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Author: Iola

I provide professional freelance manuscript assessment, copyediting and proofreading services for writers of Christian fiction and non-fiction books, stories and articles. I also review Christian novels at www.christianreads.blogspot.com.

Best of the Blogs

Christian Editing Services | Best of the Blogs | 18 November 2017

We’re more than halfway through November already! For those of you attempting NaNoWriMo this month, how are you going?

I’ve flunked. But I have written and loaded a heap of blog posts, almost finished the visual rebranding for a group blog (we’ll roll that out over the Christmas break), and I’m currently doing two online courses with Lawson Writer’s Academy, one on writing craft, and one on marketing. The writing course has shown me how little I know my characters … which is why I’ve flunked NaNo.

Anyway, on with the news …

Writing

Theme

Michael Hauge asks What’s Your Theme? A novel needs an overall theme … but it’s something a lot of authors either skim over, or try and shoehorn in at the end.

What Are You Writing?

David Farland asks Are You Writing a Book, or a Movie? He goes on to explain the differences in point of view for novels and movies. As it happens, I’m currently writing a blog post on this subject, inspired by a course I’m taking through Lawson Writers Academy.

Publishing

Cover Design

Paul Barrett, Art Director of Girl Friday Productions, visits Author Marketing Experts to share Book Marketing 101: 10 Things Not to Do on Your Book Cover. There are so many bad book covers out there! Unfortunately, the authors don’t know they’re bad (because surely you wouldn’t deliberately allow your book to go out with an awful cover?).

I suspect that’s because many newbie authors can’t see beyond it’s a book! With my name on the cover!

They don’t know the principles of good design … and it’s something you need to know before you start designing your first book cover (actually, for many authors, that’s their first mistake. Designing their own cover).

Fighting Piracy

Following Maggie Stiefvater’s blog post about her experience with book pirates, Jana Oliver visits Fiction University to share what she’s doing to fight the book pirates in Why eBook Piracy Matters.

Marketing

Branding

Belinda Griffin of SmartAuthorsLab visits The Creative Penn to share 7 Best Ways to Build an Authentic Author Brand.

If you’re interested in learning how to build your brand from nothing, I have two suggestions:

1. Follow my blog. I have a blog series on branding coming up in February 2018.

2. Click here to sign up to my Kick Start Your Author Platform information list. I’ll be running the programme again in March 2018 … and there will be more information about it coming up soon!

Cross Promotion

Diana Urban visits the BookBub blog to share 14 Ways Authors can Cross-Promote Each Other’s Books. You will note none of them include commenting on blog posts (although that’s always welcome!).

Facebook Chatbots

Louise Harnby introduces Facebook Chatbots in How To Market Your Book and Build Your Author Platform Using a Chatbot. What are chatbots? Are they the next big thing in book marketing? Who knows? But they are currently underutilised, and if there is one thing I’ve learned about book marketing, it’s that it pays to be at the leading edge of the curve.

That’s my top seven posts for this week. What’s the best post you’ve read this week on writing, editing, publishing, or marketing?

Front Matter

Self-Publishing Your Book: Writing Your Front Matter

You’ve finished your book. You’ve outlined, written, revised, edited, edited, edited and proofread 20,000 or 50,000 or 80,000 or more words. Now it’s ready to publish, but there is still more to be written.

You need your front matter and back matter.

A published book is made up of three parts:

  • Front Matter
  • Body
  • Back Matter (also called End Matter)

Today we’re going to look at the front matter: what’s included before Chapter One. This week we’re going to look at the three must-haves of front matter, and two might-haves:

  • Endorsements
  • Title Page
  • Credits Page
  • Dedication
  • Table of Contents

Endorsements

Endorsements are short two to four line quotations aimed at encouraging the reader to buy the book. They may be from prestigious reviews (e.g. Publishers Weekly or Romantic Times), or from well-known authors in the genre. With trade-published books, these are often authors published by the same publisher. Some authors include comments from customer or fan reviews.

An endorsements page is optional. If included, it is usually the first one or two pages of the book, starting on the right-hand page.

Title Page

The title page is always a right-hand page in the front matter. It may be the first page in the book, or it may follow the endorsements.

Credits Page

The credits page or imprint page includes the legal information:

  • Title
  • Publisher name (address optional)
  • ISBN number/s
  • Copyright
  • Permissions
  • Other Credits
  • Disclaimer/s

The credits page is always a left-hand page. It may be opposite the title page, or opposite the dedication page.

ISBN Number/s

The ISBN Is the International Standard Book Number, which allows booksellers to order your book and know they have the correct edition. Different editions of the book will require a different ISBN e.g. paperback, hardcover, ebook. A reprint may use the same ISBN as the original edition, but a new or updated edition may require a new ISBN.

Books are not required to have an ISBN, but it is recommended if you wish to sell through online retailers. Note that Amazon has its own categorising system, the ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number). ISBNs are free in some countries (e.g. Canada and New Zealand), but must be purchase in others (e.g. Australia or the United States of America).

Copyright

The copyright information will include:

  • The text copyright (the author/s)
  • Cover copyright (the cover designer)
  • Image copyright (the photographer or stock image site)

The cover designer may or may not retain copyright over their work. This will be covered in your contract, and they should also advise you of their preferred wording e.g. whether they need to be acknowledged as the copyright holder (Cover design © Designer X) or credited (Cover by Designer X).

