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Best of the Blogs: 25 February 2017

Best of the Blogs from Christian Editing ServicesBest of the blogs – the best posts of the week on writing, publishing and marketing your books.

Writing

Larry Brooks (the Story Engineering guy) has a great post this week. He’s examining the fiction trifecta: three qualities to evaluate about your story intention, and execution. Read The Triad of Storytelling.

And Kristen Lamb shares about the importance of hooking the reader (and not letting go). Kristen is going to be speaking at the Romance Writers of New Zealand conference in Rotorua in August, and I’m looking forward to hearing her.

Publishing

The jury remains divided on whether cover design or editing is the most important aspect of your book. While I have an obvious bias, I do acknowledge the importance of a great cover. The cover entices the potential buyer to check out those important first few pages. The writing and editing are important, but only after someone has picked up the book.

If you don’t read Joel Friedlander’s monthly Cover Design Awards post, you should. It will give you some great ideas about what to look for in a great cover (and therefore a great cover designer), but also what to avoid.

What always strikes me is the number of covers which get things half-right: a stellar illustration pulled down by indifferent font choices, an illegible book title, an illustration that fails because it’s too busy.

Joel also makes an important point on one of the non-fiction covers: the cover should be aimed at the intended buyers, not the author. Anyway, check out the January 2017 eBook Cover Design Awards.

Social Media

I’m not on Medium, but How to Use Medium from Nicole Bianchi makes me wonder if I should be. It doesn’t seem like a lot of additional effort—after all, I’d only be reposting content that has already appeared on my blog.

On the other hand, I also need to ask how Medium might fit into my overall marketing strategy. If it doesn’t fit, I shouldn’t use it (and then I don’t need to feel guilty about not using it).

In Sell More Books with Less Social Media, Chris Syme says we should spend a (small) portion of our marketing time researching new tools and adopting those which fit. Have you researched Medium? Do you use it? What do you find?

Marketing

I often see authors on social media asking about swag: those promotional gifts authors give away at book signings or conferences to entice potential readers. Bookmarks are the most common, but I’ve also had badges, pens, teabags (lovely!), chocolate (even better!) and a cloth for cleaning my glasses (which I use most days).

I’ve never seen book charms, although it’s a great idea. I love books and I enjoy crafting. But I’m not sure I have the patience author Deborah Crooke (who also writes as Claire Delacroix) demonstrates in this blog post, Making Book Charms. You know you’re doing something right when your fans offer to pay for your promotional gifts.

One More Thing …

The beginning of March is creeping nearer, as is the start of my March Marketing Challenge: Kick Start Your Author Platform. If you don’t have an author website (or if it’s been neglected of late), this is your opportunity to get it into gear. Click here before 1 March to sign up.

See you next week!

Best of the Blogs: 18 February 2017

My roundup of the best of the blogs for the week ending 18 February. It’s got more of a marketing flavour this week, as I’ve been researching and putting together the March Marketing Challenge: one month to kick-start your author platform. If you’re interested, sign up here: March Marketing Challenge.

March Marketing Challenge - Kick Start Your Author Platform

Writing

Free eBooks for Writers

In case you didn’t get the message last week, I’m part of a promotion featuring 18 free ebooks for writers on writing, publishing and marketing. If you’re looking to understand Twitter better, you won’t want to miss The #ArtofTwitter by Daniel Parsons, and Transform Cold Clicks into Raving Readers by Victoria Pinder has lots of great information on building an email list and setting up your autoresponder sequence (and if you don’t know what that means, you need to download her book, and sign up for my free challenge to Kick Start Your Author Platform).

Publishing

Cover Design

Reedsy had a great post this week on the importance of good cover design, as well as a cool infographic. The part which most interested me was that some of the ‘bad’ covers in the article are actually excellent covers in terms of design. It’s just the design is wrong for the genre.

Book Design

This is getting a little geeky (okay. More than a little geeky), but I enjoyed this article from Retinart on the secret of great book design: page harmony. Mathematicians among you will recognise the Golden Ratio at work …

Vanity Publishing

Vanity publishing continues to make waves. I was impressed by this article from author Steven Capps: 6 Signs of Scam Publishers. Read it. It could save you thousands.

