What prompted the creation of Bublish? by Kathy Meis

image-bublish-Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 1.13.09 PM

image-bublish-Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 1.13.09 PMKathy Meis, founder of Bublish, reached out to me this past summer for me to try her tool on my young adult fantasy novel and other fiction. My experiment using Bublish to showcase Henrietta The Dragon Slayer is still in progress, but I was intrigued by this new model of book promotion to invite her to be a guest to the magazine to tell us about Bublish.

Beth: What prompted the creation of Bublish?

Kathy: I’ve been a professional writer and editor for more than twenty years. What I’ve seen in the last ten years – the transition to eBooks, self-publishing, and online book selling – has completely transformed the publishing industry.

It’s a very exciting time to be an author, but it requires new tools and strategies for success. I created Bublish to provide these new tools and make it easier for authors to become effective marketers of their work without feeling like salespeople.

At Bublish, our mission is to create affordable discovery, promotional and brand-building tools for authors that will help them achieve their goals as professional writers. We want independent authors to have a suite of professional tools that rivals the big publishers in New York.

The trends I’ve mentioned have made it much easier for storytellers to become published authors. The challenge now isn’t getting your book into the marketplace; it’s getting noticed once you’re there.

Never in the history of mankind have more books been available to readers.

This is wonderful!

However, it means that authors need tools to help them find their readers, engage them and convert them into fans who will help spread the word.

The other big change – the dominance of online book retailers like Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks and Kobo – means unlimited shelf space. The time constraint for selling books has been eliminated. As long as an author can keep their content relevant to their fans (and attract new readers), they’ll be able to sell copies of their books. This, too, requires different marketing tools and strategies. Bublish provides cutting-edge tools designed for this transformed book marketplace.

Beth: Why should authors pay attention to what Bublish is doing?

Kathy: Authors should pay attention to what Bublish is doing because we are innovators who spend a lot of time listening to what today’s independent authors have to say. We work with thousands of authors around the world. We’re constantly asking them to share the challenges they face. We then build tools to address their needs. This is why the team at Bublish gets up in the morning.

The first tool we created, the book bubble, was designed to help authors share their work on social media without feeling like salespeople. Included in each book bubble is an author insight where readers can share “the story behind their story” to let readers discover their “why” as authors. This is a powerful brand-building tool for authors. It also has backend automation that helps authors and their books be recognized by search engines.

Next, authors told us that they wanted to be able to measure their success. With this in mind, we have created the Authorpreneur Dashboard with social metrics to show them how many people are viewing their book bubbles, on which social network those views are taking place, and which online retailers readers are going to for purchases. Additionally, the Authorpreneur Dashboard gives authors a public profile, so they can share their entire body of work with readers across multiple social networks with a single click.

A number of authors were frustrated with the cost and headaches surrounding converting their manuscripts into digital formats. To address this problem, we built an ePub Creator right into the platform. This feature allows authors to see the formatted version of their manuscript appear as they write the book. They can then output the book as an ePub with a single click.

Authors told us they wanted to build an audience and capture pre-orders before they published a book.

The new ePub Creator feature allows authors to share “rough cut” book bubbles and ask readers questions right from their manuscript. There’s nothing else like it in the world. We have authors doing all kinds of cool things with this feature.

Authors have also told us they need to capture emails, so they can message fans about upcoming events and releases. In response to this request, the next feature we’re building will allow readers to sign up to “follow” authors right in the social space. Authors will then be able to email those followers through their Bublish accounts. We’re really excited about this upcoming feature.

Beth: How can Bublish help authors who want to sell more books?

Kathy: Bublish helps authors sell more books in numerous ways:

Facilitating discovery. Your book might have the potential to become the next American classic, but if no one knows it exists, that might never happen. As you can see, book bubbles are visually unique and highly shareable. They allow authors to break their books up into hundreds of small excerpts to share with readers. Sharing book bubbles across multiple social networks allows readers to sample and discover new authors where they hang out, right in their Twitter or Facebook streams.

Building trust. There are incredibly talented new voices to be found among today’s independent authors. Unfortunately, there are also many authors going to market with books that are not ready for prime time. This impacts everyone. Readers are more wary than they used to be. It’s not all about the cost of a new book, it’s about the time commitment. They want to know that an author is going to provide them with a great reading experience. Book bubbles not only allow readers to sample your book, they also let you share your “why” with readers through the author insight. Authors can now reveal what went in to creating a scene, plot, character, etc. In so doing, authors let readers know they’re devoted to creating quality books for them.

Finding new audiences. Our authors have told us about two very useful new sales channels they’ve discovered through Bublish. First, because each bubble enables authors to promote to all the retailers where their book is available, these authors are finding new audiences. In the Digital Age, readers want to buy books for the devices they use. Book bubbles allow readers to explore a writer’s work and then click directly through to the retailer they prefer, be it Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, or Kobo. Some authors are realizing they have a bigger potential audience outside Amazon than they realized. Second, authors have posted book bubbles from their backlists to Bublish and found completely new audiences for their previously published books. Typically, once a reader finds and enjoys one book from author, they’ll come back to purchase other books. Sharing book bubbles from their backlist has proven to drive sales for these authors.

Building a dynamic author brand. According to extensive research, readers are much more likely to buy books written by authors they know. This isn’t surprising given the number of books and the range of quality found in today’s crowded, online book marketplace. Building a recognizable author brand isn’t easy. It takes time, planning and commitment. Bublish gives independent authors beautifully designed, simple-to-use tools that help them build a dynamic author brand to drive sales. Not only can authors share samples of their work through book bubbles, they get to share their voice, their why – both foundations of a strong author brand. This starts conversations with readers and can lead to the kind of engagement that forms connections. Ultimately, every successful brand must find its audience and build connection and loyalty.

Growing a long-term relationship with readers. The ultimate goal in building a readership is to never lose touch with them, even while you’re writing your second, fifth, or twentieth book. If you treat your readers to a great reading experience, stay in touch with them and treat them right, they’ll become life-long fans and spread the word about your work. Since the beginning of time word-of-mouth has always been the best way to sell books. Bublish give authors the tools to attract new readers, engage them and build a long-term relationship with them.

Providing marketing tutorials. We know most writers don’t love marketing. Part of that is because it can be overwhelming. There’s so much to learn. We understand, and we are constantly creating tutorials and providing resources to help authors become more effective marketers of their work and their author brand. This leads to more sales and less frustration. Just like we want authors to have long-term relationships with their readers, we’re looking to build long-term relationships with our authors. We want to be a partner to independent authors. We’ve even heard the word fun associated with creating and sharing book bubbles. You don’t hear that word mentioned often with book promotion!

