Tips For Writers

Thursday Tips: Edit At Your Will

Since people have found out that I am an author, I get requests to edit their short stories or other writing ventures. It’s hard to say, “Actually, I HATE editing. But I finally did it on Monday when a friend called asking me to edit the first page of his memoir. I told him the truth. Editing a well-written piece of writing can be a joy, but when the work has so many spelling mistakes in it or is poorly written, it is a true chore. Having worked as an editor for a short period of time at a newspaper, I improved my writing a great deal by seeing how well others crafted their prose. Mind you, I was cutting New York Times and Associated Press articles for an English language daily in South America. I was “editing” professionally composed articles.

My advice is that if you truly don’t like to edit, then tell people that. It’s better to be honest than to begrudgingly read something you don’t like.
The same goes if you are a writer and you ask people to edit your work. If you don’t think they will do it with all their heart and will just do it because they feel like they have to, then be honest with them and ask them if they’d prefer you find someone else. Hiring a professional editor is a good idea because a professional can give you an objective opinion. If you can’t afford a professional, do a barter with them or find a retired school teacher who may not charge much.

In any case, be honest both as the reader and as the author.

Thursday Tips From Kitty Jellinek

Tips from author Kitty Jellinek

From Kitty JellinekWhat writing tips do you have for other authors? *
“My Butchers Paper On The Wall” – Planning to write a book.

When planning a book, I take a large piece of paper, tape it to a wall and place the central idea in the middle. [I use a strong black marker pen].
Radiating out from the central idea, I write the first things that come into my head surrounding that idea on the paper.
So for instance let’s say I was going to write a novel on the “sea faring adventures of yesteryear”
My central idea “Old Sailing Ships” – surrounded by – masts, sails, halyard, forequarter decks, mainsail, scull and cross bones, pirates, eye patch, sea spray, barrels, wooden decks, ships officers, etc; etc; I just keep jotting down everything that flies into my head on the topic around the central idea.
Then I get myself a cup of coffee and study my jottings on the wall. If there are not many words written around my central idea – I know my schema is not sufficient – I have to do some research on the topic. If on the other hand the words surrounding my central idea flowed like water out of a barrel, I know that I have sufficient knowledge on the topic to write about it.
Looking at the jotted words on the wall usually gets my imagination running wild and a story starts to formulate around the central idea.
As the story starts to unfold in my mind I write headings for chapters on separate foolscap pages and paste them to the wall surrounding my butchers paper.
On the foolscap pages I write a list of topics to be covered within that chapter.
Once I have completed all my chapter pages I have completed the plan for my book.
Now it’s time to head to my computer and write up the content within my chapters.
I write as fast as I can – letting all the ideas flow. I don’t worry about style, punctuation, grammar, etc; at this stage. I just want to get the guts of the story down while it’s fresh.
Once I have the story down – then I start crafting my work – this is where I spend the most time, usually takes me around two years to craft a book of around 600 pages.
What suggestions do you have for social media marketing?
Be Social, in other words address others’ concerns, before ramming your concerns down their throats.
What works best for you to market your book?
In one word: MyScribeWeb.com

What writing tips do you have for other authors?

“My Butchers Paper On The Wall” – Planning to write a book.

When planning a book, I take a large piece of paper, tape it to a wall and place the central idea in the middle. [I use a strong black marker pen].
Radiating out from the central idea, I write the first things that come into my head surrounding that idea on the paper.
So for instance let’s say I was going to write a novel on the “sea faring adventures of yesteryear”
My central idea “Old Sailing Ships” – surrounded by – masts, sails, halyard, forequarter decks, mainsail, scull and cross bones, pirates, eye patch, sea spray, barrels, wooden decks, ships officers, etc; etc; I just keep jotting down everything that flies into my head on the topic around the central idea.
Then I get myself a cup of coffee and study my jottings on the wall. If there are not many words written around my central idea – I know my schema is not sufficient – I have to do some research on the topic. If on the other hand the words surrounding my central idea flowed like water out of a barrel, I know that I have sufficient knowledge on the topic to write about it.
Looking at the jotted words on the wall usually gets my imagination running wild and a story starts to formulate around the central idea.

As the story starts to unfold in my mind I write headings for chapters on separate foolscap pages and paste them to the wall surrounding my butchers paper.
On the foolscap pages I write a list of topics to be covered within that chapter.
Once I have completed all my chapter pages I have completed the plan for my book.
Now it’s time to head to my computer and write up the content within my chapters.
I write as fast as I can – letting all the ideas flow. I don’t worry about style, punctuation, grammar, etc; at this stage. I just want to get the guts of the story down while it’s fresh.
Once I have the story down – then I start crafting my work – this is where I spend the most time, usually takes me around two years to craft a book of around 600 pages.

