Guest post: Writing 101 by Paul Lell

Tonight’s guest blog post, on the topic of writing basics, is brought to you by science-fiction / fantasy author Paul Lell.

Writing 101

The most common question I am asked at conventions is easily, “how do you do it?”

For the longest time my answer was, “I just sit down and do it…”

Then I got to thinking about it. I did some reading and some investigation on the process of writing. I did a little soul searching and ‘dug deep’ as they say; and do you know what I discovered? I just sit down and do it!

So as not to appear trite, let me explain myself a bit better here. If you want to be a writer / author / novelist / whatever (they’re all pretty much the same thing in my mind), you need to write. Just as if you wanted to be an artist, you need to produce art of some kind, or if you want to be a baseball player, you need to play baseball. It comes down to motivation and practice, really. While I do believe there is a certain level of ‘inborn’ talent that can really push a person over the top in their chosen endeavor, I also believe that just about anyone can become just about anything they want, as long as they knuckle under and put forth the effort it takes to learn, practice, accept feedback (read: criticism), go back to the drawing board and occasionally reinvent themselves… In short, they need to commit themselves to the process of evolving into what they want to be.

To get back to the question, “how do I do it?” The more complete answer is, “I write every single chance I get. I write good stuff. I write bad stuff. I write terrible stuff (lots, and lots of terrible stuff). Occasionally, I may even write some great stuff. But I write, all the time. Even when I have nothing specific that I feel I need to produce, or a story to tell (which doesn’t happen very often, by the way). I have piles and piles of junk writing lying about my hard drive, filled to overflowing with writing that will likely never see the light of day.

I also throw away any pretentious thoughts that everything I write is gold and should immediately be published so the world can bask in the glory that is my crazy mind. I have no illusions about being the next [insert amazing author’s name here]. I just hope that somewhere, someday, somebody might enjoy one of my stories. I keep trying to refine my craft. I share work with people and ask for brutally honest feedback. Then I don’t cry once I’ve received it.

It is a rare bird indeed that can turn a love (or in some cases, a compulsion) for writing into a comfortable living. Much like teaching, one should never enter into the world of writing novels with the expectation or love of money as motivation. Rather, do it for the love of the craft. The difference you might make in the lives of yourself and, hopefully, a few other people.

I’m still working on the living part, but loving it certainly. Thank you, Paul!

Paul Lell is a Science Fiction writer and publisher, best known for his series, ‘The Keys of Kalijor’ which can be found on all major eReaders and at all major online booksellers.

You can read more about Paul Lell, his books, and his crazy life, at www.Kalijor.com.

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If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about.

The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with children’s author Jeyanthi Manokaran – the five hundred and thirty-seventh of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.

You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything. You can contact me and find me on the internetview my Books and I also have a blog creation service especially for, but not limited to, writers.

Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) 🙂 on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.

Guest post: Tips for Finding a Writers’ Group That’s Right for You by Carmen Brettel

From today onwards (for a while at least, because I’m getting so many enquiries) I’ll be posting two guest blog items on a Sunday evening and the first of tonight’s double-bill is on the topic of writing groups, and brought to you by online writer Carmen Brettel.

Tips for Finding a Writers’ Group That’s Right for You

A writers’ group is a valuable tool for every writer. A good writers’ group can offer feedback to make your work better, support to help you when you are facing writer’s block or other obstacles, and information when you have questions such as how to find out how to land an agent or submit a query.

However, if you don’t know a lot of other writers, or if you aren’t enrolled in a writing program, it may be difficult for you to find a writers’ group to join. Here are a few tips for how you can find a writers’ group that’s right for you:

Visit Local Colleges

Even if there is no formal creative writing program at one of your local colleges, you will be sure to find plenty of students who are interested in writing. Many are sure to be interested in forming a writers’ group or to already belong to one.

Check out campus bulletin boards or online forums for groups that are already going, or post your own notice to get a group started. Student groups are a good place to start if you are just starting out as a writer or if your target audience is students.

Check the Library

The library is a great community resource. Like colleges, libraries host bulletin boards that advertise local activities and resources, like citizen writers’ groups. You can connect with a diverse group of people through the local library, which may be both a blessing and a curse. You may benefit from meeting up with skilled writers, or you may find that the people you connect with don’t have complementary styles or approaches to writing as you do.

Attend a meeting or two of a couple of groups (if available) to get a sense of what they’re like before you commit to one. That way you can make sure the group fits your personality and writing needs.