Beth: How can Bublish help authors either save time or money or both?

Kathy: We are all about saving time and money. We strive to create “one-click” solutions for authors. Our goal is to automate as much as possible on the platform and make things very simple and straightforward for our authors. Once you’ve set up a profile on Bublish, you can create new bubbles in minutes. And for our Authorpreneur Dashboard subscribers, their public author profiles are automatically generated. We’ve also made Bublish affordable at only $9.99/month or $99/year (two-months free). We have a 30-day free trial available that I recommend all new authors sign up for if they want to truly experience all the features of Bublish. There’s no credit card required, and there are more than a dozen, short tutorials to show you how to use Bublish to grow your audience, build your brand and sell more books. You can sign up here: http://bublish.com/.

Beth: I see you also have services for readers. What made you decide to include them?

Kathy: Though Bublish is not a social network, we feel that wherever writers are, there should be room for readers. We continue to evolve the reader experience on Bublish. However, we never want to force readers to join Bublish to experience the work of our authors. We want to give authors the tools they need to find and engage their readers wherever those readers want to hang out. That means Bublish’s powerful tool kit will always work with all the major social networks and readers don’t have to be members of Bublish to read book bubbles, share them or buy books through them.

Beth: Let’s go beyond the press release. What are some Bublish’s challenges? What are you doing to overcome them?

Kathy: Our biggest challenge is building cool new features as fast as we can. Sitting in a white boarding session at Bublish is absolutely exhilarating. We listen to the authors and we brainstorm. We have so much we want to build. Then, we have to sit down and map out how to make these things happen. We have to stop and prioritize and abide by the systems we’ve put in place to make sure our features work smoothly in multiple browsers and on many different devices. This takes time, but it’s important. I guess what I’m saying is we’re coding as fast as we can to bring new features to our authors and readers…and we’d love to go faster.

Beth: How about limitations? What is Bublish not?

Kathy: Bublish is not a Goodreads-type platform. We’re not a social network. We have weekly events to promote our authors across all of our growing social channels (Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest.) We’re about helping authors get their work out into the social world where the readers hang out, and leading those readers toward a deeper connection with those authors. We want book bubbles to draw readers toward the author’s website and buy pages, not just bublish.com. Though we’ll always continue improving the reader experience on bublish.com, we never want to be a walled garden. We’re about empowering authorpreneurs and giving them beautifully designed, innovative, and affordable tools and resources to help them achieve their goals.

Beth: Is there anything else you wish I asked?

Kathy: I think that about covers it. The only thing I would add is that Bublish is building new features all the time, and we absolutely love to talk to authors. Don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly at kathy@bublish.com if you have questions about the Bublish platform or ideas you’d like to share for new features.

Beth: Chocolate or chips?

Kathy: Lol. Personally, I like my chocolate with sea salt, so perhaps I want a bit of both. :)

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

BUBLISH-FOUNDER_KATHY-MEIS_author-pic-Screen Shot 2014-08-08 at 12.16.30 PMKathy Meis is founder of the award-winning Bublish, a powerful suite of book creation and marketing tools. She is a professional writer, editor, ghostwriter and editorial manager with more than twenty years of experience in the media and publishing industries. She is a frequent blogger and speaker on the subject of book promotion, author branding, social media and discoverability. In 2012, the Bublish prototype won the People’s Choice Award at the Startup Showcase at O’Reilly’s Tools of Change Publishing Conference.

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Posted in 15: Fall 2014: Writing Tools, Apps, Programs Tagged with: , , , , ,

The Future for Authors Looks Bright by Evan Jacobs

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Tauthorgraph_logo_500x432here has never been a better time to be an author. Authors today have access to tools that help them compose, edit, and format their works more efficiently and with higher quality than ever before. When an author is ready to release her work, she can choose from a variety of platforms on which to release it, and she can use translation software to create versions of her books in each reader’s native tongue. Moreover, as great as the world looks for authors today, there are even more exciting advances ahead. Here are a few ways that the tools and technology of tomorrow will improve the lives of authors.

Better marketing support

The platforms where authors currently sell their books (e.g. Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, etc.) don’t yet provide the ability for authors to customize their marketing messages. Authors must rely on these platforms, for example, to notify readers of previous works when an author has a new work available. In the future, these platforms will evolve (or new ones will be built) so that authors can customize the timing and content of the messages that readers receive on their behalf.

Smarter CRM tools

Businesses that sell products directly to customers use CRM (customer relationship management) software to gain insights about their customers. This software lets companies know, for example, which products each of their customers have bought, how long ago each customer last purchased a product, and when and what each customer is likely to purchase next. Authors don’t currently have tools like this because they aren’t usually able to collect reader data when their readers order from one of the platforms. Email lists are a form of CRM software and they are a very good start, but they only scratch the surface of understanding a reader’s relationship to an author. As authors begin to exert more control over their entire businesses, they will demand the tools that provide this kind of insight to them about their readers.

More direct sales opportunities

In order to gather the data required to better understand their readers (i.e. customers), authors will need better direct sales tools. Authors have a few options for direct sales today, but most authors are beholden to the platforms for distribution. In the future, there will be more opportunities for authors to sell directly to their readers. Social media channels (e.g. Twitter and Facebook) have already started experimenting with direct sales inside their feeds and better tools which enable authors to sell from their own websites are coming soon. Readers will be incentivized to buy through these channels because they will put relevant books in the places where readers are increasingly spending time.

Greater insight

With an increase in the number of sales channels that authors are using to sell their books, it will become more important (and more difficult) to gain a good understanding of how an author’s books are selling. Future tools will compile sales data from a variety of sources, consolidate and analyze it, generate concise and informative reports, and then make recommendations for pricing and promoting. In addition, these tools will provide all of this feedback in near real-time and make it accessible inside apps on mobile devices.

To be sure, the outlook isn’t entirely rosy, and authors face many challenges in the future including developing an audience of loyal readers. However, rather than worrying about the growing number of authors and books created each year, the biggest threat to the success of most authors is the increased competition for attention from other outlets including games, movies, and other digital entertainment. Ultimately, authors should continue to be encouraged and excited about their potential for success and should know that better technology is coming soon which will help them in their endeavors.

