The Story Behind Alien Kid: Guest post by Kristen Otte

 

Today marks the long-awaited release of Alien Kid, the first book in Kristen Otte’s new series for middle-grade readers. I’ve invited Kristen (who also happens to be one of my favorite clients), to share a bit about how she came to write a series about an alien teenager.

Learn more about Kristen and her book at the end of the post.

I stumbled into writing kids’ books a few years ago, and I discovered a love for creating books that made kids laugh.

When I published the final book in The Adventures of Zelda series, I knew I wanted to write another kids’ book series, but I didn’t know what.

In the fall of 2016, amid a job transition with my husband and caring for a new little guy in our house, I felt the itch to start a new writing project. Without the time or bandwidth to write quite yet, I decided to do some research on the kids’ book market. I went to the local library, talked with the children’s librarian, and checked out the books she said were the most popular. For the most part, I knew many of those books and series.

Over the next few weeks, I read through the books and found myself disappointed in what I was reading. The books were funny, but often at the expense of a kid in the story. I often didn’t like the main characters in these books because of their bad attitudes or disrespect toward teachers, siblings, and even parents. Continue reading “The Story Behind Alien Kid: Guest post by Kristen Otte”

I’m a Featured Contributor at Sixty and Me

I’m excited to announce my selection as a featured contributor for Sixty and Me. This online community of more than 350,000 women over 60 connects women who want to live happy, healthy, and financially secure lives and  provides “ideas for turning passions into profitable work, share ways to build strong bodies and minds, and to create a mindset that sees life after sixty as a positive, vibrant, and active time.”

 

“But I’m not 60—not even close,” you say?

 

That’s okay—you’ll love many of the article anyway. For example, I’ve written about ways to get your book published, overcoming childhood fears, and snacks to help you sleep at night … and future articles I plan to write will appeal to every age. Continue reading “I’m a Featured Contributor at Sixty and Me”

Have You Tried HARO, the Easy Author Platform-Building Technique?

 

Any writer building an author platform knows it takes time, effort, and patience. Sadly, too many first-time authors publish a book without building a strong platform and then wonder why their book doesn’t sell. Too many authors who hope to interest a traditional publisher are shocked when they receive rejection after rejection because they lack a professional network or public presence.

A strong platform is especially important for nonfiction writers who write as subject-matter experts. But how does a writer build a platform from scratch or continue to grow one before and after publishing a book? Continue reading “Have You Tried HARO, the Easy Author Platform-Building Technique?”

Are You Afraid to Call Yourself a Writer? My Radio Interview at Doing What Works!

© Piren | Dreamstime.com – On Air Photo

Are you afraid you could never make a living by writing? Do you feel like an imposter when you call yourself a writer? In January I wrote a blog for SixtyandMe.com (which I later updated and posted here) about my fear that I couldn’t make a living as a writer.

That’s a topic many of you have written about; I’m not the only person who has hesitated to follow a dream.

The best comment I received, though, was from one of my editing clients, author and nationally syndicated radio personality Maureen Anderson, who wrote, “I love [your] piece! Would you like to join me on the show to expand on it? It would be a fun way to get to know each other in a different format.”

An Hour to Talk About Myself?

Continue reading “Are You Afraid to Call Yourself a Writer? My Radio Interview at Doing What Works!”

I Was Afraid to Be a Writer

Was there something you really, really wanted to do when you were younger, but you walked away from it because you didn’t think you could do it?

I wanted to be a writer. I loved to write. I mean, I LOVED it. I kept diaries; I had literally dozens of pen pals all over the world. I crafted short stories that I believed would someday win awards. Writing was in my blood.

I kept my dream of writing professionally to myself, but when I was in high school and exploring college programs, I floated the idea. “You can’t make a living that way,” advised my guidance counselor. “Why don’t you do that in your spare time?” suggested my parents. “Earn a degree in something that will pay the bills” was the message I received.

So I entered college with the intention of earning a business degree . . . and dropped out after almost two years and before attaining an Associate’s degree because I was tired of going to school. I wanted to get on with living my adult life. But I always regretted that decision, and twenty-five years later Continue reading “I Was Afraid to Be a Writer”

4 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your NaNoWriMo Manuscript

November is history, and so is NaNoWriMo 2016. If you’re like most NaNoWriMo participants, you’re pretty excited about ending November with 50,000 words—maybe you have the first draft of a novel, maybe only a third of a longer manuscript. Nevertheless, you’ve written a bodacious number of words in thirty days, and you’ve accomplished something pretty spectacular.

For thousands of would-be novelists, December means it’s time to start down the path to publishing.

