Category Archive: blogging

Jan 14 2014

Big Blog Goals for 2014: Upcoming Posts, Book Releases, and Blog Series

2014fireworks

Happy 2014! Time’s flying, huh?

I started this blog on Blogger in 2010, then transitioned to WordPress at the start of 2013, though it feels like yesterday. I promised myself at the beginning of 2013 to write more helpful blog posts and to do it more regularly. My aim was to publish a minimum of one post a month. I’m glad I accomplished that goal. Now join me as I continue in 2014!

Here’s the direction this blog is headed:

 

NEW BLOG POSTS:

Look for the new blog post ‘Getting Started: Book Formatting and Interior Design for Self-Publishers’ to be posted soon. Currently gathering links to some formatters and designers. If you used a formatting service and want to recommend a company please do so in the comments. I would appreciate it and I bet other blog visitors would too.

I’ll post about writing, blogging, marketing, and other useful posts related to publishing. If you want to suggest a topic for a post, have a question you’d like me to answer, or even want to contribute to the blog with a guest post, shoot an email to me at: leslie[at]leslieleesanders.com or use my contact form. I love hearing from you!

 

NEW BLOG SERIES:

Also, the Best-selling Book Blog Series (BBBS) is still in the planning stage. I’m working on interview questions and gathering a list of best-selling authors who wouldn’t mind answering them. Have someone in mind? Feel free to comment and tell us who you’d most like to hear from regarding best-selling books and how to create them.

 

BOOK PROGRESS AND RELEASES:

  • A couple of books are planned for release this year that you will hear about on this blog. The After will be published under my horror writer penname L.L. Sanders. It’s a collection of short stories in the horror/sci-fi genre, exploring the afterlife theme.
  • The Complete Darkness Collection (Refuge Inc. 1-3) is currently in audio production. An estimated 13.5 hours of MM, post-apocalyptic goodness.
  • I’m currently in the midst of writing Darkness Eternal (A Refuge Inc. Story). This story takes place a century in the future and follows new characters and different life altering mysteries.
  • Speaking of works in progress, I revisited a couple earlier WIPS that I had, um, abandoned. The Frozen Lake, a tale of young siblings befriending a young murderer in the isolated forest where they are sheltered. Deceiving the Herd, an LGBT Young Adult novel exploring the themes of loss, death, and grief. The Frozen Lake and Deceiving the Herd are non-erotic and will possibly be published under my pseudonym.

Other plans:

 

CONNECT WITH AUDIENCE:

In addition to providing helpful posts on publishing in general, I also considered being more open, getting rid of the introverted side of my personality, and actually showing more personality on the blog. It’s time to allow my readers, visitors, and subscribers to know a little more about who I am and how I can help.

 

VIDEO BLOGGING:

I tossed around the idea of video blogging and posting a series of videos on this blog every month or so. Still tossing the idea around, though.

 

NON-FICTION E-BOOK:

I’m considering updating, editing and combining all the 2013 posts on writing, blogging, marketing and publishing into an e-book to make for convenient reading for subscribers.

 

 

So there you have it. My goals for 2014. Jump on board with me and stay updated by subscribing to my mailing list. Let’s make 2014 a very productive one.

 

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[Image credit: Elescir]

Nov 06 2013

Write a Bestseller with Help from a New Blog Series

Let’s write a bestseller!

We all dream of writing a best-selling book, but most of us don’t begin a story with that intention. Some authors say, “Write the story you want to write. Don’t write in hopes of making your book the next big thing, or turning your book into a movie. When you write what’s true in your heart, the sales, rewards, and fame come later.”

If those are rules, I’m the one to break ’em. Let’s write a book with the goal of making it a bestseller!

BBBSIn 2014, I’ll be launching the Best-Selling Book Blog Series (BBBS). Twelve blog posts published over a twelve week period, discussing how to write and create a best-selling book. Now, I’m no expert, but my goal is to figure out if there is any truth to the whole “best-selling book formula” theory.

 

Yes, it’s absolutely free.

 

I plan to interview some experts. Get their opinions on writing a bestseller, compare their journeys on becoming best-selling authors, and squeeze some tips and tidbits out of them.

