Tuesday, May 5, 2015

What Online Marketing Terms Do You Want to Know About?

I'm writing a report on some of the basic online marketing terms and came up with 22 so far.

 I'd like to know if you have any terms that you're not quite sure about - that you'd like to know what they mean.

If you do, please put them in the comments below.

I'll reply to the comments with the explanations and if I don't already have a term in my report, I'll add it.

I guess this is a blog post survey.

Some of the ones I already have are:

  • SEO
  • SERP
  • Anchor text
  • Deep linking
  • Backlinks
  • Landing pages
  • Lead generation
  • Conversion
  • Search engine ranking

I'd sure appreciate your input!


Sunday, May 3, 2015

The Submission Grinder--a useful resource

Submitting short stories to magazines takes a lot of time and effort.  I’ve found a resource that’s helped.  It’s the (Submission) Grinder website, a listing of magazines, e-zines, anthologies and contests you can send your fiction to.

I like it because the magazines are searchable by length, payment, genre, whether they accept reprints, and even style of writing.  It also has a good layout for each magazine's main page, clearly showing the most important information and giving fairly reliable links to their website and specific guidelines.    

You can also sign up for an account and track your submissions, helping keep you organized and giving valuable information back to the community about rejection rates and response times.

They plan to add non-fiction and poetry listings in the future (though some of the magazines here accept non-fiction and poetry too, so it can be useful if you have a portfolio of various genres).

Head on over to the Submission Grinder and submit some of your work!  

Melinda Brasher currently teaches English as a second language in the beautiful Czech Republic.  She loves the sound of glaciers calving and the smell of old books.  Her travel articles and short fiction appear in Go NomadInternational LivingElectric SpecIntergalactic Medicine Show, and others.  For an e-book collection of some of her favorite pieces, check out Leaving Home.  Visit her online at http://www.melindabrasher.com.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Goal Setting: It’s Not About Ideas – It’s About Making Ideas Happen

“It’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen.” —Scott Belsky

We’re into the second quarter of this year. It’s time to think about where you’ve been and where you’re heading. It’s time for ideas.

According to Business Dictionary, an idea is “a thought or collection of thoughts that generate in the mind.”

They’re usually derived from intent, but they can also be unintentional.

Ideas are the foundation of all advancements. And, they’re at the foundation and growth of your business.

While ideas may be the initiating force behind success, they’re powerless without action.

Action is the implementation of an idea. Action is taking deliberate steps toward an end. Action is what makes dreams a reality.

So, how do you turn an idea into an actionable plan?

Four basic steps you will need to take to get started.

1. Create a plan.

First: Take that idea and actually write it down, don’t just type in your laptop or computer, actually write down what you’re idea or goal is. Then you can put it in your computer.

This idea should be considered your long term objective.

Second: Divide your long term goal into short term goals with actionable steps you can take to reach your objective.

Suppose your objective is to boost your social media marketing in order to build a large and loyal following with conversion potential. Divide that into sub-categories. They may be:

• Two to three social media channels to devote more time and effort into
• Who will handle this strategy (if you’re a solopreneur, it’ll be you)
• Time to be allotted to this new strategy
• Budget for this new strategy
• Create user engagement and connections
• Actionable steps needed to accomplish this new goal

Why write your goals and action steps down?

According to an article in Entrepreneur.com, “Warren Buffett has described writing as a key way of refining his thoughts.” And, “Richard Branson once said, ‘my most essential possession is a standard-sized school notebook,’ which he uses for regular writing.” (1)

Along with this, another article, 5 Reasons Why You Should Commit Your Goals to Writing, explains, “Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at Dominican University in California, did a study on goal-setting with 267 participants. She found that you are 42 percent more likely to achieve your goals just by writing them down.” (2)

Writing goals down takes more thought than typing away. This makes you more conscious of what your goals are. It adds, if you will, emphasis to what you want.

So, it’s easy to understand that writing your ideas / goals down is a key to fulfilling your goals.

Finally, keep your goals and action steps front and center. You need to see them daily (throughout the day) as a reminder of your intent.

TIP: Make sure your action steps are realistic and doable. Nothing will squash your motivation and efforts more than not being able to fulfill your action steps.

2. Implement your plan.

Your goal and actionable steps are on paper and in your computer. Now it’s time to actually take action. Follow through and post more to the social media channels. Engage with other users by Retweeting, Following, Liking, Sharing, and so on. Take all the actions you’ve listed in your plan.

3. Keep it up – persevere.

Whatever action steps you do, do them wholeheartedly and regularly. Don’t give up because you don’t quickly see results. Give it time to determine if the steps you’re taking are the right ones for you and your business.

4. Analysis and Revise.

While you do need to give your actions time to generate positive results, you also need to test what you’re doing.