Please don’t be one of those writers who rushes to publication. Instead, try these four ideas: Continue reading “4 Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your NaNoWriMo Manuscript”

5 Tips for Getting a Book Published in Your 50s, 60s, or Beyond

Publishing contract

Is writing a memoir, novel, or self-help book on your bucket list? Does the thought of writing your story fill you with excitement? Whether you’ve been writing for years or are just beginning to nurture that kernel of creativity, your dream of seeing your name on the cover of a published book can become a reality.

Over 50 and wondering how to get a book published? Check out these 5 tips! Click To Tweet

Today it is easier than ever to make your publishing dream a reality. Whether you self publish or pursue traditional publishing, you need to think about more than just writing your story if you hope to be a successful published author.

Here are five tips for what you can and should do—beginning today—to build a following of loyal readers in the future.

1. Read. A lot.

The more you read, the more you’ll learn about the mechanics of writing, about story structure, about the standard conventions and what makes a compelling read in your genre.

If your heart is set on penning your own story, read some of the amazing memoirs that are currently on the market. Love a good romance novel? This is one of the bestselling genres today, but readers expect certain things to happen and will not be pleased if you don’t follow the “rules.”

If you plan to share your expertise in a subject you know like the back of your hand, your book will need to offer something unique. Read a variety of genres, but become an authority in the type of book you plan to write.

2. Create a Strong Author Platform

Your platform is everything you do as a writer that makes you attractive to a publisher. If you wait until your book is finished to begin building your platform, you’ll be too late. Publishing is a business, and unless your only goal for writing a book is to put it in a drawer when it’s finished, you need to approach your writing as a business too. A publisher wants to see evidence that you have the ability to sell books; a strong author platform is the ammunition you’ll need.

Begin building your platform now, so you’ll have an audience in place when your book is published. Think of platform building as a marathon, and spend a little time every week on platform-building activities in addition to writing your book.

Two surefire ways to jumpstart your author platform are to start a blog and engage in social media.

Blogging is an inexpensive way to connect with potential readers, improve your writing skills, and even test book concepts. Regardless of whether you write fiction or nonfiction, blogging is a powerful way to connect you with potential fans while experimenting with writing styles.

Engage in social media to connect with other writers, readers, and ultimately publishers. Choose the media you’ll actually use and enjoy; you don’t have to master every social media option out there. Remember that the key word is social, so focus on engagement and sharing, not just on self-promotion.

3. Join a Writers’ Group

Writing can be a lonely business, and joining a writers’ group—either in-person or online—is one way to combat isolation. New writers can find inspiration and feedback from more seasoned writers. There’s also a great deal of incentive to write when you’re expected to present each week—sometimes that’s just the push you need to sit down and write when you might not be in the mood.

4. Attend a Writers’ Conference

Writers’ conferences are crucial to your writing and publishing education. Not only will you learn more about the craft of writing, but you may also have a chance to meet and interact with agents, editors, and other publishing professionals, learn about trends in the publishing world, and be inspired by the speakers and workshop leaders who share their knowledge.

You’ll come away with a greater understanding for how to market yourself and your book, and you’ll meet other writers who can potentially become critique partners.

5. Get the Best Professional Help

Writers are often too close to their own work to be objective about what they’ve written; even the most seasoned writers have editors to help them polish their writing. If you want to convey your message in the most powerful way possible, establish a relationship with a professional freelance editor.

Whether helping you organize your ideas (before or during writing), or fine-tuning details such as spelling, punctuation, syntax, and word choice, a good editor will not only help you polish your writing (while preserving your voice) but will also help you strengthen your writing.

A good professional editor will provide a sample edit to show you how he or she can help you, and to see if they’re the right person for you. You might even consider hiring an editor for your blog posts as a way to find one who “gets” you, and establish that professional relationship.

Seeing your name on a book is a thrilling experience! Set yourself up for success by learning all you can about writing and publishing, and I look forward to reading your book one day!

Do you have a book inside you waiting to be written? Which of these five tips do you personally plan to focus on? Which will you put to use right away? Please share your thoughts—and let me know if I can help you achieve your dream!

(This article originally appeared at SixtyandMe.com)


Candace Johnson 11 400dpiCandace Johnson
 is a professional freelance editor, proofreader, writer, ghostwriter, and writing coach who has worked with traditional publishers, self-published authors, and independent book packagers on nonfiction subjects ranging from memoirs to alternative medical treatments to self-help and on fiction ranging from romance to paranormal. As an editorial specialist, Candace is passionate about offering her clients the opportunity to take their work to the next level. She believes in maintaining an author’s unique voice while helping him or her create and polish every sentence to make it the best it can be. Learn more here, and follow her on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.