While simultaneously writing my next novel, I will discuss each step I take in the journey to find the best-selling book formula, and my attempts to create a bestseller using a “formula,” and how you can do it too.

This twelve week case study will touch on such topics as:

  • Setting goals

  • Creating a marketing plan

  • Story outlining

  • Interviews from best-selling authors

  • Affordable and effective book promotion tips and more

Your input will help get the series prepared for publication on this blog! I’m still putting all the pieces together at the moment, making this the best time for some reader feedback.

What topics are you most interested in during the Best-Selling Book Blog Series? Vote below, leave a comment, or send a private email (whichever works for you). Thanks in advance for your input!

Best-selling Book Blog Series
Topic I most want covered in the 12 week Best-selling Book Blog Series is...

Let me remind you, there is no fee. There is nothing to buy. However, this is merely a concept to an in-depth project. If you’re interested in where my research takes me, or you like the idea of creating your own bestselling book, be sure to sign up to my mailing list (if you’re not already) to be the first to know about any BBBS developments.

 

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Oct 19 2013

Pluck Great Advice from Abundant Information by Experimenting

overabundant

There is so much information out there. This expert says do this. That guru says do that. How do you find great advice among the plethora of tips, tricks, and tactics? One word: Experiment.

 

I’m skeptical of the one size fits all approach, and you should be too. There’s no formula to effective blogging, marketing, writing, or selling. If there was, that would mean blogging, and the rest, were easy to accomplish. You know, the one-two step of instance success. We know that’s not true. If it were that easy, why is so much advice given on these topics?

Simply because one approach does not work for all.

To figure out what works or what doesn’t work for you, you have to try it out. Apply the tactics, and use the tricks and tips you learn.

There is no one method for success.

Another way to see what advice suits you is to be open to new information.

I held onto a piece of advice I’d been given, and wouldn’t let go even years after it became outdated.

That’s a big no-no. Learn, grow, and adapt. It’s okay to change. Change your mind, change your beliefs, change your tactics, and see if a new voice can help you reach your goals.

Here are some common reactions some people have when presented with new advice:

  1. Accept it. Apply it.
  2. Question it. Reject it.
  3. Use what’s helpful. Discard the rest.

These are all normal reactions to the guidance we receive. I’m a number 3 type of girl, by the way. Even so, I’ll go ahead and add a BUT. No matter how you choose to take the information given to you, always keep an open mind.

Remember: Some might find particular advice helpful. Others might find that same advice useless. Test it to see which it is for you. Impractical or beneficial?

For example, one type of advice we hear a lot is: write engaging headlines.

A simple trick used to reel in readers. Write a witty, shocking, or controversial headline. Sure, this works for many, but some won’t bite because they see the hook and the line. My advice? Title your article for what it is (i.e. Do This to Get More Followers on Twitter). If your audience wants to know how to get more followers on Twitter, how effective would a headline like ‘Following is as Simple as Tweet is to Spell’? For sanity’s sake, just tell them what the darn article is promising to deliver, and deliver.

See? It’s all about what info works for you. Creative headlines do not always work for me.

Another example of advice regularly given. Write how you speak. It’s more personal.

Sounds good. This is great advice, BUT what if you’re are a normally a formal speaker. Are you too boring for your message to get across? What if your personality sucks? What if readers don’t like snarky or aren’t fond of curse words in every other paragraph? Run the risk of never getting blog visitors again because you want to display your character? My advice? Deliver your message the way that feels natural for you and your audience.

You don’t have to be conversational to get blog hits. Sometimes readers don’t want personality. Maybe they want specifics. So give them what they came for. My post, Proofreading Tips: Kindle and Microsoft Word’s Text-to-Speech, is one of my most popular posts on my blog. And guess what? It’s as straightforward as it gets. Honest headline and content that delivers what’s promised. Done.

My point?

The most basic advice and presentation still has value. So don’t reject it. Use what’s helpful.

 

Things to keep in mind:

  • Never let a surplus of information scare you away. You can find something beneficial in all advice.

 

  • Don’t take everything at face value. Just because something worked for others doesn’t mean it’ll work for you too.

 

  • Learn when to let go of a method, a source, or a piece of advice. It’s okay to change.

