Archive for the ‘writing’ Category

Painting The Writing Master by Thomas Eakins

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Kristen Lamb a savvy writer on any social media topic, and her latest post is no exception. It is a must read for any writer, whether traditionally or independently published. Even if you’re thinking of publishing your work, you’ll want to read this article.

First, Kristen Lamb talks about different kinds of platforms:

The Traditional Author

If you are agented and likely to be traditionally published, you have the backing of a publisher, an editor, an agent and people hired to help your books succeed. Thus, the burden of sales and marketing doesn’t rest solely on your shoulders. Focus on writing the best book you can write.

But, is a good book alone enough? No. And it never has been. How can I say this? I like to cite the BEA statistics of 2006. 93% of all books published (traditionally and non-traditionally) sold less than 1000 copies. So, for traditional authors, even with all those people working in your favor, the failure rate can be sobering of you rely solely on a good book alone. Historically, a writer had no control over changing these odds. Now, we have social media so we can help spark word-of-mouth. We are no longer forced to gamble, and that rocks 😉 .

Also, what we need to always keep in mind is that social media has changed demands placed on traditionally published writers. Many times the publisher will expect the author to help with her own marketing and promotion. This is easier to do if when your first book is published, you aren’t trying to pull a platform out of the ether.

For the traditionally published author, you don’t need to do as much. If you want to blog and tweet and Facebook, then go for it. I think the stronger your platform, the better. My opinion? Being traditionally published does have advantages.There really isn’t a need to have a social platform the size of a self-pubbed author unless you want one. A great author to follow who has THE BEST advice for the traditionally published author is Jody Hedlund. Another fountain of wisdom in this crazy world? Anne R. Allen. Bookmark their blogs and listen to every word they tell you. These ladies will keep your head straight.

The Hybrid Author

Some of you might fall into the traditional category. Ah, but you have a bit of a wild side that likes to write essays, poetry , short stories, death threats, or manifestos. Now, in the changing paradigm, there is finally a cost-efficient way of getting these types of works to the reader. Ten years ago, no publisher would have taken a second look at a book of poetry because it might only sell 500 copies. It just was a terrible investment with dismal returns for the publisher and even the author.

Now? Just e-publish. Those 500 copies that looked so depressing before, now are darn spiffy sales numbers if you’re keeping 100% and putting out only time, effort, and a minimal cash investment. So, if you are wanting to try your hand at selling some self-published items, you need to have a larger platform and a greater presence to drive those sales. Pay attention to Chuck Wendig. He makes the second-oldest-profession-in-the-world look good and is not above showing a little leg.

The Indie

Yes, for the sake of brevity I am lumping a lot of stuff together. Indie has a lot of different flavors and I highly recommend listening to Bob Mayer and Jen Talty. Take one of their workshops because they are the experts when it comes to all the different publishing options in the new paradigm.

If you are an indie author, you have the backing of a small independent publisher. There is the upside of not being completely all on your own. I am with Who Dares Wins Publishing and I am blessed with a lot of expertise I don’t even know if I have the smarts to learn.

But, we need to point of the pink elephant in the room.

As awesome as indie presses are, logic dictates that most of them won’t have the manpower to help us in promotion and marketing like Random House or Penguin. We don’t get book placement in major chain bookstores or WalMart or Costco. We need a VERY LARGE PLATFORM. Sure, the indie press will help, but the lion’s share of the burden is ours.

Many new writers are carving out a career path by starting indie in hopes it will lead to traditional publication. Yet, here’s the deal. NY will want to see high sales numbers. Our social media platform is critical.

The Self-Published Author

Some of you love being in control of all aspects of your career. Web design, book covers, uploading? No sweat. There have been some tremendous success stories that have come out of the self-publishing world—Amanda Hocking, H.P. Mallory and John Locke are three that come to mind. These folks didn’t already have a name branded by traditional publishing. They rose out of the nothing with their own hard work….but boy did they WORK.

I was blessed enough to meet H.P. Mallory and listen to how she sold a bazillion books in six months and I needed a nap. John Locke? He is a MACHINE. I read his How I Sold a Million Books in Five Months and I thought it could be retitled as How to Kill a Writer in Less than a Year. The amount of work, planning, strategy was incredible (and I say this with the utmost amount of respect awe and yes…jealousy).

Yet, I do need to point out that Hocking, Mallory and Locke have all since signed with traditional/larger publishers. I think there comes a point when the workload is too much to maintain alone and long-term, but that might just be my opinion. Would have to ask them.

