Category Archive: writing business

Aug 12 2014

Amazon & Hachette, What’s the Deal?

amazonLogohachette_book_logo

 

I got the email. The one from the Amazon’s Book Team, urging me to write a letter to the CEO of Hachette Book Group (HBG) to remind them that e-books are not paperbacks or hardcovers and shouldn’t be priced as such.

Here are just a couple of the points I will make in this post:

  • This issue is not about authors or publishers but about the consumers, the readers. Even though some Hachette authors are affected, Amazon and Hachette seem to forget that this is about readers who buy e-books. Happy readers make happy business and a profit for author, publisher and retailer. Readers want low prices. Eventually, readers will not buy high priced e-books and Hachette will be forced to adapt to publishing’s changes or fail.
  • Although Amazon is strict about carrying e-books with low prices, maybe the way they are going about it is all wrong. Yes, I agree e-books should be priced lower than physical books as there are no warehouse costs, shipping cost, printing cost, etc., to offset. However, is preventing preorders and sales of these overpriced books the best tactic? Maybe, if that compromises your brand as the largest online retailer with the lowest prices. Read on.

So what’s up with Amazon?

Amazon wants to be the next Walmart and cater to their online buyers by guaranteeing low prices. Amazon’s mission is “to be Earth’s most customer-centric company, where customers can find and discover anything they might want to buy online, and endeavors to offer its customers the lowest possible prices.” As a bookstore this goal helps them beat out the competition, driving more readers to Amazon.com for low priced reads. How can they brand themselves as a “customer-centric company that offers its customers the lowest possible prices” if they are distributing digital books priced as high as the paperback?

So their statement to Hachette, in my words, are “You want me to help sell your books? You gotta play by my rules. Because I don’t want you exploiting my customers and taking advantage of them by charging them ridiculous fees.” Because even though Amazon gets a piece of the earnings of each e-book sold (30%), they’re reminded of their brand and their mission, the thing that makes them the go-to place for e-books and, well, everything else. Low prices. That’s essentially their thing. And they seemingly care a lot about their customers to prevent the sale of some titles to ensure their customers aren’t being overcharged.

Is this right? That’s the main question. And the answer varies from “yes” to “no” to “I don’t know and don’t care,” depending on who’s most affected by their tactics.

Why shouldn’t publishers play by Amazon’s rules?

Seems like a simple business maneuver (or bullying, depending on who’s talking). Want to work with me? Abide by my rules. Amazon is a business. The way they build their brand is by offering books at a low cost. I said it before, but it bears repeating. This is the difference between Amazon and Barnes and Noble, for instance. Barnes and Noble lists books at the price the publisher chooses. Amazon lists books at the price the publisher decides IF it’s a favorable price for their customers.

So what’s up with Hachette?

Maybe Hachette is a little behind the times. Maybe they don’t understand how publishing has evolved. Maybe they do, but don’t care. Maybe they’re just greedy and it’s all about money, money, money. Who really knows? In response to the letter by Amazon, chief executive of HBG, Michael Pietsch, had this to say:

“Unlike retailers, publishers invest heavily in individual books, often for years, before we see any revenue,” he wrote.  “We invest in advances against royalties, editing, design, production, marketing, warehousing, shipping, piracy protection, and more. We recoup these costs from sales of all the versions of the book that we publish—hardcover, paperback, large print, audio, and e-book.

“While e-books do not have the $2-$3 costs of manufacturing, warehousing, and shipping that print books have, their selling price carries a share of all our investments in the book.”

The bottom line is that Hachette wants to charge high fees for their e-books and that doesn’t fit with Amazon’s business model.

So what if Hachette said, “Screw you, Amazon,” and only sold their books through other online retailers, leaving Amazon in the dust?

They would probably lose money from Amazon’s customers, or face complaints from readers who prefer Amazon’s one-click buy now convenience, and enjoy adding to their collection of books on their Kindle readers.

So what if Hachette lowered they’re e-books on Amazon.com?

Hachette would be forced to lower prices of their e-books at other retailer’s sites too. Otherwise readers would flock to Amazon to get the lower priced books, which is good for Amazon and good for Hachette because it’ll probably increase  sales from Amazon, but the sales will come from lower priced books. Meaning less profit for Hachette (not so good from their point of view).

But money is the name of the game.

Greed aside. Money keeps a business afloat. Sure. Plenty Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) authors, including myself, complained about the royalty difference when pricing our books. KDP authors can select from two royalty options.

E-book priced at $0.99 – $2.99 = 35% royalty to the author

E-book priced at $2.99 – $9.99 = 70% royalty to the author

*$0.00 (FREE) e-books are only an option for Kindle Select participants = books are exclusively sold from Amazon

*All e-books to be priced under $9.99 

Here’s a more detailed explanation at this link.