Book Reviews

And finally, here is Keith Cronin at Writer Unboxed debates the pros and cons of authors reviewing, and discusses the Bambi rule of reviewing – if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Except … most of the blog readers disagree.

What do you think?

Best of the Blogs: 11 February 2017

My roundup of the best blog posts in the week ending 10 February, on writing, reading, publishing and marketing.

Writing

Free Writing Books

In case you hadn’t heard yet, I’m one of 18 writers involved in this Instafreebie promotion. Click here to find free non-fiction books on writing, publishing and marketing. But get in quick, because the promotion ends on Sunday 12 February.

(Over)writing

Christina Delay visits Jami Gold’s blog to share her 5 Steps to Avoid Overwriting (broadly defined as the lines we love the most. No, not really).

What do Readers (and Authors) Want?

Carrie at Reading is My Superpower (is that a cool blog name or what?) shares five things she wishes she saw more of in Christian fiction … and five things readers can do more of.

Publishing

Self-Publishing Tips

Pam McCutcheon visits Funds for Writers to ask: Should I Hire Someone to Upload by eBook or Do it Myself? I thought DIY was a no-brainer, but Pam points out as a PC user and non-US resident, I can’t upload to Apple or Nook myself. Paying someone like Pam to do it for me would mean I didn’t have to share my royalties with a distributor like Draft2Digital or Smashwords.

Marketing

Social Media

Do you use a social media scheduling app? The two main choices are Hootsuite and Buffer, and this post by Meenakshi Krishnan from Jeff Bullas’s blog takes you through the pros and cons of each.

I use Buffer, because I find the interface easier to use. While the analytics might not be as good as Hootsuite, they are more than sufficient for my needs. And Buffer supports Pinterest, which Hootsuite doesn’t.

Book Promotion

Jennifer Brown Banks visits Nina Amir at How to Blog a Book to offer some handy tips on creating a social media marketing plan for your book. I’ll certainly be applying some of these ideas to my own marketing plan. My favourite is to make sure your posts do double duty, by cross-posting to social media.

 

That’s all for this week. What’s the most useful blog post you’ve read this week?

 

Best of the Blogs: 4 February 2017

The best blowww.christianediting.co.nzg posts on writing, publishing, and marketing I’ve read in the week to 4 February 2017 (and can you believe January is already over?):

 

 

 

What is Christian Fiction?

Can we define it? It’s a question with as many answers as authors. Or perhaps as many answers as readers. E Stephen Burnett shares his thoughts in How to Fix Christian Fiction: More Christianity. I don’t agree with everything he says, but he raises interesting points:

http://www.speculativefaith.com/fix-christian-fiction-christianity/

I’ve previously shared my definitions of Christian fiction on my author website:

Writing Life

Balancing life and writing is often a challenge. In this encouraging post, Tricia Goyer visits The Steve Laube Agency blog and says the key to doing it all is to not do it all, and to batch tasks: How to Balance a Busy Writing Schedule and a Busy Life.

We’ve all read the advice: write every day. We’ve (probably) all felt bad that we don’t reach that standard. I found this post encouraging because it reminded me I do write every day (well, almost every day). What do you think?

Publishing

Over the last month, I’ve revised and reposted several of my own posts warning against vanity presses. These posts appeared at Australasian Christian Writers:

I also spent a good part of yesterday adding another nineteen (!) publishers to Christian Publishing: A Guide to Publishers Specializing in Christian Fiction. I’ll include those in the next edition of my newsletter—use the box on the right to subscribe if you don’t already.

Marketing

The eternal challenge … I’ve spend the last two weeks immersed in marketing books and blog posts as I prepare for my first-ever March marketing challenge: Kick Start Your Platform (if you’re interested in participating, click here to sign up).

I’ll be sharing a heap of marketing resources during March, but I have two I want to share with you today. This post from Nina Amir takes you through the big questions of how to create a social media marketing plan, then ends with helpful tips from other writers.