Thus, when we start thinking about our writing career, we need to be really honest about how much work we can do. Too many new writers think that self-publishing is a panacea, that all they need to do is upload their genius and people will buy.

Um…no.

If we look at the self-publishing success stories, the harder they worked, the luckier they got. Same with indie. If you are considering any kind of publishing outside of the traditional route, then ask the hard questions.

Can you write and maintain a blog and a social media presence? Can you do guest posts and blog tours and contests and create groups? Can you do all of his without the quality of your books suffering? Can you keep writing more books? In indie publishing and self-publishing, it is becoming clearer and clearer that those writers who can turn out books and quickly create a backlist are the ones that are the most successful.

What is your background and what do you bring to the table? Do you already possess a lot of technical expertise? H.P. Mallory left a career in Internet sales. She built her own website and uploaded, formatted and designed covers for all of her own books. If you don’t have the tech savvy, do you have money to hire people to do it for you? John Locke did. What is your background? Both Mallory and Locke came from a background in sales. That is a driven and fearless personality.

If you are writing under three pen names because you fear your family will find out you want to be a writer, then this might not be the best path. Things like time, money, background and personality all need to be considered when it comes to tailoring the right platform to the right publishing choice.

It is a wonderful time to be a writer and the sky is the limit. There are all kinds of generous people willing to offer time, help and expertise. My favorites are Jane Friedman, Porter Anderson, and Bob Mayer. And if you are an unpublished writer?

Feel free to start with the Snuggie, but eventually? Yeah, you will have to hand it over lest it become your Lazy Blanket.

The above is only a part of Kristen Lamb’s excellent article, I would encourage you to read the entire thing. You can find it here: Beware the Social Media Snuggie — One Size Does NOT Fit All.

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Joe Konrath broke his hiatus to, among other things, release some of his sales figures. I was amazed.

Joe writes:

Here are my latest royalty statement figures for my six Hyperion titles and my Hachette title, for Jan 1 – June 30, 2011. Paper sales are hardcover and mass market combined.

Whiskey Sour paper sales: $1450.00
Whiskey Sour ebook sales: $5395.00

Bloody Mary paper sales: $463.00
Bloody Mary ebook sales: $2591.00

Rusty Nail paper sales: $226.00
Rusty Nail ebook sales: $3220.00

Dirty Martini paper sales: $415.00
Dirty Martini ebook sales: $3370.00

Fuzzy Navel paper sales: $485.00
Fuzzy Navel ebook sales: $3110.00

Cherry Bomb paper sales: $224.00
Cherry Bomb ebook sales: $3864.00

Afraid paper sales: $1608.00
Afraid ebook sales: $12,158.00

My jaw made a popping sound as it hit my desk. I had no idea that writers could make that kind of money from ebooks compared to print.
You can read the rest of Joe’s article here: Guest Post by Lee Goldberg (and Konrath talks numbers)

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I woke up today and didn’t want to write. I wanted to do anything but write. I felt, What’s the use, it’s never been a happen, I’m never going to be able to earn a significant portion of my living from my writing. But I know with that sort of attitude only one thing is guaranteed: I’m guaranteed to fail. So I wrote this blog post with myself in mind.

1. You owe it to yourself.

If earning your living from writing is your dream, the only way your dream is going to come true is if you keep at it. There’s only one person who can make your dream come true: You. Remember, if this were easy then everyone would be doing it. There’s a reason they’re not.

2. If you try you will succeed.

I’m not saying that if you try you’ll get rich, or that you try you will be able to earn enough money from your writing to quit your day job – that would be nice, though! What will happen is that you won’t have given up on your dream and, yes this sounds corny, but that’s success. You’ll be a writer. There’s a reason why the phrase, ‘starving writer,’ trips off the tongue so easily.

3. If you don’t try, you’ll always wonder, ‘what if?’

They say that at the end of life as you look back at what you’ve done, what you’ve accomplished, you don’t regret the things you did, you regret the things you didn’t do. I don’t know if that’s true, but it sounds right to me.

4. It’s a marathon, not a sprint

You’ve heard this one before. Personally, I think it’s like a series of triathlons!

5. Variety is the spice of life

When you get bored, try something new. Something I’m trying out is Dragon NaturallySpeaking. I hadn’t heard about this software until a couple of weeks ago when I came across a number of author blogs talking about the fantastic results they had gotten. (No, this is not advertisement for Dragon NaturallySpeaking!)

When I picked up the software last week, I thought that this might be a way of getting another half hour per day to write. It takes me 15 minutes to walk to work, but if I could use a digital recorder to dictate parts of my story, perhaps even a blog post, I could squeeze another 30 from the day.