Determine what’s working and what’s not. Then revise your plan accordingly.

Don’t waste time on efforts that aren’t working. Try a different approach or marketing strategy.

Your time and effort will be much more productive if you regularly test your results.

There you have it, four basic steps to creating and implementing a business plan. Take the time to write your ideas / goals down and create and implement actionable steps to help you achieve them.


(1) http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/234712
(2) http://michaelhyatt.com/5-reasons-why-you-should-commit-your-goals-to-writing.html


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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Midwest Review: "Highly Recommended" Book for Writers

Title: The Frugal Editor: From Your Query Letter to Final Manuscript to the Marketing of Your New Bestseller
Carolyn Howard-Johnson
First Edition Published by Red Engine Press, Branson, MO 2007
A multi award-winning book including USA Book News best professional book
Second Edition Published by HowToDoItFrugally, 2015
ISBN, Second Edition: 978-1505713117

Available The e-book, available from Kindle, was given a nod by Dan Poynter’s Global E-Book Award.
Also available as a paperback, published spring of 2015


Reviewed by Christy Tillery French for Christy’s Bookshelf at Midwest Book Review and featured in Jim Cox’s Midwest Newsletter

As the literary market continues to tighten its proverbial belt, today's writer must assume more of the responsibilities surrounding book publishing than ever before. No longer can a writer depend on a publisher or agent to accept a manuscript in need of editing, and submitting a manuscript that isn't as near perfect as possible will, in all probability, result in rejection. To the rescue comes acclaimed author Carolyn Howard-Johnson with The Frugal Editor, the latest in her How to Do It Frugally series.

This little gem is a must-have for any writer, published or not, bestselling or unknown. Filled with valuable tips, The Frugal Editor touches on all aspects of self-editing, such as how to spot common grammatical errors, from superfluous adverbs to confusing dangling participles, as well as how to organize the workspace, format the manuscript, and use Word's tools to the fullest. Also included are sample query and cover letters, and pointers on correcting intrusive taglines, when to use an ellipsis, and correct spacing, to name a few. The book takes the reader step-by-step through the editing process, from rough draft to galley. No questions are left unanswered, no topics left uncovered. This generous writer goes so far as to recommend resources through other books and websites, with plenty of advice from agents and editors.

The Frugal Editor is one of those reference books every writer should have by their computer for constant use and study. Highly recommended.

Christy Tillery French


Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s 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 classes she has taught for UCLA Extension’s world-renown Writers’ Program.

The first edition of The Frugal Book Promoter was named USA Book News’ “Best Professional Book” and won the coveted Irwin Award. Now in its second edition, it’s also a USA Book News award winner and received a nod from Dan Poynter’s Global Ebook Awards. Her The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success was also honored by USA Book News and won Readers’ Views Literary Award. Her marketing campaign for that book won the marketing award from New Generation Indie Book Awards. The second edition e-book was honored by Next Generation Indie Awards in the e-book category and by Dan Poynter's Global Ebook Awards. The second edition paperback will be released in spring of 2015.  


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Strengthen Your Theme, Revision, Part 3

Copyright © 2009 Michelle Henninger
You don't come right out and say it, but it's the most important part of your story: the theme. Lee Wyndham, in Writing for Children and Teenagers, defines theme as "your melody, the motive, the dominant idea you develop through your story. This is what your story is about." Jessica Flory in her article, "Theme" defines theme as the overall message of your writing.

Why is Theme Important?
Your theme is what gives your story meaning. Your entire story revolves around your theme. It is the message your reader will carry away and remember long after the events of your story are forgotten. Theme is the glue that binds your story together. However, theme is never stated. The meaning is hidden yet at its best, theme is subtly crafted into every event in your character's experience.

How is Theme Incorporated into a Story?
Begin with deciding what is important to you. Honesty. Making friends. Thinking of others. Being sincere. Having courage. Being goal oriented. Decide what you want to say. That becomes your message. Craft your story around one theme for young children, multiple themes for older "kids" (that means you) and run with it.

