7 Lessons from Advertising

7 Lessons from Advertising Guest Blogger: Elizabeth Miller Wood (@ElizMillerWood) As an advertising copywriter, my job is to sell stuff using words. Regardless of what I’m selling—a product, a service, a destination—the copy strives for two goals: capture readers and compel them to take action. For the next few minutes, pretend you’ve got something to sell—in this case, your writing. You need to “sell” that agent on requesting your manuscript. You need to “sell” that reader on continuing to the next chapter. You need to “sell” your blog followers on coming back again. Here’s the catch: advertising copy allows very little word count. You have to sell your writing quickly and efficiently. This takes discipline! And discipline is a valuable skill for writers to hone. Here are seven lessons of...
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Co-Authoring: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Co-Authoring: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Guest Blogger: Frank Viola  (@FrankViola) I’m a firm believer in co-authoring. I’ve done it several times and I’d encourage other authors to do it. But like anything else that’s worthwhile, co-authoring has its challenges. It also has its dark side. Following is my brief overview of the benefits (the good), the challenges (the bad), and the frustrations (the ugly) of sharing a writing project with another mortal. The Good I don’t know about you, but I’m wired for networking and co-laboring. I love team-work and prefer joint projects over flying solo. So co-writing suits my personality. But even if you’re not wired like I am, here are some of the benefits I’ve discovered in co-writing: • You get to share the workload. If the project is large or daunting, this is a...
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Enough with “Us vs. Them”

Enough with “Us vs. Them” Guest Blogger: Aimee L. Salter (@AimeeLSalter) Historically the life of a writer was a solitary voyage. Until a writer made it, the wounds and fears of the writing life were largely navigated alone. Then along came the internet. Now even the most isolated writers have a community of millions at their fingertips. Where before authors might have been compared to the lonely hiker climbing a mountain, now we’re each tooting our horns in gridlocked traffic, awaiting our turn to crest the superhighway summit of publishing. We’re car pooling. Journeymen. Brothers at the wheel… Right? Well… sort of. I’ve been grinding gears on the writing superhighway for over three years now. Many, many things have changed in that time. Except one: the habit of writers deciding to bring...
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4 Tips for Writing Your Personal Story

4 Tips for Writing Your Personal Story Guest Blogger: Dan Miller Recently at church I was introduced to a gentleman who insisted I take a copy of his brand-new book. Being a book guy, I opened it later that evening and began reading. It tells in graphic detail about a horrendous experience the author had at 10 years old that has continue to be the central defining theme of his life. As I was reading it, some points for authors came to mind: 1. Don’t assume that everything that has happened to you is interesting to everyone else. Why would something that is gross, violent, aberrant, or atrocious be interesting to someone else – other than as an unhealthy voyeur? In the age of Twitter and Facebook it’s easy to assume that people are interested in knowing you ate a Twinkie for breakfast – but frankly, I don’t believe...
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13 Ways to Write with Urgency

13 Ways to Write with Urgency Guest Blogger: Chad R. Allen (Editorial Director, Baker Books) @chadrallen We’ve all been there. You start reading a non-fiction book or a blog, and all is right with the world. But then as you get into it, something changes. It’s not holding your attention. In fact, the word “boring” comes to mind. One way to reduce boredom among your readers is to write with a sense of urgency. After all, if what you’re saying is not important, why write it? As I read your blog post or non-fiction book, I want to know that you want my attention. I want your writing to be like hands on my shoulders as you look me in the eyes and speak. It’s about taking my time seriously. It’s about believing what you say matters. Following are 13 ways to produce a sense of urgency in your non-fiction or...
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5 Tips for Hiring a Blog Designer

5 Tips for Hiring a Blog Designer Guest Blogger: Jean Huffman @huffman_jean I recently decided it was time to invest in a professionally-designed blogsite. So I hired someone I thought was a reputable designer. But I ended up with a half-finished, unusable site and recouped only half of my original investment. The second time through the process, I’ve done things differently. Here are some tips that may save you both heartache and money. 1) Count the cost. At the least, moving from a free site (such as Blogger or WordPress.com) requires the purchase of hosting from a host server and a domain name. (I would delay buying these items until a designer tells you which host server they prefer.) The cost of a designer’s services is actually optional. I have a quote from Linda Leigh Hargrove, writer and former web designer:...
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Pros and Cons of Small Presses

Pros and Cons of Small Presses Guest blogger: Jessica Knauss (@JessicaKnauss) As a writer and hopeful published-author-to-be, you have probably noticed the scores of tiny publishing houses cropping up in the new, bewildering publishing climate. Often created from virtually nothing by people with a particular passion, these small presses should not be ignored when considering your options. The following comments are based on my personal experience “on the inside.”   Advantageous characteristics of a smaller press can include: • Welcoming. Debut authors tend to get an unbiased reception. • Quick. A small staff can mean less bureaucracy and an easier decision process. • Dedicated. They will take an unknown author’s manuscript seriously and invest time and resources in its success if they believe in it...
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Are You Hitting a Bulls Eye With Your Target Audience?