There should also be a statement to the effect that all rights are reserved, and that the book may not be copied or reproduced in any form without written permission. Many books make a specific exception for short quotations in reviews (a use which is permitted under copyright law in most jurisdictions).

The actual wording of this section may depend on where you live or where the book is published.

Permissions

Authors cannot quote the copyrighted work of another creator without permission. The Credits Page will therefore include the necessary permissions e.g.

  • Bible quotations: most versions of the Bible can be quoted subject to certain restrictions (e.g. less than 500 verses, and not a complete book). Check Bible Gateway for further details.
  • Song lyrics: song titles are not subject to copyright in most jurisdictions, but song lyrics are. Lyrics should not be reproduced without permission. The copyright holder will be able to provide their preferred/required wording.

Other Credits

The author or publisher may wish to credit the cover designer, editor, or typesetter/formatter.

Literary agents may be mentioned as well.

Disclaimer/s

A novel may include a statement that the characters and events depicted in the novel are fictional (assuming they are—some novels are based on real-life events), and any resemblance to actual people living or dead, or to events is coincidental and unintentional.

A historical novel that includes a mixture of real-life people and imaginative characters may include a statement to that effect.

Dedication

The dedication is usually a short one or two-line statement from the author. This is always on the right-hand page. It is often opposite the Credits page.

Table of Contents

Non-fiction books will have a table of contents as part of the front matter. This will usually include chapter numbers and chapter names. It may be broken down into parts, or chapters may have subheadings. The format of the table of contents will depend on what makes sense given the structure of the book.

Novels may or may not need a table of contents, and most don’t. However, Amazon requires Kindle books to have a Table of Contents in the front matter, even if it is as basic as Chapter One, Chapter Two (and most are that basic).

The table of contents starts on the right-hand page, and comes after the title page, credits page, and dedication.

Other Front Matter

There are other elements which may be included in the front matter or the back matter. We’ll discuss those next week … as well as the differences between front matter in paper books compared to ebooks.

Meanwhile, do you have any questions about front matter or end matter?

Best of the Blogs

Christian Editing Services | Best of the Blogs | 11 November 2017

Lots of news this week!

Social Media

280-character limit on Twitter

Twitter has historically allowed just 140 characters per tweet. A few weeks back, they announced they were trialing 280-character Tweets with a select group of users. The trial must have gone well, because almost everyone can now Tweet 280 characters (the exceptions are users tweeting in Chinese, Japanese, and Korean, because the nature of these languages means they don’t come close to the 140-character limit).

But just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

People are on Twitter for links and pithy comments, not essays … although I’m sure the longer Tweet length will come in useful in Twitter Chats such as @ BadRedHeadMedia’s Thursday #BookMarketingChat.

Publishing

Pronoun

MacMillan has announced they will closing Pronoun, their ebook distributor, in January 2018. Pronoun has experienced problems over its’ short lifespan, with complaints of lagging dashboards and slow responses to questions. But it attracted attention because of the benefits it offered, including full 70% royalty on Kindle books priced below $2.99 (Amazon only pays 70% royalty on books priced between $2.99 and $9.99).

I guess this answers my big question about Pronoun: how were they making money if they were offering higher royalties than Amazon? The answer: maybe they weren’t.

Draft2Digital

In better news, Draft2Digital now distributes to Amazon. However, they still don’t distribute to Google Play (which many authors saw as the major reason to use Pronoun).

StreetLib

I have heard some indie authors are using StreetLib to distribute to Google Play—they even have a one-click “import from Pronoun” option. Have you used StreetLib? What was your experience?

Writing

Dismemberment aka Floating Body Parts

Cait Reynolds visits Kristen Lamb’s blog to share about Dismemberment: Taking Characters Apart in all the Wrong Ways. This is perhaps better known as floating body parts, but dismemberment is more attention grabbing.

I once read a sci-fi novel where the alien species could take their heads off and throw them around the room. They could even swap heads (although that was frowned upon by the more conservative among them).

Result: every time I see dismemberment like “she threw her head” in a novel, I’m taken out of that novel and taken straight back to 1992, when I read the novel where Mr and Mrs Basketball-Head are stressing because their daughter wants to play Swap-Heads with some hot alien she’s just met.

Editor-me tells this little story every time I see dismemberment in a novel (although I call it “floating body parts”, which is much less fun).

I just wish I could remember the name of the novel.

Reading

Christy Awards

The winners of the 2017 Christy Awards were announced on 8 November. While I haven’t read all the finalists, there were two surprises for me:

  • Joint winners for Historical Romance: I haven’t seen this before. I’ve seen four finalists because of a tie, but not two winners.
  • The brilliant Long Way Gone by Charles Martin was the Book of the Year, but didn’t win the category. Again, in previous years, the Book of the Year has been one of the category winners.

Reviewing

This might be just me, but has Amazon removed the ability to vote reviews as “unhelpful”? I’m only seeing a thumbs-up button. We know Amazon is forever changing things, and we also know sometimes these changes are tests run for a select group of users (such as Twitter’s initial tests of the 280-character limit). I also know many people (especially authors) have been asking for Amazon to remove the “downvote” button for half of forever—their wish may just have been granted.

