Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Can Marketing and Networking Harm Your Writing Career?

Can you market your work and network too much? My writer friends and I have discussed this question several times over and it can be quite controversial depending on where an author is in the process of a writing career. Early on in the beginning of my writing adventure  marketing and networking was part of every course I took. Build your platform, network with other writers in your genre, network with writers, publishers, illustrators on social networks to help get your name out there, blog to build an audience, and offer to write for free to get your feet wet. Everywhere I turned, someone was telling me to get myself out there.

 As I began finding my way, the advice included Query, query, query.... find a publisher you want to write for and send your ideas. Worry about the writing when you have an accepted idea. Write for various free sites and build your article folder, make yourself an expert and the work will find its way to you. Etc. Etc. Etc. New and seasoned writers know the drill. Does all this sound familiar? But when is too much marketing and networking harmful to your career and when is it enough?

Here is what I have discovered over the past 10 years of writing and trying to build a niche...it takes discipline to stay on course and courage to promote yourself in a humble way, Yet marketing and networking is essential even when  it can be too much and it can be harmful. Here is a quick list of when and how it can hurt your career.

  1. Marketing and networking can be harmful if all you do is market, network, and never sit down to write or create a product. You loose your authenticity when you say you have a product or you promise your book to your audience but you do not deliver. It is only a positive reflection on you as an author if you have something valuable to offer your audience and you continue to provide what you promise in your marketing campaign. 
  2. Social media is a fabulous tool but it is only a positive tool if you are using it to either promote your product, book, or service. It is also a positive career move to promote others through social media especially those in your field of interest and those who can help you to grow as an author. Social media can have a negative impact on your career if you find yourself distracted from your writing or if you get caught up in the negative or false leads that social media can trend or if you use social media to procrastinate from the job you need to be finishing. 
  3. If you see positive results with the marketing techniques you are currently using and you can schedule your time like any other task it can be positive for your writing career. If you focus all of your free time on marketing and networking at the expense of writing time or family time it can be detrimental to both your professional and family relationships. There must be a healthy balance between writing, marketing, and family obligations. 
  4. Marketing can be self-absorbing if you are the only one saying good things about your work. While we need to be our own best horn blower,, at some point you must count on the opinions of others in the form of reviews of your work, comments on your blog, notes from editors, and such to balance and provide an objective view of your products. Someone somewhere must notice your work... your tried and true product or story. It can harm your career if you are the only one saying you are a great author. Networking with authentic people in your area of expertise can validate your work and in turn promote your career in a positive way. 
Marketing and networking must be guarded and planned just like the story you create or the product you develop. Care must always be taken to make sure the actions you take to promote your career are helping and not harming your reputation as a writer. 

About the author: Terri Forehand writes from her home in Nashville Indiana. When she is not writing, designing, or crafting she spends time working in the neonatal intensive care, spending time with grand kids, and running the small fabric shop she owns with her husband, She is the author of The Cancer Prayer Book and The ABC's of Cancer According to Lilly Isabella Lane. She is currently working on an picture book about first aide for first graders. http://terri-forehand.blogspot.com

Monday, March 14, 2016

Don't Give Up on Freelance Writing too Soon



Since I’m a writing coach, all too often I see people give up on freelance writing too soon.

They quickly manage to get their first writing assignment, but when more assignments don’t come so quickly or easily, after a few weeks (yes, just a few weeks), they often give up and decide the freelance writing life isn’t right for them after all.

They decide to get a regular job – or stick with the regular job they already have.

They still dream about being a writer, so they decide to write a novel in their spare time to keep this dream alive.

This is okay.

But if your dream is to have the freedom (and money) of a fulltime freelance writing career, don’t give up on that dream too soon.

Here’s what to do instead:

1. Make a point of finding 3 writing jobs to apply for every weekday morning.

Notice I didn’t say make of point of looking for 3 writing jobs.

I said make a point of finding 3 writing jobs.

Years ago, when I was starting out as a freelance writer, I quickly discovered that if I just said I was going to look for 3 jobs every weekday morning, many times I looked but didn’t find any jobs to apply for.

But when I changed my goal to actually find 3 writing jobs to apply for and then apply for them, my writing career quickly took off.

Sure, some of the assignments I accepted weren’t my “dream” work, but they gave me experience and income and led to other, better opportunities.

One note here: If you’re confused about which jobs you should apply for on job boards, decide to become an expert at just one or two types of writing services.

Then go after only those types of jobs.

For example, if you want to offer resume writing and related services (like media kits, etc.), then go after only those types of jobs.

When you know exactly the type of jobs you're looking for, you'll be surprised at how quickly you find them.

2. Besides checking job boards, look for writing opportunities on your own.

For example, if you write for children, look through a children’s writers market guide for publishers who hire freelance writers and accept resumes, then send them a cover letter and your resume.