Try Meetup.Com

Meetup.com is a great tool that connects people in your community based on similar interests. Just search for “writing” or “writer” and you’ll like find several groups in your area that bring together writers. Some will narrow the focus even more, bringing together writers of science fiction or screenwriters specifically.

Again, try out a group or two before you commit to attending one regularly. If you can’t find a group in your area — or you can’t find one that fits your needs — go ahead and use the site to start your own.

Search Online

If you can’t find a group that meets where you live (or you can’t find one that you like), there are plenty of groups that meet online. Try searching the forums of your favorite writing sites and checking the classified listings. Post a message asking other writers to tell you about their favorite online groups.

Of course, if you can’t find a recommendation for a group you like, you can always use these forums to reach out to other writers and form your own group. There are no shortage of writers’ sites or writers that frequent them, so there are plenty of opportunities to connect with other writers online.

Finding a writers’ group can help you to improve your writing by getting valuable feedback on your work, encouraging you when you hit a stumbling block, and guiding you toward useful resources. These are just a few of the ways that you can find writers’ groups in your area or online.

Do you belong to a writers’ group? Tell us how you found your group in the comments!

Yes, please do. I run two and belong to two others, I hearty recommend them (and I belong to three Meetup groups!). You can read an article I wrote a while back about how Meetup came about. Thank you, Carmen.

Carmen Brettel is a writer and manager for Studentgrants.org, where she has recently been researching fine education grants. In her spare time, Carmen enjoys gardening and volunteering at animal shelters.

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If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please”.

‘How to Eat (or write) a Book: Probing the Pros and Problems of Prologues’ by urban fantasy author Lauren Grimley follows later this evening, then the blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with poet Jeanne Buesser – the five hundred and thirty-fifth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.

You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything. You can contact me and find me on the internetview my Books and I also have a blog creation service especially for, but not limited to, writers.

Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) 🙂 on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.

Guest post: How to Use Social Media to Promote Your Book by Heather Green

Tonight’s guest blog post, on the topic of marketing is brought to you by Heather Green.

How to Use Social Media to Promote Your Book

You don’t have to have a big marketing budget or a large publishing house behind you to promote your book and increase your sales. You can run your own marketing campaign with a shoestring budget – and even no budget – and watch your sales grow.

Social media is a fantastic tool for small businesses and entrepreneurs, including self-published or struggling authors. You can use it to spread the word about your book, potentially even garnering viral attention. Best of all: It’s free.

Here are a few simple ways you can use social media to promote your book and increase sales:

Create Multiple Profiles

Fans and followers use social media to advertise their tastes and preferences for their own friends and followers. They may want to “like” you as an author, or they may only be interested in one or a few of your books. Give them every opportunity to engage with you and your work in a way that they choose by creating multiple profiles: One for yourself as an author and one for each of your books.

Multiple profiles will also help you to focus your marketing efforts and to differentiate your promotions for each group of fans.

Share Previews

When you have a new book coming out, you can leverage social media to share previews to get fans excited to buy the full work. You can share sample chapters or passages, or you can even create a “trailer” for your book on YouTube and then share it through your other social media channels.

The key is to have a captive audience of fans and followers before you start posting these previews. Otherwise, you’ll be sharing them with a ghost audience…

Host Contests and Giveaways

Everyone likes to get something for free, and contests and giveaways are a great way to get people excited about your book. There are a number of ways you can use social media and contests to promote your book:

  • Offer a free copy of your book to a random person who has “liked” your page or shared it.
  • Offer free copies of your book to anyone who reviews it on their blog, including a free copy to give to one of their readers.
  • Offer a free gift with your book to a random person who becomes your follower, shares your book on their blog, and so on.

You can think of dozens of varieties on this basic premise. The key is to reward your readers but to also encourage them to spread the word about your book.

Provide Opportunities for Sharing

Don’t forget the “social” part of social media when you start using it to promote your book. Give your fans plenty of opportunities to share your content with their own friends and followers.

Include sharing buttons within the content of your book – such as “like it” or “tweet this” buttons at the end of each chapter or on your footers – and include Facebook comment forms right in the chapters. Readers will be more compelled to act when they are in the process of reading your book. Take advantage of that momentum to get them to spread the word.

Build Relationships

Social media isn’t all about instant gratification. A large part of what makes social media marketing successful is building relationships. You should be putting in the work to connect with your fans and followers whether you have a new book to promote or not. You will encourage long-term relationships that will help you form a loyal reader base.

This will make it much easier to promote any new books you have in the future.