Can you see the downvote button on Amazon? Or do you just get the thumbs-up I see?

Amazon Review - Then There Was You by Kara Isaac

 

Best of the Blogs

Christian Editing Services | Best of the Blogs | 4 November 2017

The best of the blogs: must-read posts on writing, editing, publishing, and marketing your books, featuring Anne Greenwood Brown, Parul MacDonald, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Lisa Hall-Wilson, and Kristen Oliphant

Writing

Point of View

Anne Greenwood Brown visits Writers Digest with an excellent post on point of view, author intrusion, and the importance of showing the story through your character’s eyes.

Subtext

Lisa Hall-Wilson visits Jami Gold’s blog to share about The Hidden Messages in Deep Point of View and Subtext. This is important: as a reader, subtext is what differentiates a so-so novel from a great novel.

Publishing

Choosing a Publishers

Writer Unboxed have a fascinating post from editor Parul MacDonald on the relative advantages and disadvantages of working with small publisher vs a big publisher. What interests me most is how much of a book’s success rests on the marketing, and how even the “experts” can get things wrong when making decisions outside their area of expertise.

Copyright

One day they’ll invent calorie-free chocolate, ice cream, and fried food. On that day, Kristine Kathryn Rusch will be able to stop blogging, because we’ll be living in some kind of fantasy utopia where nothing ever goes wrong. Until then, KKR will be writing and publishing blog posts on the myriad ways agents, publishers, and others find to rip authors off.

This week, it’s unethical companies or studios offering an option on your book then registering the copyright. This creates confusion over who owns the copyright … and who can therefore benefit from sales of the book (or movie or TV series).

Long story short: don’t sign an option agreement until you’ve read ALL KKR’s blog posts on copyright, and until a competent entertainment lawyer has read the contract.

Marketing

MailChimp

If you use MailChimp as your email provider, you need to check out this post from Kristen Oliphant, then get on over to MailChimp to change your settings back to double opt in. There should be a notification from MailChimp when you log in.

Social Media

Litsy

Social media is about connecting with readers, not selling to them. One new(ish) app for booklovers is Litsy—think of it as Instagram meets Goodreads. I’ve been on Litsy for a while, but haven’t really worked it out. Fortunately, Raimey Gallant has a great post this week with 33 Pro Litsy Tips from Fellow Bookworms.

If you sign up, you can find me at @iolagoulton. Yes, I follow back! Do you have to be on Litsy? Of course not. But you might want to sign up using your Twitter/Instagram name just so you have the same user name on all three platforms.

That’s all for this week! What’s the best or most interesting post you’ve read this week?

Twitter Rules

Understanding the Twitter Rules: How does Twitter Define Spam?

Spam is unsolicited mail or messages. Most email programmes do a relatively efficient job of syphoning unsoilicted messages off to the Spam box. Twitter, it appears, does not have such capability. Instead, it takes the blunt instrument approach of suspending the account.

When Twitter suspended my account last week, they suggested I check the Twitter Rules find out where I’d gone wrong. My first reaction was that I hadn’t. But then I read the rules

Let’s look at the rules in detail.

There are three sections to the rules:

Content Boundaries and Use of Twitter

Pass. I’m not tweeting anything illegal, pornographic, or violent.

Abusive Behavior

Pass.

Maybe.

I”m not making threats, engaging in hateful conduct, giving out private information, impersonating anyone, harrassing anyone, or threatening to harm myself.

However, I do “operate two accounts with overlapping use”.

But I don’t operate two accounts “in order to evade the temporary or permanent suspension of a separate account”. I operate a personal account (@IolaGoulton) where I share book reviews and blog posts on writing craft. And I’m the volunteer administrator for a writing group (@ACWriters) which shares blog posts from group members (including me). Some of those are posts on writing craft, and some are book reviews.

I can see that if you compared the two accounts, it does look like they have overlapping use. And I do operate both. But I have no nefarious intent or motive. The problem is an algorithm can’t measure intention. It can only monitor action based on predetermined rules.

Spam

My first reaction was that of course I don’t spam on Twitter. But according to the Twitter Rules, Twitter’s definition of “spam” is wide. Very wide. And it includes some of my activities—activities I’ve adopted based on the advice of Twitter experts with a large and engaged follower count.

Let’s examine what is considered spam in the Twitterverse:

I’m not username squatting (inactive accounts can be removed), sending invitation spam, selling usernames, posting malware, or phishing.

But then there is general spam, which Twitter defines in a long list:

If you have followed and/or unfollowed large amounts of accounts in a short time period, particularly by automated means (aggressive following or follower churn);

I follow around 500 people a week, and unfollow those who don’t follow back. My current Twitter following is over 13,000, so that’s a relatively low percentage (~4%). I would have thought this was designed to cover Buy 5,000 Twitter Followers Today! clickfarms, not someone who adds and deletes a few dozen followers over her morning coffee.

Crowdfire reports Twitter is actively targetting accounts with aggressive following or unfollowing patterns, and Twitter points out that using “Get More Followers Fast!” apps is not allowed.

