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Category : Resources for Writing
by MacGregor Literary award-winning author Jill Williamson
When I started writing I was pretty much on my own. I searched long and hard for local writing groups, but couldn’t find one. I tried a few online groups and eventually started one with another YA author I’d met online. We sort of mentored each other as we went along, the blind leading the blind. It wasn’t the worst way to learn. And we did learn. We’re both traditionally published authors now.
I also attended writers conferences, read books on the craft of writing, and read writing blogs. But I never sought out a mentor. I didn’t know how. I was too shy. And I figured they’d all say no, anyway. But once I was published, I liked helping other writers. So I started blogging for teen writers. I figured that there were plenty of blogs out there for adults, so why not create one for teens?
Blogging for teens was a way to share what I’d learned. And I wasn’t the only one with this idea. At a marketing retreat, I got to know Stephanie Morrill who started www.GoTeenWriters.com. She and I talked and decided to combine forces. She had created an amazing blog for teen writers and graciously took me on as a co-blogger. Blogging for teens allows me to speak to hundreds of teen writers every week.
Later on we also put our various blog posts into a book we co-wrote called Go Teen Writers: How to Turn Your First Draft into a Published Book. This book has enabled us to mentor in yet another form and had been read by teen writers all over the world. How cool is that?
I officially mentor two writers. I don’t think I could handle mentoring more than two as it can be very time consuming. But mentoring is also very rewarding. It allows me to give another writer the
GUEST WRITER ANE MULLIGAN
President of the award-winning literary site, Novel Rocket, Ane Mulligan writes Southern-fried fiction served with a tall, sweet iced tea. While a large, floppy straw hat is her favorite, she’s worn many different ones: hairdresser, legislative affairs director (that’s a fancy name for a lobbyist), business manager, drama director and writer. Her lifetime experience provides a plethora of fodder for her Southern-fried fiction (try saying that three times fast). A three-time Genesis finalist, Ane is a published playwright and columnist. She resides in Suwanee, GA, with her artist husband and two very large dogs, and has just returned from the ACFW conference.
Finding Your Voice
Fiction writers are told to find their voice. Well, what is it, and for that matter, how do you find it?
I mastered the mechanics of good writing by learning and following the guidelines or … stay with me here … the rules. It’s kind of like staying between the lines in a coloring book before taking on a blank sheet of art paper. Then, I began to understand when and how to break those rules to turn my manuscript into a symphony of words.
About that same time, I started a new series, and when I sent my critique partners the first chapter, they told me I’d found my voice. Cool. I didn’t know I’d lost it. I mean, I didn’t have laryngitis or even a sore throat.
Okay, I’m being silly and probably not very funny, so you can stop rolling your eyes. In truth, I’d been working on voice. I read Les Edgerton’s book Finding Your Voice. I highly recommend it if you’re still looking for yours.
In Edgerton’s book, he said go back and look at letters you’d written when you were young or at least before you began to write. There was your voice.
As I thought about that, I remembered how our friends always
I’m excited to be able to share with you that Snippet–a brand new publishing and reading app–is moving their Writer Dashboard from private beta to open beta today.
As an author, it’s been amazing to be involved with Snippet. (If you missed my post a couple months ago about how Chip became my agent and how my upcoming book became a Snippet, you can catch up on that here.)
Even though Snippet has already gained thousands of readers, it’s still new, so I’ve included some information below about my own experience and about Snippet in general, to answer some questions you might have.
You can request access to their Writer Dashboard starting today, and begin creating your own Snippet at any time!
What does Snippet mean for writers?
Snippet gives writers a brand new publishing path that allows you to publish and monetize quickly and easily, but in a high quality, beautiful format. (Published Snippets are gorgeous, which was a really important factor for me as an author.)
How does it work?
With the move of Snippet’s Writer Dashboard to open beta, you can sign up to get access and begin creating your Snippet at any time. Each chapter is 1,000 words or less, but you as the author decide how many chapters your Snippet will have. You also have the option of enriching your text with “discoverables” like video, audio, and pictures. (And just a note here: don’t let this part intimidate you; for one of my videos, I simply used my iPad to record myself, and for all of my audio, I used my phone. They turned out great, and it truly enriches the reading experience.) Creating and publishing a Snippet is free, and your published Snippet will be available for download from $ .99 – $4.99. As the author, you choose the price.
What are some ways writers can use Snippet?
1. As a companion
Today we have a guest blog, from Claire Morgan at OEDB…
It doesn’t matter if you’re a student or a professional writer: there’s always something new to learn and ways to make your writing more refined, better researched, and more effective. Writing is essential for students who want to succeed, whether they’re enrolled in one of the top online colleges or an Ivy League university. As essential as it is, learning to write well isn’t easy. The best practices for writing and research can sometimes be subjective, and the finer points of syntax and style often take a backseat to looming deadlines and strict citation guidelines.
