, depending on how fast the chat, you may find it easier to watch the chat and retweet the responses that mirror your beliefs.

- Engage. When you are comfortable, answer questions and reply to others in the chat. You will likely want to follow the other attendees and continue your Twitter conversations outside of the chat.

- Do Not Self-Promote. Twitter chats are all about having conversations and sharing information. Unless there is a specific request, keep your promos and sales pitches out of the chat thread.

- Have fun. Like everything in social media and writing, Twitter chats are supposed to be fun. Share the things that get you excited about your industry and specialty. You'll make a great impression, which is also kind of the point. 

Examples aka My Recent Twitter Chats

I was lucky enough to be a guest on three Twitter chats recently. I tweeted about Getting Unstuck on #MediaChat, Mobile Tools for Writers on #MobileChat, and How to Improve your Productivity and Time Management on #TwitterSmarterI embedded the links for the questions and my answers, as well as some of the responses from the communities, in the recaps. Just click the links.

Also, on Monday, October 16, at 12pm Pacific Time, I will be a guest on #ContentChat, talking about Goal Setting for Bloggers. It will be a blast, so feel free to join in.

* * *

If you want to meet and connect with leaders in your industry, why not give Twitter chats a try. They also give others a chance to meet you. And you never know where these new relationships might lead. 

What do you think? Have you participated in Twitter chats? Which ones do you like? Please share in the comments.

* * *

Debra Eckerling is a writer, editor and project catalyst, as well as founder of Write On Online, a live and online writers’ support group. Like the Write On Online Facebook Page and join the Facebook 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.

A New Tool for Submitting Your Work

For all you writers out there submitting short stories, non-fiction, flash fiction, or poetry to literary magazines, I thought I’d share a new tool I found. It’s a (relatively) new feature on Submittable, and it’s called “Discover.”

What's Submittable?

If you submit your work a lot, you almost certainly already have a Submittable (formerly Submishmash) account. Skip to the next paragraph. For those of you who don’t know about Submittable, it’s a submission platform that many literary magazines use nowadays. On their website they’ll link to their Submittable page, and if you’re already logged in, you just need to fill in some basic information, paste in a cover letter if required, and upload your document. It also gives you a handy dashboard of all your submissions, the dates, results, etc. Accounts are free and some magazines will only accept submissions this way.

The New Tool:

The new Discover feature lists magazines that use Submittable and have open calls for submissions.  The listings don’t have quite enough information for my tastes. For example, they don’t break it down into paying and non-paying markets. You can’t filter by type of submission or other important factors, such “for locals only” restrictions or calls for the visual arts. It also includes opportunities such as writer's residencies. There are quite a few markets that charge reading fees or contest entry fees. So it’s a bit laborious. 

Why it's Cool:

Despite its limitations, the key is that these markets are all currently OPEN, and the listings clearly indicate when they close. Since temporarily closed markets are one of the big obstacles I run into when submitting my work, I think this is useful.

Check it out and see if you like it:

Here's a little screen shot of calls closing today:

Melinda Brasher's fiction appears in Nous Electric SpecIntergalactic Medicine Show, and other magazines  For an e-book collection of some of her favorite published pieces, check out Leaving Home.  

Her newest book, Cruising Alaska on a Budget; a Cruise and Port Guide helps budget travelers plan a trip to majestic Alaska.  Visit her online at http://www.melindabrasher.com.

Write What You Know or Write What You Love?

When they say write what you know, do you feel energized or stuck?

Sometimes the things we know best aren’t really the things we want to write about as authors. Take me for instance, I worked as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor for 10 years and always knew I wanted to be a published author. I, at first, considered writing a Self Help book because I was trying to follow the old adage of writing what I know. Maybe it would have been a very helpful self-help book and a best seller but it just wasn’t my passion (helping people is my passion but not writing a self-help book).

Anyway, I then changed professions slightly and became a High School Guidance Counselor. This fit in better with my family life and I enjoyed having summers off with my daughter. Again, I could write a book about the 7 Sure-Fire Ways of Getting Your Child into the College They Want but it’s not my passion. I love helping kids get into the college of their dreams, mind you, but not writing about it.

I was lost as to how to write what I know. So, I just mucked around for a while.

One day a kind friend encouraged me to write what I love. Ah—there you go! It’s all about the passion, not the head knowledge. Well, at least for me it is. And lo and behold a book idea came to me one night or early morning just as I was waking up called The Lilac Princess. I wrote as fast and as furious as I could and completed the essential story in a couple of hours. Let me just say I write children’s books—they’re not super long.

What was really incredible to me about this is that the story just flowed out of me. Not only that but it has a very positive message embedded in a fun magical adventure story—the message of forgiveness. I found my way to help people (the little ones we call children). I had gotten unstuck! All because of one simple change—moving from writing what I know, to writing what I love.

You can get unstuck too. 

Think about what really excites you, what makes you happy, and what you enjoy reading yourself. Make a list of all the things that you are passionate about. I’m sure a fabulous story will bubble up from inside you that has been buried there because you were trying to do something that just didn’t fit for you.

Find your passion, find your story! Do it today.

Please share with me your ideas, insights, and passions.

