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Best of the Blogs 9 September 2017

Best of the Blogs: 12 August 2017

Best of the Blogs—the best posts I’ve read this week on writing, editing, publishing and marketing your book.

Writing

Plot Problems

First, Kristen Lamb is back with her usual sensitive discussion on we can improve our writing. No, wait. Kristen does kickboxing, not sensitive (and she might call this post Six Simple Reasons Our Story Sucks and How to Fix It, but fixing a story which sucks can be anything but simple).

Characterisation

One of the “rules” of fiction is to write characters our readers can connect with. But there is an exception to every rule. In The Importance of Infection in Fiction, Sarah Callender uses the movie Dunkirk to suggest an exception to the connection rule. She says:

Dunkirk reminded me that it’s not the amount of character development or back story that pins me to my seat. It’s the degree to which I am infected that matters.

Have you seen the movie? After reading this, I’m not sure I want to …

Self-Editing

Janice Hardy at Fiction University shares Improving Your Writing Without Raising Your Word Count. She identifies several ways we can make our scenes overly wordy without adding anything of substance, and how we can revise our work to fix that. (That sentence is twenty-six words long, and is a good example of the flab we editors love to trim.)

Publishing

America Star Books (aka Publish America) appear to be in trouble—they have published just two books since May (compared to up to fifteen a month in previous years). They are no longer accepting submissions (although, strangely, the submissions page at the supposedly defunct Publish America is open).

Of course, this isn’t a bad thing (except for the unlucky authors caught in their web). The world would be a better place without publishers like America Star Books and Author Solutions. As usual, Writer Beware have all the details.

Marketing

Back Cover Copy

Ask any author, and they’ll tell you writing those 100 words to go on the back cover of a book is infinitely harder than writing the actual book. In Blurbs, Back Cover Copy and Pitches, Oh My! Harlequin Love Inspired Suspense Author Lisa Phillips shares her tips.

That’s it from me for this week. What’s the best post you’ve read recently on writing, editing, publishing, or marketing?

Best of the Blogs 9 September 2017

Best of the Blogs: 17 June 2017

Best of the Blogs

The best posts I’ve read this week on writing, editing, publishing, and marketing.

The focus this week is on writing craft. That’s not deliberate—it just happened that way. Some weeks it’s a mix, some weeks it isn’t.

Story Genius

First up, Myra Johnson visits Seekerville to discuss Story Genius by Lisa Cron. It’s a brilliant book, and I highly recommend it. Myra talks about the “third rail,” the emotional power that keeps our story moving forward.

Using the MBTI for Characterisation

I don’t know about you, but I find getting to know “my” characters (the characters I’m writing) one of the most difficult aspects of writing a first draft. And characterisation is also what makes or breaks a book for me—that’s how important characterisation is.

In fact, Lisa Cron says:

Ultimately, all stories are character driven—yes, all stories.

That’s because great stories aren’t about what happens as much as they are about how the characters react to and make sense of what happened.

In 5 Ways to Use Myers-Briggs for Characters, KM Weiland recants on her previous aversion to using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator to profile her characters, and gives five great tips. And do read the comments. One commenter has written a virtual essay, which is informative (and technical).

Inspirational Romance

Jamie Lynn Booth visits Kristen Lamb’s website to discuss Why the World Needs More Inspirational Romance.

This is another post where the comments are as enlightening as the post. Many of the commenters describe themselves as Christians, but say they aren’t writing with the major CBA publishers would recognise as Christian fiction. As one commenter says:

I firmly believe that God has called us to be truth-tellers in a broken world.

I take the point. A lot of Christian fiction is telling the Truth (God’s Truth), sure. But it’s failing to tell it in an authentic way that will resonate with non-Christians. While I love Christian fiction that’s written for Christians by Christians, there is also a need for fiction written by Christians for the general market, but that will still lead people to God.

Part of this is about having flawed characters non-Christian readers will recognise.

Authentic characters.

And that’s what Lanette Kauten is talking about in Writing Authentic Characters (also at Kristen Lamb’s website). Lanette is a Christian, but isn’t writing “Christian fiction”. She says:

My characters are a part of the world they live in and act accordingly.

And her world is messy. Her heroine is described as a confused atheist in a lesbian relationship escaping from her upbringing in a weird Charismatic church. That’s part of the story, but it’s not the whole story. Her message is that our writing must be authentic.

Now for something lighter …

I enjoy humour. Who doesn’t? But I often come across novels where the humour either falls flat, or crosses the line from humour into a cringefest of slapstick.

In this excellent post at the BookBaby blog, Scott McCormick explains why: because Your Story Needs a Good Straight Man. If I think about it, a lot of the humour that didn’t work for me as a reader was because both characters were trying to be funny. And that doesn’t work. As Scott explains, good humour needs a straight man.

The best humour isn’t when one character says something funny and the other character laughs. It’s when one character says something funny, and the other character ignores the humour and carries on with the conversation. Terry Pratchett was a master at this.