***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

evan_jacobsEvan Jacobs is a software developer and entrepreneur. He is also the creator of Authorgraph, a service that enables authors to sign e-books for their readers. When he’s not writing code, Evan enjoys rowing in the Puget Sound and reading to his kids. More about Authorgraph here: http://www.authorgraph.com/.

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Posted in 15: Fall 2014: Writing Tools, Apps, Programs Tagged with: , , , , ,

Write Out Loud: How to Start Podcasting By Catharine Bramkamp

Podcasting_www.Literalis.net
Podcasting_www.Literalis.net

Podcasting_www.Literalis.net

An unlikely tool for writers is a podcast.  Authors podcast bits of their book, they discuss their book, they bring guests onto the podcast to alleviate the propensity to spend ½ hour talking about themselves.

If you think Podcasting is for you, read on!

Studies show that 70 percent of podcast listening happens on mobile devices and 50 percent of podcast listening happens in cars. These are group you cannot reach by blog alone.  This is reason enough to try out a podcast.

How to Begin Podcasting

So how do you start? Begin by considering the who, your audience, the what, what is your passion and the how, how will you do this at all?

Who

Podcasting at Age Six_Derek-K-Miller_cc2.0_flickr

Podcasting at Age Six_Derek-K-Miller_cc2.0_flickr

One of the most important things to consider is “Who?”  Who shares your passion?  Who wants to know what you want to know? Who is asking questions about your book or your platform?  You can address those questions in a podcast.

Just as in writing, podcasting is like talking directly to one person.  A podcast is just you whispering into his or her headset.  Keep it personal and focus on that listener. If it helps, visualize what that listener is doing:  driving, gardening, laundry, jogging.  Don’t give them information they need to write down. Give them information that is entertaining and helpful right away, right now.

What

What is your show about?  I know, I know: you. A better theme is to build a show based on a subject you are really passionate about.  What do you love that you cannot stop talking about? A good indicator that you are ready to podcast is if your friends and loved ones can’t bear to hear yet another update on your obsession.  It’s time to share with those who really care.

Narrow Your Niche

Home-podcasting-studio-by-Tim-Wilson_cc2.0_flickr

Home-podcasting-studio-by-Tim-Wilson_cc2.0_flickr

Podcasting is about passion, very specific passion. Really specific passion.  The nature of successful podcast is to start small and grow big.  Begin with the details and grow from there.

One idea is to discuss everything about your book that you couldn’t shoehorn into the book. Did you discover cool features?  Do you have more to say about the historical research you did for your YA book?  That’s what can be broadcast in a podcast.

How

There are two easy ways to podcast and a number of complicated ways to manage recordings and uploads.

Create your show using Garage Band

  • Find your ear buds (with a built in mic)
  • Record with Garage Band (Mac program)
  • Post on your WordPress site
  • Use Blubrry (blubrry.com) to host the podcast
  • Use iTunes to distribute the content

Or use Google Hangouts

  • Create a Google Plus account
  • Sign up for Hangouts
  • Start a party
  • Give it a name and tell people what its about.
  • Record and/or create a video and/or capture your desk top.
  • Publish to Google Plus, which also will automatically publish to YouTube.

For the more advanced, use  Audacity:

  • Download for free
  • Automatically detect mic
  • Hit record and speak
  • Save as MP3
  • RSS feed creators – a web feed format for frequently published/updated works
  • Upload the MP3 to your blog and submit RSS to feed creators
  • Sign up for Feedburner—fill out the fields, etc. ,and it will generate the links
  • My technician assures me, “Once you get past the “this is really hard phase” it will become routine.”

Essentials of a Good Podcast

  • A consistent opening and closing helps the listener know where she is and that she is listening to the right podcast.
  • Shorter is better If it’s just you, you may want to create a 10 minute to ½ hour show. (Grammar Girl launched to fame on just 10 minutes a tip.)  If you have a partner, you can start with 30 minutes and move to a full hour.
  • Have a closing bit or song, again, to let the listener know when the show is over.
  • Focus on your listener.
  • Start the essential information of the show at the very beginning.
  • Keep the personal chat at the end.
  • Interview a guest first and save the standard bits (for Newbie Writers they are Word of the Week, Tortured Sentences, Prompt) for later in the show.
  • Post show notes on your web site.
  • Promote the show (and guests) through social media.
  • Do it for love, not money.
  • Really, do it for love.

It won’t be a huge hit right away, but a podcast helps give you credibility, it will help you meet other authors or experts in your field.  I rarely get turned down for an interview request.  You can be your own rock star.

Without leaving home.

***

About the Author

Catharine Bramkamp

Catharine Bramkamp

Catharine Bramkamp is still podcasting for love.  Her show is Newbie Writers Podcast, down load free on iTunes and on http://www.NewbieWriters.com

Her new book: Future Girls will be released December 1, 2014 – www.Yourbookstartshere.com

Any questions, contact her at bramkamp@yahoo.com or @cbramkamp

NEWBIE WRITERS AD

Posted in 15: Fall 2014: Writing Tools, Apps, Programs Tagged with: , , , ,

Tips for Making Your Own Book Trailer By Angela Myron

book-trailer-ad-Demand to be read

book-trailer-ad-Demand to be readAh, the book trailer. The fleur de sel of book promotion. Few folks swear by them, lots of people use them because “they’re fun”, but most of us think plain old salt does the trick just as well.

And frankly, we’ve seen enough done badly that we’re not convinced it’s a relevant sales tool.

But, perhaps not surprisingly, I’m here to tell you, yes. Yes, book trailers are a relevant to sales, definitely. When done right, your book trailer can be a powerful tool in your promo arsenal. Let me tell you my experience:

In 2013, I self-published my first novel in a notoriously difficult genre for sales: middle-grade fantasy. Despite winning an award for the book, I struggled with sales for the first few months. I hemmed and hawed about making a book trailer: I’d heard they didn’t help sales, that most of them were god-awful, and overall, they merely seemed like a fun exercise some authors do to put something up on youtube.

But, one day, I happened upon a book trailer service on Fiverr. One guy was making 30-second trailers for five bucks, based on a simple animation template sourced from another website called Videohive. It was an Adobe After Effects template. The trailer he was offering didn’t work for my book, but I looked up the templates available on Videohive, and Wow.

I wondered, would After Effects be anything like the nonlinear editing suite I documented a few years ago when I was senior tech writer? I downloaded the tutorial, and voila! In my hands, templates created by professional animators and a software program that was familiar. I could make stunning book trailers. Powerful ones.