OK, let’s think business here. Amazon crunched numbers to make sure when every book sells, they make a profit. Makes sense from a business standpoint, right?

I used to wonder, if Amazon really cared about the customer why not add to their database of free e-books by making it easy for KDP authors to upload free reads. I still have a book on Amazon (not enrolled in Select) that is free everywhere else, even Amazon UK and CA, but is still listed at .99 cents on Amazon.com US and other countries. This is so because Amazon uses price matching. If another retailer (competition) provides the book for free Amazon will (usually) do the same to stay on top of the competition.

However, by (definitely) offering the free option to books that are exclusive to Amazon through Kindle Select, they now eliminate the competition of Select titles altogether. As frustrating as this can be to authors not enrolled and want to distribute free e-books on Amazon, including myself, I get it. Business, remember?

Hachette—who I am not familiar with as a business, and never worked with—have an agenda and a profit to make too, to recoup the overall cost of producing the books, as stated above by the chief executive of HBG. If they make bad decisions by overcharging for e-books, over time, those mistakes will correct themselves one way or another. Readers will stop buying overpriced e-books, Hachette will be forced to adapt to the times, or buckle.

Bottom Line

Amazon must learn that although they are currently big and bad in the book industry, they are not the face behind a publishing revolution and they shouldn’t strive to be. They should do what they do best and provide e-books at a value by focusing on the consumer’s wants, but not tossing them in the middle of legal negotiations. Is going public really going to change the fact that these two companies want to do business together but can’t agree? How is a letter from little ol’ me to the CEO of Hachette going to change his or anyone’s opinion, especially if what I say is:

1) Bullet points at the bottom of their lengthy email Amazon prompted me to say

2) Things Mr. CEO already knows

Bestselling Hachette authors placing a $100k ad against Amazon in the New York Times, and Amazon mass emailing all of their readers, is simply putting us in the middle of a war that none of us deserve. The folks choosing sides are most likely the ones directly affected by the Amazon-Hatchette battle. Those on the fence are most likely the ones thrown in the middle and have nothing to do with either parties.

Frankly, both sides are publicly presenting themselves as unprofessional. To go so far with their tactics to start a war over the rights and wrongs of e-book pricing. What should have been a private matter has now spiraled into authors and readers and others in publishing from all over, taking sides and pointing fingers. When if only Amazon and Hachette focus on the reader’s wants (which is a huge factor to consider in the publishing industry) this war would have been nonexistent.

This has been my two cents. Mind sharing yours?

[Image credit: Claudio Toledo]

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.

 

Subscribe to my mailing list & get updates

* indicates required


 


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 30 2013

Simple Solutions to Ten Common Writing Roadblocks

help

Writers are as different as the stories they tell or the expert information they provide. Even so, many things we share are the problems that plague us as creative individuals. Here are ten of the most common challenges writers face at one point in their career. But, fear no more. I’ve got the solution to all ten of your writer issues.

Lack of Ideas

Where do you get your ideas from? Almost all artist have been asked that very question. The reason this is a popular question is because people are always looking for ways to be inspired. Coming up with creative ideas can be a tedious process.

Ideas for stories, characters, settings, plots and even articles come from everywhere. Here’s a list of places to look for some creative inspiration:

  • News stories. Everything from the weather (for apocalyptic tales) to announcements of the latest lottery winners (for tales of cursed families) can be a source of inspiration. News stories are often so fantastic that you don’t have to stretch the imagination much to plot a story.
  • Past experiences are not just a good place to look for writing your memoir. We all have a past, and by choosing specific and emotional parts from your experiences, you could spin it into an inspiring, entertaining, and memorable story.
  • Strangers. Play the guessing game. Guess a stranger’s life story, occupation, ambitions, secrets, etc., just by the way they look, sound, what they’re wearing, what they’re doing, or what car they drive. When you play the guessing game it helps your mind invent some great characters and their motives.
  • Entertainment. Movies, books, poems, music, paintings, pictures, and even food can give you some great ideas. Their themes, messages, or the emotion they incite in you can be a powerful tool for gathering ideas.
  • Secrets, fantasies, and daydreams. Some of the best tales come strictly from what’s hiding in the deep, dark corners of our minds. Things that we’d rather not say or do ourselves but can allow our characters to say and act out, sometimes make for the most fascinating characters, situations and plot lines.

Lack of Originality

Has every idea that pops into your mind been overused, overwritten, and overworked? Even plots twists and character quirks are turning into clichés?

Put your own flair on clichés so the idea would be appreciated instead of being boring. Use clichés to your advantage.