If you repeatedly follow and unfollow people, whether to build followers or to garner more attention for your profile;

I do regularly follow and unfollow people to build my following. It’s a tactic many Twitter experts recommend. But I don’t follow and unfollow the same users over and over and over. I use the paid version of CrowdFire for following, then unfollow around a week later if they don’t follow back.

For [paid] users, we hide users they’ve previously followed so they don’t end up irritating Twitter users by following them again and again.

If your updates consist mainly of links, and not personal updates

I do mostly post links. It’s called curating content. Curating content is a tactic recommended by many Twitter gurus, and is practiced by many major accounts (including the @Twitter account). It’s modern marketing at work: the principle of reciprocity (via Robert Cialdini and Seth Godin).

In my uneducated view, it’s also possible for accounts to have too many personal updates (e.g. what people ate for breakfast, and the accounts of many prominent politicians). But I can take a hint: more pithy one-liners coming your way. MaybeTwitter thinks the internet needs more stupid.

If a large number of people are blocking you.

I hope not, but how would I know? Twitter only shows me how many people I’ve blocked.

If a large number of spam complaints have been filed against you.

Again, I hope not, but how would I know?

If you post duplicate content over multiple accounts or multiple duplicate updates on one account

This is where it gets tricky.

I use SocialJukebox (see Introducing SocialJukebox) to repost old blog posts—my own posts, and posts from group blogs. I can set how often I want posts to repeat—anything from 0 days up. I thought I had all my jukeboxes set at 30 days, but found I didn’t. Now I do.

I also use RoundTeam on the ACWriters account. RoundTeam automatically retweets any post mentioning ACWriters (many of which are mine, because I’m one of the most diligent Tweeters in the group). RoundTeam also retweets tweets from group members. Again, many of these tweets are mine.

Oops. I may have a problem. Unintentional (it’s not my fault I’m the most prolific Twitter user in the group). But a problem nonetheless—I’ve had feedback that Twitter doesn’t like Roundteam.

I have now changed the RountTeam settings to exclude me from the retweets. Avoid even the appearance of evil and all that.

If you post multiple unrelated updates to a topic using #, trending or popular topic, or promoted trend

If you send large numbers of duplicate replies or mentions

If you send large numbers of unsolicited replies or mentions

If you add a large number of unrelated users to lists

If you repeatedly create false or misleading content

No, no, no, no, and no. The “large numbers” is disturbingly vague, but I don’t do any of these things.

If you are randomly or aggressively following, liking, or Retweeting Tweets

If you repeatedly post other people’s account information as your own (bio, Tweets, URL, etc.)

If you post misleading links (e.g. affiliate links, links to malware/clickjacking pages, etc.)

If you are creating misleading accounts or account interactions

If you are selling or purchasing account interactions (such as selling or purchasing followers, Retweets, likes, etc.)

No, no, I don’t think so, no, and no.

I have posted Amazon Affiliate links, and I don’t know if they are marked as such, and if that’s considered misleading. The Tweets are automatically generated by Amazon when you push the little Tweety Bird button at the top of the screen. The idea is to share book specials, or tell your followers you just bought a book. You know, to advertise Amazon. Sorry, Amazon. I guess I won’t be clicking that any more.

If you are using or promoting third-party services or apps that claim to get you more followers (such as follower trains, sites promising “more followers fast”, or any other site that offers to automatically add followers to your account).

I do use CrowdFire, but it doesn’t add followers automatically – only those followers I select (which I could do through native Twitter, then just use CrowdFire to manage unfollows). I don’t use follower trains or #FollowFriday or #FF, although I’m sometimes included in #FF posts from other people. But I can’t control that.

In conclusion …

Do I spam or don’t I spam? I know of one author who tweets a buy link for one of her books every ten minutes. I think that’s spam. She has over 350,000 Tweets, fewer than 5,000 followers, and a measly 16 Likes. That’s some form of engagement from 0.004% of her posts. Does she sell books this way? I don’t know.

In contrast, I’m not selling anything, and my 12,000 posts have attracted over 2,800 Likes—a much more respectable 23 engagement%. Which of us is the spammer?

This experience has reminded me that Twitter, like every other social network, is not my property. They let me play there, but that’s not a forever thing. The purpose of social media reach should be to drive people back to my property: my website, and my email list.

Which reminds me … if you’re not on my email list, sign up on the right. I email once a month, and include updates to Christian Fiction Publishers (a new edition is due out in January), links to my blog posts for the month, and other useful information for Christian fiction writers.
Write Like a Boss

Book Review | Write Like a Boss by Honoree Corder and B Hale

I’m in Sydney this weekend, attending the annual Omega Writer’s Conference. Our venue has wifi, but it’s not great, which means I’m not going to be able to research and post my usual Saturday Best of the Blogs post. Never fear! I’ll be back next week with a double dose of blog links (or you can follow me on Twitter or Facebook—Buffer will kindly be tweeting and posting on my behalf).

Instead of a Best of the Blogs post, I’m sharing a book review, for Write Like a Boss by Honoree Corder and Ben Hale.

Write like a boss? What does that even mean?

Writing like a boss is about being smart.