I haven’t tried that yet, but something unexpected has happened. This new way of writing – perhaps I can’t, or shouldn’t, call this writing; perhaps I should call it speaking – has made the words come easier, has reinvigorated me.

One thing Dragon NaturallySpeaking had been excellent for is transcribing my longhand notes. Often when I get an idea for a story I write it out longhand and these notes can run to hundreds of pages! Over the past few days I have been faced with the task of typing in about 50 or 60 pages of notes, something that takes me a long time to do. Last night, using Dragon, I transcribed the lion share of my notes in about half an hour! Perhaps it’s the novelty that made it seem effortless – and fun! – But it seemed to go much faster, and I’m a fast typist.

6. Bribery works

I love books, especially journals. New journals. Over my lifetime I’ve filled bookcases with journals covered in my scribbling. (And, no, I’m not a serial killer!) For me, if I need special motivation, I tell myself, “Self, all you need to do is fill up this journal and you can buy yourself a new one.” And, believe it or not this often works.

Okay, I don’t know about you, but it’s NaNoWriMo time and I’m all fired up to write! Talk to you tomorrow. 🙂


I don’t know why I’m so thrilled by seeing my blog listed on Technorati.com, but I am! I have a tiny, tiny authority of 109(authority measures a site’s standing & influence in the blogosphere and is a number from 1 to 1000, 1000 being most influential), but that’s okay.I would encourage anyone with a blog to list it with Technorati.com. The process is quick and painless and, somehow, very rewarding. Here’s how you go about it.

For anyone who is curious, I haven’t noticed a significant increase in traffic to my site (technorati is a search engine for blogs) but I just got listed, so who knows?

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We all make excuses, excuses that keep us from doing those things we want to do, perhaps even those things we <i>need</i> to do.

Reaching for our dreams is risky because, to achieve them, we would have to make ourselves vulnerable.

Each of us has a special fear, but a big one for writers is rejection, having agents and editors — and, ultimately the reading public — tell us our writing is dreadful and our ideas unworthy of the hard drive space they’re stored in.

Let’s identify the excuses we use and ditch them.

(The following list was made by Tommy Walker, see below.)

<blockquote>
1. You can’t afford to take a risk right now.

If not now, then when?

This excuse is fear of the unknown.

The reality is, you can’t afford <i>not</i> to take a risk right now.

If an idea really benefits people, pulling on the reigns doesn’t just inhibit your progress…it prevents people from improving their lives.

<b>2. Someone else is already doing it.</b>

Which came first, Copyblogger or Problogger? Dyson or Hoover? Groupon or LivingSocial?

Does it matter?

Not really.

<b>3. You don’t know where to begin.</b>

The human brain isn’t designed to process information in a linear fashion.

This is why when you dream, it doesn’t start “at the beginning” and you only remember how the dream ended, but never how it began.

If you’re looking to pick up a new skill, usually “the beginning” will make itself apparent, regardless of where you start.

Even better, because the way you process information is unique to you, your “starting point” could help you form a very unique perspective that people love.

Also consider the other people who “don’t know where to begin.”

By simply picking a place and chronicling your journey, you can inspire others to learn with you.

<b>4. You’re afraid of what your colleagues will say.</b>

Peer validation is rarely the deciding factor in any entrepreneurial story worth hearing.

If you’re concerned with what your industry peers will think, don’t worry about it.

Sometimes disruption is exactly what your peers need.

<b>5. Nobody will buy.</b>

If people will buy the “Pet Rock” people will buy what you’re selling.

You just have to figure out how to position yourself, and why they need you.

<b>6. You haven’t done it before.</b>

This is my favorite excuse, because it’s such a cop out.

Let’s look at some of the common milestones in your life that you got through just fine

– You went to school (hadn’t done that before)
– Had your first kiss (hadn’t done that before)
– Learned to drive a car
– Took up a new hobby
– Learned to read

Or really anything beyond lying on your back and flailing your limbs uncontrollably.

You hadn’t done anything before you did it. It’s simple, but it’s true.

This excuse is rooted in fear of the unknown.

Now it’s perfectly fine to be afraid, but “inexperience” is by far one of the worst excuses.

Life is built on a series of “firsts” and making the choice to limit your experiences only leads to dissatisfaction.

<b>7. You’ll get to it later.</b>

No you won’t. You never do.

Get to it now, or at least schedule it to get done.

Then do it.

You’ll be a lot more satisfied when you’re finished.

8. You don’t want to be boring.

What’s boring to some is addictive to others.

