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Best of the Blogs: 25 March 2107

Best of the Blogs from Christian Editing ServicesBest of the blogs: the best posts I’ve read this week on writing, editing, publishing, and marketing.

Writing

Kristen Lamb is back again this week, asking: Do Some People Lack the Talent to be Authors?

Does writing take talent … or just a whole lot of practice and a willingness to learn? What do you think?

Marketing

Book Descriptions

Why is it so easy to write 80,000 words, yet so difficult to condense that down into a brief book description which sells? BookBub have eight hints to help write a book description which sells. Well, it sells books for BookBub. It might not sell on Amazon, which permits longer descriptions.

Cover Design

Joel Friedlander has published his monthly cover design awards. James Egan and Damonza solidify their reputations as the cover designers to save up for.

Possible trends to note included several covers with characters turned away from the reader or in silhouette, and one which used an italic font. There were also a few covers with yellow or orange. Joel warned against this a couple of years ago, but I’m now seeing a trend for thriller or suspense novels.

As usual, it’s worth looking through the full list (100 covers) to see what works, what doesn’t, and why.

Branding

Jenny Hansen shares a fabulous post on author branding at Writers in the Storm. Read Helpful Hacks to Build a Strong Online Brand.

Twitter

Andrew Pickering visits Social Media Examiner to share 7 top tips for using Twitter to Drive More Traffic to Your Blog. I’m only doing three of these. I’m sure I can add three more with only a few tweaks to my sharing routine. One might be a little more trouble—anyone want to guess which of the seven I’m least keen on?

Award Finalists!

The 2016 Grace Award finalists have been announced, and Kiwi Christian author Kara Isaac is a finalist in the Romance/Historical Romance category.

And Romance Writers of America have announced the finalists for the RITAs, the romance world equivalent of the Oscars … and Kara Isaac is a double finalist—First Novel, and Romance with Religious or Spiritual Elements. Congratulations, Kara!

Best of the Blogs: 18 March 2017

Best of the blogs: the best posts I’ve read this week on writing, editing, publishing, and marketing.

Best of the Blogs from Christian Editing Services

Writing

Plot vs. Character (the Rematch)

Last week I shared a blog post from James Scott Bell on why plot is more important than character. This week, Kristen Lamb takes the opposing view: that Character Determines Plot.

Discover Your Writing Voice

Jeff Goins tells us that the way we discover our writing voice is by reading and copying others. Lots of others. Who do you copy?

Editing

Do you use editing tools? I tried Grammarly for about a week, and while I liked the idea, it’s an online programme … which means it slowed down Word too much for me to work with, and I couldn’t use it at all when out of wifi range.

Anyway, April Bradley visited Writers Helping Writers to give an introduction to ProWritingAid, which sounds good–especially as it can apparently be used online, with Word, or as a separate desktop application.

Have you tried ProWritingAid? Do you recommend it? Read more here: ProWritingAid: A Useful Tool.

Publishing

Attorney Susan Spann visits Writers in the Storm to share 10 Questions to Ask before you sign a publishing contract.

I’ve covered several of these in Christian Publishing: A Guide to Publishers Specializing in Christian Fiction. If you don’t already have a copy, sign up for my monthly newsletter and I’ll send you a copy.

Networking

I’m an introvert, so I never felt comfortable networking in the corporate world. The writing and editing world suits me so much better, because it’s full of introverts, and most of the networking is done like this, using the written word. This week, Kaye Dacus has a post on the importance of Networking for Building Name Recognition in the writing world—especially important in the small world of Christian fiction.

I’ve come across several other writers who have been published because of their connections, for better or worse. Romantic suspense author Dani Pettrey thanks Dee Henderson in her acknowledgements. Forensic thriller author Carrie Stuart Parks thanks her BFF’s husband who coached her in writing until she earned a contract—a guy named Frank Peretti.

Marketing

Book Reviews

As a long-time Amazon reviewer, I try (try!) to keep up with what’s changing in the world of Amazon reviews. In fact, it’s something I must write a blog post on, because a lot of what I wrote in my last series of posts is now outdated. Anyway, here is Big Al at Indies Unlimited commenting on one of the changes: how customer reviews are displayed on Amazon.

Improving Your Reach

Nina Amir at How to Blog a Book posts on How to get Better Mileage Out of Your Blog Posts. Basically:

  • Deliver them in different formats (video, audio, written)
  • Make them shareable
  • Share your posts (you can automate some of this using a tool such as Buffer).

