WELCOME! The Guild is changing, and growing to meet local writers' needs. I am stepping back as moderator and taking on the anthology project to get that done, as well as planning the next book fest, which I hope will be at the art garage and feature a hands-on workshop for people to discover hidden writing talents. Just an idea I'm knocking around, and we'll discuss it at tonight's meeting. Hopefully we'll get the anthology to its first publisher for consideration by the end of the summer.
Many thanks to Rhonda Strehlow for taking over the job as moderator!
One reason for the change is that I was not comfortable with how poorly attended our book fest was, and it seemed to me I try to do too much without relegating. So I want my focus to be on the fest and the anthology, and nothing more for a while.
If you've been saving and printing the writer's bible below, know that these are tips that I've gleaned from around the web (and a few of my own experiences). All credit is given to all writers and I expect you to respect our copyright and retain writer information with your use of the article.
Hope Clark Newsletter, January 14, 2011
DON'T FOOL YOURSELF
Writing talent isn't something you're born with. You might like it more than the person next to you, but you weren't birthed ready to pen a bestselling tome. Writing is work.
There's nothing accidental about it, and the sooner you understand that, the sooner you'll tackle a realistic writing venture - with less disappointment.
I've counseled people who've decided to do an about-face and write. They've decided to do what they love for a change. My concern is, have they been writing all along and just now took it serious? Or have they decided they like the idea of writing and want to take up the craft?
Either is admirable. However, writing becomes worthy, improves, and grows only with use, critique and study. It doesn't just happen. A writer isn't an actress discovered beside a dime store soda fountain by a Hollywood director.
A writer earns his way, starting at the bottom and working up. These days many decide that when they are going to write, that means publish. Who wants to write and not publish? However, writing isn't synonymous with publishing.
Publishing is what you do once you've learned how to write.
With practice, study, review and repetition, a voice takes root. You aren't born with voice. It evolves with each word you pen. You don't look for it. You don't develop a plan and create it. It comes with the confidence of telling a story, after many attempts and a lot of backing up and starting over.
I'm often asked in conferences or online chats, "If you could give one piece of advice to writers, what would it be?" Without a doubt, it would be to write more and publish slowly. I've seen too many people hurt by doing the opposite.
When someone asks for a consult with me, I always ask for their educational, publishing and writing background.
Some have never published, yet are writing a book they think is the next King, Rowling, Clancy or Patterson.
I admire their determination. But then I wonder how many realize that they are talking about a multi-year venture? Most don't. I can usually tell which ones are deceiving themselves. I always pray I'm wrong.
I want you to succeed. I want to see your name on the top 100 lists, the top 10 lists, the bestseller lists. Who doesn't love seeing people they know rise to the top? But it pains me to see people sabotage their writing future by writing one piece and then decide it can be published without an editor, without rewrites, without critique.
Coca Cola and Kentucky Fried Chicken didn't become household names using the first formulas they tried. It wasn't until after following countless tests that they found a flavor the public loved. Cologne, clothes, cars, recipes and architecture are all the same. The first, second, or even third drafts are just steps in a journey. That way the end result is more predictable, more likely to win consumer approval.
Practice makes perfect.
Posted: 27 Jul 2012 09:57 AM PDT
FIND AN AGENT
From Poets and Writers, April 2011 (101)
This is a matter of sheer luck!
That said, offer only one project at a time and make sure it’s well suited. Don’t offer yourself, but make it clear in the query why you think this project is right for them.
If you’re pitching to an agent at a conference, practice your opening pitch in a mirror. WOW yourself. Once your get their attention, you should be able to show your passion for the project without further rehearsal. Rehearse the entire 10 minutes if you’re more comfortable that way.
Pitching in person is best. Conferences are the way to do this. If you can travel to their city, do it.
Make your project hard to resist.
Capture something timeless or relevant about your work. Something that makes them nod. If you see them nod, you’re halfway there. Bring it home!