With the help of my Fiverr guy, I rendered a 30-sec teaser for my upcoming book. It was simply a date announcement, but I thought, what the hey, it’s cheap, and good. I’ll put it out there and see what happens. And you know what? In the first loop I sent it to, my wonderful YARWA group, a lady watched the trailer with her twelve year-old daughter, who immediately went to buy my first book (not the one the trailer was promoting) on her Nook. Her mother was amazed by how strongly her daughter responded and told me how she’d been wanting to get her daughter more involved with books. Days later, she followed up with me, saying her daughter had “practically gushed” about the novel, and couldn’t wait for its sequel. Now that’s a good book trailer.

Since then, I’ve produced a 1 min 30 sec trailer for my first book and, in conjunction with and ad campaign, my sales have risen significantly. (Avoiding bad allusions to the undead and Halloween here, you can thank me later.)

So that’s it. Yes, fleur de sel—I mean, book trailers—are pretty and fancy, but they do serve their purpose. When done well. And no, you don’t need expensive animation programs to do a good one. Just follow my tips below, and above all else, have fun!

Tips for Making Your Trailer

  1. Enforce unity of vision: Everything in your trailer must communicate your novel’s genre and mood, including your choice of font, music, and the style of the images your use.
  2. Keep it short. Try to keep your trailer under 1 minute 30 seconds, and definitely no more than two minutes. Consider two minutes the upper limit; any more than that you risk losing interest you generated in the first few moments.
  3. Use your words. More so than actors and snippet scenes, readers want your words. They want to be drawn into your story, gripped by a character, a question, or a world. Above all else, they want to be compelled to buy the book, not see a movie that doesn’t exist. (Yet!)
  4. Use reviews. Got a few good reviews? Include them.
  5. And last, but not least, include where people can buy your book and see more about you the author. Include your amazon, B&N, and all other stores your book is available and your website. Again, don’t overwhelm them with information. They aren’t going to pause the video to write it all down. Keep it short and memorable.

Book Trailer Resources

Free programs for making videos:

Windows Movie Maker

iMovie (for Mac users)

Gimp

Animoto

Microsoft PhotoShow

Fonts:

For all fonts, ensure the font is listed as free for commercial use.

Fontspace http://www.fontspace.com/

DaFont http://www.dafont.com/

Font Squirrel http://www.fontsquirrel.com/

Music:

Purple Planet Royalty Free Music http://www.purple-planet.com/

Vimeo Music Store http://vimeo.com/musicstore

Incompetech Royalty Free Music http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-free/

Images:

Google Image Search (click Search Tools > Usage Rights > Labeled for reuse)

Flickr Creative Commons http://www.flickr.com/creativecommons

ImageBase http://www.imagebase.net/

Where Do You Post Your Trailer?

Now you have a trailer, what do you do with it? Well, here’s some ideas:

  • Post it to Youtube, create your own channel, and share it on Google+
  • Share it on your Goodreads page
  • Upload it to your Author Central page on Amazon
  • Share it on your website and blog
  • Tweet it
  • Pin it to the top of your Facebook fan page
  • Compete with it, like in Indies Unlimited Trailer of the Month contest

***

And Lastly, About Me

ANGELA-MYRON_author-pic_2013-04-27 020_smallAngela is the author of the award-winning middle grade fantasy series Ennara, and reams of unfinished stories that will remain buried, and a stack of dusty technical manuals (no-one ever RTFMs).

Angela was born in Vancouver, Canada in 1973. She grew up in the piney forests of southern British Columbia, studying tiny blue bells, dodging hidden cacti, and creating fantasy worlds in her back yard.

Angela studied biology and professional writing at the University of Victoria in Canada and San Francisco State University. She wrote grant proposals for nonprofits, technical manuals for software, and freelance journalism before writing fiction.

www.angelamyron.com

Moonbeam Children’s Book Awards Winner, 2013

Angela’s Youtube channel: www.youtube.com/channel/UC9ggEGNYC3U-GTP7ML8RXYg

Angela’s new book trailer company: www.stardancemedia.weebly.com

book-trailer-ad-Demand to be read

Posted in 15: Fall 2014: Writing Tools, Apps, Programs Tagged with: , , , , ,

Apps for Submissions, Interviews, and Other Deadlines by Shauna Aura Knight

ShaunaAuraKnight_Illustration_AuthorEntrepreneur

ShaunaAuraKnight_Illustration_AuthorEntrepreneurAre you overwhelmed with writing deadlines? I am. I’m a recovering procrastinator, and I’ve often run right up to a deadline or sent things in late. I’ve also read a call for submissions and thought, “Oh cool, I should write an article for that,” and then totally forgot. What are some ways to get deadlines under control?

There may be smartphone apps for this, but One, my smartphone isn’t very smart, and Two, I’m more of a laptopper. My simple working tools here are Word documents, folders, and Google Calendar.

Content Inventory

First, it’s important to take an inventory of what projects you’re managing so you can categorize things. These are some things that I’m working on.

Nonfiction Writing:

  • Books
  • Articles for magazines
  • My blog on leadership, personal growth, facilitation
  • Blog hops: Part of my blog, once every 2-3 months
  • Regular guest blogs

Fiction Writing:

  • Novels
  • Novellas, short stories, and poetry for anthologies and magazines
  • My fiction blog
  • Blog hops: Part of my blog, 1-2 per month
  • Guest blogs
  • Interviews

Then add to this other social media, newsletters, podcasts, webinars…overwhelmed yet?

What Do You Get?

If you’re not being paid to write an article, you should be getting something out of it. Blogging keeps your audience engaged. Writing articles or guest blogs, or getting short stories published, gets you exposure to a wider audience. You’ll want to know what return you’re actually getting on your articles, blog posts, short stories, etc. It’s another article entirely, however, to explore the art of upselling and tracking your impact.

Tracking System

I was already using tables/spreadsheets, but I was inspired by a marketing class offered by with Kayelle Allen to create a few more, as well as additional folders to help manage my writing. Then I began adding in important deadlines into my Google calendar.

ShaunaAuraKnight_filesWord Documents: The backbone of my system is creating a Word document for every call for submissions. In the title I have the publisher or publication name, the theme (if any) for a call for proposals, the deadline date if there is one, and the word count. In the document I have the further submission requirements.

Filenames: I use various notations to indicate if the submission pays or not. Or, if unpaid, I will sometimes research an online publication’s Alexa rankings. Typically I’m going to first submit my work to paid markets or higher-ranked markets.