 

Although I am skeptical of the one size fits all approach to giving and taking instruction, I am fairly confident that the only way you will make the abundance of advice, or any shared information, work for you (including this very post) is to try it on yourself. Look at it from all angles before deciding how best to use it.

Do you agree? Please, share your thoughts below.

 

 

 

 

[image credit: daniel_iversen]

 

Jul 03 2013

How to Be a Great Guest Blogger

keyboardtypeIn the writing industry, authors often guest blog on an independent book blogger’s blog to promote their latest book release. In the freelancing industry, writers are propositioned or paid as freelance writers to share their expertise on a blog. No matter which tier you fall under, it’s always best to leave a good first impression. It doesn’t matter why you guest blog, but by applying these courteous and memorable steps, you increase your chances of getting invited back to the blog and making a good first and last impression.

1. Thank the host.

Remember, a simple “thank you” is still a universal courtesy of appreciation. Any chance you get, in the initial email, the comments of the blog, or even in the post itself, thank your host for inviting you to their blog, or for featuring you and your post that day, etc. Being sincere can get you far, however, thank your host even if you just want to turn on the charm.

2. Encourage comments, feedback and engagement.

Don’t just sell, sell, sell, and blah, blah, blah. Welcome feedback. At the end of your post, ask your audience questions. Show your personality. Ask them to share your post with their friends and followers. And join the comment discussions, which bring us to…

3. Reply to comments.

This is a big one. How rude is it to have your guest post go live and you’re nowhere to be found when the comments start rolling in? If you did a good job you should expect comments. Naturally, commenters expect a reply. They’re talking to you, about you or your work, so show your gratitude for their time and their comments by responding to them.

4. Share the blog post. Spread the word:

You’ve asked your audience to spread the word, so jump on that bandwagon and share too. Bring in more readers for your host as she brings in more awareness of you, your product, or whatever else you have to offer. Plus, the more people who know of your post, the more exposure, right? So don’t forget this important step.

5. Research. Familiarize yourself with the host’s blog.

• Become a regular reader.
• Engage with the blog by sharing posts, leaving comments, and signing up to the newsletter.
• Know the subject matter, the mission, the average post lengths, and the personality of the blog.

6. Research. Know your target audience.

No matter if you’re blogging to promote your latest book or as a paid gig, you must always be aware of who you are speaking to. Know your audience. Hopefully you’ve done your research before arranging a guest post spot. Questions I’ve asked myself about this blogs: Are you speaking to professionals or amateurs? Published or unpublished authors? Indie published or traditionally published? Fiction writers or non-fiction writers?

Now ask yourself, does the blog target a specific group, age-range or education level? You’re more successful at reaching your goal if you know who you’re talking to and how best to get them to listen to your message, by doing your research.

7. Make being a guest easy for your host.

• Hit or beat deadlines.
• Provide all information, links, images, etc., your host needs.
• Have questions? Ask them sooner rather than later.
• Give your host the time she needs to respond to your emails and to handle any concerns.
• Send reminders if need be.

8. Smile for the camera.

Registar a Gravitar (a Globally Recognized Avatar) with an updated bio pic for Gravitar enabled website, such as WordPress, for comments, and/or supply the host with an updated pic of yourself to incorporate into the blog post. People want to see the person behind the post. They want to see who’s “speaking” and who they’re speaking to when commenting.

9. Learn the general rules of blogging and the rules of the blog.

• Learn and follow the host’s rules and guidelines.
• Learn the proper way to reply to commenters, how to engage with your audience, and write for your audience.
• Learn how to format posts, how to write engaging headlines, etc.

10. Be yourself and have fun.

Most importantly, yep, be yourself. Show your personality and go into it with positive thinking. If you think of guest blogging as a chore, guess what, it becomes a pain. This can result in you slacking off on one or more of the above tips and not having a good experience or results.
If you have a chance to guest blog go into it with excitement. This is your chance to get the word out about what you have to offer. Apply the tips above and don’t be surprised when your host welcomes you back with open arms. Do you find this information helpful? Please leave a comment and tell me so. And feel free to share.