Wanda Luthman has her Masters of Arts in both Mental Health Counseling and Guidance Counseling from Rollins College located in beautiful Winter Park, Florida. She has worked as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, Adjunct Professor, and Hospice Counselor for teens. She’s currently a Guidance Counselor at a local High School. She is an award-winning, best-selling, international author who has self-published 4 children’s books (The Lilac Princess, A Turtle’s Magical Adventure, Gloria and the Unicorn, and Little Birdie). She belongs to the National Pen Women Organization in Cape Canaveral; the Florida’s Writers Association; Space Coast Authors; and Brevard Authors Forum. She presently resides in Brevard County Florida with her husband of 22 years and 2 dogs. Her daughter is away at college, like Little Birdie, she has left the nest. To download a free ebook, visit Wanda Luthman’s website at www.wandaluthmanwordpress.com and follow her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/wluthman.

Hoping to Inspire You to Give Back to the Publishing Industry

Early Year Resolutions: 
Tis the Season for Supporting the Industry

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Aha! You may not not be aware of it, but it's resolution time!

It's resolution time so you don't miss an opportunity to support the book industry.

I love to give authors advice on setting goals for the New Year. Here’s the thing: I’ve done that and—in the doing of it—realize that no one author can help another set goals because each author and each title is so different. And I also realize that it's easier if we start thinking about how we can help now,
rather than on January 1st.

I gave authors a whole book of possible resolutions when I finished the second edition of TheFrugal Book Promoter. I got general and told authors to pick and choose their goals from the book. That they wouldn’t be able to do everything that is in it to help themselves and their industry--and that they shouldn’t. I mean the whole idea behind writing that book was to keep other authors from falling in the same potholes I did. I advised them to choose promotions based on their personalities, the titles of their books (different books call for different kinds of marketing campaigns!), and the health of their pocketbooks.

The same goes for your early resolutions. Each of us is different. Still, I’m tackling this subject because I do think there is one thing that almost every author could and should put on his or her resolution list. Are you ready?

Number one is: Buy books!

I often get e-mails from authors saying that their fellow authors don’t buy their books. And I do understand how that can happen. The longer we’ve been writing, the more author-friends we have and, at some point it’s impossible to support them all. Having said that, we as authors shouldn’t expect fellow authors to buy books that don’t interest them. Books they don’t have time for. Or books that aren’t published the way they want to read them (paperback or e-books, anyone?)  That’s why we promote rather than just depending on friends and relatives—which, after all, isn’t the biggest pool of buyers in the world.

Still, we authors should buy some books each year and I think we should set aside a budget for that. It’s about Zen. It’s about supporting the industry that we expect to support us. I even tell authors that they shouldn’t limit themselves to buying only my book on, say, editing or book proposals or wordtrippers or the marketing of books. Even authors who have read extensively on a particular subject may very well get new ideas from a book on a similar subject or be inspired by it.

But there are other ways to support our industry besides buying books we want to (or need to) read. Authors on strict budgets should find books make relatively inexpensive gifts for holiday giving, for hostess and thank you gifts, for birthdays, and even to give to business associates on appropriate occasions.

We all know that we tend to get lax with our resolutions. So, to make your “Buy Books” resolution work all year, go to your gift-giving list for last year and see how many people on that list could get the gift of reading in this year instead of something that will be promptly tossed in the Goodwill bin or re-gifted. Staple your gift list to your resolution list. And then make another resolution to read your resolutions and that attached list of gift-giving idea list at least once a month.

Heck, you could even give your own book to folks on that list. You are proud of it, aren’t you?
If every author gave books as gifts, I could see a bright, shiny year ahead. A year where agents take on more clients because more publishers are selling more books. And when that happens, just think! Books will be the gifts that keep giving. Books will be the gifts that give back!

Here's another, less expensive gift to the industry. Nominate a few helpful websites, blogs, and newsletters for a Writer's Digest 101 Best Websites nod. I would love it if you'd include mine among them but there are many other great ones, too.

One of my favorites is Joan Stewart’s Publicity Hound (Letting you know about it is sort of my holiday gift to you. It offers ideas from other industries that authors can easily apply to their own campaigns.) 

Here are Writer's Digest suggested categories for nominations, just to help you get your thinking cap on:

Agent Blogs
Writing Communities
Publishing Resources
Jobs and Markets
Creativity and Challenges
General Resources
Fun for Writers
This WritersontheMove blog

Send comments and nominations for next year’s list to writersdigest@fwmedia.com with “101 Websites” in the subject line (deadline is Jan. 1, of each year. Learn more at

My SharingwithWriters.blogspot.com is a 101 Best Website pick and Ithank readers who support the industry for that. If you read or just love to pile sweet-smelling books on the stand near your bed, a nomination like this is one of the best gifts you can give.  Second only to reviewing a book you love or think will help others on Amazon.

Please let me know if you buy books, nominate literary websites for awards, or pass along books you love via reviews. I would like to thank you and mention your favorites in my newsletter.  It's part of the marketing fun, part of helping one another, part of the way to keep our marketing efforts rolling along. Part of our industry-aiding resolution putsch.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson is the author of the multi award-winning series of HowToDoItFrugally books, a series for writers and a series for retailers. Learn more about them at http://HowToDoItFrugally.com. You can subscribe to her #SharingwithWriters newsletter in the
window at the top right of nearly every page on the website.

And yes, she does give books for gifts. She often gives her how-to books to clients. She gives her poetry chapbooks on most any occasion, from Christmas to Valentine’s to Mother’s Day. And, she does buy others’ books for her own shelves or Kindle reader but only when she actually yearns to read them or needs to read them.

Considering Both the Downsides and Upsides of Writing Reviews

Dear Writers on the Move Readers,   I am busily rewriting my  How to Get Great Book Reviews Frugally and Ethically  for a second edition fro...