Luckily, there are many helpful resources that make it easier to build on your existing skills while
learning new ones. We’ve compiled links to sites dedicated to helping students, bloggers, and professional writers improve their techniques while also becoming better editors and researchers. Browse through the following list or focus on categories you need most. It’s organized by subject and resources are listed alphabetically within. With more than 150 resources to chose from, you’re bound to find something that can make your writing life a little easier.
These blogs can help you learn more about the profession of writing, brush up your skills, and even see what it takes to get a book published.
- Copyblogger: On Copyblogger, Brian Clark offers tips on how to improve the content, marketing, and business of a blog. A must for any writer hoping to gain readership in the digital sphere.
- The Creative Penn: Joanna Penn offers up her insights on writing, publishing, and book marketing on this useful blog.
- Evil Editor: Learn what not to do when submitting your work to an editor through this entertaining blog.
- Fiction Writing: This About.com blog is a great place to get some basics insights on how to write better fiction.
- Harriet the Blog: The Poetry
While our hardworking agents are attending BEA in New York this week, several authors are filling in with guest posts. Enjoy!
Rajdeep Paulus decided to be a writer during her junior year in high school after her English teacher gave her an “F” but told her she had potential. She studied English Literature at Northwestern University, and began writing on the island of Dominica, while her husband of two months biked down to campus to begin his first day of medical school. Fifteen years, four daughters, and a little house on a hill in the quaint town of Locust Valley later, she now writes YAFiction and blogs weekly In Search of Waterfalls.
I’m not the first newbie author to wade through the waters of marketing her first book with a bit of trepidation. Truth be told, when I learned that a writer’s job was not simply to write a great story, sit back and wait for readers to come in flocks to scoop up copies galore, I welcomed the challenge that lay before me. Simply because I’m a tad atypical to the hermit-writer stereotype: I love people and rubbing elbows with the world outside my writing cave.
So when I read a title like “The Extroverted Writer” by Amanda Luedeke, I think, oh, she’s talking about me! When, in fact, she’s composed a book chalk full of practical advice for all types of writers who find the whole marketing thing as messy as a knot on a bad hair-day morning. Something I am all too familiar with since I have four princesses. Hair balls up the ying-yang, but where was I?
Yes. The art of marketing your first book. How do you do it? Successfully? And how do you know how to proportion your time, giving yourself time to write, edit, market and still take time to breathe.
So I began my marketing momentum by brainstorming. A bunch of ideas
A guest post from Holly Lorincz, assistant to Chip MacGregor
Recently, I was forced given the opportunity to learn to master the art of uploading ebooks onto Smashwords and Amazon for this persistent Scottish agent I know. After extracting multiple promises that haggis or blood pudding would never be served at staff parties, I agreed.
I can’t approach the simplest assignment without first reading at least seventeen reference books (the heftier the better), and yet, after all that research and putting my own book up for esale, I’ve really only learned one thing about self-publishing: marketing your ebook is a full time job. Selling it successfully? There’s magic involved and a lot of patient plodding, and messing around with algorithms. I know, I know, I shouldn’t use that word algorithm, since it just screams ‘first period math class.’ Sorry. Unless you’re going to hire a publicist, get used to it. Also, if I’m being totally honest, you may want to bypass the whole formatting and uploading issue, hire a professional, if you have a life away from your computer.
Still here? Okay then. The following is a list of random ebook publishing and marketing tips that I’ve picked up from books, other self-publishers, and my own stumble down the publishing path. Some of it will be common sense and common practice, so just view it as a reminder.
1. Remember those early beta-readers you sought out as you were finishing your book? Remember that one that drove you crazy, the one that only commented on dangling participles, improperly used pronouns and linguistic improbabilities? If you haven’t burned that bridge, find that grammarian and ask him or her to read your book one last time, tasked with catching typos, specifically homonyms and homophones. (Because, you know, spell check silently chuckles when you use the phrase “his voice was a horse whisper.”)
2. Decide if you are going to use KDP Select
Amanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent. Her author marketing book, The Extroverted Writer, is available from Amazon andBarnes & Noble.
Last night was our GET PUBLISHED teleseminar with Michael Hyatt. What a great time, talking business and answering questions! It was a blast.
We weren’t able to get to some of the submitted questions, so I’ve gone ahead and answered them below. Would love your thoughts on what was discussed during the teleseminar, or what is talked about below.
And don’t forget! We have a special opportunity for friends (that’s you!) of MacGregor Literary.
Michael Hyatt, former CEO and Chairman of Thomas Nelson Publishers (one of the largest publishers in the world), has recently released a comprehensive solution for authors called GET PUBLISHED. It’s a 21 session audio program, accessible online, that distills Michael’s 30+ years of publishing knowledge into a step-by-step guide to help authors get published and launch a successful career, even perhaps a bestseller!