McCormick also says:

Interestingly, a straight man doesn’t have to be limited to comedies. A good straight man can make your heroes more heroic, and your tragic figures more tragic.

Worth thinking about …

Do you use humour in your writing? (Or humor?)

I’m currently running a giveaway of Then There Was You, the new novel from RITA finalist (and Christian Editing Services client) Kara Isaac. Click here to enter.

Best of the Blogs 9 September 2017

Best of the Blogs: 3 June 2017

The best blog posts I’ve read in the last week (or two. Yes, I missed last week’s post. Apologies!)

Writing

Writing Scenes

Beth K Vogt visits Novel Rocket to share her 5-5-1 method of planning a scene. She makes it sound easy … and effective.

Characterisation

In Shame, Shame, We Know Your Name—Or Do We? Kristen Lamb makes the point that shame is an important element of good fiction, that our characters don’t just need a secret. They need a secret that shames them.

I hadn’t thought of that … and I almost dismissed it. Except that the same day, Christianity Today published a related article: Shame, Guilt, and Fear: What 1,000 Americans Avoid Most. Hmm …

Publishing

Carla King at Bookworks has another article on the perils of vanity publishing. She specifically addresses how to re-publish your books (aka self-publish).

Marketing

Branding

Kristine Kathryn Rusch has started a series on branding. I value her opinion on all things related to writing, publishing, and marketing, so this is definitely a series I’ll be following. The first posts are:

In the latest post, Brand Identity, she talks about branding the book, branding the series, and branding yourself as a writer. My view is that the last is the most important—especially for pre-published authors.

Branding is obviously a current theme, because romance author Barbara O’Neal visited Writers Digest to share her take on developing an authentic brand: Your Writing Platform: Letting Readers Know the (Sort of) Real You 

Social Media Marketing

Neil Patel from Quicksprout shares his daily online marketing routine. Yes, you have to sort out brand first, and you need to have your website and social media set up properly. If you don’t, click here to sign up to be notified when my Kick Start Your Author Platform email course starts.

Do you have a daily social media routine?

Inspiration

Melanie Dickerson visited Seekerville to share her six tips to Take Your Career from Whine to Shine. It’s an inspiring post, and requires us to take action. Check it out!

 

 

That’s all for Best of the Blogs this week. What blog posts have you read that inspired you?

Best of the Blogs 9 September 2017

Best of the Blogs: 15 April 2017

 

Best of the blogs: the best posts I’ve read this week on writing, editing, publishing, and marketing your novel. Well, mostly writing and marketing, including a useful posts about Elegant Authors from Elegant Themes.

Writing

On Christian Fiction …

TJ Mackay of InD’Tale Magazine visits Seekerville to share her views of the role of Christian fiction in a secular world.

Andrea Grigg visited Australasian Christian Writers to share a similar message. Andrea is Stepping Out and writing to encourage. And that might be in the Christian market, or the general market.

Point of View

 

Kristen Lamb continues her series on point of view with How to Immerse the Reader in Story.

And I continue my series on point of view with Using Point of View to Engage Readers. Great minds must think alike! Although Kristen has better graphics . . .

Marketing

Cover Design

Holly Brady shares seven tips to consider when briefing your cover designer. Yes, I agree with Holly when she says she never recommends authors design their own covers.

 

MailChimp Autoresponders

It is a truth universally acknowledged that authors need an email list, and that MailChimp is the market leader in the field. Okay, not quite.

I’ve seen several comments over the last week from people having trouble with MailChimp account. One problem is setting up autoresponder emails: those emails a new subscriber to your email list receives automatically. (If you’d like an example of an autoresponder sequence, sign up for my email list using the box on the right.)

Anyway, Elegant Themes have written an excellent post on how to set up an autoresponder sequence in MailChimp—complete with pictures. Note that autoresponders are a paid feature in MailChimp. You can select:

  • A monthly subscription where the price is based on the size of your list(s) and you’re allowed unlimited emails.
  • The pay-as-you-go model, where you buy email credits so effectively pay per email sent.

If budget is an issue, you could consider MailerLite. They offer free autoresponders if you have less than 1,000 subscribers.

 

If you prefer video instructions, then I recommend watching Day 3 of the free WP-BFF Five Day Website Challenge, and/or the paid WP-BFF MailChimp MasterClass (available through the BFF Academy, or separately).

Author Websites

Elegant Themes have introduced Elegant Authors, a Divi layout for authors. For those who don’t know, Divi is their popular drag-and-drop theme. They say the layout is free, but I suspect that means it’s free if you have Divi, which means if you have an Elegant Themes subscription.

I haven’t tried Divi or Elegant Authors—I currently use the free version of the Make theme on this site, and I’m happy with it. But I do use two Elegant Themes plugins on this website:

  • Bloom for capturing email optins.
  • Monarch for my social sharing icons.

What’s the best or most useful blog post you’ve read this week?

 

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!