The Skull of Truth by Bruce Coville
Charlie Eggleston has a problem.You wouldn't want to come right out and call him a liar. But he did have a habit of stretching the truth to fit his purposes. We first find this out on page two during a visit to Tucker's Swamp. He's held a frog, loved the smell of the swamp, loved everything about it; well, maybe not the mosquitoes. So he told a little white fib about Mark Evans's dad and how he planned to drain the swamp. Charlie told the fib to protect the swamp from development. A little later (p. 21) after Charlie forgot Gramma Ethel would be visiting for dinner (he'd already missed dinner and had to eat cold stew), Charlie very proudly told his uncle that he'd like to learn to tell stories. Gramma Ethel scolded, "You don't do anything but tell stories." Two pages earlier Charlie even wondered if his little sister, Mimi, who was in kindergarten, was fibbing when she said Andy Simmons ate a bug today. "He still hadn't figured out how to tell when Mimi was fibbing." Four chapters have the word "truth" in them. Charlie even meets Truth at the end and follows Truth "home;" and at the end, the reader finds out if Charlie was really a liar or not. Perhaps not so subtle, but by the time you are finished with the book Coville's message is loud and clear: it's always better to tell the truth. (Note: the word truth even appears in the title. More about that later. Please also note how much (and how far-fetched, I might add) Coville played around with (or in educational jargon, explored), truth, which can't help but start the reader's wheels turning about the meaning of his story.)

"Tall Boots"
In the case of my short story, " Tall Boots," which appeared in the September 2009 issue of Stories for Children magazine for ages 7-9, my theme was: the importance of having a goal. I wanted to show that goals can get you places.

On the day of the 4-H horse show, Ashley aimed to win in her category, but she hated her old rubber riding boots. They were ankle high, bright red and downright embarrassing. Ashley wanted real riding boots. When it came time for the show, Ashley's trainer lined up her horse, Lacy, with the wrong group at the wrong start time. This class would be showing their skills at jumping; Ashley hadn't yet reached that part of her training. She shouted, "This isn't my class! There's been a mistake!" but her voice blew away in the wind. Lacy knew what to do. Up, up, over the poles Lacy soared in a perfect arc. At the end, Ashley won the highest honor any 4-H rider can earn. And when she rode toward the gate, her mother was holding up a fine pair of black leather riding boots. Ahsley knew what she had known all along--that Lacy was the best, and that she had grown out of baby boots for good.

Revise to Strengthen your Story's Theme
It would be difficult to make your theme come out clearly in early drafts. That's where a revision that focuses on your story's theme comes in. Make a list of events that take place in your story and adjust the action and dialogue to fit your theme. In the case of one of my WIPs, my list contained twelve events that needed strengthening. The events were in place but the focus needed to be cleared up through my character's actions and conversations with other characters.

Tips to Keep in Mind
  • Theme is subtle. It is never stated. Yet theme is the reason for your character's motivation and actions.
  • Theme is not plot. Theme is not a lesson or moral. Theme is the key to growth and change both for your character and your reader.
  • In her article, "Theme," Jessica Flory described a great way to make theme the center of your story: work with your character's flaws. Give them a flaw they must overcome before the conclusion can be reached.
  • Make theme your main message and have it come out at the climax.
  • Chris Eboch, author of many children's books, including The Eyes of Pharoah and her latest book, Bandit's Peak, says that theme ties into character and conflict. The conflict needs to be strong and the character real and complex.
  • Use symbols. Remember how the word "truth" appears in the title of Bruce Coville's book, The Skull of Truth? Jane McBride Choate makes the suggestion to use symbols, and having the word for your symbol appear in the title is an extra-added bonus. In Choate's article, "Theme," she writes, "In one of my books, I used a necklace with a rainbow pendant as a symbol for the heroine's independence and integrity. The publisher liked the idea so much that a drawing of the pendant was included on the spine of the book and a . . . rainbow [appeared] on the cover.
  • Wyndham suggests your theme can be the synopsis of your story. In one of her stories she used the theme: understanding and helpfulness overcome suspicion and distrust and lead to friendship. Here's how she broke the theme down to capsulize her story: understanding and helpfulness suggests the characters; suspicion and distrust suggests the problem; overcome, the conflict and outcome; and lead to friendship, the resolution and happy ending.
Remember: Revise to strengthen your theme and your story will send the thought-provoking message you intended.

For the first parts of this series, please visit: Revision, Part 1: An Early Fiction Checklist and  Revision, Part 2: Editing after a Long Break.

Sources: Illustration by Michelle Henninger for "Tall Boots," used with permission. Included in Michelle's credits are Bradford Street Buddies series by Jerdine Nolen coming out in the fall, and Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow, by Nancy K. Wallace. Treat yourself to a look at Michelle's website, it's terrific; http://www.michellehenninger.com/books.html; and notes from classes and conferences;  http://writeforlifejessicaflory.blogspot.com/; check out Jane McBride Choate's many books at http://www.amazon.com/Jane-McBride-Choate/e/B001JS19WU/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1429825077&sr=1-2-ent.
Linda Wilson, a former elementary teacher and ICL graduate recently completed Joyce Sweeney's online fiction and picture book courses. Linda has published over 40 articles for children and adults, six short stories for children and is currently working on several works for children. Follow her on Facebook.