From Jenni Ferrari-Adler of Brick House Literary Agents
You should wait until you’re really finished (and have set the book aside and finished it twice more!) before querying. This may sound like a Zen khan, but you should be finished AND open to editorial suggestions.
If the novel is terrific, finding an agent is actually the easy part.
FIVE REASONS WHY EVERY WRITER NEEDS A WEBSITE
By Jennifer Mills Kerr
Every writer should have a website listing their publications. Here are five reasons why.
1.) Stay in touch with your readers. Whether your readers are people you know or not, a website opens the way for you to share your writing with more readers. Just the other day, a guy I'd never met before commented positively on my writing. I loved it! The more opportunities I have to create support for my work, the better. And let's face it. We write in order to share our stories and/or articles. The more we do this, the better.
2.) The list of your publications gives great insight into what's important to you as a writer. When I was creating my website, I didn't include every bit of writing in my online portfolio. I cut a few stories out; I also didn't include my poetry. I realized that these pieces didn't reflect me. This gave me insight as to what I wanted to present creatively to the world; it also showed me the direction where I wanted to go.
3.) Establish yourself as a professional. When I first created my website, I was announcing not only to the world, but to myself: I am a writer and I'm proud of my work. I knew I took my writing seriously. Plus, a website looks great on my resume. Since I teach, there's always an option that my future employer will check out my writing. They can see not only what kind of writing I do, but that I'm serious, committed, and talented.
4.) Avoid the annoying question at dinner parties: "So what do you write about?" This may sound funny, but I'm being serious. Haven't you been cornered by some stranger who's dying to know where you've
been published, what you write, and what you write about? A quick and easy solution-after your 30 second pitch on behalf of your wonderful writing-is simply to say, "Check out my website." In my
experience, most of these information mongers never go to the site. But for that five percent who are truly sincere, they can discover for themselves where your work has been published, what you write,
and what you write about. Definitely a win-win situation.
5.) Publicize those great magazines that published you. Why not? They've given you some great attention, it's fun to shine the light on them too. If, like me, you've been published in online journals,
then a good magazine is just a click away for an interested reader. How easy is that?
Now, if you're thinking it's too expensive or time consuming to create a website, think again. I created a blogsite with the help of a professional for less than three hundred dollars. I update it myself. There are no monthly charges. The joy it brings me is tremendous. Believe me, creating a website for your writing is well worth it. Now go for it!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Jennifer Mills Kerr has been writing fiction and memoir for over eleven years. She aims to inspire, support, and connect with other writers online. Read her published work at her website,
http://www.JenniferMillsKerr.com. From Worldwide Freelance Writer Newsletter, December 22, 2010
ON YOUR WEBSITE
The perfect place for news releases and promotions – on the home page, the first page people get to see. Include where to find copies of your books, and other book-related information.
· Have a way to chat, if possible – or for sure so that they can contact you.
· Include your press/media kit.
· Have helpful links for them to go to.
· Build a customer list – be sure and keep emails of those who respond to you.
· Use it to blog.
· Add material from any groups you put on Facebook.
· Create contests and surveys.
· Provide updates – weekly if possible!
· Show your diverse talents.
· Provide helpful information. Take one of your talents or hobbies and find a way to relate information about it that would interest others.
· Initiate a word of mouth campaign – offering freebies if someone comes directed by someone else.
· Latest news on sales & marketing strategy
· Photos of self and book covers and other related photos
· What you’ve published
· Personal platform (topics to speak on)
· Works in progress
· Audio & video clips if interviewed
· Calendar of scheduled tours and travel
· Background info on books – more detailed than news releases
· FAQs if you specialize
· Review copy request form
· Awards and honors (having some helps!)