And I’ve just finished reading Sell More Books with Less Social Media by Chris Syme, and was gratified to find my planned curriculum for March exactly matches up with her recommendations. If you’d like to find out what they are, you can buy the book on Kindle. She also has a free online course to go with the book.

Okay, so that’s not a blog post. But it will be once I’ve written and published my review!

 

What was the best or most useful blog post you read this week? Share in the comments.

Best of the Blogs: 28 January 2017

www.christianediting.co.nzYes, it’s been a while. Conference in October, a family bereavement in November, a holiday and Christmas in December, and suddenly it’s been three months since I’ve written a “weekly” Best of the Blogs post. Anyway, life seems to have calmed down (I hope) and so I’m back.

So here we go …

The best blog posts on writing, publishing, and marketing I’ve read in the week to 28 January 2017:

Writing

I get a lot of questions from writers around point of view—specifically, around writing deep third person point of view. I suspect one reason authors find this aspect of writing difficult is because they are writing (well, duh!).

What I mean is that the author is writing the character, rather than allowing the character to speak for him or herself. That’s perhaps because we don’t know our characters well enough. Because we haven’t yet found the character’s voice.

In this blog post, Janice Hardy of Fiction University shares some tips on finding your character’s voice: How to Find Your Character’s Voice.

Publishing

Tate Publishing Closes

Tate Publishing & Enterprises has closed, leaving a lot of confused and unhappy authors (especially those who still don’t realise Tate has always been a pay-to-publish vanity press who’d take anyone. Hey, they offered me a contract without even seeing my manuscript. That is not how a proper publisher works.)

It would appear the company has been going steadily downhill since Ryan Tate had his famous outburst where he prayed and quoted the Bible before abusing his staff, and firing 25 people.

‘Proverbs say that the wicked will set a trap, but the righteous will prevail and the wicked will fall into their own trap,’ said Tate in the recording. ‘A lot of good people are going to get hurt.’

It would appear the “good people” are the authors who trusted Tate.

New York Times Cut Bestseller Lists

The New York Times have cut a number of their bestseller lists. I’m no expert, but I suspect this will make it a lot harder for indie authors to “get their letters” (i.e. to be able to boast of being a NYT Bestseller). On the other hand, it might be good news for readers who value such things. Although less good news for those who read the genres which have been cut, like romance. Or maybe it simply reinforces that the NYT list is irrelevant for many readers.

Data Guy at Digital Book World

The other big publishing news was Data Guy’s presentation at the recent Digital Book World conference (Data Guy is, well, the data guy behind the Author Earnings website and reports). I’ll be writing a separate blog post on that next week.

Marketing

Blogging

This excellent post from Sabrina at Digital Pubbing contains dozens of links to help you set up or improve your blog.

Kick-Start Your Author Platform

And if you don’t have a website and you’d like some guidance in building one (and some friendly accountability), then join my free March Marketing Challenge: Kick-Start Your Platform. Sign up here: March Marketing Challenge.

In case you’re not convinced you need a website, let Kevin Tumlinson at Draft2Digital tell you why you do:
The Absolute Basics
Advanced Approaches
Best Practices

He also reinforces the importance of a lot of topics we’re going to cover in the March Marketing Challenge … so if you don’t know what he means or how to implement his suggestions, sign up now: March Marketing Challenge.

Author Brand

Part of author branding is making sure you portray yourself as polished and professional. But, as Amy Matayo points out in Image Isn’t Everything, this means people get a distorted view of others, as if their lives are always good.

Encouragement

We all need a little encouragement, a reminder that we don’t need to do everything. Elaine Fraser encourages us to make space in our lives for God, and for ourselves in the Unforced  Rhythms of Grace.

Best of the Blogs: 18 November 2016

It’s been a busy few weeks, which is why I’ve missed the last two Best of the Blogs posts. I attended the Omega Christian Writers Conference in Sydney, Australia, followed by a few days at a writing retreat with friends in Queensland. I got home and was immediately (and unexpectedly) off to Wellington for a week. Fortunately I got home before the earthquakes and the subsequent flooding. “It never rains but it pours” might be a cliche, but it’s appropriate in this case.