  • “Strange Horizons Submissions 5k-9k”
  • “Loose Id Holiday Oct 15 30K”

Folders: I keep these calls and works in process in subfolders of my “Working” folder. Subfolders include “Fiction,” “Poetry,” “Leadership,” “Metaphysical,” “Interviews” and more. When a piece is published, I have another set of folders under “Published.”

Spreadsheets: I have spreadsheets for different types of submissions as well. I track what I send out, what gets rejected, and what gets accepted. I track publication dates, and I also track if I’m giving up any future copyright. Most magazines or anthologies require you credit them when reprinting the article/story elsewhere. Some require you to wait six months to a year before publishing the piece elsewhere. When I reprint something, I make a note of that in the spreadsheet. In other spreadsheets, I also capture links to interviews, podcasts, and reviews of my books.

ShaunaAuraKnight_CalendarOnline Calendar: The Google Calendar events are useful as a reminder for interviews, guest blogs, and podcasts, so that I can promote them on my own social media. Similarly, if I’ve signed up to be part of a book giveaway event or Facebook party or other social media event, I put that on my calendar if I’m expected to participate.

For weekly blog hops or promotional opportunities, I create an event on my calendar with all the relevant information about the hop. I write paranormal romance, so there are a few weekly blog events like “My Sexy Saturday” that can be a great way to get exposure for my books. I frequently forget how fast these sneak up every week. Creating the Google Calendar event means that I not only can see it coming up on my calendar, but I can also just move it to the next week or month that I plan to participate and all the info stays put.

Now—putting all of this onto my Google Calendar does make my calendar pretty useless for anyone in my personal life. You may want to create a secondary calendar just for writing and promotion deadlines.

Other Documents

ShaunaAuraKnight_SpreadsheetI also have a document for each of my books with my blurbs, buy links, excerpts, and social media links for easy copy and paste. Similarly, I have another document with the dozen different versions of my bio and all my social media links.

Adapting Your System

Whatever system you use, make it consistent. Observe your own behavior over time and what works for you and what doesn’t. Don’t try to swim upstream. My spreadsheets are actually all tables in Word documents because I hate working in Excel. Work with a system that is closest to your own habits and you’ll have the most success. If your method isn’t working for you, use that to tweak your system.

*This article is adapted from one I posted on the Musecharmer blog. I’ve refined some of my process since then.

**

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

BioShauna-207x300

Shauna Aura Knight

Shauna Aura Knight is an artist, author, designer, event planner and consultant. She travels nationally offering workshops on leadership, facilitation techniques, and personal transformation. She’s the author of The Leader Within, Dreamwork, and the forthcoming Facilitation Handbook, as well as several fantasy and paranormal romance titles. Her illustrations and designs are used for book covers, magazines, brochures, and more. Shauna is passionate about creating events, experiences, stories, spaces, and workshops to awaken mythic imagination. More at http://www.shaunaauraknight.com.

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Posted in 15: Fall 2014: Writing Tools, Apps, Programs Tagged with: , , , ,

Three Software Programs to Keep a Writer Organized by Vanessa Kier

Action Packed Romantic Thrillers

Let’s face it, writing a story requires a certain level of organization.

I know, I know. All you pantsers just broke out in hives, right? But no matter if you’re a pantser or plotter, details matter. Did the heroine’s brother say he prefers coffee or tea? Did the hero’s next-door-neighbor have a Sheltie or a Labrador? Readers will notice if the heroine is Lucy in the first third of the book and then Sue in the rest of the book, or if Fred is on a flight from San Francisco to Alaska that ends before he took off.

Sure, you can search your manuscript for scenes that reference the detail you’re trying to recall, but that takes up time that’s better spent writing. It’s much easier to keep all of the key details organized so that you can access them at a moment’s notice, allowing you to focus on your primary job of writing the book.

Here are my top three software programs for keeping my writing organized:

Scrivener screen shotScrivener

Scrivener screen shotIt’s hard to move around in the writing world without running into someone who’s using Scrivener. There’s a good reason for this. Scrivener offers such an appealing variety of features, that it even tempted me into switching over from a different writing program. Here are three reasons why I love Scrivener.

Character Management

The first detail I need to know before naming a character is Have I given this name to another character? With 113 characters in my SSU series (including dog names) I can’t remember all the names I’ve used. So I’ve put together a master list of all the characters in my books. This list started out in Excel, but I copied and pasted it into my Scrivener project and it’s now searchable within Scrivener. By searching this list, I discovered that I shouldn’t name an upcoming character Iain, because I have two minor characters named Ian already.

Scrivener comes preloaded with character templates you can fill out. I’ve modified these to create custom character templates for both my major and my minor characters. This is where I store such details as physical description, mannerisms, and whether a character is still alive or has been killed off. Can you tell I write suspense? Also, if I find an appropriate image, I add a photo to the character’s template to assist with writing his/her description. Then, while working on my manuscript in Scrivener, I go into the split screen view with the character information at the bottom of the screen and my current scene at the top. This allows me to reference the character description while I write, without interrupting my flow by exiting to another program. No more heroes switching from icy blue to deep brown eyes.

Scene and Chapter Management

I pretty much write linearly. However, during revisions I might decide that a certain scene works better in the last third of the book rather than the first third. Scrivener allows me to easily drag and drop scenes within the manuscript. Or, if I think a scene is too long, I can tell Scrivener to split it. If two scenes really should be just one, I can merge them.

I also group all of my scenes into folders that represent my chapters. When I’m done with the manuscript and ready to export it (called Compile by Scrivener) Scrivener will automatically number my chapters for me. This is a HUGE help. The previous software I used didn’t do this, and I once had to manually renumber thirty-seven chapters. It wasn’t fun.

Research

I do a lot of research for my books, a lot of it on the web. Scrivener offers several options for organizing such information. For Internet data, you can have Scrivener store an image of the website inside the project, copy and paste the data from the webpage into a text file, or simply put the url in as an external project reference. I also create text files to store any research tidbits I think might be relevant now or in the future, and add images to the research folder using drag and drop.

There are a lot of other features that make Scrivener the number one tool for a lot of writers. If you’re interested in trying it out, Scrivener is available from Literature and Latte.

Aeon Main ScreenAeon Timeline

Story timelines are the bane of my existence! Until I found Aeon Timeline, I used a combination of large, laminated wall calendars, iCal calendars, and even Excel spreadsheets in an attempt to keep track of who was where at what time.