If you want to write for businesses, find several businesses in your area and call and introduce yourself and tell them what you do, or send a letter of introduction to the owners of these businesses.

You can also go to networking events (in person) where local businesses owners go.

This is a great way to find new business clients.

Also, send out queries to local and regional magazines.

I did this when I was just starting and landed a job as a regular columnist for a local publication.

This gave me some income, some great clips for my resume, and some experience working with an editor.

3. Connect with other freelance writers.

Established freelance writers have all sorts of contacts and tend to know about writing opportunities that aren’t advertised.

Surprisingly, most writers are willing to share this information, particularly if a writing opportunity is in an area outside of their expertise or if they’re booked solid and don’t need more work at the moment.

Join a freelance writer’s group (local or online) and make a point of interacting with the other writers in this group regularly.

I’ve gotten all sorts of jobs this way and I’ve also helped other writers get jobs.

Don't give up on a freelance writing career too soon.

Do what it takes to create a little momentum.

Once you do, it won't be long before your writing career really takes off.

Try it!


For more tips to help you build your freelance writing career, get your free subscription to The Morning Nudge at www.morningnudge.com.


Suzanne Lieurance is a fulltime freelance writer, writing coach, certified life coach, and the author of over 30 published books. Learn more about her services at www.workingwriterscoach.com.






Saturday, March 12, 2016

When New Year's Resolutions Don't Work






Usually, I don’t make New Year’s resolutions.  I never keep them.  This year I decided I’d make one resolution.  It seemed like an easy one to keep.  My resolution was to give up my gym membership by the end of January.  I had joined the gym in July with every intention of working out twice a week.  I didn’t show up in July or August or September.  As a matter of fact, as December rolled around 'I had not yet stepped into the gym'.  Why didn’t I cancel my membership?  Because each month I thought, this is the month I would get on track.  So by the end of December, cancelling my membership seemed like an easy resolution.  Unfortunately it took me to the beginning of March to cancel my membership.  I have a busy life and resolutions don’t work for me.  That said, when I clearly define a goal that is important to me, I have learned how to support my goal.

If your writing life is stuck, maybe it is time to step back and redefine what it is that you want to achieve.  Why are you writing?  What are your goals?  Dig deep and determine what it is that you really want. Once you are clear on your true desire, I have found that the following strategies will support achieving your goal.
1.       Define your desire as a SMART goal.  Setting a goal that is Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Relevant and realistic, and Time bound is the first step to success.

2.       Have daily visual reminders of your goal.  Daily visibility is a key to success.  Use post-it notes on your bathroom mirror or have a vision board above your desk.  You can also set your goal as a daily alert on your phone.  It’s easy to forget about your goal, if you don’t see it each day.

3.       Identify a goal buddy to help hold you accountable for your progress.  Having someone to check in with each week will nudge you towards your goal.  Sometimes it’s not an individual but a critique group which holds you accountable for your writing goals. If you don't have a critique group and you can’t identify someone you know as a goal buddy, consider joining one of the following online communities.

               i.      Goal-buddy.com is an online community that matches you with a goal buddy who is striving to achieve a similar goal.

             ii.      Habitforge has an online community and potential for a goal buddy, it is also designed for someone who wants to work on their own.  Habitforge provides daily email encouragement related to your goal.

4.       Track your progress.  You can also use software to keep your goals on track.

               i.       Lifetick is a goal tracking program.  It not only helps you track your goals but allows you to invite others to view your progress.  If you have identified a goal buddy, this is a great way to track each other’s progress and hold each other accountable.

              ii.      Goals on Track is a goal setting software that will help you set SMART goals and track progress. It works with IPhones and androids and best of all it’s free.

5.       Use negative incentives.  Sometimes we need something a little stronger to nudge us on our writing journey.  Try stickK—A commitment contract designed to help people achieve their goals.  According to stickK, people don’t always do what they claim they want to do and incentives get people to do things.  They have found that having a financial stake increases your chances of success up to 3x and having someone as a referee to monitor your progress increases your success 2x.  StickK asks users to sign a binding contract where they commit money that they lose if they don’t achieve their goal.  This is definitely for someone who needs a stick instead of a carrot.

Try a few of the strategies above and your goal just might become reality.  If you have other strategies you use to achieve your goals, I would love to hear from you.


Mary Jo Guglielmo is a writer, educator, and life coach.   For more information check out DoNorth.biz

Thursday, March 10, 2016

5 Tips for Your Bio


Whatever business you are in - author, marketer, entrepreneur - you need a bio. In a lot of cases, it's someone's first impression of you.

Here are 5 things you need to know about writing your bio.

