Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Marketing Yourself

by Tristi Pinkston

Many authors believe that when they start marketing, they're only marketing their books. This isn't the case - when you become published, you're marketing yourself just as much, if not more, than your book. People will buy things from a person they like. Then you wow them with a great product, and it's a total win.

I recall being at a bookstore and feeling completely annoyed by a particular author who was being super aggressive with his sales pitch. He was like a mastiff, practically demanding that everyone buy his book and insinuating that there was something wrong with them and amiss with their parentage if they did not buy his book. Truth be told, I was rather interested in it, but his behavior and attitude were so irritating that I wouldn't have picked up that book at gun point. I'm just rebellious that way.

Additionally, I am following an author on Twitter who does nothing morning, noon, and night but post "Get my book here." "Here's an excerpt." "You should come buy my book."  There's no personal interaction of any kind, and I can't get a sense of who she is. That means I have no idea if I'll identify with her world view and if I'll connect with her book.

Then I know another person on Facebook who just sighs and moans all the time. Nothing is ever right, this publisher or that publisher rejected her, on and on ... I eventually stopped getting her updates because they were so depressing.

These are all examples of ways in which our personalities, if we're not careful, (or lack of personalities) can turn a potential reader off.

Of course, there are times when we pick up the book before we meet the author. But what do we do when we find a book we like? We hunt down the author. We read their blog, we check out their site, we "like" their page on Facebook. And we get to know them a little better as people. You know what - there have been plenty of times when I've enjoyed someone's book but couldn't abide them, and so I didn't purchase more of their books because they just rubbed me the wrong way. It might not be entirely fair, but that's just human nature.

The point I'm making here is that as a professional in the writing industry, you should be building a positive online presence and preparing to show the world the very best of yourself. Of course you'll have bad days and there's nothing wrong with posting about them on Facebook. However, your bad day posts shouldn't overtake your entire wall, and you should try to balance them out with a touch of levity. That makes you approachable. Keep in mind that the minute you put yourself out there, you are out there, for good or for bad. People might not recognize you in grocery stores, but they are watching you and your career (that sounds rather stalkerish) and you have the chance to either make yourself a compelling person or a repelling person by the way you present yourself. Be genuine, be yourself, but be mindful of your potential readership and the impact your words and behavior will have on them.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Proofing Your Work

by Donna K. Weaver

Editing. Proofing. What's the difference?

Editing is when you correct, condense, or otherwise modify something. In the case of writers, written material.

Proofing is when you examine for flaws or errors.

Sometimes--too often for me--my eyes can play tricks on me. My mind wants me to see what I'm looking for. And I miss things.

Here's an example for you. How many Fs do you see in the sentence below?

Finished files are the result of years of scientific study
combined with the experience of years.

How many did you find? (I'll tell you how many you should have found at the end of the post.)

One way to get around this is to read your manuscript aloud. While that works to see how the sentences flow, it's not the best for proofing. That stupid brain again.

Newer versions of MS Word have something called Speak. Up at the top of your opened document, you should have a Quick Access Toolbar. Some people choose to have it at the top of the Ribbon and others (like me) have it at the bottom. Here you can add icons for all the features you use a lot.

Click on the drop-down thingy on the left in yellow to get the window you see to the left.

Select More Commands (second from the bottom)
It assumes you want to use Popular Commands. Click on the down arrow and choose All Commands.

Click into the list on the left under All Commands. Type in the letter S, and it will take you to the first option that begins with S.

You will still need to scroll down because there are a lot of Ss.

When you get to Speak, click the Add>> button to put it on your toolbar list in the right column. Then click OK at the bottom of the window.

You will now have this little box that resembles a cartoon dialogue box. If you scroll over it, the box will say Speak selected text.

Now you're ready for what I call my final proof. I highlight a paragraph of text and click this icon. Word reads it to me. I use it at work too. There, the voice is masculine (mechanical) but, at home, it's feminine (not quite so mechanical). 

Yes, it messes up some word pronunciations. It says "Braedon" without a problem but wants to make "pointed" sound French. O_o

As it reads, though, it catches those things my brain makes up because it thinks they should be there. There was a paragraph in the manuscript for A Change of Plans that used the word "martial". That particular paragraph had been unchanged for several edits. Probably a dozen people had read it (including three editors), and everyone had missed that I'd type it "marital". 

Big difference between martial and marital. What my eyes missed, my ears caught immediately.

So, back to that first test. The number of Fs is six.
How many did you find?
(hint: Finished files are the result of years of scientific study
combined with the experience of years.  
It's those tricksy "of" words that tripped me up the first time I read that sentence years ago.)

Do you have any proofing tricks?

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Magic of Writing

by Canda Mortensen

This past week I've gone back to a project that I haven't work on for months (Okay, it's more months that there are in a year, but let's move on.) because I had a glimpse of some things that need to change to strengthen the conflict and improve the structure.
Sounds easy?
Of course not, thus procrastination!

When we (Deanna and I write together) first wrote the novel, it was fun and exciting to work on. Chick Lit is a favorite genre for both of us. We were excited when trouble swamped the main character, or when something snarky just worked in the dialogue, or when minor characters nudged their way into our hearts. Every scene was a new discovery. Magical.

That fun even held through a few rewrites. Now the fun is dead, cremated, drifting in the wind somewhere over the Arctic. All that is left is work, work, work.

I made it through nine chapters last week and there are definite improvements, but that's only 1/3 of the book and, if I'm being honest, there's a little dread about continuing with the edits. I started rationalizing: maybe it's okay the way it is, who would notice these small changes, (and the big one) it's not going to be published anyway.

But I read these thoughts by another author:

Maybe your muse hangs around for the whole project--mine doesn't. She hates work! She runs off to find someone to party with when the writing choices get hard. But I want to learn this writing thing so I keep writing and changing and fixing. This week's thought: Keep writing--make it magical!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

St. George Writing Retreat Announced

by Cindy M. Hogan
Are you ready for this?

You are not going to want to miss this one. It's time to take your writing to the next level.
Join us.
*Details coming soon