Aeon Timeline simplifies all that. It presents my sequence of events in a linear timeline that allows me to see how time is progressing throughout my book. Plus, it syncs with Scrivener*, which means that I can import all of my current Scrivener scenes into Aeon as events, then assign them dates, times, participants, and observers. Once the scenes are in Aeon, I designate them to a particular story arc and give events specific colors based on POV character.

Aeon has saved me from timing mistakes by showing me how many days occur between key events. No more writing that an event takes place in six days when according to the progression of days it was actually twelve days. I also use Aeon to track backstory events that don’t occur in the novel but do influence the plot.

Because I sync Aeon with Scrivener, I am able to change timing details in Scrivener and have them show up on the Aeon timeline. I love being able to tweak details without actually leaving the Scrivener environment.

Also, when I create a character as an entity inside Aeon and assign him or her a birth date, Aeon will then display that character’s age for each event on the timeline. Helpful in keeping track of a character’s age across multiple books.

Aeon Timeline is available from Scribble Code.

Scapple screen shotScapple

Although Scrivener has both an outline and an index card/corkboard feature that can be used when plotting a novel, that’s too structured for me when I’m in brainstorming mode. So I use Scapple creative mapping software instead. It allows me to create text bubbles anywhere on the page, assign colors based on the type of idea I’m working with, and connect related ideas via arrows. I’ve used Scapple to plot my series arc, my individual character arcs within books, and the fictional history of the countries in my new series. I’ve even used it to keep track of the positions of a variety of good guy and bad guy vehicles during a particular chase scene.

Scapple is also available from Literature and Latte.

With these three programs in my repertoire, keeping organized is easier than ever. Allowing me time to do what’s most important. Write.

***

 ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Vanessa_Kier_Author_PhotoVanessa Kier loves new technology the way other women love shoes. The author of the action packed romantic suspense series the Surgical Strike Unit, she used Scrivener, Scapple, and Aeon Timeline to stay organized while writing WAR: Disruption, the upcoming first book in her new romantic thriller series. Visit her at www.vanessakier.com or follow her on Twitter: @VanessaKier or Facebook: www.facebook.com/vanessakierauthor.

*As of October 8, 2014, Scrivener syncing is only available in the Mac OS X version, although a beta version for Windows that syncs with Scrivener has recently been released. If you’re interested in the beta Windows version, check the user forums http://www.scribblecode.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=622 for the status. The developer has said he hopes to have Windows/Scrivener syncing operational before NaNoWriMo 2014 begins.

Action Packed Romantic Thrillers

Posted in 15: Fall 2014: Writing Tools, Apps, Programs Tagged with: , , , , , ,

Copy Edit Apps For Prolific Authors by Claudia Hall Christian

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I spent my first couple years of college at Overpriced College. I had this idea going there would deepen the breadth of my writing skills. I had to work about 50 hours a week and take out loans that I’m still paying, but hey, it was worth it. Overpriced College was going to give me the skills and background to launch my writing career.

There was just one class that stood in my way — Dr. Swift’s English Grammar. The war against my grammar began the moment I stepped foot in the classroom. No matter how good my stories were, he returned them to me with low grades. My jock classmates’ grammar was worse than mine and they were doing better. It got so extreme that the department head stepped in to talk to Dr. Swift. This led to the final battle where Dr. Swift stood at the front of the class and screamed at the top of his lungs:

“You will never make it as a writer! Your grammar is horrible! Who could read this crap?”

The class gasped in unison as he threw my paper at me. I ran out of the class straight to administration where I switched my major to science. I left Overpriced College at the end of that year. With my dreams of writing behind me, I graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in Biochemistry. Thank you Dr. Swift for showing me the error of my ways.

I was 45 years old before a girl named Alex forced me to face grammar again. Dr. Swift was right. My grammar was horrible. Dr. Swift was wrong because in the intervening thirty years, a guy name Bill achieved his dream of putting a computer on every desk. I can be a writer and still struggle with grammar. In 2014, there are a bevy of spell check and grammar check applications.

This is a good thing since I write serial fiction. This year, I’m continuing my long running serial fiction, Denver Cereal, as well as writing a new serial fiction set in Boston called Suffer a Witch. I need to produce a minimum of 18,000 words of fiction every month until September 2015.

If I needed help before, I certainly needed it now! Of course, I hire two human beings who check every word of my fiction. What about quick blog posts, middle of the night Facebook posts, or short serial fiction parcels? That’s when I turn to grammar applications.

This is what I use. (Please note that the following are not paid endorsements. They do not take the place of having an expert review your work.)

Word spell and grammar check: Let’s start with one you may already be using. If you write with common words, this is the program for you. You will still have to look up any fun or different words, but for the most part, your spelling will be corrected.

The grammar and style checker, however, is stuck in fifth grade English. If you write children’s books or younger audience fiction, this grammar checker is perfect.  You will learn the most traditional, average way to say anything.

In 2013, Microsoft released a new edition to Word which removed features most professional authors use. Many authors have rolled their versions back to 2010 to preserve features such as “ignore rule.” If you use the Chicago Manual of Style rules, this is important because Word 2013 has no love for some of these rules.

Grammarly

Grammarly is an application that checks your work for spelling and grammar errors. You can either upload your less than 10 page document to the website or download the Word application. Once your words are in their application, you chose the type of document you’re working on, in my case “Novel”. Grammarly checks your contextual spelling, grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, style, and looks to enhance your vocabulary. You can even check to see if the paper is plagiarism. You receive suggestions in a bar to the right of your work.

Grammarly also has an awesome and free Chrome plugin which checks your spelling and grammar when you write a Facebook or Twitter post, blog comments, or really anything on the Internet.

Hemingway

The Hemmingway app is designed to help you avoid the things that Ernest Hemmingway hated — adverbs, adjectives, and complicated sentences. You can upload your text to the website or download a free desktop version of the application. The application is a great way to find passive voice sentences. (Word will tell you they exist, but doesn’t show you where they are.) I use the application to check my emails and letters for clarity. If you like the clarity of Hemmingway’s writing and appreciate his angst about adverbs and adjectives, the Hemmingway application will help you hone your skills.

I often use these applications before I send the work to my human editors. In rare cases, I will run a document through the applications after the document has been checked by a professional proof editor.

Have you used any grammar applications? What was your experience?

***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

chc Claudia Hall Christian writes thrillers, mysteries, and serial fiction including, Suffer a Witch, set in modern Boston and based in the Salem Witch Trials. She keeps bees and writes books in Denver, Colorado. More about Claudia at her site here: www.ClaudiaHallChristian.com.