 

Image credit:espensorvik

Feb 28 2013

Why Blogging about Yourself is Boring, How to Keep Your Writings Interesting

bored When I browse titles of articles and blog posts, I look for headlines that jump out at me, a title that states something similar to the information I’m seeking at that particular time. For example, if I’m looking for tips on writing great headlines, the article titled “How to Write Great Headlines” catches my eye.

When I begin reading the article, I’m expecting the answers to my questions immediately. I mean, that’s the point in reading the article, right? So when I have to skim through several paragraphs of, “Me, I, we, us,” etc., I immediately get bored. Just get to the point already!

Why we get bored

You probably skimmed (or skipped) the first two paragraphs because you wanted to get to the point. And that’s my point exactly. You didn’t click on this post to know more about me and mine. You clicked to get information, to satisfy a curiosity, to know WHY. And the reason is…

No one cares about you.

As harsh as it sounds, it’s true. No one cares about YOU, the world only cares about what it can get FROM you. I know it sounds negative, but there’s a lot to learn from the negatives. Life isn’t always sunshine and rainbows and sometimes it helps to know the harsh truths.

It might lessen the blow to know there are exceptions, but here’s the blunt truth.

  1. Unless you are well-known, famous, or a celebrity in your own right, nobody cares about you, your experiences, or your opinions.
  2. Unless you’re doing something interesting, involved in something extraordinary, doing something that can affect a massive group or cause, or provide a service where your opinion or your experience matters (i.e. a psychic, a doctor, a journalist, a politician, an activist, expert, etc.), people will skim or skip whatever you’ve written especially if you begin your piece with I, me or my.

For instance, in my posts 4 Mistakes I’ve Made in my Writing Career that You Can Learn From and 4 MORE Mistakes I’ve Made in my Writing Career that You Can Learn From, I mention “I, me and mine” because I have to tell you my mistakes and what I learned from them in order for YOU to learn from them. It makes sense, right? Otherwise, where’s the takeaway?

How to keep people Interested

If you have a story to tell …

  • Make sure your story pertains to others, make sure it’s helpful, and make sure it’s relatable. Talk about how your manuscript rejections made you stronger and how your readers could become stronger from rejections too. Pertains to others? Check. Helpful? Check. Relatable? Check.
  • Tell a story that is valuable to readers and is sought out. For example, tell the story about how you worked at a bookstore, quit your job, and became a national bestselling author, selling your book’s film rights to movie producers. Hugh Howey, anyone?
  • Make sure you stick to the necessities. Don’t wander off topic talking about your toe nail color, unless that is the topic. Unless your toenails have something to do with your blog post or article, don’t include it. Sure we want to see a little bit of your personality, we want to get to know you a bit, but most of the time we’re thinking “get to the point already!”
  • Keep your bio for the end of the piece. Yeah, it’s important your readers know you have a Master’s degree in Philanthropy, you’ve won three Nobel Prizes back-to-back, and you saved thousands of endangered baby seals (are these things logical?). However, including that information at the bottom of your piece will keep people interested in your piece without getting distracted with an opening paragraph of your accomplishments … and in first person at that. Again, unless you are specifically writing about those topics, or your accomplishments are the focus of your piece (in regards to teaching and helping others, I assume), leave the “I, me and mine” for your bio.

 

Now, I can go on and tell you the story about where I got the idea to write this post, but you’d just get bored.

 

 

Jan 31 2013

13 Most Appreciated Gestures in the Writing Biz: Are You Due Some Praise?

Last week I posted a list of 13 Unprofessional Types of People in the Writing Biz. It seems fit to mention the great things that people do in the writing business as well. So here they are the 13 most appreciated gestures a person could do in the writing business. If you’re lucky, you might have done these kind gestures. You’re even luckier if you were on the receiving end.

