Category Archives: Writing and Getting Published 101

Information for the newest writers. Posts by writers for writers.

Writers and Marketing ~ Self-Promotion Without Pain

In this changing literary landscape, it is becoming the norm it is imperative that authors participate in their own marketing.

If you are not already doing so, the above statement is likely intimidating, frustrating, annoying, and perhaps a little humiliating. And understandably so. What with all the Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Digg, Reddit, StumbleUpon, who’sit, what’sit… It’s no wonder. To the uninitiated, the idea of marketing yourself and your writing is a world of new and confusing. I once overhead a writer complain, “I’d rather cut off my feet and run on stumps than learn all that (crap).”

Pretty much sums it up.

So how does one who is a master of words go about the promotion of self and work? There’s so much to learn. And who wants to learn? We want to write!!

Aha! And there’s your answer. Putting yourself out there is easier than you think.

WHERE DO I START?

Getting started online and promoting yourself is easy. Writing a book is hard. Look at it like any other project you’ve taken on in your lifetime. Think back to learning how to cook. You didn’t start out with four-course turkey dinners. Chances are, you scrambled an egg. Now you look at the Internet and think, “I can’t do that.” And no one is asking you to. We just want you to start with an egg.

In geek terms we’ll call that a blog.

FIRST, GET A BLOG

A ‘blog’ (so named because ‘Web Log’ is too long to type,) is nothing more than an online journal. Like keeping a diary, you can write in it every day, once or twice a week, or whenever the mood hits.

Unlike a diary, it is versatile, forgiving, and powerful. Versatile, because all of the work – outside of the actual writing – is done for you. Forgiving, because mistakes are easily corrected, your shortcomings in design and tech know-how are easily compensated. And powerful, because it has the potential to reach an audience beyond your current resources and imagination, in real-time (not in some projected point in the future), and in ways that the ‘blog’ platform has evolved into, beyond the expectations of those who developed them in the first place.

Start a blog. It’s easy. And it’s free. There are websites out there that host blogs. The two biggest are Blogger and WordPress. Romantic Shorts uses WordPress. There are others, but these are the easiest to start with. Blogger is easier to use for beginners, has plenty of fun ways to personalize your site, and will meet virtually all of your needs. WordPress is a little more involved behind the scenes and can be a little intimidating for beginners, but has a great help section and some terrific looking themes, and, I’ve found, better options for growth.

Log on to either of these sites: http://www.Blogger.com  or  http://www.Wordpress.com

Click the ‘Start a Blog’ button and follow the directions. All you need to register your blog is a valid email address. There are no catches.

Give some thought as to what you would like to call yourself. You will be asked to choose a Username. This can be different from your Blog Title, but cannot be changed so long as your blog is in use. It is also the name that will be used in your URL (the blog address visitors will type into their browsers to find you.)

For example: if your name is Kate Middleton, you will likely find that KateMiddleton is already taken. Try for variations like CatherineMiddleton, KateSMiddleton, theKateMiddleton, KatieMiddleton, AuthorKateMiddleton, etc. When you find one that works, you will be given a URL:
www.theAuthorKateMiddleton.Blogspot.com   or    www.WriterKatieMiddleton.WordPress.com

Your sign in will be your user name and you will be asked to choose a password.

At this point, you have an account. You will then be asked to name your blog, provide a Blog Title. I suggest using your pen name. You can make a separate blog for a specific book, project, etc. But for now, start with a writer’s blog. Everything you put in there will be easily sorted.

Your blog host will now show you how to post your first article. Tech stuff is done. Now you’re back to being a writer. So write. About anything you want.

Post your thoughts, your ideas, comments about other things, some of your writing, etc. Anything you want. It doesn’t matter. Just start. Try to post something regularly – twice a week is a great place to start. Every day is difficult – even for the pros.

Later, when you’re comfortable, start looking at personalizing your blog with themes, pictures, widgets (don’t worry about what they are – you’ll figure that out later – and they’re fun,) links, etc. Let your blog grow with your expertise. Set a goal to have something that looks pretty good a year from now. You’ll look back and wonder what was holding you back. All you’ll been doing for the past year is writing.

GET A DOMAIN

Your name is your name. As a writer, it’s your brand – the words/logo/idea that identify you as you to the rest of the world.

Grab the Domain!

What that means is very much like getting a patent for your invention. If you are WriterKatieMiddleton, go online and register the Domain  WriterKatieMiddleton.com   Even if you don’t use it, you’ve prevented everyone else from using it. You will want it later. It’ll probably cost you around $15 per year. If you have the cash and the inclination, grab the other domains, WriterKatieMiddleton.net, .co, .mobi, .me, etc. They’ll cost about $7 per year each. But owning your domain means that down the road, you will be able to address your own website with a personalized domain name.

http://www.WriterKatieMiddleton.com  is more professional and confident than http://www.WriterKatieMiddleton.Blogspot.com

That can all happen when you’re more comfortable with the online stuff. But put them in your back pocket for now, now, before someone else takes your name.