THE FEY, psychological thriller by Claudia Hall Christian

THE FEY, psychological thriller by Claudia Hall Christian

Posted in 15: Fall 2014: Writing Tools, Apps, Programs Tagged with: , , , ,

Follow the Trends or Follow Your Heart? by PJ Ferguson

heart
<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/denise_rowlands/4351943418/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">

heart of words

The answer is both! How much you follow one or the other depends on a few things.

What are your priorities?

If money is a priority for you, then you definitely need to follow the trends. If your art is your livelihood or an important source of income, then money is certainly a priority. There is no shame in that. And hey, all judgments aside, if you just freakin’ love money, go get some! (Then do something good with it.)

Other priorities like growing a community or your fan base will make it more important for you to follow trends. The basic tenet for getting more money, followers or fans is to go where the people are, then get their attention. The majority of people are following the trends, so you need to be educated and make your writing relevant to those individuals. Never fear, you can still follow your heart in your writing, but the framework for your writing will be with the intent to dazzle the masses.

On the other hand, money might not be a priority to you. Whether you are a stay-at-home spouse, independently wealthy or a free-loving hippie like me who writes in your spare time, money is not as important as the sheer need to express yourself. And us creative writers, we need to express ourselves because we have something to say!

If your priority is to create art and express yourself at all costs, then you should definitely follow your heart. But be honest, your Ego is going to want to know that someone has read your work and found value in it. Also, true art is not a purely selfish endeavor. One beauty of the online age is that people with similar interests can find each other more easily. You owe it to yourself to find a trend that matches your heart and share your art with those individuals and groups.

What are you writing?

If you are writing a novel, monitoring trends gets tricky. You have to wisely predict whether you can write quickly enough or if the current trend will be in vogue long enough for you to publish. This is not impossible. For instance, the Harry Potter trend lasted for over a decade and is still echoing loudly. There are many children’s fantasy books and movies that would not have succeeded were they not riding on the coattails of “Harry Potter mania.” The grand expanse of time, attention and energy needed to complete a novel naturally requires huge investments of heart. Depending on what your priorities are, you want the overall experience to be worth it in the end. If you are writing for expression only, then you can take as long as you want.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, if you are writing a smaller piece like a blog post or online article, you want to be keenly aware of the current trends so you can tailor your writing to the audience. Are they looking for trends or your sheer expression? Maybe they are looking for both. Writers write many things for many different purposes and occasions. Even creative writers need to write functional pieces from time to time. You should write appropriately for the situation. Decide how much whimsy or straight-talk is the right amount to help you connect with your reader. The shorter the piece, the less time to get lost in whimsy, so bear that in mind.

The good news is that you can have both.

You can follow trends and you can follow your heart. You can put your heart into anything you write, so don’t let trends or market demand make you feel like you have to stifle yourself. As with all writing, you want to make yours relevant and approachable. Since you are a creative already, part of your journey is finding creative solutions for doing both and having the overall experience you desire.

***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Author, PJ Ferguson

PJ Ferguson

PJ Ferguson offers a unique combination of Business Coaching, Life Satisfaction Coaching and Thought Leadership to help creative entrepreneurs create clarity and structure for planning their business goals and achieving success. By using clear vision and consistent action you can have the positive impact you wish to have on the world. More at http://thealmondseed.com.


TheAlmondSeed.com

TheAlmondSeed.com

Posted in 14: Summer 2014: Writers, Follow the Trends vs. Follow Your Heart Tagged with: , , , , ,

Passion or Trend? Decide Your Storyline in 3 Steps by Ezra Barany

36R_Ad1

Do you have a ton of ideas for a story? Are you excited to write them all? Which one should you write first? The good news is that you’re passionate about each and every story idea. All that’s left is to choose the story people will most want to read.

Many authors wonder whether they should write what’s popular or write what they are passionate about?

The correct answer is “Yes.”

Write that which fits both categories.

If you have a ton of story ideas, here’s a great way to determine which one will be the most popular.

1. List all your story ideas in as simple a storyline phrase as possible.

Imagine you’re looking online for that storyline. What would you type in the search engine? For example, here is a list of story ideas:

  • Jewish superhero
  • Jewish zombie
  • A retelling of the golem
  • A contemporary golem
  • Jewish Palestinians
  • A Jewish and Palestinian romance
  • A contemporary Romeo and Juliet

Screen Shot 2014-08-11 at 7.35.40 PM

2. See what people are searching for on Amazon.

Go to the Amazon search bar and in the “Books” or “Kindle Store” part of the drop-down menu, type the main word of each of your ideas.

See what the auto-fill suggestions are. These auto-fill suggestions are the most common phrases searched on Amazon.

Perhaps you’ll discover a story idea from the auto-fill suggestion list you’d love to write!

For example, under the “Books” department of the drop-down menu, “Jewish” brought up:

  • Jewish history
  • Jewish books
  • Jewish study bible
  • Jewish fiction
  • Jewish bible
  • Jewish Japanese sex and cookbook and how to raise wolves

Screen Shot 2014-08-11 at 7.32.17 PM

What do these results tell you? Not much.

But the results do reveal that when it comes to Judaism, readers are mostly interested in Jewish history.

So if I wanted to write a story about the Jews who lived in the British-ruled region of Palestine in the 1930s, the Jewish Palestinians, there might be a lot of readers interested in reading that story.

However, I’m not passionate about writing Jewish historical books so I’ll keep looking.

Anything else the results tell us? Just that there’s a popular book called The Jewish-Japanese Sex and Cook Book and How to Raise Wolves. While interesting, that’s hardly helpful.

Before moving on to the next word, “Golem,” I type in “Jewish a” and see what comes up.

Screen Shot 2014-08-11 at 7.33.15 PM

From the list of the auto-fill suggestions, the two that appeal to me are “Jewish avengers” and “Jewish afterlife.”

Screen Shot 2014-08-11 at 7.43.12 PM

Screen Shot 2014-08-11 at 7.44.03 PM

I jot those down as possible storylines and move on to “Jewish b” in the search engine.

Nothing catches my interest.

Going further down the alphabet, “Jewish e” pulls up “Jewish exorcism.” Interesting! I jot that one down and keep going until I have a nice list of storylines that interest me and that readers are looking for on Amazon. Pretty cool, right?

I found interesting story ideas amongst the popular ideas – things people are already searching for on Amazon.

3. Just how many people are really searching for those terms?

On Google’s keyword planner (Google “keyword planner” to find it), check each story idea and see how many people search the term per month.