 

Proper Email Etiquette:

  1. Notifying recipients that you received their email and will respond soon.
This is great to do especially if you know you’re swamped with work and not readily available to answer the email as detailed as you’d like. How to be this person. A simple “Got your email” is much appreciated. It keeps the sender from worrying if their email landed in a spam folder or was never sent.
  1. Notifying email groups or recipients that you’ve been hacked and to not open strange links.
It’s happened to a lot of us. You receive a bogus email with a link from So-and-so. You suspect it’s spam because it seems fishy that So-and-so wouldn’t address you by name. How to be this person. After changing your password, it is sometimes proper to send another email advising to ignore the last one and not to open it or click the link.
  1. Keep a reference of the previous conversation by replying to the email
Keep the things simple and organized. How to be this person. Reply to the last email with the same topic instead of composing a new email. This way, both parties can easily keep track of what was said and agreed upon thus far, or refresh their memory without searching for the other emails.
  1. Alter the subject line of an email when replying
You were discussing the price of your e-book over email, the subject line was “E-book Pricing” but now you want to talk about the cover. How to be this person. By replying to the email and changing the subject line to “E-book Pricing & Cover” you tether to the previous information you shared in the email but updated the subject line so the recipient knows the subject has changed.

Social Media Engagement:

  1. Following, commenting, discussing, liking
We’re all looking to build or expand our platform, and simply following an author’s posts, blog, or social media presence is one of the best ways to show your support. Leaving comments, liking or engaging in discussions with the author is the best way to show you are invested. This person is highly appreciated in the writing biz, because these invested people help make authors and writers relevant. How to be this person. Show the person you see them, acknowledge them, and understand or enjoy their time with as little as a click of a mouse.

 

6. Sharing, Liking, Re-Tweeting, Favorite-ing, etc. In this day and age, it’s hard to find an audience with so many in the business vying for attention. It can be difficult to reach and connect to others without some help. How to be this person. Helping to spread the word of your favorite author’s new release or latest blog post is highly appreciated usually with just a click of a button.

 

Sharing and Giving:

  1. Blogging/Article Writing/Sharing your Expertise
Sharing your secrets or your knowledge with those who seek that information is one of the best things you can do for others and yourself. How to be this person. Is there something you’re really interested in, something you know a lot about or are willing to learn a lot about? Consider sharing your knowledge or experiences with others on your blog or in an article to post on Facebook or other online sites. There’s always someone looking for info on the topic you are an expert in.
  1. Give-Aways/Contests
Everyone loves freebies! Receiving something for nothing always puts a smile on someone’s face, because they don’t have to do or spend hard earned money on it. Being a winner always feels great, because it’s exclusive. Not everyone can win which makes you feel special. How to be this person. Giving away a copy or ten of your latest release, bookmarks or other swag is a great gesture because it shows that you are not only generous but sociable and kind. Traits people are attracted to.
  1. Critiquing/Beta Reading/Proofreading
In my opinion, someone that reads your manuscript before it’s submitted for publication and gives you feedback on how to improve your story for little or nothing in return deserves a dozen thank-yous, if not more. How to be this person. Taking time out of your busy schedule to help out a fellow author by reading their work and giving your honest opinion is part of helping that author improve and succeed. Kudos for that!
  1. Rating & Reviewing
Ratings and reviews of an author’s books or a writer’s articles is the perfect way to give a public pat on the back for a job well done. Even if your rating and review is unfavorable, it’s helps bring attention to the book or article, help other readers better decide if they’d want to read it or if it was helpful or not, and informs the author what to improve upon with her next project. How to be this person. Rate and review the books and articles you’ve read.
  1. Rejection Letters with Feedback /Revise and Resubmits
The best thing about a rejection (if there’s such a thing) is the actual feedback that some editors send along with it. How to be this person. It’s one thing to send a form rejection letter. It’s another to give some helpful feedback along with your rejection to inform the author where the story failed and how to improve it. If the story is promising but has a few snags, go ahead and say so. Most serious authors respect this kind of rejection.
  1. Notifying of website/e-books errors/ways to improve
Who doesn’t appreciate someone who points out errors in order for you to fix them and remain flawless-looking? How to be this person. If the links on the author’s website stopped working and you emailed her to notify her, you’d be a hero in that author’s eyes. You are helping her improve and fix her mistakes, one of the very best gestures.
  1. Truly appreciating what another has done to help you in your goals
The note to readers at the top right of my website is no gimmick. I am absolutely thankful for my readers, all of you, fans or not. I would like to remind you with every book release, article or post, but I don’t want to get too cheesy. I think showing that you are honestly appreciative of others and their contributions is necessary in building a connection.

 

Did I leave any appreciated gestures out? Go ahead and leave a comment. Add to the list. Tell me what you think.