  • Combine and create. Take multiple clichés and combined them to create something new (i.e. the popular high school jock also happens to be a lonely computer geek at home).
  • State the obvious. Purposely set up a cliché scenario and have the characters point out the cliché. By crafting your story using this technique, you say what the reader is thinking so they’re less likely to call you out on it. it’s also a good way to incorporate some humor.

Lack of Inspiration

Sometimes it’s a combination of lack of originality, rejection and self-doubt that can make us feel uninspired, or causes the fierce determination we once had to dwindle. Here are some ways to get back that motivation.

  • Go back to the beginning. Remember the reason you wanted to start the project in the first place. Reliving that passion might reignite the flame.
  • Envision the end. Imagine the sense of accomplishment you’ll get once you’ve finished your project. Imagine the rewards you might receive (i.e. the ability to share your work, the inspiration you’ll give to others who read your work, the amazing feedback, the fan letters, etc).
  • Surround yourself with positive things. Decorate your office or writing space with your awards, fan mail, and other accomplishments and achievements. This should remind you of where you came from and where you’re headed, and encourage you to reach your goals.

Rejection

If you haven’t experienced rejection in your writing career, prepare to. Rejection is the most common experience writers share. Be it manuscript rejection from an editor or agent, or rejection from readers in their reviews of your book. One way or another, you will experience rejection. The trick to getting through this is to understand how rejection can help you.

  • Rejection helps you understand where you need to improve. It sets you up for later success by giving you an advantage on your next project. At least now you know what areas you need to focus on and develop in the future.
  • Rejection, and handling it properly, helps you develop a thick skin. No matter what, rejection hurts, but over time you will learn to take it in stride. Let it work for you, not against you.
  • Rejection happens to us all, even to the best of us. Stephen King’s bestselling novel Carrie was rejected thirty times before finally getting published, becoming a worldwide bestseller and made into the classic film, and later, a couple remakes. Understanding rejection is a part of the business–and that it happens to the best of us–will prepare you for it and help you handle it successfully when it happens. Never allow rejection to keep you from pursuing your goals.

Self-Doubt

Self-doubt is a big one, and can usually come about because of our experience with rejection or not enough experience in writing or publishing in general. We tend to doubt that we have what it takes to accomplish our goals. “Do I know what I’m doing? Will I ever be published? No one will read my work. Who in their right mind would take a chance on me?” The list goes on and on.

Some of us struggle with self-doubt in many areas of our life, but the trick to overcome this debilitating power is to focus on your worth, your accomplishments, and your good qualities instead of dwelling on your failures and weaknesses.

  • Find your strengths. What are you good at? What can you do flawlessly? What are you most proud of? What have you accomplished so far?
  • Discover your value. What makes you noteworthy, respected, unique, or attractive?

Answering these question can help you rid yourself of that pesky self-doubt and bring back your confidence.

Poor Time Management Skills

Falling behind on projects? Find yourself being late or having to postpone obligations a lot lately? You find yourself not following through on commitments you’ve made? You may have poor time management skills. It can get the best of us, from the established writer to the beginner. Here’s some things to keep in mind.

  • Keep a schedule and adhere to it. Create an online editorial calendar (or update your smartphone calendar or even tack up a wall calendar) to keep track of deadlines, dates of submissions and other important dates, and never trust your memory to do the job for you.
  • Plan ahead. Managing a blog? Take advantage of your blog’s “Schedule Post” option. Write your blog posts ahead of time and schedule them to publish at a later date.
  • Integrate social media. Use social media integration to cut back on the time it takes to market your work and projects to your online social network sites. So when your latest blog goes live it automatically shares with your followers on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. This is another way to automate your life.

Catch-22s

You want to pitch an article to a publication, but the editor requests published clips. However, you won’t ever get published clips if you can’t land a gig. Or maybe you need a published book to attract a platform, but you need a platform before you can sell your book.

These are just a couple of the many paradoxes writers have to grapple with. So what do you do? How do you get through it?

  • In need of some clips or writing samples? Pluck an article or blog post from your own blog, website or use a guest blog post in the related subject.
  • Can’t get website visitors to sign up to your mailing list or newsletter? Offer something of high value for free in exchange for them signing up. Offer exclusive information to subscribers. Give away highly valued information or secrets that will help your audience.
  • Need to build your writer platform? Write free guest posts in your field. Give away some great tips and advice to help build a following and a reputation, all with the help of another expert’s established platform.

There are many ways around the inconsistencies you might face in the publishing industry. Just use your creativity to think outside the box and get the results you crave.

Procrastination

One surefire way to avoid putting off writing, marketing or other duties is to avoid distractions and temptations. What you don’t do today may not always get done tomorrow, especially if you keep adding to your to-do list. Here’s how to keep procrastination from taking over your time.