There are Domain Hosts – not to be confused with Web Hosts – that can sell you a domain registration. Big websites like GoDaddy and HostGator are easy to find, have good support, and reasonable prices. There are smaller sites who can do the same thing – this depends on your preference. Often, you’ll get a better price on Web Hosting in the future if you decide to expand your blog into a full blown website, and use the Domain Host’s services to host your website. (WordPress will ‘host’ your blog site for free, Web Hosts charge for a much more intricate service.) Many of the smaller Domain Hosting companies don’t have, or don’t have extensive, web hosting services. Take your future plans for online growth into consideration when choosing a domain host.

MAKE SOME FRIENDS

No, if you’re not comfortable with all of this, you don’t have to join Facebook.

But you do want to connect with other people. Writers, readers, fans, editors, publishers, bloggers.

As a writer in the real world, you’ve likely attended writers’ courses, seminars, symposiums, conventions. You’ve probably joined a writers’ group. You’ve probably talked to friends and family about your writing.

In the virtual world, you do the same thing. Only with exponentially effective results. There are forums, blogs, social networks, businesses, and connections online where you can meet people who have the same goals, challenges, needs, as you do. You can Google “WRITERS” and spend the next month sifting through some of the millions of sites that come up.

Save yourself some time. Look at the organizations, people, and businesses that you work with in the real world. Do you have a magazine subscription? A writers’ group? A favourite bookstore? Find them online and join their discussion boards.

As with real life, if you wouldn’t walk into a dinner party where you know no one and start handing out your business cards and asking people to buy your product, don’t do that online. There is an etiquette to joining a group of people who likely already have a longstanding relationship. Introduce yourself, listen, get to know others around you, ask questions. Let them warm up to you. They will eventually start asking about you. Invite them to read your blog, to add a link to your blog on their sites, and ask if you can link to their sites from your blog. These relationships are what grow into a solid and marketable online presence.

Use patience and care to grow your blog, as you would a treasured rose bush. Sure, you could go out and make a sensational YouTube video of you dancing naked on Parliament Hill. It would go viral and everyone would want to know who you are. But your fifteen minutes of fame will fade quickly if you don’t have the content to keep your visitors interested and coming back. And, let’s face it. If you put the work into the content and quality of your blog, it will grow. And you can keep your clothes on.

Now a year or two down the line, you’re pitching a book idea to a publisher, and you invite the publisher to visit your blog. She sees a ton of quality sample writing, gets to know your personality and friends, and knows exactly with whom she’s going to be dealing. You’ve essentially just invited her over for dinner to meet your family. You have a thousand visitors a month who are going to know that she’s publishing your book – that’s good for you, that’s good for her. Suddenly, you look much more appealing.

Put this all into perspective at Romantic Shorts. Once we’re running at full steam, we expect to be publishing upward of 200 short stories per year, written by some 150+ writers. If each of those writers has a thousand visitors per month, and links to our publication, inviting readers and writers to join us, we could easily be looking at a network of tens of thousands of visitors per month. That’s no small potatoes for our writers!

GROW YOUR PLATFORM

So a year has passed. You’ve now polished your blog, mastered your widgets, welcomed the world. It’s time to move forward with confidence. There are countless ways to grow your site into something that meets your needs, interests your visitors, and makes you some money. As you reach this comfort level, take some time to watch others, to see how they grow.

I’ve always been intrigued by my inadequate impression of people. I see a pregnant woman at the mall, and I can’t think of her as anything but a pregnant woman. Yet I could see her again in two months, and am then surprised to have to perceive her as a young mom. We take snap shots of the world around us all the time, without giving much thought to the process that led to, or the growth that will come from, that moment.

Websites are an excellent example of this. You will connect with other sites. Watch them grow, change, evolve to meet the changing expectations of their visitors, the growth of their product, and the maturity of their expertise. Use these examples to make a plan for your own site. Where do you want to be two years from now? What was once scary and intimidating, is now full of enthusiasm and anticipation.

The bottom line. You’re going to be writing anyway. Don’t work harder; just work smarter.

Tell us what you think. Do you have a writer’s site? What has been your most difficult obstacle? Your best advice? Feel free to leave your URL so we can see what you’ve been able to accomplish.

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Filed under For Writers, Writing and Getting Published 101, WUC Symposium

Great Advice for Every Writer on How to Get Published

The Adventurous Writer is a link I’ve included on the Romantic Shorts sites because Quips and Tips founder Laurie Pawlik-Kienlin, always has useful, straightforward information for her readers. Not all of her visitors are writers; Laurie posts Quips and Tips on a variety of subjects. Her site is worth a look.
Her post about why freelance writers can’t get much farther than a query to the editor applies to every writer out there – just substitute magazine for book, screenplay, newspaper, or whatever else you’re working on, and follow her tips. And while her explanations can be worth a chuckle or two, it’s a safe bet that behind the humour lies a frustrated editor who wonders why these mistakes are still being made.


Visit her site and check out this post.
It could be the most productive 5 minutes you spend today…

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Filed under For Writers, Writing and Getting Published 101

What is Romance, anyway?