What suggestions do you have for social media marketing?

Be Social, in other words address others’ concerns, before ramming your concerns down their throats.

What works best for you to market your book?

In one word: MyScribeWeb.com

Thursday Tips From Kelly Abell

This week’s writing tips come to you from BookRix author, Kelly Abell.

What writing tips do you have for other authors? *

Write your back cover first. That way you know where you want your story to go and your basic outline is there. Then you can begin to fill in the details chapter by chapter. You may also want to build out character personality profiles before writing your story so you understand your characters and what little quirks they may have that might embarrass you later.

What suggestions do you have for social media marketing?

Keep your name out there. Blog or post something at a minimum daily if you can. Keep your posts interesting with information people like to read. It could be something a little personal about you as an author, fun facts, or tibits on writing.

What works best for you to market your book?

Word of mouth mostly. That and getting interviews with blog sites. I also had an article written on my in my local community newspaper and that seemed to help get the word out about my book.

Are there any writing pitfalls about which you want to warn other writers?

Don’t allow yourself to become discouraged. It is easy to fall into a pit of despair as you wait to get something you’ve written published. Keep submitting and keep trying. Make sure your work is tip top before you send it in though. That helps to minimize the rejections. Oh, and write for the fun of it!

Thursday Tips From Laura Kostad

I’m Laura Kostad, the second place winner in the 2009 Summer Writing Competition. Like many of you, I was just a beginning user on BookRix on June 23, 2009, hoping that my one short story would be noticed amongst all the rest. One month later and I am now a relatively well-known user. Initially, I was enticed by the “Web To Reality” competition and planned to participate in that. (I still don’t have a book finished to enter.) However, my attention became distracted when the Summer Writing Competition was started. I decided to upload a short story that I had written last year, Enigma, and enter it into the Summer Writing Competition. I didn’t expect much to come of it, I was still yet a new user with only a small handful of friends. So I went about getting in touch with close friends and family members, asking them to please read my story and vote for me. At first, their votes are what helped me move on up the line, with about 20-35 odd votes, a few BookRix user votes in between. But soon, with the help of the promotional methods that I am about to describe, it was fellow BookRix users who brought me up to where I finished.

I started a forum under BookRix General. In my forum, I kept updates running on how Enigma was doing as far as the competition. This helped me greatly to gain notoriety as a new user. People were curious, and by the end of the competition, I had several hundred views on my forum. As well as promoting myself on the forum, every time that I saw a user that was not on my friends list on the forums, another friend’s page, commenting or favoriting Enigma, or in the competition itself, I sent them friend requests. We typically exchanged reviews on each other’s books, as well as continued to keep in touch there after. Being polite, cordial, and taking the time to answer all of the friendly mail that you receive from people who either you’ve sent friend requests to, or who have sent you a friend request, definitely makes people want to take interest in your work. When they see that you’re not just using them to gain popularity, votes, or ratings, and you actually want to get to know them, not only do you get better quality ratings etcetera, but you begin to actually become friends with other users (a gift in itself), and they’ll also be more willing to suggest you to their friends without your asking them to do so! Also, when you send friend requests and suddenly accumulate a large number of friends, it’s also good to occasionally send out an email to everyone, reminding them to check out your books, or in my case, read my book and vote for it if they saw fit. I did this 3-4 times throughout the duration of the competition, simply because I gained more friends, and they may not have been aware of the fact that I was participating in a competition or even had a book up on the site. Sending out a kind of “quarterly” message to your friends, helps to keep them informed of what’s going on, and if written correctly, doesn’t nag them, but is just a polite reminder that, “Hey, I’ve got a book in a competition, and I was hoping that you would check it out.”  It usually goes over rather well actually.

To conclusion, my methods aren’t all that unique, or even new; but if you want to make yourself noticed, just take a few minutes out of your busy schedule, sit down and put yourself on the board. Because believe me, you may not think that anyone is going to take interest, but just remember that I thought that too, and well, I thought wrong. Good luck to all of you, and I hope that my methods assist you in your BookRix writing careers!

Thursday Tips From Katherine Angela Yeboah

BookRix author Katherine Angela Yeboah gives us her tips on writing and marketing
Author of Lucid, out now in paperback and e-book (multiple formats).

How do you find the time to work on your novels?

Good question! In today’s fast-paced world, it is difficult for many of us to find a spare moment in our busy days. Since we can’t make the days longer (trust me, I’ve tried), us writers need to make sure we’re using our time efficiently. Even if you can only write for half an hour, you can make that time count if you focus and give your undivided attention to your craft! You might want to try shutting off the phone, TV, stereo and all those other noisy gadgets that can distract us from our purpose!