Social media is a valuable tool for authors looking to promote themselves and their work. Social media has only grown in popularity, and it provides authors a great way to connect with millions of potential readers. Use these strategies for promoting your book on social media, and you are sure to see your sales increase.

That was great (especially as I could tick some of the boxes). Thank you, Heather!

Heather Green is a Christian mom, freelance writer, pet lover and the resident blogger for OnlineNursingDegrees.org, a free informational website offering tips and advice about online nursing guides and online lpn program.

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If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please”.

The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with romance author RC Bonitz – the five hundred and twenty-fifth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.

You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything… and follow me on Twitter where each new posting is automatically announced. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at SmashwordsSony Reader StoreBarnes & NobleiTunes BookstoreKobo and Amazon, with more to follow. I have a new forum, friend me on Facebook, like me on Facebook, connect with me on LinkedIn, find me on Tumblr, complete my website’s Contact me page or plain and simple, email me. I also now have a new blog creation service especially for, but not limited to, writers.

Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) 🙂 on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.

Guest post: Intelligence – It’s How You Say It by Marion Grace Woolley

Tonight’s guest blog post, on the topic of pronunciation in writing, is brought to you by multi-genre author Marion Grace Woolley.

Intelligence – It’s How You Say It

I recently released my first collection of short stories: Splintered Door.

I approached it as a bit of a showcase. A chance to attempt ideas and styles that I’d not had the gumption to try before.

One thing I wanted to have a go at was writing an American story. Could I push my imagination, and my skill, to cross-continental levels? Although I’d never been to America, there are a lot of US influences growing up in Britain. I’d read several American novels, watched countless movies; I can even manage a passable Goodfellas impression. How hard could it be?

I was happy with my first draft of The Butterfly’s Predator. It’s about a young man who lives with his mother and his mentally-challenged sister. One day, whilst he’s supposed to be watching her, his sister disappears into the forest and uncovers a dark family secret.

‘Not bad,’ I thought. ‘But I need a second opinion.’

I have a few American friends, though what I required was an American who could also write. One who would understand what I was aiming for: authenticity.

I decided to post for help in a writing forum. The appeal was short and to the point: “I’m looking for someone to help convert a story from UK English to US English.”

The responses were less than encouraging:

“One word… Why?!”

“I agree… why? If you really must (???) run a Microsoft spell check.”

I was flabbergasted. Nobody seemed to understand why, whereas I didn’t understand why not.

Then came this statement, which summed up their aversion to conversion:

“Why rewrite it at all? It sounds so much more intelligent in British.”

So much more intelligent?

That stopped me in my tippety-tapping tracks.

I’m not actually going to argue this assertion. I studied Language & Communication Research at post-graduate level. I know a thing or two about the social perception of accents.

For instance, there have been studies in the UK which have shown direct correlations between a person’s dialect and how intelligent they are perceived as being. Generally speaking, people with Brummie (Birmingham) accents fare worst, being considered of lower IQ in job interviews and causing unease in over 70% of passengers surveyed on the topic of aeroplane announcements.

RP (received pronunciation) or ‘Queen’s English’ on the other hand, suggests an educated person of above-average intelligence.

Those with a northern accent, especially from Yorkshire, don’t always score highest on intelligence, but do tend to instil a sense of trustworthiness.  It’s a favoured accent on insurance sales lines.

Across the pond, those with a Southern accent are classed as America’s Brummies, scoring the lowest accent-to-IQ ratio in perception tests.

Another entertaining twist is the ‘post-vocalic R’. This is where an R comes after a vowel. In the UK, if you drop it, you also drop a lot of negative assumptions.

An Etonian may recite Blake’s poem: “Tiga, tiga, burning bright…”

Whereas someone from the West Country, with a long tradition of simple farming folk, might utter the verse: “Tigur, tigur, burnin’ brigh’…”

Conversely, in parts of the states, intelligence is placed vice versa, with an increased respect for individuals who include the post-VR. Similarly, in Singapore English, 76% of people in a study felt that those who use it are more intelligent than those who do not.

Essentially, there’s a whole world of assumption placed on pronunciation.

It’s far from a recent breakthrough. If you’ve read Lady Chatterley’s Lover, you’ll notice that Mellors affects a thick colloquial accent to disguise the fact that he was once a high-ranking officer in the army. Mellors (and through him, D. H. Lawrence) knew all too clearly the social perception of inflection.

That this carries over into writing isn’t new, either. I just hadn’t heard it put quite so bluntly before: that ‘realize’, ‘honor’ or ‘program’ are just down-right ‘unintelligent’.