Write Like a Boss is a short book about what it takes to be a successful writer. It’s got content, but also some great tips for actually doing it—writing, publishing, and marketing. Ben Hale writes fantasy novels, while Honoree Corder writes non-fiction (including books for writers, and books on productivity). This combination works in Write Like a Boss, because they are both able to bring their own particular expertise in writing to the table.

The authors say:

The biggest hallmark of professional writers is not marketing skills or business knowledge, it is consistency … keeping your writing commitment is about threading it into your life.

Easier said than done, which is why Write Like a Boss includes some tips to building that consistency. And doing it today, not tomorrow. They cover mindset, treating writing like a business, and learning the principles of marketing, then move into more detail on actually writing fiction and non-fiction.

In Chapter Four, Ben shares his ten rules of fiction, and his revision process. Each of Ben’s novels currently goes through thirteen drafts (he used to have twenty-four). I found his explanation of each draft hugely helpful, and it’s something I can see myself pointing editing clients towards. Hale uses four sets of outside readers—an alpha reader (for plot and characterisation), a paid editor, beta readers, and a final beta reader.

As a freelance fiction editor, I found it interesting to see where Ben’s paid editor fit in the process.

His editor sees the fifth draft of the book—he goes though the full book another eight times after getting the edited version back. I suspect some of my clients think they’ll be able to get my copyedit back and publish within a couple of weeks. Ben’s process shows why that’s not realistic. It sounds daunting, but I’m sure his process results in a much better book than if he’d skipped some of these steps.

Note that these are Ben’s tips. He’s a multi-published fiction author with a solid writing, revision, and editing process. He’s learned the craft. What he’s sharing here are tips, not a substitute for learning for ourselves (Honoree points out she invested four years in learning before she launched her writing career).

Chapter Five is from Honoree, and she shares her process on writing a non-fiction book. She shares four kinds of non-fiction writer, and four key questions that every non-fiction writer must answer for each book. It’s great stuff.

Write Like a Boss is the first in a series

Publishing Like a Boss and Marketing Like a Boss are both in the works. If they are anything like Write Like a Boss, they will be well worth reading. Recommended for pre-published writers, and those looking for ideas to improve their discipline, motivation, and productivity.

Thanks to the authors for providing a free ebook for review.

Twitter Account Suspended

5 Lessons Learned from Getting My Twitter Account Suspended

Or, how I accidentally violated the Twitter Rules and got my account suspended three times, shared here in great detail so you can learn from my mistakes and ensure you don’t get your Twitter account suspended.

Last weekend, my Twitter account was suspended for allegedly exhibiting automated behaviour that violates Twitter’s rules. Long story short, my account was suspended three times before I worked out what I’d done wrong (at least, I hope I worked it out. My account has now been active for a whole 72 hours without a suspension).

I’ve since discovered that other authors are having similar problems, hence this blog post. Yes, I know I said I’d be posting about plotting with Michael Hauge, and I will. But first I want to cover what I did wrong, and how you can prevent the same thing happening to you.

Avoid Using Twitter for Blog Comments

The first time my account was suspended, I was trying to use Twitter to authenticate a comment on an unrelated book review blog. I thought this was the problem. In hindsight, it may have contributed to the problem, but I don’t think it was the cause.

The comment was a form of automated behaviour, which well have triggered something in the Twitter algorithm that got me shut out. Or it could be one of several other factors (as you’ll see).

Lesson One: Don’t Use Twitter as a Login Unless Necessary

This is actually good online practice. If you use Twitter to log in to every app in cyberspace and someone hacks your Twitter account, they can do a whole bunch of things in your name. Not good.

Avoid Autoposting from Social Networks

I’m a book blogger, and I spent a few hours on Saturday uploading book reviews to sites such as Amazon, Goodreads, and Riffle. I was behind, so I probably uploaded ten reviews to five or six sites each.

My Goodreads and Riffle accounts were both set to autopost certain links to Twitter (which I knew was the case for Goodreads, but had forgotten with Riffle). Again, there weren’t a lot of tweets—maybe ten or twelve over a two-hour period—but that might have been enough to trigger the algorithm.

I reviewed my Twitter feed, and found the Goodreads and Riffle tweets. I deleted them, and edited the settings on both accounts so that nothing is automatically tweeted.

Lesson Two: Don’t Autopost to Twitter from Social Networks

Even when the social network gives you the option. I have to admit, this annoyed me. I was trying to be a good member of the bookish community by sharing links to reviews of books I’ve enjoyed, and I got punished for it.

As I was looking through my feed, I noticed some Tweets that were autoposts from Instagram. This isn’t a good idea. Apart from possibly falling foul of Twitter’s rules, the picture doesn’t show up. You’re better posting directly from Twitter.

Be Careful About Using Autopost Apps

I use Buffer and SocialJukebox to retweet old blog posts and book reviews, and RoundTeam to retweet from members of one of my many writing groups. Blogging experts typically recommend you promote your evergreen posts on social media. There are many tools designed to assist: Buffer, Hootsuite, ManageFlitter, MissingLettr, RoundTeam, and SocialOomph, to name a few.

Some experts recommend tools which automatically post based on selected keywords. I abandoned that idea after about three minutes, when I realised that using “Christian” as a keyword (or even “Christian fiction”) would get me a combination of faith-based content, and content that was decidedly more steamy.