Anyway, now I’m facing the age-old struggle of how to fit four into two … and it’s not working. But I found two articles on productivity that have given me some new ideas, as well as two excellent articles on branding and marketing. I hope you find them useful:

Productivity

Getting it all done. It’s a problem we all have. This week, Michael Hyatt suggests that we should start with an easy task rather than procrastinating about starting a difficult task:

Then Donna Cummings visits Romance University to ask if she can have 15 minutes of your time … because scheduling big jobs in 15-minute chunks is a way to work towards the big goals without becoming overwhelmed. I like the idea—it fits nicely with Michael Hyatt’s approach, and it’s something I’ve been doing for a while … only without actually thinking about it.

Branding and Marketing

This is an older post, but it’s got great information about something all authors need to know about: building an author website. Tim Grahl has built a business on being “relentlessly helpful”, and this article is an example of his helpfulness:

If (like me) you have no idea about how to actually build a website, then I recommend Shannon Mattern at WP-BFF and her free 5-Day website challenge. That’s how I built this website and my author website (yes, you’ll see they look a lot alike. That’s a deliberate branding choice).

As an aside, Shannon also offers a paid WP-BFF Academy, and a WordPress Protection Package—I haven’t used these packages, but I’m happy to promote them because Shannon is someone else who practices being relentlessly helpful. Yes, I am a WP-BFF affiliate.

And branding … how do you choose an author brand, especially when you write in more than one genre? You can take my approach, and have separate websites. Or you can be clever, and combine your writing under one overarching brand (this might take longer than 15 minutes). June Stevens Westerfield visits Romance University to explain:

Well, that’s me for this week.

Best of the Blogs: 28 October 2016

The best blog posts I’ve read in the week to 21 October 2016, on writing, publishing, and marketing.

But first: a giveaway

Can’t Help Falling, the second novel from New Zealand author Kara Isaac has just released, and I’ve got one Kindle version to give away. Click here to enter.

Here’s the description from Amazon:

A funny, heartfelt romance about how an antique shop, a wardrobe, and a mysterious tea cup bring two C.S. Lewis fans together in a snowy and picturesque Oxford, England.

Emelia Mason has spent her career finding the dirt on the rich and famous. But deep down past this fearless tabloid-reporter façade, there’s a nerdy Narnia-obsessed girl who still can’t resist climbing into wardrobes to check for the magical land on the other side. When a story she writes produces tragic results, she flees to Oxford, England—home to C.S. Lewis—to try and make amends for the damage she has caused.

Peter Carlisle was on his way to become one of Great Britain’s best rowers—until he injured his shoulder and lost his chance at glory. He’s determined to fight his way back to the top even if it means risking permanent disability to do so. It’s the only way he can find his way past failing the one person who never stopped believing in his Olympic dream.

When Peter and Emelia cross paths on her first night in Oxford, the attraction is instant and they find common ground in their shared love of Narnia. But can the lessons from a fantasyland be enough to hold them together when secrets of the real world threaten to tear them apart? Cobblestone streets, an aristocratic estate, and an antique shop with curious a wardrobe bring the world of Narnia to life in Kara Isaac’s inspiring and romantic story about second chances.

The first chapter is at the bottom of this post. But now, back to our regular feature: what’s best in the blogs this week.

Writing

Fiction authors need to show and not tell. It’s easier said than done (and easier told that shown!). Janice Hardy visits Helping Writers Become Authors to share an excellent article on 3 Ways Writers Can Instantly Spot Telling … which is the first step in eliminating it.

Book coach Jennie Nash visits The Book Designer to go Back to the Basics on Backstory. This is an excellent post which also contains links to five previous posts in the series, all written to help you write the perfect chapter.

Publishing

Anne R Allen shares 10 Tips for Choosing Your Book Title—there is some meaty stuff in this post.