Brian Knight is the co-owner of Premium Promotional Services through which he helps up and coming authors promote their books. His journey in writing began with the creation of his blog ‘The New Author’ which he has been operating and posting articles on for almost 4 years now. His poetry and short stories have been published in magazines and anthologies. Currently Brian is preparing to write his third novel and has set the goal to join his many friends by becoming a published author.

When I first started my online journey to bring Romantic Shorts to life, one of the first people I met was Brian, through his blog The New Author. Brian’s immediate acceptance and support of my idea has been the most genuine encouragement I’ve received. I was privileged to write a guest post at The New Author, and invited Brian to share some of his experience with us. It is my pleasure to introduce Brian to you…

What Is Romance, Anyway?
By Brian Knight

We walk through the grocery stores and periodically scan the books on the shelves. Many of the books have one thing in common – the covers consist of a man without a shirt on holding a woman in some sort of revealing dress. They are either in a warm embrace or passionate kiss. Is this the sum of Romance? Is this the prime example of the Romance genre? Of course not, this is just a small piece of a very big puzzle.

So, with that said, what is Romance?

Romance is a combination of multiple aspects that combine and generate a particular response from the viewer (if it is a movie) or the reader (if it is a book). That would beg the next big questions; what are these aspects and what is the desired response(s)? Well, I’m glad you asked but before we get to that I want to take a moment and say that this is only my opinion and thoughts. With that out of the way let’s get back to the topic at hand.

Romance should reflect the passion of a couple fresh in a relationship. The aspects of a romantic story replicate the meeting, courtship, and coupling of individuals as they find love with one another. Think back for a moment to your first love. The first time you saw her or him; the first time you talked and touched. Those are the feelings we want in a romance story.

To start things off we want to give the reader that idea of something more; the anticipation needs to start building. We want the reader to think “oh, I think there might be something there.” Once we have established the hook of the budding relationship the next aspect is tension. We need to drag out the actual acknowledgement of the affection felt by the characters. Yes, drive the reader crazy; make them shout at the book and think “come on, can’t you see that he or she is in love with you?” My example of this is ‘Bones’ (the show on Fox). Everyone that watches this show knows for a fact that Booth and Bones love each other but they make excuses why they shouldn’t be together or situations arise that keep them apart. Once you have dragged this out to the point that the reader simply can’t take it anymore, and you have built it up to the highest of high it’s time to deliver. At this point you might be thinking – alright time for the sex scene – but you would be wrong. There is a place for hot and steamy scenes in a romance novel but not yet. True romance is delivered with the first kiss. It is in that kiss that the sparks fly and the hearts of readers melt. Why is that? Well, think back to your first kiss with your significant other. You were nervous but once your lips touched the world fell away, your knees got weak, and all that remained was the kiss.

Some of the greatest romance novels gravitate around the kiss. For example, the kiss in ‘Romeo and Juliet’ completed shifted the flow of the story and confirmed their love. An even more iconic kiss can be found in ‘Gone with the Wind.’ When Rhett kissed Scarlett O’Hara, I’m sure there was a sigh of relief and a smile on the face of every reader. That kiss delivered the full blow of passion that everyone knew existed. Okay, take a moment and let those thoughts and memories dance a little. This is not the last of the romance roller coaster.

A true romance takes another step and that step is dejection, rejection, turmoil, or separation. That’s right, you need drama. Your main characters need to be pulled apart for some reason that deals with your plot. Often this can be done by the introduction of a third character but it can be just about anything that maintains the flow of your story. The next aspect of this is the groveling and pining for each other. The reader needs to see and feel their pain when they are apart. The reader needs to know that the only cure is for them to be together. This, of course, brings us to the finish line.

From now to the end of your novel you complete the plot and resolve the drama. I’m getting ahead of myself here. First, the main characters need to be brought back together. This is the critical time and (depending on your story) this would be the perfect time to insert the hot and steamy scene. This is the time when their passion is overwhelming all thought and reason. The perfect example of this is ‘The Notebook’. I’m sure you’ve seen the movie so let’s have an experiment. Do you think the story would have the same impact if the sex scene was closer to the beginning or after they were separated for so long? These scenes are important but should be handled with care and placed properly. One other note about sex scenes; they don’t have to be so detailed or graphic. Romance resides in the mind of the reader and if you, as the author, take away that ability for the reader to imagine the scene as they see it, then the story will lose part of that impact that we all want. Think of it this way, when you first met your significant other did you picture them naked? Did you fantasize about what it would be like to sleep with them? Do you remember the emotion and energy that produced? This is what we are looking for. In sex scenes we want to give enough to paint the picture but leave enough out so the reader can add the details.

This brings me back to my original question. What is romance? Romance is the combination of drama, tension, innocence, passion, loss and desire that prompts an actual stirring of feelings within us. These elements combine to form those fantasies and memories that we hold on to as we grow old.

I thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts and opinions regarding romance stories. It is my hope that they free your mind to think and develop your own opinions about this complex genre. I also want to thank Alex for the opportunity to appear on Romantic Shorts.

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Filed under For Writers, From Writers, Writing and Getting Published 101