How do you motivate yourself?

I like to reward myself for my hard work. After all…I’ve earned it! I’ll tell myself that if I really knuckle down and work my tail off for the next two hours, afterward I can take a break and watch my favorite TV show/eat something delicious/go for a bike ride, etc.
Marketing Tips

Now that your book is published, how do you spread the word to all those lovely readers out there?

The web is a fantastic place to promote your work. There are many social networking hubs and writer/reader related websites (like the wonderful BookRix!!!) that you can join for free.

Okay, so you’ve signed up for a bunch of websites…what do you do now?

1) Share your Blurb.

Post a short and gripping description of your book on every website you can.

2) Write a Blog.

There, you can make announcements such as novel releases, book signings, good reviews your stories have received, etc.

3) Post Photos and Videos.

Upload your book cover, and any promo photos or videos you have created, to social networking sites and content sharing sites such as YouTube, Flickr and PhotoBucket.

4) Request a Book Review.

There are plenty of websites that do book reviews. Lots of them will accept electronic copies of your work (PDF file, word document, etc.) which don’t cost you anything to send. A great book review can create a positive buzz about your novel.

5) Post Excerpts or Sample Chapters.

With your publisher’s permission, you can add sample chapters from your novel to sites like BookRix! Upload the first two or three chapters of your book. Include a purchase link so that readers who are enticed by your free sample know where to go to buy the complete book.

6) Write Articles.

Compose articles related to your book’s topic. If your novel is a murder mystery about a maniac on a killing spree, do a little research on the web (remember to cite your sources) and write an article about famous serial killers. Add a paragraph at the end of the article about your book, explaining that there is an exciting new novel out regarding this subject. You can then post this article on various websites. Don’t forget to include your book’s purchase URL.

7) Create a Mailing List.

Invite those who visit your webpages to sign up so that you can update them on all your publishing news.

8 ) Write Short Stories.

Compose shorts in the same genre as your novel. Send them off to relevant magazines, websites and writing contests. If your short stories get published or receive recognition in competitions, this may help you to form a fan base in your chosen genre. If possible, include an author byline that mentions the book you are trying to promote.

9) Join Groups

Find groups on BookRix, Yahoo, Google, Ning, etc. which relate to the theme of your novel (e.g. vampires, detectives, horses, etc.) There you can make friends that share your interests and join discussions to promote your book.

Katherine Angela Yeboah
Author of Lucid, out now in paperback and e-book (multiple formats)

Thursday Tips: Digging Deep

As non-fiction is selling better than fiction, digging deep into one’s soul and finding our most moving stories may be the best place to start writing.

People like to read real stories more than fiction.

On the surface, we may have some great stories that we want to tell, but as we look into ourselves. However, we may find some inner traumas or difficult moments that we may have trouble revealing to ourselves and others.

Writing can be a form of psychotherapy. A catharsis of words may erupt from one’s pen or keyboard.

Here are some pointers when exorcising one’s inner demons for the pen:

1. Beware of the sorrow this may evoke. I was caught off guard when I slept for 10 to 11 hours a night for two nights in a row after I uncovered the impact of some events of my childhood. I didn’t sleep so much because I was exhausted. I slept because I was in shock. If you know that you are going over rocky ground in your past, make sure to write during the weekend or when you don’t have to go to work the following day. You want to make sure that you are in a comfortable space and won’t be shell-shocked when reporting for work.


2. If you can’t remember details, ask several of your friends or relatives about what they remember from this event in your past. Though the observations of outsiders may not coincide with your memories, at least their comments may strike a chord with you and you may remember something.

3. Close your eyes and recreate the scenes in your head. How did you feel? What were you wearing? What were the smells around you? What were you eating? How did it taste? What was the lighting like? Think of all the sensations you had during the event. When you evoke the past in your senses, the scenes will become much more visceral and real to you and easier to document.

Going down memory lane can be a dramatic experience. Be prepared.

____________________

Welcome to Between Lines. This is the official blog for BookRix.com where every week, Susanna Zaraysky will be sharing tips and also featuring outstanding authors and their work from BookRix.

Susanna Zaraysky is a world traveler and polyglot whose goal is to empower people to be global citizens who are knowledgeable about world events and are confident international travelers and communicators. In June 2009, she will publish two books, Travel Happy, Budget Low (a guidebook on how to travel the world on a budget), and Language is Music(about how to learn foreign languages using music, TV, radio, film and other free and low-cost resources). Her website is: createyourworldbooks.com.

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