What bothers me more, though, is the implication behind all of this. That the purpose of writing is to show how intelligent you, as a writer, are.

To me, that seems almost the antithesis of good storytelling. Character comes first and foremost. If every character talks like you do, and aspires to demonstrate your highest level of intelligence – aspires to be intelligent – what a boring play we perform.

The nature of intelligence itself has long been debated. There are several forms of IQ test, measuring a range of elements from academic ability to social intelligence.

As a writer, there’s a huge range of opportunity in counter-intelligence: characters who get to where they’re going through much-maligned ‘luck’ rather than by design. Or those, like Mellors, who speak with all the airs and graces of a pit pony, yet go on to astonish us with their cunning rationale.

At its core, the language your character chooses to use is a mask. No less important than the clothes they wear, the items they feel connected to, and the thoughts they express. Their idiolect is theirs and theirs alone. By giving them one – an accent, a speech pattern, a favoured hedger, even a lisp – you create depth. Not only depth, but the ability to be something other than what they appear at face value.

Language embodies the beautiful art of distraction, whether spoken or written. As a writer, cherish this. Use it to your advantage.

Don’t be afraid to create a character that seems a little under par. They can only turn out to surprise us, whereas a know-it-all is always a know-it-all.

Absolutely, characters with flaws are more realistic… perfection can easily become tiresome. Thank you, Marion!

Marion Grace Woolley is the author of four novels and a collection of short stories. In 2009, she was shortlisted for the Luke Bitmead Bursary for New Writers.

Balancing her creative impulses with a career in International Development, she has worked and travelled across Africa, Australia, Armenia, and a few other places beginning with ‘A’.

An associate member of the Society of Authors, Marion is currently at work on her fifth novel.

You can find out more about Marion and her writing from her website and see her book trailer on YouTube.

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If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please”.

The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with short story author Christopher Farley – the five hundred and twenty-third of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.

You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything… and follow me on Twitter where each new posting is automatically announced. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at Smashwords, Sony Reader Store, Barnes & Noble, iTunes Bookstore, Kobo and Amazon, with more to follow. I have a new forum and you can follow me on Twitter, friend me on Facebook, like me on Facebook, connect with me on LinkedIn, find me on Tumblr, complete my website’s Contact me page or plain and simple, email me.

Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) 🙂 on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are weekly episodes, usually released Monday mornings UK time, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.

Ditch the Publisher free eBook

Firstly, apologies to any publishers reading this (I know some do visit my blog, and appear on it!), the title wasn’t my mine but I do think the eBook is great, but then I could be biased… I’m one of the 40 contributing authors (I’m no.7) – see the list below.

To access your free copy click here (also available at Smashwords and Amazon). To read more about it visit Hayley’s website.