  • Make a vow. Commit to a specific time frame or time of day to write. Vow to write at the prearranged time every day.
  • Stay motivated. Motivate yourself with incentives. Set small goals and reward yourself as you hit each goal.
  • Avoid distractions. Isolate yourself away from distractions while you work. Turn off the phone and internet, unplug the television, and put your tablets and reading devices away. No checking emails or status updates. Focus solely on writing for the allotted time.
  • Prevent interruptions. Make sure your family members have everything they need before you sit down to write, to limit interruptions, and that includes taking care of your own needs as well.
  • Do it now. Don’t put it off. Bestselling science fiction author Hugh Howey’s secret to success is “When I see something that needs doing, I do it.” Simple as that.

Fear of Failure

Just like rejection and self-doubt, the fear of failure can hold us back from what we could accomplish and often does. Fear is a powerful emotion, and the sense of failing can be just as powerful. So how do you combat this common writer problem?

  • Accept that you can’t win at everything. Understand that failure is an option but not the end all. You may have failed at one point in your career and will probably fail again sometime down the road, but you can handle it.
  • Imagine the worse possible outcome and come up with a plan to counter it. Come up with a just-in-case scenario. Having a plan will help you move on, but gives you the courage to confront and overcome your fear in case it manifests.
  • Live it and let it go. Imagine the worse possible outcome, live it in your mind, realized it’s not the end of the world, and get it out of your system. The fear wouldn’t hold as much power over your productivity.

Writer’s Block

Lastly, the infamous writer’s block. We all claim to suffer from this ailment from time to time. Sitting at our desks and staring at a blank document on the screen is nothing more than the result of the above plagues in many combinations; self-doubt, fear of failure, a little bit of procrastination, a sprinkle of poor time management, etc.

Writer’s block does not exist. That’s right. It’s only a name we give to the act of not being able to creatively produce. We should not give power to the illusion. Here’s how to break free.

  • Do not acknowledge writer’s block as anything else but an excuse not to craft. Definitely do not give it a name. Call it exactly what it is. Instead of believing you have some sort of mystical block and waiting around for a magical veil to lift and eliminate it, admit the true problem (i.e. I can’t seem to come up with any fresh ideas today). By understanding the underlying issue, you know how to better tackle it and resolve it.
  • Start somewhere. Anywhere. Start or continue writing your project at a more interesting part of your story or scene, like a love scene, the climax or ending. Or add a surprise or plot twist. Or simply start on the next chapter.  Add a new character or get rid of one. Write something. Anything.
  • Eliminate all distractions. No TV, no music, no phone, no checking emails or text messages, eat before sitting down at your desk so you are not distracted by hunger, etc.
  • Motivate yourself by setting a goal. Set a writing goal for the day or hour and reward yourself when you hit it.

 

Follow the solutions for these ten common writer problems and you’ll be back on track and on your way to making your writing dreams come true. Defeat your writer issues, don’t let them defeat you. Which writer roadblock have you recently hit or overcome?

 

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

Apr 18 2013

My Top 5 Most Helpful Blog Posts for Writers

top 5Here are links to the top 5 most helpful blog posts on this site from 2012 or earlier. This list is especially targeted to writers, aspiring or established. Here’s your chance to view some of my earlier but most influential posts, chosen by me. Hope you find these posts helpful and inspiring.

 

  1. Embracing Rejection Instead of Fearing It – All writers experience publisher/editor/agent rejection at one point in their writing careers, but serious writers learn to embrace that rejection and use it to improve their writing. Here’s how.
  2. Why Writing Well Consistently is Crucial for an Author – Part of an author’s job is to market themselves and their work. We keep up with our online social networks, updating Facebook and Twitter and engaging with other authors, editors, agents and readers. We blog, we’re interviewed and participate in discussions on online forums and blogs. Whether we’re writing books or writing Facebook updates, our number one job as a writer is to write and write well.
  3. Read More to Write Better – Sure we read fiction to escape reality or to be entertained. We read nonfiction to learn or to be inspired. We read for various reasons. However, did you know to be a better writer you have to read? Not just read, but read analytically.
  4. Reasons Writing What You Love Works – The titles I like most are the ones with subjects I enjoy writing about. The stories with an underlying theme or issue that’s close to my heart. And I found I get thoughtful, more positive responses from readers when I write what I love. Below are some reasons why writing what you love can create better, more fulfilling writing.
  5. The Complicated Story Ending – The ending of your story should be just as engaging as the beginning hook. It should be emotionally satisfying, and tie up most if not all loose ends. If the book is part of a series, it still needs to stand on its own, and answer all major story questions.

 

Go ahead and click on the titles that you are most interested in. Leave a comment too (this blog uses CommentLuv so your most recent blog post will be displayed in the comments section when you leave a comment). So, please, share your thoughts.

 

 

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.