So my practice is a little more time-consuming, but it means I have personally read and curated every Tweet. Well, almost every Tweet, because I was using RoundTeam for that small group of trusted writer friends. My bad. Because something, somewhere, decided this automation was violating Twitter rules.

I had no idea what I was doing wrong, so I shut off posting from Buffer and SocialJukebox. I’ve switched Buffer back on, but I think I’ll wait a few more days before restarting my Jukeboxes. (If you don’t know about these two programmes, check out my previous posts: Introducing Buffer and Introducing SocialJukebox.)

Lesson Three: Limit the Number of Apps you Use

This situation showed me I actually had no idea how many apps I was using with Twitter.

Review Your Twitter Apps and Permissions

Twitter settings include a list of apps we have allowed to access our Twitter account. So I checked out my list (in my Settings and Privacy menu). It was a lot longer than I thought. Many of them were apps productivity or curation apps I’d checked out, decided not to use, and forgotten about.

But I hadn’t revoked Twitter access.

My bad. I was unpleasantly surprised to realise how many of these could post on my behalf. I couldn’t see any tweets from them on my timeline, but what did that mean? Had they been autoposting and the posts deleted?

I clicked Revoke Access to pretty much everything (although most of them were read-only access in the first place), leaving only the apps I have paid subscriptions to (e.g. Buffer and SocialJukebox), and those that seem necessary (e.g. apps to comment on WordPress blog sites).

Lesson Four: Don’t Give Apps Posting Rights on Your Twitter Accounts

Unless you need them, of course. I’ve trialled perhaps a dozen apps, but only use two on a regular basis. But the others still had posting rights, and some might even have been still posting (e.g. MissingLettr, which schedules Tweets for up to a year in the future).

Be Careful With Multiple Twitter Accounts

I’m also the “owner” of a group Twitter account for a writers group, Australasian Christian Writers. The ACWriters Twitter account uses a different email address than my personal account, but both accounts use the same mobile phone number for authentication . . . which effectively links the accounts.

I happened to mention I’d been having problems with Twitter to one of the other group administrators. She checked the ACWriters account and saw it had been suspended (interestingly, when I checked it, everything looked normal).

I logged into the ACWriters Twitter account, and had to go through the whole unlocking rigmarole. Three times. This got me wondering: was it my “bad” behaviour that got my account suspended? Or was the ACWriters account suspended first? I don’t know, and I guess I never will. But it did show me that actions (and suspensions) on one account impact on the other.

Most of the activity on ACWriters is automated. The account doesn’t generate any native tweets, but posts links to new posts on the Australasian Christian Writers blogs, retweets @mentions, and retweets Tweets from blog members … including me. And Twitter might have interpreted that as me trying to toot my own horn.

Lesson Five: Don’t Have More Than One Twitter Account

Or, if you do, run them off separate email addresses, separate mobile numbers. And don’t have Account A set up to retweet Account B and vice versa, because Twitter calls that spam. Yes. The Twitter Rules contain dozens of possible ways you can spam, and some of them surprised me.

So while I never set out to violate the Twitter Rules, I did.

I’ve tightened my account, reviewed who and what can post, and done as much as I can to break the link between my two accounts.

I’ll be back next week to update you on my progress, and to talk through the Twitter Rules and work out what I might have done wrong … and what you might be doing.

Meanwhile, have I missed anything?

Best of the Blogs

Christian Editing Services | Best of the Blogs | 21 October 2017

The best of the blogs: must-read posts on writing, editing, publishing, and marketing your books.

Writing

Genre

What is women’s fiction? (Yes, it is a recognised genre.) Orly Konig visits Seekerville and attempts to explain The Mystery of Women’s Fiction.

Prologues

Many publishing professionals warn writers against using prologues. Why? And when can a prologue be a good idea? Meg LaToree-Snyder gives her tips in The Great Debate: To Prologue or Not To Prologue.

It may also depend on the genre you’re writing. I’ve read that Young Adult books shouldn’t have prologues, because young adult readers don’t read them. I asked my teenage daughter, and she says she only reads the prologue if it’s less than a page … and sometimes not even then.

Plot

To plot or pants? And how? Jenny Hansen shares a range of plotting methods at Writers in the Storm. Me? I’m working through Story Genius by Lisa Cron, supplemented by feedback from Michael Hauge (which I’ll talk about in my post next Wednesday).

Productivity

Tamara Alexander visits Inspired by Life and Fiction to share 10 Tips for Staying Focused. I’m going to work on #1 and #4 over the next week. What are you going to focus on?

Writing Skills

What are you good at in terms of writing? What are you not so good at? Are you ever tempted to do more of what you’re good at to avoid improving your weaker areas? In this post, Julianna Baggott challenges us to take her writerly skills test, and work on our weak areas.

Karen Hertzberg from Grammarly uses cooking as an analogy for writing as she shares 9 Easy Tips That Will Improve Bland Writing.

Motivation

KM Weiland from Helping Writers Become Authors has a great post: The Only Good Reason to Write, in which she outlines five not-so-good reasons to write, and (surprise!) the only good reason. Do you agree with her conclusion?

I won’t be posting Best of the Blogs next week (28 October 2017), because I’ll be in Australia at the Omega Writers Conference. But I have a book review for you instead, so stay tuned. Subscribed. Feedly-d. Or however you read blogs.