Contents 

  • Introduction
  • One: Success as a Self-Publisher by Beth Orsoff
  • Two: The Secret Myth of Traditional Publishing by Dean Wesley Smith
  • Three: You’ve got Nothing to Lose by David Jay Ramsden
  • Four: Freedom by Steve Carter and Antoinette Ryder
  • Five: The Future was Never Brighter for the Indie Author by Timothy Lee
  • Six: Robbed! by R.J. Hamilton
  • Seven: The Ebook Revolution by Morgen Bailey
  • Eight: My thoughts on Self-Publishing by Aliyah Burke
  • Nine: Writing the Book by Brendan Gerad O’Brien
  • Ten: Creating Characters by C.S. Marks
  • Eleven: Authenticity in Fiction by G.M. Frazier
  • Twelve: Redrafting and the Magic Cupboard by Hayley Sherman
  • Thirteen: In Praise of Editors by C.S. Marks
  • Fourteen: The Writing Bug by JD Nixon
  • Fifteen: Nine Golden Rules (Part One) by Mel Keegan
  • Sixteen: Beginning with Nothing by Kirsty Fox
  • Seventeen: It Takes a Village to Bring a Novel to Life by Gerard O’Keeffe
  • Eighteen: Getting Ready to Publish by Maggie Barclay
  • Nineteen: The DIY Approach by Michael Wilson
  • Twenty: Five Places to Self-Publish Your Ebook by L.J. Sellers
  • Twenty-One: A Few Ideas to get You Started by Joseph Lallo
  • Twenty-Two: The Formatting Nightmare by Captain Peter Cain
  • Twenty-Three: Investing in Your Own Ebook by L.J. Sellers
  • Twenty-Four: What Does it Take to Become a Full-Time Indie Author? by Lindsay Buroker
  • Twenty-Five: Becoming a Bestseller by Terri Reid
  • Twenty-Six: Just Do It! by Lexi Revellian
  • Twenty-Seven: Publishing Full-Colour Books with Lulu by Alex Ritsema
  • Twenty-Eight: An Unknown Author’s Publishing Experience by Arnold R. Beckhardt
  • Twenty-Nine: In Hot Pursuit of Happiness by Ciggie Cramond
  • Thirty: My Rocky Road to Publication by Sybil Nelson
  • Thirty-One: From Imagination to Publication by Pete Darman
  • Thirty-Two: Success and the Death Threat by T.M. Nielson
  • Thirty-Three: Four Questions About Ebook Publishing by Iza Moreau
  • Thirty-Four: You Never Know… by C.S. Marks
  • Thirty-Five: Self-Publishing by Curtis Ackie
  • Thirty-Six: Why Can’t I? by Diana Mylek
  • Thirty-Seven: You Reap What You Sow by German Alcala
  • Thirty-Eight: I Left My Publisher, Gave Up on Bookstores and Started Making Money by L.J. Sellers
  • Thirty-Nine: Self-publishing: A Personal Journey by Fionna Barr
  • Forty: Nine Golden Rules (Part Two) by Mel Keegan
  • Forty-One: The Dark Side of Free by Russell Blake
  • Forty-Two: Indie Translators: Money is Waiting by Scott Nicholson
  • Forty-Three: Getting Print Copies into Libraries by Ilyan Kei Lavanway
  • Forty-Four: After you publish: How to Market Your Books by Michael J. Sullivan
  • Useful Resources

And all for the price of a cup of air. 🙂

Guest post: Your Next Bestseller: Tips for Writing a Book That Sells by Jamie Cawley

Tonight’s guest blog post, on the topic of marketing, is brought to you by Jamie Cawley.

Your Next Bestseller: Tips for Writing a Book That Sells

A major challenge we face as non-fiction authors is choosing a book topic that will sell.

Fortunately, the common availability of information on the internet means you can do a small amount of research to find out if there will be demand before you write a word!

There are five steps to follow that will get you from your idea to a book topic that will sell:

  • Step 1 – The Idea
  • Step 2 – Market Research
  • Step 3 – Target Market
  • Step 4 – Reaching Your Audience
  • Step 5 – Keyword Research

Step 1 – The Idea

Brainstorm ideas based on your own experience, skills and knowledge.  For non-fiction the reader is often looking for knowledge.  This will typically be knowledge that can improve their life, save them money or save time.

The first quick test to see if a topic will sell is to think of one sentence…

By the end of this book you will be able to _________.

If your topic was about dog training, your statement may be “by the end of this book you will be able to house train your dog.

For a topic to be successful, it needs to provide a clear outcome for the reader.

Step 2 – Market Research

Perception can be extremely deceptive, and what you assume people want, is not necessarily what they will want to read.

Do a Google search or visit http://www.BigBoards.com to find discussion forums that relate to your topic and see what issues people are frequently talking about to see if your idea has demand.

Step 3 – Target Market

We next identify who our reader would be.  Gender, age range, physical location, economic bracket and education level are some of the basic factors to consider, not only write a great book, but also to market it successfully.

You can do this by visiting large websites dedicated to your topic and then looking at their information with tools such as www.Alexa.com to find out about their readers.

Once you have this understanding of your target market, create a dummy person that fits the profile, much as you set up a character profile if you are writing fiction.  Give them a name, age and basic background so that you can picture a specific individual that you are writing for and speaking to about your book.

Step 4 – Reaching Your Audience

Once you have a clear understanding of who will be buying your book, you need to know how you will reach them.

Questions you need to ask yourself are:

– Will this person read an ebook, or will they only read books if they are printed?

– Which websites will that person visit to find book recommendations?  Whose opinion do they trust?

– Where do they go daily online or offline?

Make sure you are able to map a path for the reader to find and buy your book.  There may be demand, but if you do not have a clear way to reach potential readers, you book will not sell.

Step 5 – Keyword Research

We can now narrow down our topic to look at exact phrasing that potential readers are using when searching for books.

This process is ‘keyword research’ and often gets overlooked by new authors, resulting in far fewer sales.

For your book idea, write down several phrases that you believe readers would be likely to search for.  Then check these with the Google Keyword Tool to find out roughly how many people search for that phrase each month.