Marketing

Draft2Digital have advice on How to Build an Author Platform. Despite the title, this post is not so much about developing an author platform. It’s more about how you can use some clever tools to improve your passive marketing—like putting store links in the backs of your books. It’s from Draft2Digital so they’re obviously pushing their own publishing platform, but why not? I’ve only heard good things about them (and I’m happy to be corrected on that).

Fun

I’m no athlete, but our family are fans of the TV show Ninja Warrior (although we prefer the subtitled to the US version. Sorry, American readers). Anyway, this dad also has a daughter who loves Ninja Warrior … but he’s taken his fandom a little further than most people: Baby Ninja Warrior

 And here’s the beginning of Can’t Help Falling:

Remember: click here to enter the giveaway

Best of the Blogs 21 October 2016

The best posts I’ve read in the week to 21 October 2016 … on writing, editing, marketing, and an update on the Amazon book review situation.

Writing

I’ve got two posts this week looking at different aspects of point of view. Both posts give lots of great advice on how to use deep POV to improve your “showing”.

First, Carol J Post visits Novel Rocket to give four tips to Elicit Greater Emotion Through Deep POV. Great post, although I have to say I don’t like Novel Rocket’s new web design. Scrolling down makes it look like those background pages are turning, and make it difficult to read the actual post (or am I the only person with this problem?).

And next is a great post from Janice Hardy at Romance University on how your use of narrative distance (aka use of Deep POV) affects your ability to show rather than tell. If you only read one post this week, this should be it.

Editing

Self-proclaimed Kindlepreneur Dave Chasson gives his advice on Selecting the Best Book Editor. He does an excellent job of briefly summarising the four main levels of book editing (in my experience, most novels need all four. Yes, this is four separate edits, although not all need to be from paid editors). I also agree with his “what to look for” list.

What I didn’t agree with was his idea of an editing test—not because I don’t want to take a test, but because I often find authors can’t accurately gauge the level of editing they need, and tests like this won’t tell them. His test is a 1,000-word article. Not a 90,000-word novel. It completely misses the many intricacies of fiction, which include:

  • Point of view
  • Plot and structure
  • Scene structure
  • Showing, not telling

If a fiction author picks their editor based on a test like this, I have no doubt they’ll come away with a polished manuscript that has all the essentials of grammar, punctuation and spelling right (although he’s still wrong on one point: CMOS 7.58 clearly says “either italicized or enclosed in quotation marks”, with “or” being the operative word.. Italicizing “and” enclosing in quotation marks is unnecessary emphasis).

But a polished manuscript could still be a rambling unstructured mess of headhopping and telling that doesn’t obey any of the current “rules” of fiction.

Instead, I prefer Dave’s other suggestion of getting sample edits from potential editors. Comparing different sample edits will confirm what level of work needs to be done, and help you decide who is the best editor for your book.

Yes, I offer a free sample edit of up to 1,000 words. A sample edit means we both know the level of work the novel needs, and how much I’m going to charge for that.

Marketing

Misty M Beller visits Seekerville to share her 9 Steps to Market a New Book Release. Oh, she makes it sound easy!

Book Reviewing

As you’ll remember from my post on 7 October, Amazon have recently revised their Reviewing Guidelines, and the changes have been causing consternation around authors on the interwebz (mostly from people who didn’t read the full Amazon article, which explained authors and publishers can still provide reviewers with Advance Reader Copies).

Anyway, Anne Allen has written a comprehensive post on the “new” rules. As you will see from the comments, I don’t agree with all her findings, but it’s still an excellent reference. And do read the comments!

Fun

And finally, a little fun. Aren’t you glad publishing is easier these days?