· Copies of reviews
TIPS before you begin:
1. Find other sites you like and figure out why
2. Make sure your hosting site can give you what you have in mind.
3. Start simple, with the basics
4. Don’t overdo graphics
5. Be entertaining – useful – attention grabbing – thought provoking
6. Make it easy to negotiate
7. Text is big enough but don’t overdo – white space, avoid too much scrolling
8. A place to sign up for your newsletter – you can build a list from this for updates
9. More pages attracts more visitors
10. Catchy headline, key phrases in opening paragraph
11. Include links to relevant sites
12. Avoid frame based sites.
(Compiled from Kremer and other sources)
By L.L. Barkat on Mar 15, 2013 05:00 am
Note from Jane Friedman: If this topic interests you, I also recommend reading my older posts, Please Don’t Blog Your Book: 4 Reasons Why and Get Started Guide: Blogging for Writers, especially if you think blogging is the right choice for you. While my views don’t mirror Barkat’s (see the comments for my take), her perspective is refreshing and helps to dispel a few platform-building myths that are pervasive in the writing community. Blogging is neither a requirement nor the best marketing and promotion tool for a huge swath of writers, regardless of their experience or level of accomplishment. ----
“Blogging is a waste of time.” The panel burst into protestations. Jana Riess, Lauren Winner, Cindy Crosby, and Andy Crouch were at the Calvin Festival, discussing social media in 2006, before it was a foregone conclusion that if you were an author you should have a blog.
Andy Crouch was being a bit bald-faced in making his proclamation. After all, he wasn’t a blogger. He didn’t have much of a social media presence. Remember, these were the days before Twitter, super-charged Facebook, and LinkedIn. And forget about an author claiming to be the Mayor of the Library of Congress in a game of Foursquare. What’s more, nobody was going to pin Crouch’s statement on Pinterest or pheed it to Pheed.
Was Crouch right? I decided to find out. Especially since the Director of Marketing and Promotion from Simon & Schuster recently told me, “We ask all our authors to blog.”
So in 2006, I started blogging. Over six years, I wrote more than 1,300 blog posts, garnered over 250,000 page views, helped establish a large blogging network for which I later became the Managing Editor, test-marketed five books and wrote and sold them. I watched blogging colleagues get book contracts. I hired some of these bloggers as editors for the network where I managed. I was a true believer in the blog world.
But on Saturday, November 10, 2012, I suddenly did the unthinkable. I myself stopped blogging. I had finally decided that Andy Crouch was right. Six years later.
Last spring, an author approached me via Twitter to get my advice about blogging. How could she make it work for her? Was it worth it? Should she move to WordPress? What did I think?
I told her to forget about blogging. And one week later, after a Skype conversation about writing and platform-building, I hired her as an Editor for Every Day Poems, a publication of the site where I currently serve as Managing Editor. “How many people are visiting your blog per month? One hundred?” I had joked gently. “Work with us and serve a much larger audience. This will be more worth your time.”
Does this mean I would recommend that everyone stop blogging? No. I encourage new bloggers, just the way I always have. It’s an excellent way to find expression, discipline, and experience. But if writers already have experience, and they are authors trying to promote themselves and their work, I tell them to steer clear. If they’ve already found themselves sucked into the blogging vortex, I suggest they might want to give it up and begin writing for larger platforms that don’t require reciprocity (an exhausting aspect to blogging and a big drain on the writer’s energy and time).
Someone will disagree with me and point to a case like best-selling author Ann Voskamp, and I will point them back to the facts. Yes, Voskamp made it big largely because of the power of her blogging platform, but she had the power of being first. Before blogging was a “thing,” Voskamp was already blogging quietly and steadily in 2003. Before blog networks came of age, she was writing for one of the few women’s sites that also had the power of being first. Time cannot be turned back. Few authors can make of themselves what Voskamp did—not for lack of talent but for lack of timing and sheer cyber-longevity.
If an author shouldn’t be blogging, what should an author be doing? This is up for discussion. It is a current trend to use Facebook as a writing venue. One of my top colleagues just got invited to write for 99U, as a result of her Facebook-writing activity. This same colleague connected with Lifehacker via Twitter and got a regular writing gig as a result. And she is not a writer with an otherwise large platform. Intelligence can be expressed in strings of 140 characters, and big outlets pay attention.