For example, 1,900 people search for the phrase “how to house train a dog” each month, whereas 8,100 search for the phrase “how to house train a puppy“.

If your book idea fits both those categories, using a title and description that includes the phrase “how to house train a puppy” would bring more potential readers to you.

By following this five step process before you start writing your book, you can save yourself a huge amount of time and effort by improving your potential for success!

As someone preparing to launch two books (albeit my first two novels), that’s perfect timing. Thank you, Jamie!

Jamie Cawley is the author of over 39 books, including ‘The Self Publishers Guide to Book Marketing’. She started her writing career in 1999 and had her first book published 11 years later.

Jamie has experience writing articles, books, blogging and ghost writing on a wide range of non-fiction topics, and currently writes part-time while teaching new authors, entrepreneurs and small businesses ways to promote themselves and maximize their income. She is an active member of Women on the Web, the Published Authors Network, SEO Professionals Group, and the Women’s Network of Entrepreneurs. You can also find her at www.Alotta.Info, affordable book marketing for self-published authors.

A more about her book ‘The Self Publishers Guide to Book Marketing: Step By Step Guide For Fiction and Non-Fiction Authors’…

When first starting out self-publishing, it can be very confusing and expensive to promote your book.  Featuring step-by-step instructions, templates and examples so that you can quickly and easily promote your book and maximize your sales, this guide can be used by new and experienced authors alike.  All promotion methods covered are either free or very affordable.

Available (self-published) as a Kindle eBook and paperback from Amazon.

What others have said… “I am a published author on Kindle but the marketing part was always something I couldn’t get my head around until now.” -Pauline H, Australia

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If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please”.

The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with multi-genre author Michelle Bellon – the five hundred and twenty-first of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.

You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything… and follow me on Twitter where each new posting is automatically announced. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at SmashwordsSony Reader StoreBarnes & NobleiTunes BookstoreKobo and Amazon, with more to follow. I have a new forum, friend me on Facebook, like me on Facebook, connect with me on LinkedIn, find me on Tumblr, complete my website’s Contact me page or plain and simple, email me. I also now have a new blog creation service especially for, but not limited to, writers.

Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) 🙂 on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.

Guest post: Mystery Short Stories by mystery author Warren Bull

Tonight’s guest blog post is brought to you by mystery novelist, short story author and blogger Warren Bull and for something a little different it’s…

Warren Bull and Nancy Pickard discuss the Mystery Short Story from Sisters in Crime. Border Crimes Chapter Meeting, February 5, 2011

“When the two riders appeared out of nowhere, I knew they came to kill my pa.” So begins our own Warren Bull’s short story, “Beecher’s Bibles.” 
That first line gives a sense of time. “Those two riders aren’t on Harleys,” Warren said. The word “pa” also implies it’s historical. Finally, it sets the scene for the story and draws the reader in. What happens next?

Warren invited friend and fellow short story writer Nancy Pickard to help him present the February program on writing mystery short stories. The first line of the story is crucial, and Warren said it can take as long to come up with the right first line as it takes to write the rest of the story. 
Warren got his start writing short stories because of the Manhattan Mystery Conclave’s contest. (For which he wrote the winning story!) Since then, he’s had a number of stories published and now has his own collection of short stories available: Murder Manhattan Style. 
Short stories present different challenges from writing novels. You don’t have a lot of words.

Here are some of the elements discussed by Warren and Nancy:

  • Characterization must be achieved quickly. Warren said that can be accomplished with a few well-chosen words of description, such as this line: “When I met her, I figured she was the sort of girl who ironed her own socks.” Dialogue helps define character and Warren finds writing in first person does, too.
  • Pacing must be tight. Action must start immediately in a short story. It’s a struggle for horror writers who like to set up the mood and atmosphere, said Nancy.
  • A “crucible moment” should be part of every short story, according to Harlan Ellison, Nancy said. That’s a severe test that may be the most important moment in that character’s life.
  • Epiphany is another important element in a short story. Every story needs that “ah-ha” moment, said Nancy. Learning that at a writer’s conference at William Jewell College in the early 1980s completely changed her approach to writing short stories, she said, and she was much more successful after that.
  • The iceberg describes the form of a short story, according to Ernest Hemingway. Warren said what you see and read in the story is only a small part of what’s going on.
  • Endings of mystery short stories do tend to be resolved and tied up neatly – frequently with a twist – and often with plenty of surprises along the way, as opposed to the sometimes ambiguous endings of literary short stores.