Monday, April 27, 2015

More Help For New Writers - Handling Rejection

We all have routines, patterns, and habits.  As a new writer, you will be challenged to make some changes in order to be successful.  

It won’t be easy. It will go against the grain at times and may even hurt.  

But just like pruning will make a healthier plant and produce more flowers, allowing ourselves to be pruned will make us better and productive writers.

Whatever your challenges are, you have to work through them. If you avoid them, they won't go away and you will slow down to a crawl until you give up entirely.

During the last 4 years of committing myself to a freelance writing career, I discovered 3 areas I needed change in order to continue pursuing a successful writing career.

This month I'll talk about rejection. To have our work rejected can be shattering. 

My first submissions were contests. I won Honorable Mention in a Christian Writing Contest and placed 34th in Writers’ Digest. What a great way to begin a writing career!

With a whole lot of confidence under my belt, I submitted an article to a publication. It was nicely rejected and it hit me hard. It went something like this: "We wanted it to work. But after much review ... "


So we're told not to give up. But how? If you want to learn and grow, get ready to be honest with yourself.

Identify why it hurts

Depending on your niche, writing can be personal. Your story, although implicit, may have made you vulnerable.

Maybe you think you are better than you are. Perhaps you skimmed through the writers' guidelines and missed the word count or submitted a day late. Or maybe your cover letter was poor. The internet makes it easy to find ways to improve.

You're not writing what your passionate about. Sometimes it takes someone else asking you specific questions to narrow down what you're good at writing.

Keep going. 

The worst thing you can do is give up. Keep writing. Someone, somewhere wants what you write. Resubmit your work somewhere else. Write new articles and stories. Eventually, you will be a successful writer. Remember, your chances are greater when you keep submitting.
Because I didn't let the rejection stop me, it doesn't affect me now. I've learned just because one person (or even two or three) are not interested in what I write, there is someone who is very interested.

If you really need to be convinced, visit Literary Rejections and you will be

Believe in yourself. I know. You started out believing in yourself and after the rejection, you weren't so sure.
When you work through the rejection, you learn some things about yourself. If you're passionate about what you write, you will be compelled to write.

Next month, I'll look at patience – essential for success!

After raising and homeschooling her 8 children and teaching art classes for 10 years, Kathy has found time to pursue freelance writing. She enjoys writing magazine articles and more recently had her story, "One of a Kind", published in The Kids' ArkYou can find her passion to bring encouragement and hope to people of all ages at When It Hurts http://kathleenmoulton.com


Friday, April 24, 2015

Creative Marketing

Visiting a few of the millions of blogs online this month has confirmed my belief that marketing, as once we knew it, has changed. Banging the buy-buy-buy drum nowadays is boring. And buyers shy away from the hard sell.

public domain photo from pickupimage.com
farmers' market
After all, trying to market writing and/or writing services is not like selling a vital commodity like food or health--or is it?

For so many of us writing is as necessary for our health as breathing. If we can afford to devote our life to it, we are lucky indeed. But for many of us, it may be the only option for earning a living. And although we're always being told about the global market, in the end we're lucky to find enough readers to fill a tiny village.

And how do you sell goods in a village? Word of mouth, sales to friends, arrange small house parties to sell selected items, sell door to door by appointment, display posters everywhere you can, chat,chat, chat to everyone--not primarily about what you're selling but about what the people you're talking to want and/or need. Natural networking--ask what you can do for everyone not what everyone can do for you.  Make friends, help friends, share your expertise freely and you'll find friends eager to help you back.

Readers as Neighbors

Chat through your social media sites, through your blog comments--ask for opinions, ask for ideas, ask what readers want to know. Give small reports from your niche, short stories featuring characters from your novels, give a helping hand when asked. Be neighborly.

People love quizes. especially the type which claim to predict "What kind of person are you?" Offer a giveaway or two as prizes.

Extend your blogging network by offering guest posts, finding blogs relating to your characters' hobbies and commenting on posts. Join as many forums as you can, just to chat and ask questions, offer solutions.

Yes it will mean lots of extra work but no-one  ever said it was easy to make a living writing except for those marketers who promise untold wealth in a week.

Look and Learn

  • Make a point of visiting a new blog every day and commenting even if only to say how pleased you are to have found it.  
  • Note the things you like--maybe the color scheme--and what you dislike. Maybe the columns are too cluttered. Too much to take in.
  • Keep revising your own blog layout and articles in the light of everything you learn. 

Best of all, whatever you're writing, just relax. You're with friends. Let your soul shine through.

What have you found the best marketing methods for you? Please share some ideas in the comments below. We love to chat. :-)

Anne Duguid
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.

One Last Edit: Re-think before Submitting

Think of a story as a string of pearls. If you don't have a string, you can't put the pearls around your neck.                      ...