Michael is offering a special limited time discount on GET PUBLISHED. Not only can you save significantly on the program, you’ll also get access to several bonuses worth over $150. Bonuses include items such as Michael’s popular “How to Write a Winning Book Proposal” ebook and more.
For details and to take advantage of this special offer, go to http://michaelhyatt.com/getpublishedoffer
(Note: This discount offer is only available through April 17).
Okay, on to those questions!
Brooke asks: What makes an agent take a chance on a first-time author?
When we fall in love with a fiction author’s story idea and writing, or when we see the potential of the book idea, writing, AND platform of a nonfiction author.
Mark asks: What do you think about
Join us (Chip and Amanda) and Michael Hyatt, bestselling author and former CEO of Thomas Nelson, for a complimentary LIVE teleseminar on Wednesday, April 10 at 8pm Eastern Time (7pm Central, 5pm Pacific).
During this call you’ll have the ability to get your publishing questions answered by the three of us. You’ll also learn many of Michael’s insider secrets on getting published and building a platform for success.
The call will last about an hour. It’s free for all to join and there will be an MP3 recording / replay shared with all who register. When you register you will have the option to submit a question for us to answer
Q: What is a teleseminar?
A: Think of it as a giant conference call. You dial in (or listen via streaming web audio), along with others and listen while we share and answer questions.
Q: How much does this cost?
A: It’s free. If you choose to access the LIVE call via phone, you may incur standard long-distance charges if you choose a dial-in number that is not local to you (there are multiple dial-in number options). Other than that, no fee at all.
Q: What is the date and time?
A: The LIVE call will take place on Wednesday, April 10 at 8pm Eastern Time (7pm Central, 5pm Pacific).
Q: How can I access the LIVE call?
A: You’ll have two options. Our call capacity is 3,000 total. Five hundred can access the call via phone, the rest via streaming web audio (listening via your computer). Access is on a first-come, first-served based on registration and which access option you chose. We will notify you prior to the call with the specific phone number and web address.
Q: I can’t make the LIVE call. Will there be a recording?
A: Yes, we’ll make the recording available to all who registered
Amanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent.
Alright, all of you Thursdays with Amanda fans out there! I’ve got something for you…
Each week I try to tackle the big, bad topic of how to build an author platform. We’ve looked at Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, blogs, websites, and more, and the backlist of posts has become quite daunting and difficult to search.
SO to put an end to the madness and help all of you navigate the tips, rules, and tricks we’ve discussed on our Thursdays get-togethers, I’ve released an ebook.
THE EXTROVERTED WRITER: An Author’s Guide to Marketing and Building a Platform is a compilation of my Thursdays with Amanda posts PLUS a bunch of great new content (new content includes LinkedIn, strategies for building a Twitter following, how to identify your audience, and more). All in a shiny digital package! Categorized, organized, and hopefully quite navigable, this little ebook is perfect for those who have come to love my weekly blog posts.
Here’s an excerpt from the chapter on knowing your audience:
How to Find Your Audience
All right, enough theory. Let’s get practical. How do you take a book that is loved by everyone and your mother and find its basic readership—those who are most inclined to shell out fifteen dollars to buy it (or those who are most inclined to get their parents to shell out fifteen dollars)?
First, you must identify other movies or books or plays that are similar to your work. So, go to the bookstore or get online and put on your researcher jeans.
The first similarity should be genre. Match mysteries with mysteries, cozy mysteries with cozy mysteries, police procedurals with police procedurals, and so
We’re continuing our “ask an agent anything” series, where I’m trying to offer some short answers to your general publishing questions. If you’ve got a question you’ve always wanted to ask an agent, send it to me or leave it in the “comments” section. One reader wrote to ask, “What is “voice” in writing? “
Voice is the personality of the author, expressed through words on the page. When you write, your word choices, your phrasing and structure, your thinking and themes — they all help establish your personality as a writer. So the way I write is different from the way someone else writes — my personality comes through, and shows how I’m different and unique as a writer. (An example: Stephen King and William Faulkner both like long sentences, psychological implications, semicolons, and the use of the word “and” in their works… but nobody ever picked up a Stephen King novel and mistook it for a William Faulkner novel. Though they share some characteristics, each writer has his own personality, and that comes through on the page.) Of course, not every writing voice is good — just as not every singing voice is good. A great writer has a voice that is appealing and interesting.
Similarly, another person asked, “How does a writer know when he has established a strong voice in his work?”
It takes time and effort. I’ve always thought a writer recognizes his or her own voice over time, so the more you write, the better you hear yourself in your words. My experience is that, as I write more and more, my personality becomes clear on the page. When we talk, your words don’t sound like mine. Your stories don’t sound like mine. Your personality is unique, and getting that to be clearly expressed on the page will help you define your voice. (So, for example, when I tell my story of being