You can see these elements in Nancy’s and Warren’s favorite short stories. Nancy likes “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place” by Hemingway (read it at http://www.mrbauld.com/hemclean.html) and “A Perfect Day for Bananafish” by J.D. Salinger (read it at http://www.nyx.net/~kbanker/chautauqua/jd.htm).

One of Warren’s favorites is short enough to be reprinted here in its entirety:

The Soap Bubble

It is.

It was.

“It’s a completely satisfying story with a popping good ending,” Warren said.

Other advice: 
Follow the directions exactly for submissions to contests, anthologies and magazines. Don’t believe that if the editor likes the story enough, he or she will take the time to correct grammar, punctuation and format.  (As a former magazine editor, I cannot emphasize this one enough. Editors are stressed-out people with too much to do; make their jobs easier and they’ll love you.)

Markets: 
Ellery Queen and Alfred Hitchcock magazines.
 Anthologies. 
E-zines.  Check out http://sandraseamans.blogspot.com for a list. 
Contests such as the one for Mystery Writers of America. 
More info:
 Warren’s blog at http://Writerswhokill.blogspot.com.

I love your soap bubble. It reminded me of one of my favourite Shel Silverstein poems, Snowball. Thank you, Warren.

Warren Bull is a multiple award-winning author who has been nominated for a 2012 Derringer award.

He has more than forty short stories published, the novels, ABRAHAM LINCOLN FOR THE DEFENSE, HEARTLAND and MURDER IN THE MOONLIGHT available at http://www.warrenbull.com/kindle_editions.html and a short story collection, MURDER MANHATTAN STYLE available at http://www.warrenbull.com.

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If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please”.

The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with fantasy / SF author Terry Ervin – the five hundred and eighteenth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.

You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything… and follow me on Twitter where each new posting is automatically announced. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at SmashwordsSony Reader StoreBarnes & NobleiTunes BookstoreKobo and Amazon, with more to follow. I have a new forum, friend me on Facebook, like me on Facebook, connect with me on LinkedIn, find me on Tumblr, complete my website’s Contact me page or plain and simple, email me. I also now have a new blog creation service especially for, but not limited to, writers.

Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) 🙂 on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.

Guest post: Self-publishing and Expectations by thriller author Ethan Jones

Tonight’s guest blog post, on the topic of self-publishing, is brought to you by thriller author Ethan Jones. See below for free eBook offer!

Self-publishing and Expectations

As writers, we want everyone to not only read our books, but also love them. The reality is, of course, a bit less stellar and much more sobering. Not everyone will love your books. Not everyone will read your books. In fact, even your closest friends and relatives may not buy and read your books.

Arctic Wargame, my debut spy thriller, came out officially on May 22, although I uploaded it on Amazon.com a few days before that date, just to make sure everything worked fine. I promoted my work extensively on my Facebook personal page (which has almost 200 friends) and Facebook author page and my Twitter account. I e-mailed pretty much everyone on my e-mail contact lists. I put up posters at my workplace and announced it on the newsletter of the church I attend. The result: I can count the book sales from this blitzkrieg with the fingers of one hand.

What is happening here? Why aren’t these people who I consider friends and close acquaintances buying my book? They don’t love me? They don’t care? What, then?

You may have wondered about these things if your experience is similar to mine. The answer to these questions is complicated and lies as much in your expectations as in the reaction of your friends and relatives.

In terms of expectation, there is nothing wrong with aiming high and dreaming big. But self-published writers need to brace themselves for the most likely scenario of a slow start of their career. Gaining recognition and gathering a readership is generally a marathon, not a sprint. Even many traditionally published authors attest to many difficult starts. Allow yourself time and be prepared for a long journey. Nurse patience and develop a hard skin for negative criticism and rejection.

In terms of your friends and relatives, they are not really to blame. At least not en masse. They love you, of course, each in their own way. Some of them are forgetful, fully intending to check out your work, but then life got in their way. Others simply are non-confrontational and do not want to tell you they are simply not interested in the genre in which you write. After all, we have different tastes and what you spent a year or more writing, re-writing and revising may just not be their cup of tea. Then, you could even have the occasional acquaintance or “friend,” who considers your success as a threat or resents it for whatever reason and has has no intention of supporting your efforts.

The bottom line is that even if all your friends and acquaintances bought your book, that is still quite a limited number. The goal of each author is to sell to complete strangers, who pick up your book solely because they heard something good about it, and they want to enjoy a great story. Then, if they like it, they will want to tell their friends about your work.