Are You Hitting a Bulls Eye With Your Target Audience? Guest Blogger: Melissa K. Norris  @melissaknorris The most important thing a writer can do from both a marketing and creative standpoint is to define their target audience. Before you write another sentence, grab a pen and paper, laptop, napkin, whatever is handy, and begin to define your target audience. What is a target audience? Your target audience consists of the people who will buy your book, subscribe to your newsletter, blog posts, tweets, and Facebook page. They are your tribe. Imagine your target audience as a real person, because they are. Ask yourself what drew you to write or read books similar to your own. I write and read historical romance, specifically set in the pioneer days of the Old West. Why do I like to read these stories? They take me back to a simpler time,...
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How Your Day Job Can Help Your Writing

How Your Day Job Can Help Your Writing Guest Blogger: Charise Olson “Don’t quit your day job.” An axiom meant to somehow soften the insult that whatever dream you’re pursuing is going to remain just that for a while: a dream. Perhaps you and I share the dream that our writing will replace our paycheck jobs. My dream specifically includes sand, tropical waters, a large umbrella (I burn easily), and an unlimited battery for my laptop. But writing is not a get-rich-quick scheme and I’ve got kids to help through college so I’ll probably have to keep my day job even when writing can pay a few bills. It’s not all bad; our day jobs can actually be a benefit to our writing. Here’s how my paycheck job has helped my fiction: Characters: Writing can be isolating. Even if you write in a coffee shop, there’s not a lot of...
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Are You a Rookie or a Professional?

Are You a Rookie or a Professional? I am taking a blog hiatus, and will feature a combination of previous posts and guest bloggers each day through August 10th. Please keep visiting and commenting! ~Rachelle Guest Blogger: Peter DeHaan(@Peter_DeHaan) For the past thirty years, I’ve been submitting articles to periodicals, and for the past eleven I’ve also been on the receiving end as a trade magazine publisher and editor. This gives me a 360-degree understanding of what happens to an article from conception to publication – and everything in between. In my role as submission gatekeeper, I see a wide variety of articles, from the interesting and finely honed to those missing the mark and sloppy. I also deal with all manner of authors, from the skilled professional to the high-maintenance novice. These two factors...
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5 Tips For Making a Living as a Writer

5 Tips For Making a Living as a Writer I am taking a blog hiatus, and will feature a combination of previous posts and guest bloggers each day through August 10th. Please keep visiting and commenting! ~Rachelle Guest Blogger: Shawn Smucker @shawnsmucker I tapped my fingers on the smooth granite counter tops — they would not be ours for much longer. I glanced across the kitchen at my wife, then looked away. I didn’t want to say the words because my silence would keep it from happening. Right? Freeze time? Change our entire situation? But she said them for me. “We have to move into your parents’ basement.” A few months later, the downward spiral of my business complete, we moved 150 miles away from the community we loved to the place I had grown up. At 32 years old, with a wife and four kids, that five-month stint...
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From Blog to Book: Building an Online Platform

From Blog to Book: Building an Online Platform Guest blogger: Erin Reel @TheLitCoach When I was a literary agent I received a nonfiction book proposal, Twinspiration, from Cheryl Lage in 2003, right about the time when “platform” started to become a buzz word in publishing and before the blogging craze really took off. I immediately fell in love with the work. I was excited to read the About the Author section of the proposal to see who else knew about Cheryl. Aside from her role as a volunteer twins lactation consultant for her local hospital and a few locally published articles, the world was missing out on what Cheryl had to offer — delightfully refreshing advice on how to have a successful twins pregnancy and first year of twin parenting. Although a little deflated by the lack of platform, I felt this author...
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Is Your Writing Better Than Facebook?

Is Your Writing Better Than Facebook? Guest blogger: Ed Cyzewski (@edcyzewski) As writers, we all have a fierce, powerful, all-consuming competitor. You won’t find it at a book store, and it’s one of the few things you can’t find on Amazon. I’m talking about Facebook. If you use Facebook, think about what you love about it for a moment. Facebook provides: → Entertainment → Interaction with friends → Immediate gratification Facebook is your competition because it consumes a ton of leisure time. I’m not saying that we need to fight Facebook toe to toe. I don’t think the world is pining for a book written like a Facebook timeline (though, you never know). Our challenge as writers is to drag our readers away from irresistible distractions like Facebook long enough to teach, enchant, or motivate them with...
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Publishing is Not a Three-Legged Race

Publishing is Not a Three-Legged Race Guest Blogger: Beth K. Vogt  (@BethVogt) I’ve been running a three-legged race along the writing road for the past few months. Let me explain … no, that will take too long. Let me sum up. (Sorry, couldn’t resist a bit of humor from The Princess Bride!) My debut novel, Wish You Were Here, released May 1, turning it into a “real” book being read by “real” people. As expected, some readers like my book. Most of them, I’m happy to say. Others? Not so much. During this time, I’ve watched other writers release their books. Guess what? Some readers like their books. Some readers don’t. But oh, how I laser in on how much more their books are liked than mine — or so I think. Yeah, that makes for a little behind-the-scenes tension. Comparing your success to other...
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