For myself, new writing assignments, some even international, have come primarily through Twitter. Likewise, I myself publish poets I meet on Twitter and Tumblr, while I am far less likely to do the same for bloggers. It’s not a bias. It’s a matter of simplicity. I can see at a glance how a writer expresses. Remember the old elevator pitch? It’s alive and well on Twitter and I depend on it. Apparently others do too.
Is blogging a waste of time? Crouch was ahead of his time in saying so. For the experienced writer, my answer is yes … in 2013.
Perhaps you’ve heard the debates. Writing an outline for your novel’s first draft stifles your creativity. If you don’t write an outline your plotline will get lost. Before you take a sledgehammer to your laptop, be assured there is a solution. I presented this technique at a writer’s convention and one writer told me, “I never thought I could write a novel before!”
Jack and Jill were brother and sister. Their parents sent them for water. They had to climb a big hill. Both of them took buckets. They climbed the hill. They filled those buckets. But Jill bumped into Jack and he tumbled down the hill and broke his neck. What did Jill do next? She ran away, because she was afraid she would have to spend the rest of her life caring for a paralyzed brother. But where did she go? She ended up in the next town, where she had to find a job, but she was feeling so poorly about Jack that Clive, the local pimp, was able to force her into bondage. When no one hears from Jill, Jack, now a paraplegic, finds a way to use the internet to track her down. He gets in disguise and feigns a more totally inability as he rolls to her rescue and shoots the pimp. Jill is saved, and she realizes that her brother doesn’t hold her responsible, after all.
WRITING A STORY TREATMENT – THE EXERCISE
1. Start with an idea nugget for a novel.
You might have your own idea, if you’d prefer to use that. If not, use the following: “A woman suddenly realizes she is not who she thought she was.” Substitute man if you prefer.
2. Write down what she was doing when she found this out.
Her actions here help determine if this book will be a drama, a comedy, a mystery, a spy thriller, a poignant relationship piece.
3. Write down what time period this takes place in, and where.
Here’s where your own specific knowledge of time periods might come into play. Perhaps you’ve already had some experience writing about the future, as in Sci-fi, or maybe you’ve always enjoyed watching westerns and want to try one. Or maybe you know a lot about the Depression. But, too, maybe there’s a time period that you want to explore before you complete your ST. Do some preliminary research here.
4. We need to know more about this main character.
Write down some really interesting things about this woman—you want to write down some details about who she thought she was, and how this person will now change, or lose what she had, or how hard she’ll try to cling to what she thinks she is no matter what she finds out. Add some detail about how she’s been living her life to the moment she finds out she’s not who she thinks she is. This can be as basic as “worked in a laundromat,” or “considering a divorce.” What do you want to know about this character that’s going to add tension and help propel the story forward? “Just got a promotion at a law firm, over someone who’s been there longer.” See how that immediately adds tension?
5. Now begin your series of What ifs.
In order to create your story treatment, you have to get her involved in figuring out how this happened. You have to figure out what she’s going to do about it. You have to figure out where this adventure of identity will lead her. You have to add all the minor players, mother, husband, child, boss and how they had figured and will figure into her now dual life.
What if she tells her daughter and ruins their relationship?
What if her husband has been hiding a secret from her?
WHAT IF is where a writer’s imagination takes over. Keep asking yourself ‘What if’ until you get the answers that propel your story in new directions. An ST can help you finish that first draft. But only if you make the ST so exciting you can’t wait to see how the novel turns out.
6. But how does it end?
That’s often the thing you’ll save for last. Felling of the Sons didn’t end like I’d written because the characters took over. It’s very hard to push them back on a path that they’ve discovered is wrong. Just change the ST and keep going. Keep writing ‘what happens next’ until you reach what feels like the perfect ending.
Enjoy the ride!