During the first few days that Arctic Wargame and my two short stories were published I used to check my sales and ranking almost every hour. Now I checked it once a month, just to make sure there some activity is taking place. I promote my work vigorously and I advise you do the same. We can’t control who buys our books, but there is something we can all control: how much promotion and marketing efforts we put on our products. I know we are writers, but self-published authors have the additional task of becoming salespersons. We need to take our work to the public and hope and pray they will enjoy our stories.

And don’t forget to keep writing. Perhaps your second, third or twentieth book will become a best-seller.

I will! Thank you, Ethan. 🙂

Ethan Jones is a lawyer by trade and lives in Canada with his wife and his son.

The author of Arctic Wargame, a spy thriller available on Amazon as an e-book and paperback, he has also published two short stories: Carved in Memory, a prequel to Arctic Wargame, and The Last Confession, both available on Amazon as e-books.

His second spy thriller, Tripoli’s Target, was released in fall 2012.

His debut spy fiction novel, Arctic Wargame, and two short stories, Carved in Memory and The Last Confession, are also available on Amazon.

His blog is http://ethanjones.blog.com.

** NEWSFLASH ** Arctic Wargame is available FREE on Amazon from 9th to 11th October only!

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If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please”.

The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with children’s / YA author Ashley Howland – the five hundred and sixteenth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.

You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything… and follow me on Twitter where each new posting is automatically announced. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at SmashwordsSony Reader StoreBarnes & NobleiTunes BookstoreKobo and Amazon, with more to follow. I have a new forum, friend me on Facebook, like me on Facebook, connect with me on LinkedIn, find me on Tumblr, complete my website’s Contact me page or plain and simple, email me. I also now have a new blog creation service especially for, but not limited to, writers.

Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) 🙂 on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.

Guest post: Two Word Story Starters by Roxanne Porter

Tonight’s guest blog post, on the topic of inspiration, is brought to you by Roxanne Porter.

Two Word Story Starters

Oftentimes, getting started is the hardest part. You know where you want your story to go. You even have a good grasp of who your characters are. Or maybe you don’t. Maybe you just want to start writing and see where the muse takes you. Whatever style of writing you chose, whether planned ahead or just stream of consciousness, you need a start. Some place to begin.

With that in mind, I suggest the following: two word sentences. Just subject and verb and that’s it. Often the simplest starts are the best. Think “Call me Ishmael.” So, for your writing pleasure, here are five prompts to get you started.

Prompts:

1. He shuddered.

2. She froze.

3. They cringed.

4. We laughed.

5. It fell.

Example:

It fell. I watched it fall, frozen. I knew if, when, it hit the ground it would shatter into a million pieces. I knew the sound it would make, the knife-like crash that pierces your eardrums and signals that something has gone horribly wrong. And yet I couldn’t get myself to move; the tall, delicate goblet spinning through the air in slow motion as the marble floor rose up to meet it.

CRASH

Too late, I realized my mistake. That was the third glass I’d knocked over this week. She was waiting.

SWAT

The slap stung and I spun around with a hiss of pain and outrage.

“I can’t keep anything nice around here because of you!” she shrieked, making me wrinkle my nose in distaste. I couldn’t stand her voice.

“It’s not her fault, dear,” he said, picking me up, “She doesn’t know any better. She just likes shiny things.”

I rubbed my cheek against his. I liked him. He always smelled of the outdoors; of grass and trees and nice things. She stank like weeds.

The woman continued to talk but I ignored her, watching as she swept up the shiny shards I’d made. She looked up and glared at me.

I met her eyes, safe in his arms. Then I carelessly lifted a paw and licked it, completely ignoring her.

Maybe now she’d learned who ruled this home.

Thank you, Roxanne!

Roxanne Porter is a freelancer and regular contributor for http://www.nannyjobs.org.  She helps in providing knowledge about nanny services, and jobs to the community, and loves writing on nanny-related articles. You can be in touch with her at r.poter08@gmail.com.

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If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please”.

The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with food writer and private chef Isabel Hood – the five hundred and fourteenth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.

You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything… and follow me on Twitter where each new posting is automatically announced. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at SmashwordsSony Reader StoreBarnes & NobleiTunes BookstoreKobo and Amazon, with more to follow. I have a new forum, friend me on Facebook, like me on Facebook, connect with me on LinkedIn, find me on Tumblr, complete my website’s Contact me page or plain and simple, email me. I also now have a new blog creation service especially for, but not limited to, writers.

Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) 🙂 on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.