What is Your Editing Process?

What Is Your Editing Process? (An #AuthorToolBoxBlogHop Post)

This post is part of the monthly Author Toolbox Blog Hop, organised by Raimey Gallant, with over 40 blogs participating. To find more posts, click here to check out the main page, search #AuthorToolBoxBlogHop on Twitter, or click here to find us on Pinterest.

I’ve recently read Write Like a Boss! by Honoree Corder and Ben Hale. It’s an excellent short book, and I recommend it. If you write fiction, it’s worth the purchase price simply for Chapter Four, where Ben Hale details his personal revision and editing process.

Ben says:

My draft process is thirteen drafts. But it didn’t start our that way. My first book went through twenty-four drafts, and still has errors.

Wow. Just wow.

I have two initial comments about Ben’s editing process:

  1. His process is actually fourteen steps: he doesn’t count his initial detailed outline as a draft. Ben is obviously a plotter, not a pantser. I suspect a pantser would need more drafts.
  2. Ben is an experienced fiction writer. A less experienced writer, who doesn’t know some of the “rules” of fiction, will need more drafts. For example, if you write in third person but don’t know what headhopping is, you’ll probably need one full pass through your manuscript to identify headhopping, and one full draft to fix your point of view. Maybe two.

As a freelance editor, I found it interesting to see where Ben’s copyeditor fit in the process. His copyeditor sees the fifth draft of the book—he goes though the full book another eight times before he publishes, which shows there is more to editing than many authors realize.

So here is an outline of Ben’s editing process with my comments (if you want Ben’s comments, buy the book!).

Draft 0: Outline

Ben write in series, so his outline includes a series outline, outlines for the individual books, and even the chapters. Outlining means he will already know the genre, plot, story arc, characters, theme and the aims for each scene before he starts writing. If you don’t outline, this may mean four to six additional drafts to make sure you’ve nailed these essentials.

A critique partner may help brainstorm some of these plot and character issues at the outline stage.

Draft 1: Finish

The aim here is to get a completed manuscript to edit. If you’re doing NaNoWriMo next month, this is probably what you’re aiming for.

Draft 2: Content

Fill in holes and add detail. I suspect this is where a lot of authors think their work ends. Now they send it to an editor and that’s it, right? Nope.

Draft 3: Alpha Reader

Ben’s alpha readers ignore grammar and typos and focus on the big picture issues: what’s working in terms of the big issues of plot, character, story, and theme, what isn’t working, and what’s missing.

Some authors may work with a critique partner who fills this role. Others may hire an editor to undertake a developmental edit or manuscript assessment.

Draft 4: Character Building

Use comments from the alpha reader to fill out the characters and make them real.

A pantser may need to add another draft in here around plot: filling in the plot holes, and deleting extraneous scenes. After all, you don’t want to pay an editor to edit 3,000 words that don’t drive the plot forward.

Draft 5: Editor

Always submit the best possible draft to your editor. It will help keep the cost down if you’ve already removed the hundreds of adverbs, that’s, very’s, and other overused words, and fixed all the typos you can find. It also means your editor can focus on the things you can’t fix.

Draft 6: Post Editor Partial

Accept or reject minor changes (e.g. spelling and grammar), and undertake sentence-level improvements e.g. adding rhetorical devices, adding fresh descriptions and body language (no “he nodded” or “she shrugged”). If you have no idea what I mean, head on over to Lawson Writer’s Academy and sign up for Deep Editing, Rhetorical Devices, and More.

Draft 7: Post Editor Full

Now the story is free from Track Changes, address any major story issues (like that scene you should have cut and didn’t).

Draft 8: Word Draft

Polishing: checking character names are spelled correctly and consistently, and haven’t been used in other books. Run spell check. Fix the typos and mistakes you introduced in Drafts 6 and 7. Review your editorial letter and make sure you haven’t added back any of the adverbs the editor “suggested” you cut. (Because it wasn’t a suggestion. It was an order.)

You might ask why the editor didn’t catch some of these things. They may have, but they might miss tiny things while they fix big things. Your editor might not know that you called the character Jaime in the last book, but this book calls him Jayme.

It’s also a numbers game. It’s not unusual for me to suggest 10,000 changes in a 100,000 word novel. Even if I’m 99.9% accurate, I’ll still miss 100 changes. And the author might add a few hundred more as they revise and edit. This is why trade published novels go through at least three rounds of editing … and still aren’t perfect.

Draft 9: Beta Readers

Ben suggests at least five beta readers, and they have to be honest. You need your beta readers to find what’s wrong, not gush over how clever you are that you’ve written a whole book all by yourself. Please. You’re not five. Adult up and seek honest critical feedback. (But you don’t have to accept mean feedback. People can be critical without being mean).

How to pick beta readers is probably a whole separate blog post. Like this one from #AuthorToolBoxBlogHop participant JR Creaden: 5 Things To Do Before You Beta Your Book.

Draft 10: Post Beta Reader

Add changes suggested by beta readers.

Draft 11: Vocal Drafts

Reading out loud is a great way of catching sentences that don’t quite make sense, or don’t sound right (especially in dialogue). I’ll often read awkward sentences out loud when I’m editing for other people as a way of finding and fixing a problem.