1. Write Several Bios. Since you use bios in different places, you'll need versions of various lengths. 

  • A mini one (two lines) for your byline and perhaps the first page of your website.
  • A concise bio (one paragraph) to incorporate into query and pitch letters.
  • A short bio (two to three paragraphs) for your blog, website, and/or book cover.
  • A long bio for your media kit or when people want additional information about you.
  • Bonus: A future bio: As a fun exercise, write what you want your bio to read a year from now. A future bio will help you stay focused on your aspirations.Just remember to write it in the present tense and to look at on a regular basis. (Keep it near your goals.)
Sometimes it's easy to start with the shortest bio, and then grow the different versions. I recommend beginning with the two- to three-paragraph bio. Then make the more concise versions, before expanding to the long one.


Note: If you are a multi-hyphenate, you may need alternate sets of bios with different emphases.

2. Start from Scratch. People sometimes get tripped up writing their bio, based on their resume or LinkedIn profile. A bio is not a list, it's a narrative, sharing your accomplishments, experience, and expertise. 

Start by reading a previous bio or resume (as a reminder), and then do a brainstorm draft from scratch. Once you get the words out, feel free to double check and make sure you included everything. Then revise until you are comfortable with it.

3. Write After Networking. The best time to write a bio is after you have been at a networking event. You have likely spent a fair bit of time introducing yourself, so your background will be in easy-recall mode.

4. Ask Friends. Curious about which of your characteristics stand out? Ask your friends and peers. People who know and trust you will offer a unique, unbiased perspective. They will definitely come up with things that didn't occur to you.

5. Review and Revise Regularly. In this fast-paced world, your experience and achievements are constantly changing. Once you settle on a bio (or bios) you like, put it in your schedule review and update it on a regular basis. My recommendation is to add a quarterly reminder to your calendar. 

Bonus: Add Your Headshot. No bio is complete without a photo. Don't just tell people who you are, show them. A visual cue will make you more memorable and recognizable, especially when you meet people in person who you only previously met virtually. It's an awesome feeling when people come up and introduce themselves because they know you from your picture.

When you write any bio, remember to use your own tone and style. It's another way for new people to get to know you through your words.

What tips do you have for writing a bio? 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 the host of the Guided Goals Podcast and author of Purple Pencil Adventures: Writing Prompts for Kids of All Ages. 

Debra is an editor at Social Media Examiner and a speaker/moderator on the subjects of writing, networking, goal-setting, and social media.


Monday, March 7, 2016

Tropes in Literature #2: This is My Story

 Tropes can be our enemies or our friends.  These literary devices, characters types, and plot elements are so common and popular that they often seem clich├ęd.  As I said in my first post on the topic (Mr. Exposition and Captain Obvious), I don't believe that you should never use tropes.  They're popular for a reason.  But I think it's important to be aware of them so that you can choose carefully which ones to use, which to avoid—and which to subvert.  



This is My Story

Tvtropes.org brilliantly collects, links, and names many TV and literature tropes, and this is one of their best descriptions, cleverly using the trope itself: This is My Story.  I highly recommend reading it yourself,

The trope involves opening your story with something like this:  "My name is John Smith.  My story is important because blah blah blah."  Or, "You won't believe this story, but it's mine, and it's true."  Or, "Everything you've heard about me is wrong, so I'm going to tell you this story to set the record straight."  Or, "This is the blah-blahest story you'll ever hear." Or, "My name is blah blah and I'm famous for blah blah." 

Sometimes this really works, like in The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold: "My name is Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973."  The brilliant thing here is the shock value.  It's not what you're expecting from a This is My Story opening.  Most of the time, however, I think it's weak.  I want you to show me that your story's interesting or important or unbelievable.  Don't tell me. 

People rave about The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss.  I honestly couldn't get into it, but that might have been my state of mind at the time.  It starts, "My name is Kvothe. I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in."  Massively creative. A taste of intriguing world building.  But then it goes on. "I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day."  And on. "I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep."  When reading, all I could think was, "Great, another wordy braggart who just won't shut up about himself.  That's all I need in my life."  But it obviously worked for a lot of people. 

Here's how Mark Twain started Huckleberry Finn:  "You don't know about me without you have read a book by the name of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer; but that ain't no matter."  A variation on the theme, with a little added product placement.  Other classics start similarly, as if writing a boilerplate introduction paragraph to a five paragraph essay:  Robinson Crusoe, Great Expectations, various others.  I've also seen Asimov and Heinlein do it in third person.

The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford begins, "This is the saddest story I've ever heard."  To me, that's like writing a query letter to an agent and saying, "This is the best book you'll ever read."  Automatic reject.  But again, it obviously worked for some people.

This one's cool, but chiefly because it plays with the trope—and intrigues the reader:  "In a sense, I am Jacob Horner."  John Barth, The End of the Road.  So, in a sense you're not?  Makes me want to read. 