The higher the number, the better.

For example, “Jewish avengers” gets 210 searches per month. “Jewish afterlife” gets 880 searches per month, and “Jewish exorcism” gets 720 searches per month.

It seems like the most popular book would be one that included a storyline of the Jewish afterlife.

Just to make sure, I go to the Amazon search bar again and see how many results come up when I type in “Jewish afterlife.”

Wow! Under the “Books” search, I got 561 results, yet under the “Kindle Books” search I got only 21 results, five of which are truly ebooks about the Jewish afterlife.

What this tells me is that according to the total number of books available on Jewish afterlife, there is a strong interest in what the Jewish perspective of the afterlife is, but only a few ebooks are available on the topic.

In other words, if I were to write a book on Jewish afterlife, I’d probably have good results if the book were an ebook. The ranking of each of those five ebooks are somewhat good, so readers are indeed buying those books.

If I’m passionate about writing a story involving Jewish afterlife, it seems like a pretty good subject for my next book. But I’m only mildly interested in the topic, so it’s better for me to try the whole process again and see if I come up with a better storyline I’m more passionate about.

Note: I must add that many of the published authors I’ve talked to say, “Ignore the trend and follow your heart.” I agree that trends die, and anything you’re passionate about will be a great read if your passion is on the pages. However, if what you’re passionate about happens to be a storyline that readers are eager to read, then all the better. Use my method to find a storyline that pleases you and the crowds.

***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Author, Ezra Barany

Ezra Barany

Book marketing mentor, Ezra Barany is the author of the award-winning bestseller, The Torah Codes. Contact Ezra now to begin the conversation on how he can help you. You can connect with Ezra via Facebook, Twitter, contact him through this blog, or by email: EZRA at THETORAHCODES dot COM.


The 36 Righteous by Ezra Barany

The 36 Righteous by Ezra Barany

Posted in 14: Summer 2014: Writers, Follow the Trends vs. Follow Your Heart Tagged with: , , , , ,

Find Love in the Marketplace by Catharine Bramkamp

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Many authors and pundits, some of whom are my friends, recommend that newbie writers study the market place and the trends before they even think about placing their tiny fingers on the big keyboard and writing that novel or non-fiction work.

This is good and worthy advice.

But what if you just want to express your heart’s desire, write about what inspires you, write because you love to write? Of course you want to write for love. But what if you have a sneaking suspicion that this approach may not garner a salable manuscript or even much interest past your own small,  but terribly supportive, tribe?

If you don’t want to write a book no one needs, then you need a better plan than love: you need research.

Paying attention to trends in the market place doesn’t need to be soul sucking or even onerous. There are two easy approaches depending on if you want to write a fiction or non-fiction book.

Research for a Non-Fiction Book

  • Review what pops up through a keyword search, or through an Amazon search.
  • Subscribe to Google Alerts, get clipping services like Scoop it, and create filter searches for articles through Zite.
  • Follow trending topics with #hashtag searches on Twitter and Facebook.

Here is what you are looking for: questions with inadequate answers.

Do you see questions or topics that are inadequately addressed? What can you add to this conversation? What questions motivate you to deliver the answer?

This is what can inspire your book.

A client found that she was constantly answering the same questions on an accounting program. So she created classes that would walk her clients through some of the most common questions. She ended up producing a substantial collection of on line tutorials that she is marketing as a separate business. She answers specific questions better than anyone else.

That’s what you are looking for, that opportunity, that open door.

Better answers to consistent questions can be the subject of your book.

Now, this approach may feel too mercenary or opportunistic to you if you just want to follow your heart and write the book you’ve dreamed of. But even as you work through a creative novel, it would behoove you to know the market ahead of time, not only so you don’t waste your time, but also to help keep you on track as you create.

Research for a Fiction Book

Let’s say you had this vision of the future and you are compelled to write about it, create it, and finally, turn it into a grand cautionary tale.

Excellent. Here’s how a little research can help.

Start big.

Enter Science Fiction into Google. In this case, first up was Goodreads, which is what I used for this particular search. You can do this through Amazon, you can do this through Smashwords or any number of outlets. The methodology is the same.

The Google search leads us to Goodreads: Science Fiction.

The Goodreads Science Fiction opens up a number of more specific categories thanks to the Goodreads algorithm:

  • Best Dystopian and Post Apocalyptic Fiction: 1,822 books
  • Top books in this category are: Hunger Games, 1984, The Giver, Divergent, Brave New World
  • Best Kick Ass Female characters from YA and Children’s Fantasy and Science Fiction: 1,505 books
  • Top books in this category: Hunger Games, The Golden Compass, Graceling, Alanna: the First Adventure and #5 Harry Potter
  • Best Science Fiction with a Female Protagonist: 548 books
  • Top books in this category is (wait for it): Hunger Games with Divergent right behind. The next is: The Host, Uglies (#1), The Handmaid’s Tale and A Wrinkle in Time.

Before you launch into writing a book titled: The Starving Contest, consider how your nascent idea is both different and similar to the books in this list. Consider that if the more popular books feature a YA heroine, you may want to make your novel’s heroine 18 instead of 26 (which is what I did). If there is a preponderance of Fight to the Death themes, maybe that’s been played out (so to speak) and your book can take a different action trajectory.

If five out of six books feature cannibalism, or a gay best friend, or an ethnic sidekick, you may want to steer clear of those features in your own book. Again, it’s good to know what has already been done to avoid writing something that both publishers and readers have already read.

Fiction research helps you manage two big things

  • It helps you focus the more flexible details of your burgeoning book to somewhat match the market.
  • It gives you a way to describe your book when it comes time to first sell it to a publisher and later sell it to your readers.

Is your book, as mine is, like Handmaid’s Tale meets Back to the Future? (Future Girls). Or is it more like Hunger Games meets Brave New World? And if so, how?

Artists are influenced by everything we read and everything we know. Influence feeds creativity and acts as inspiration. You can use what had gone before — to manage and focus your own work, describe your work, and inspire you so you can write for both love and money.

(Goodreads search done July 23, 2014)

***

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Author, Catharine Bramkamp

Author, Catharine Bramkamp

Catharine Bramkamp just launched a new podcast, Publishing Tips: Ten minutes on the Tried, True and Terrible. Check it out on iTunes and NewbieWriters.com. She is the author of the forthcoming, FUTURE GIRLS. (Eternal Press).


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Posted in 14: Summer 2014: Writers, Follow the Trends vs. Follow Your Heart Tagged with: , , , , ,

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