Best of the Blogs – 14 October 2016

The best blog posts I’ve read this week on writing, editing, publishing and marketing (and a bit of fun, and a new release from client Elaine Fraser):

Writing

Two big things any aspiring fiction writer needs to learn are how to use point of view, and the importance of showing, not telling. In this post at Romance University, author Janice Hardy shows (!) how using point of view affects showing and telling:

How Your Narrative Distance Affects Show Don’t Tell

Editing

Julie Lessman interviewed Revell editor Lonnie Hull Dupont at Seekerville. They discussed what Lonnie looks for in a novel, her pet peeves, the acquisition process, and her views on ‘edgy’ Christian fiction:

9 Questions I Asked My Editor

Publishing

The Alliance of Independent Authors blog are well known for their anti-vanity publisher stance (which I fully endorse). They have published two valuable posts recently. The first is a list of publishers and publishing services companies, with advisory notices for many of the vanity publishers:

ALLi Service Ratings

And John Doppler posted 12 Self Publishing Services Authors Should Beware

If your “publisher” is offering any of these as a selling point or (worse) making you pay for them, then your publisher is likely to be a vanity press.

(Sign up to my mailing list if you’d like to receive a free list of Christian publishers, including the vanity presses specialising in the Christian market. The sign-up form is to the right >>>)

Marketing

Social Media expert Chris Syme visits Jane Friedman’s blog to talk about push vs. pull marketing … and how good social media marketing uses “pull” strategies: providing consumers with what they want, rather than pushing them to buy something they may or may not want.

Are You A Push Marketer or a Pull Marketer?

Fun

Coke vs. Pepsi might be the big-name food war, but Kiwis and Aussies have our own battle going with Marmite and Vegemite … and the national Marmite shortage resulting from the Christchurch earthquakes.

Kiwi Culture 101: Marmite

Also, congratulations to Christian Editing Services client Elaine Fraser on the release of her latest novel, Amazing Grace. Andrea Grigg has reviewed it at Australasian Christian Writers:

Book Review: Elaine Fraser

That’s all for this week! What’s the best blog post you’ve read this week? Share in the comments.

Best of the Blogs 7 October 2016

www.christianediting.co.nzThe best of the blog posts I’ve read this week on changes at Amazon, writing, editing, publishing and what comes next … and a fun post which basically describes my dream job. Well, apart from editing!

Changes at Amazon

But first, an announcement: Amazon have updated their rules around product reviews. They will no longer permit “incentivized” reviews, i.e. reviews where a free or discounted product was provided in exchange for a review. There are two and only two exceptions to this:

  • Advance Review Copies of books (including ebooks)
  • Products from the Amazon Vine programme

They have also expanded their Community Guidelines (including the new requirement that reviewers must have spent at least $50 on Amazon using a valid credit or debit card) and have refined their guidelines around what constitutes Promotional Content.

These changes are an attempt to close loopholes exploited by fivverr reviewers and coupon clubs. It shouldn’t mean any change for honest book reviewers, although I have seen some people saying reviewers they know have received warning letters from Amazon for breaching the guidelines.

Watch this space … and if you’ve got any questions, ask in the comments.

Now to the best of the blogs …

Writing

Setting is an important part of writing a novel, and this week Cara Lynn James visited Seekerville to give us some handy tips on the relationship between setting and character: How Setting Affects Character

Editing

Self-editing. How do you do it? In this post at Writers in the Storm, Fae Rowan shares her self-editing tips for getting a lot done quickly … and check out the comments for more handy tips: How I Edited 1200 Pages in 12 Weeks

Publishing

A lot of people get worried at the prospect of self-publishing, because there is so much to remember. If this is you, you’ll either love this post (because it’s a LIST of everything you have to do! No more forgetting things!) or you’ll hate this post (because it’s a list of EVERYTHING you have to do and it’s soooo loooong): A Checklist for Publishing Your Book from April Brown at Writers Helping Writers.

And After You’ve Published …

I know a lot of self-published authors are worried about ebook piracy (trade published authors might also worry about it, but they have agents and publishers they can delegate that to!). In this post at Molly Greene’s website, attorney Kathryn Goldman shares her tips on How To Beat Ebook Pirate Sites.

My Dream Job

Lexiographer. Yes, getting paid to read all day. Okay, so being an editor is close!

What’s the best post you’ve read this week? Leave us a link in the comments!