I challenge you, as a writer, to never start a book this way unless you can give it a clever twist.  


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 published pieces, check out Leaving Home.  For something a little more medieval, read her YA fantasy novel, Far-KnowingVisit her online at http://www.melindabrasher.com.

Friday, March 4, 2016

The "Small Big" Tactics for Writing Pitches and Selling Books

Writing Pitches (and About Everything Else) That Influence
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I read and reread The Small Big: Small changes that spark big influence by Steve J. Martin, Noah J. Goldstein, and Robert B. Cialdini. It’s not that it tells me anything new about marketing, writing copy, or putting together great pitches. It’s that it inspires me anew, and reminds me of what a tough job those tasks are and how so many other disciplines are involved, two of my favorites. Words matter. And Psychology. And, yes, capital letters because they are so important.

For instance, here’s a quote that beautifully distills the six principles of marketing for any field you are in:
  •    “. . . reciprocity (people feel obligated to return favors performed for them),
  •     authority people look to experts to show them the way)
  •     scarcity (the less available the resource, the more people want it)
  •           liking (the more that people like others, the more they want to say yes to them)
  •     consistency (people want to act consistently with their commitments and values)
  •     and social proof (people look to what other do in order to guide their own behavior).”

This book includes studies that show people in any industry (including my favorites, those associated with writing of any kind) how to frame what they have to say right down to what to put first, what to stress, and words to choose that influence people in different ways.

This is a book you’ll want to read—and reread—as I do. 

Reread? Well, it is so jam packed you’ll need to go back to it time again to get it all and keep utilizing what it teaches you in everything from your blogging, to your query letters where a great pitch is essential, to writing your synopses. Here’s the link again—in bright red so you you’ll have not trouble finding it and using it:

 http://bit.ly/InfluenceTactics

----
Contributed by Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally Series of books--one for writers and one for retailers. She is now working on the third in the seires (after The Frugal Book Promoter and The Frugal Editor), Getting Great Reviews Frugally and Ethically. All her books, including her fiction and poetry,  are available as paperbacks and e-books on Amazon. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Create Visibility Before Getting Published

The road to publication can be long and winding...and filled with rejection. So, what do you do while you’re submitting your manuscript and waiting patiently? Okay, maybe not patiently, but waiting nonetheless.

That’s easy. And, it’s very important. You begin creating visibility.

I don’t mean standing on the street corner singing at the top of your lungs, I mean creating an online presence that depicts who and what you are. In other words, you need to create your platform.

As founder and editor of Writers on the Move, I meet a number of writers who are reluctant to begin promoting themselves because they haven’t landed a publisher yet. Or, they’re still learning the craft. This mentality won’t cut it today. You need to begin that visibility.

First step in your platform journey is to create a blog. Obviously, you will want to create your platform right from the beginning by posting to your blog with content that is in the genre you are writing.

But wait a minute, let me backtrack. For those who aren’t sure what a platform is, it is a means to let readers know what your area of expertise is. Yes, I know, you might be shaking your head and thinking that you don’t have an area of expertise, but this is how you create it.

The next step (step two) in your journey is to create your platform and online visibility. Learn your craft and as your learning, write about what you learn. In other words, if your book is about cooking, blog about cooking – you will be creating your area of expertise.

The third step - once you feel comfortable adding content to your blog, start writing articles and submitting them to ezines and querying about guest posts. Again, keep them focused on the area of expertise you are trying to create. You may not get paid for them, but they will establish an online presence. And, if your articles are beneficial or interesting to others, it will bring traffic to your site.

The publishing and marketing industry has changed. In today’s writing market publishing houses, big and small, expect you to:

1. Have and online presence (website or blog)
2. Have a platform
3. Have a following
4. Have the potential to increase that following
5. Have a marketing strategy
6. Be able to sell your book

Selling books today is a joint effort between the publishing house and the author. And, if you’re venturing into the self-publishing arena, promoting yourself is even more important. Don’t procrastinate. Start creating your online presence and platform today.

Karen Cioffi is a content marketing instructor for WOW! Women on Writing and Working Writers Club. She is also an author, editor, and ghostwriter.

If you'd like help building and maintaining your author/writer platform, check out:

Give Your Author/Writer Business a Boost with Inbound Marketing
Basic Website Optimization, Blogging Smart, Email Marketing, and Social Media Marketing

MORE ON WRITING AND BOOK MARKETING

Top 5 Reasons Many Writers Don’t Reach Their Potential
Writing Critique Groups Dos and Don’ts
Shaun the Sheep and Marketing with Animation




7 Ways Authors Can Support Their Author Friends: Kindled Spirits

As authors, we have an advantage in the online world, whether we realize it or not. Fiction. Nonfiction. Screenwriting. Poetry. Essays. Arti...