People process information differently. If you skew towards boring it’s entirely possible to still find the right audience.

However if you skew towards boring, and you don’t want to, find <a href=”http://www.copyblogger.com/how-to-be-interesting/”>ways to become more interesting</a>.

Take an improv class, do some live Q&A’s, go bungee jumping… spice it up.

<b>9. If you can’t get it right the first time, why bother trying?</b>

Perfection is a myth.

Nobody actually “does it right”. That’s why there are so many grocery stores, soda brands, religions, and blogs.

It’s not about “doing it right” so much as it is doing it to the best of your ability.

Giving it everything you’ve got, regardless of the outcome, that’s the only way to do it right.

<b>10. Failure would destroy you.</b>

Anyone who’s ever “made it” will tell you they’ve failed more times than they’ve succeeded.

Being destroyed by failure is a choice; the choice is to quit.

If you fail, fail.

Give it everything you’ve got, and let it become a disaster.

Watch it burn.Let it destroy you.

Then recoup, learn from your mistakes, and rise from the ashes.

Failure never completely destroys you, only the parts that weren’t doing you any good.

With every catastrophic failure, hindsight allows you to see where you went wrong.

When you rebuild, you’re that much closer to perfecting the system.</blockquote>
This list of 10 was taken from Tommy Walker‘s article, 106 Excuses That Prevent You From Ever Becoming Great.

Excuse number 7 is one I use all the time. Today I’m not going to procrastinate, I’m doing it now. (I don’t quite know what I’m doing, but whatever it is, I’m doing it now! 😉

Do you have a ‘favorite’ excuse, one that keeps you from achieving the things you dream about?

Derek Haines loves StumbleUpon and here’s why:

My blog completely froze and gave me a ‘Page Cannot Be Loaded’ message. So off I went on an immediate hunt to find out why. It took me some time because I was looking in all the wrong places, and even if I had an inkling of the problem I wouldn’t have known how to go about remedying it anyway. Therefore I didn’t find the problem and decided to try another alternative. Wait half an hour and see what happened.

During that half an hour I popped into Stumbleupon by sheer chance. There at the top of my page was my problem. My server had been hit by over 1,500 visitors in less than fifteen minutes. Yes, from Stumbleupon. As my site is on a very normal everyday type server, this was a bit too much for it to handle. But what a nice problem to have.

Read the entire article over at Derek Haines’ blog, The Vandal: Blogging — The Stumbleupon Effect.

I have studied ways to drive traffic to my blog but hadn’t seriously considered StumbleUpon and, if not for Derek’s article, likely wouldn’t have for quite some time. Thanks Derek! I think that reading other writer’s blog posts is the most useful thing I do all day.

Another site that is worth checking out, if you haven’t already, is reddit.com. I mentioned fark.com to someone the other day and they rolled their eyes at me.

No one reads Fark anymore,” they said with pitying condescension.

We’ll see about that! I thought and marched home where I compared reddit.com to fark.com using Google Trends.

They were right! Well, not completely right, as you can see reddit.com is trending down as well, but, nevertheless, the result surprised me and I learnt something.

My goal for the day is to learn more about StumbleUpon.

Hardcore introvert, that’s me! I just found Lindsay Buroker through twitter (@GoblinWriter) and I just had to share a few of her tips for how introverts can flourish on the web:

Ignore the people who try to be everywhere (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, every forum, etc.), using these platforms as billboards for their stuff, sending out grating sales pitches all the time. If they’re selling books, it’s in spite of what they’re doing there rather than because of it.

So, what do you do?

1. Start a blog (if you’re like me, you’ll be most comfortable sharing your thoughts, and maybe throwing in a post or two about your books, on your own site because it’s a place people have voluntarily chosen to visit — you’re not bugging anyone in a “public” venue).

2. Pick one or two social media sites to get involved on (I’ve been on Twitter for ages — I like it since you’re forced to keep messages short so it’s not a big time sink — and I’ve recently started doing more with Facebook, since much of my target audience hangs out there).

3. Use those sites to get to know your fans (or people who, based on their profiles, might become your fans!), and also use them to promote interesting posts on your blog. People are a lot more likely to click on a link to a possibly-useful-to-them blog post than they are to click on a buy-my-book link. Then, through your blog, people can get to know your writing style and what you’re all about. (I use affiliate links to track sales that originate from my blog, and I sell more than I’d expect, given that I write about e-publishing instead of fantasy or something specifically for my target audience.)

You can read the entire article here: Book Promotion Tips for Hardcore Introverts