I haven’t yet tried video or audio. Would you watch a Facebook Live question-and-answer session? Let me know in the comments. And add your questions!

Best of the Blogs: 11 March 2017

Best of the blogs: the best posts I’ve read this week on writing, editing and marketing.

Best of the Blogs from Christian Editing Services

 

Writing

James Scott Bell on Plot

James Scott Bell visited Writers Helping Writers® to discuss the chicken-and-egg of fiction writing: Does character drive plot? Or does plot drive character? He’s the author of Plot and Structure and Write Your Novel from the Middle, so his answer is no surprise. Read Conflict and Suspense Belong in Every Kind of Novel to find out why.

Bryn Grenwood on Productivity

Bryn Greenwood posted on Hot Bunking for Writers at Writer Unboxed. I read the post because the title caught my eye—what on earth did she mean? I’ll let you read the article and find out for yourself: Hot Bunking for Writers.

I love the idea. Productivity experts do recommend knuckling down into a task rather than flitting between a variety of tasks. Apparently, multi-tasking is not good for productivity. Who knew? Hot bunking is a solution which also addresses writers block—and anything that stops us staring at a blank screen is a great idea!

Editing

Kathy Edens on Writing Aids

Kathy Edens shares at LiveWriteThrive about her experiences using ProWritingAid, and what it’s taught her about how to improve her writing. Have you used a writing or editing tool like ProWritingAid? The free or paid version? What has it taught you? Would you recommend it?

Marketing

Kristan Higgins on Organic Marketing

I missed this post when it first came out, but  found it after it was shared in one of my Facebook groups. If you’re one of the many authors who loathes marketing because it brings to mind images of scammy, spammy and smarmy self-promotion, you’re in the right place. In this article, Kristan Higgins visits Romance University to share about Organic Marketing aka passive marketing. It’s about getting the foundations right.

She also makes a unique and funny distinction between a writer and an author—and reminds us there is a time and a place for each.

Penny Sansiveri on Amazon Author Pages

If you’re a published author, you should already have claimed your author page at Amazon Author Central. Did you know you can also claim your page on international Amazon sites as well? Book marketing expert Penny Sansiveri explains how in The Most Overlooked Amazon Sales Tool:

Inspiration

And finally, Laurie Tomlinson visits Novel Rocket with a challenge: are you a real writer? Or are you letting Impostor Syndrome lie to you and say you’re not?

 

Best of the Blogs: 4 March 2017

Best of the blogs – the best posts of the week on writing, editing, publishing and marketing your books. And a little inspiration to encourage you.

Best of the Blogs 4 March 2017

Writing

Jami Gold talks about the importance of writing that immerses us in the story—or, more often, what takes us out of the story. She’s right. As usual. (I’m not a fan of the genres she writes, but I love her writing advice.)

Larry Brooks at StoryFix shares some depressingly good advice about The Bermuda Triangle of Storytelling (depressingly good because it’s easy to read, yet difficult to implement).

Beth Vogt visits Novel Rocket to share Donald Maass’s Freeze Frame technique for writing strong fight scenes.

Can you use song lyrics in a novel? It’s a common question, and Helen Sedwick gives the answers in this post at BookWorks.

And for some fun, Kari Lynn Dell visits Writers in the Storm to share 5 Things Rodeo Taught me About Writing.

Editing

Do agents edit? Should agents edit? Rachelle Gardner shares to what level she edits books for clients, and why in How Much Should Agents Edit?

Publishing

Chandler Bolt at Self-Publishing School has a great post on choosing the Perfect Book Title.

And Judith Briles visits The Book Designer to warn us to Beware of Sharks in Publishers Clothing in light of the recent demise of Tate Publishing (of course, if you’d downloaded my free guide to Christian publishers, you’d already know how to tell a shark from a minnow. If you haven’t downloaded it … sign up to my email list in the box on the right).

Marketing

This is a step or three ahead of me for now, but those of you with two or more books published might be interested in this article. In it, Alexandra Amor visits The Creative Penn to talk about using Amazon advertisements (and Facebook tracking pixels) to drive newsletter signups.

Encouragement

And finally, some words of encouragement from DeAnna Julie Dodson (aka Juliana Deering) at Inkwell Inspirations: we are Chosen. And equipped to serve.

That’s all for now. Have a great week!

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.