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Best of the Blogs 12 August 2017

Best of the Blogs: 29 July 2017

I’m back with best of the blogs, the best posts I’ve found this week on writing, editing, publishing, and marketing. What’s the best or most useful post you’ve read this week? Let me know in the comments.

Writing

Conflict in Romance

In Conflict – Avoid the Easy Route, posted at Romance University, editor Julie Sturgeon looks at conflict in romance. She explains how getting the internal conflict wrong can leave you with a grown-up version of “Green Eggs and Ham”. Oops.

(As an aside, Andrea Grigg uses exactly this trope in Too Pretty, but without coming off like an adult Dr Seuss book. At least not in my view).

Characterisation

How to Write Characters Who Don’t All Feel the Same is an excellent post from Janice Hardy at Fiction University on showing character traits though dialogue, dialogue tags, and action.

Janice is the author of Understanding Show, Don’t Tell. I haven’t read it yet, but one of my clients credits it with cutting her editing bill in half. After reading this book, she did another round of intensive self-editing on her manuscript (including cutting 25,000 words to go into a sequel). As a result, I was able to complete her edit for half my original quote. It made it a much more enjoyable job as well!

Editing

I was interviewed by Christine Dillon about my role as an editor. Do you have any burning editing questions you’d like me to answer?

Marketing

Website Design #1 (Big Picture)

As well as being a freelance editor, I’m also a book reviewer. As part of my reviewing activities, I like to be able to link to an author’s blog, add their brief bio to a review, link to their books on Amazon, tag them in a post on Twitter and so on.

It’s amazing how often I can’t do these things because the author doesn’t have a Twitter account or hasn’t set up an Amazon Author page or (worse) doesn’t even make their books available on Amazon.

These authors are missing out on free publicity from me (and probably from other reviewers as well) for the simple reason that they haven’t taken the time to set their basic passive marketing up properly. Most authors claim to loathe marketing ,which is all the more reason to do this part well.

After all, if you can get other people (readers and reviewers) talking about your book to their friends, that’s even more powerful than you talking about your book.

Author Jami Gold has recently updated her website, to make sure she was doing all these basics right. In this blog post, she explains what she’s done, and why: To Make A Reader Friendly Website.

Yes, I know this is a list of activities without any explanation of how she has done it. Don’t worry—I’ll cover as much as I can over the next few months in my Wednesday blog posts. In the meantime, follow my blog on Feedly (or your favourite reader) or subscribe to my monthly Newsletter to ensure you don’t miss any posts.

Website Design #2 (Detail)

Ever wanted to add quotes to your WordPress site (like Bible quotes, quotes from your books, quotes from books you’ve enjoyed …). This blog post explains how you can add quotes using a free WordPress plugin. Very clever!

How Do Successful Authors Market their Books?

BookBaby have released a survey on what successful authors do in terms of marketing. The survey was completed by 7,677 published or aspiring authors in October and November 2016.

There are some interesting results, such as the table comparing the activities of successful authors ($5,000 or more in annual book sales) vs. unsuccessful authors ($100 or less in annual book sales). What would be more interesting is understanding the return on investment (ROI) of these activities—especially the high-cost-no-guaranteed-return activities such as hiring a publicist.

There were also interesting comments on soliciting reviews. Successful authors were more likely to ask book bloggers for reviews, while unsuccessful authors asked friends and family. This is significant: Amazon will delete reviews from people they suspect of having a financial or personal relationship with the author, which defeats the purpose of asking friends and family for reviews.

Also, it’s not good marketing. If I look at a book on Amazon and notice that two of the five reviewers have the same last name as the author, I’m going to assume those are reviews from family members—especially if the author has a less common last name (e.g. Goulton). And I’m going to ignore the reviews, because I know they are biased.

What reviews do you pay the most attention to?

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: 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 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.