Draft 12: Final Beta Reader

One final read-through to catch last-minute typos. I think it’s best if this person hasn’t read the full story before (although they may have add early input at Draft 0 or 1). The reason for this suggestion is that we often see the words we think are on the page, not the words which are actually there. For this draft, you want someone who is going to read the words on the page, not fill in the blanks because they’ve already read the story almost as many times as you have.

Draft 13: Final and Format

Fix final typos, format, and add front and back matter (make sure you double check the spelling of any people you thank. It kind of takes away from the buzz of being mentioned if the author spells your name wrong. True story).

This draft process is not for everyone. In fact, it probably only works for me. But hopefully it helps you get a start on your own if you don’t already have one.

This process (or something like it) will be useful for me as a writer. It’s also going to be useful for me as a freelance editor, as it shows clients where Editor-Me falls in the writing and revision process.

As I said, I do recommend Write Like a Boss! It has heaps of great tips for both fiction and non-fiction writers.

Do you have an editing process? What does it look like?

This is the final #AuthorToolBoxBlogHop post for 2017. We figure everyone will be busy with NaNoWriMo in November, and Christmas in December. We’ll be back in January 2018. Meanwhile, I’ll still post every Wednesday (writing or marketing) and Saturday (Best of the Blogs). Well, except for Christmas and New Year.

Meanwhile, check out more #AuthorToolBoxBlogHop posts:

Click here to check out the main page.

#AuthorToolBoxBlogHop is on Twitter.

Click here to find us on Pinterest.

Best of the Blogs

Best of the Blogs: 14 October 2017

The best of the blogs: must-read posts on writing, editing, publishing, and marketing your books.

Writing

Modern fiction is written in scenes … and that’s something a lot of modern writers don’t fully understand. In this excellent (and detailed) post, KM Weiland takes us through the basics of scene structure, gives reasons why we often get confused between scene and sequel, gives an alternative way of looking at theme, scene, and sequel, and provides an example from her own work. This is a great reference post.

Editing

Great writing is more than an interesting plot and wonderful characters. It’s also hooking the reader with every single sentence. Sacha Black explains in Getting Jiggy with the Nitty Gritty, or, Improving Your Sentences in a guest post at Writers Helping Writers.

Note: don’t get bogged down remembering these nitty gritty details as you write your first draft. But do consider these tips as you write and edit. That’s the time to cut the dross and power up your sentences.

Publishing

Ebook Piracy

Tim Grahl discusses whether ebook piracy is a bad thing or a good thing in Ebook Piracy = Sell More Books. He argues that for most authors, the enemy is obscurity, not piracy. If no one knows you exist, they can’t buy your books. He also shares a video clip of author Neil Gamain sharing his view on piracy—that his own sales went up in the countries in which his books were most often pirated. Gamain also says:

Because the biggest thing the web was doing is allowing people to hear things, allowing people to read things, allowing people to see things they might never have otherwise seen. And I think, basically, that’s an incredibly good thing.

Tim Grahl also shares some tips for trying to turn pirate readers into paying customers. If Neil Gamain’s publisher can’t stop ebook piracy, nor can you. But you can at least try and turn piracy to your advantage (e.g. if you upload your book to the main pirate sites, you control the content and can make sure it includes your email signup links).

 

You’re writing because you want to share your ideas, right? If you’re a Christian author, you may also want to share the Good News. People who might never pick up a Bible or a Christian book might find your pirated novel. And read it. Is that a bad thing?

Marketing

What Works?

New York Times bestselling author Brenda Novak shared 9 Book Advertising Tactics I’ve Tried … And Which Ones Worked at the BookBub blog (yes, she recommends BookBub). She found print advertising didn’t result in sales (it may have increased awareness, but that’s impossible to quantify).

She also hosted a reader event for 150 people. Even though she charged $40 for tickets, the event still cost her $7,500. A better option might have been to join in with other authors, or speak at a reader-organised event. If you write Christian fiction, check out the Christian Fiction Readers Retreat as an option. Plans are in the works for a 2018 event.

Author Interview: Bethany Turner

I’m sharing this interview because Bethany Turner is an example of how you can break a lot of the writing and publishing industry “rules” if your writing is strong enough. Examples:

  • It’s written in first person
  • She talks directly to the reader
  • The first 10% of the book is backstory
  • It uses the (unrealistic, IMO) Love at First Sight trope.
  • And the (hated, IMO) Other Woman trope
  • It includes swearing
  • The hero and heroine are sexually attracted. In Christian fiction.

Despite all that, it’s the first book I’ve read this year where I immediately wanted to sit down and read it again.

She also broke several publishing industry rules

  • Turner admits she didn’t read the genre (Christian romance)
  • She never read books on writing craft or attended a conference
    She didn’t have an agent
  • She got a contract from a major publisher by submitting to Writer’s Edge (the first fiction example I’ve seen in years)

I don’t recommend following Bethany’s example—she is the exception, not the rule. But I do recommend reading the interview (and her book, The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck, which I featured yesterday on #FirstLineFriday).

Social Media Fun

Finally, for laughs: 30 of the Funniest Tweets About Social Media

My favourite is #18, with #19 running a close second. What’s yours?