3 Blogging Tips to Help You Build Your Platform as a Self-Help Author

dreamstime_m_28913973I work with professionals who are writing self-help books. These are men and women who are at the height of their careers and are ready to share their knowledge—some as a way to further their careers, some to share insights gained through years of experience, some as a way to give back in their respective fields. I tell them all the same thing:

As an author, you are responsible for finding and building your readership. You must build your author platform.

I am an editor, not a social media or marketing specialist … but I spend several hours every day reading blogs and articles by specialists in those areas so I can keep my finger on the pulse of traditional and self-publishing trends and best practices. Not only is this daily self-education important for my editing work, but offering insight into these “foreign territories” has become increasingly important to the authors I work with. Many hire me specifically because I have experience in both the traditional and self-publishing worlds.

But simply writing a book—no matter how good it is—doesn’t guarantee readers will buy it, as many first-time self-publishing authors discover.

This idea comes as a shock to many professionals who are dipping their toes into publishing waters for the first time. But many authors who buy into the concept that platform–building for their writing career is every bit as important as it is for their profession often become overwhelmed quickly by all the options for doing that. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn … the list of social media sites seems unmanageable if you’ve never tackled any of them.

I know I don’t have time to manage 16 different social media accounts while writing, editing, and marketing my business, so I understand how overwhelming platform-building activities feel. When I discuss platform-building with the authors I work with, I suggest focusing on actually writing … and one of the best ways to do that is through blogging.

If Your First Thought Is I don’t know what to write about, Keep Reading

Blogging is not only a terrific way to share your thoughts with the world, but it’s also a great way to test ideas and polish your writing skills. You’re an expert in your field, and you know there’s a market for the type of book you’re writing, but if coming up with ideas for regular blog posts makes you break out in a cold sweat, consider these three tried-and-true ideas:

  • Engage your fans by asking for their help. Posing a question like, “Would you rather read a chapter in my new book about 50 uses for parsley or one about the best uses for 50 different herbs?” will often lead to more engagement in the form of comments and debates from your followers, and your fans will feel as though they were part of the process of writing your book. Engagement is the name of the game in book publishing.
  • Offer content that’s related to your book-in-progress. You are an expert in your field, so share a bit of that knowledge by basing blog posts on concepts from your book. This is also a great way to repurpose some of the deleted text after a revision. Or you can use a fleshed-out chapter to reverse engineer a blog post.
  • Tell a story. Blogs are a perfect venue for storytelling. Remember Maya Angelou’s quote that “People will forget what you said and what you did, but they’ll never forget how you made them feel.” You’re a writer—you’re a storyteller! Write a blog—or two or ten—about yourself and your writing, and let your fans and followers get to know the real you. What’s the story behind your book? What are some of the crazy things your friends and family have said when you’ve told them you’re writing it? What is your writing process? Where do you do most of your writing, and how do you carve out time to do it?

Whether you’ve already published a book or are thinking about writing one, whether you’ve chosen to follow a traditional publishing path or opt to self-publish, the sooner you begin building your author platform, the better. Blogging allows you to build a community of interested readers, and because your book is also for those readers, you’ll have a built-in audience once you publish. The time to start building your author platform is now.

What about you, scriveners? What do you like to read in blogs? What’s the most creative blog post you’ve read by a self-help author? Please join in the discussion!

 

Candace Johnson 11 400dpi

Candace Johnson is a professional freelance editor, proofreader, writer, ghostwriter, and writing coach who has worked with traditional publishers, self-published authors, and independent book packagers on nonfiction subjects ranging from memoirs to alternative medical treatments to self-help and on fiction ranging from romance to paranormal. As an editorial specialist, Candace is passionate about offering her clients the opportunity to take their work to the next level. She believes in maintaining an author’s unique voice while helping him or her create and polish every sentence to make it the best it can be. Learn more here, and follow her on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.

Grammar Shaming for Just $0.99

photo courtesy of Apple iTunes Store
photo courtesy of Apple iTunes Store

Whether or not you are part of the Apple world, you’re probably aware by now of the new iOS app called Grammar Snob. Articles about it abound; for a mere $0.99 you can correct errors in your friends’ iMessages like a boss.

When I read the first reports about the app, I had mixed feelings: on one hand, anything that might help writers learn the difference between there, their, and they’re has to be a good thing, right? But on the other hand, Continue reading “Grammar Shaming for Just $0.99”

Four Years of Putting Myself Out There in Cyberspace: Happy Blogging Anniversary to Me!

If you’ve been blogging for a year or more, you’ve received this notification:

blogging anniversary

In my case, it’s been four years since I began sharing on WordPress. Like many bloggers, I had great intentions and planned to blog frequently … and those great intentions often went out the window when life got in the way. For some people, blogging slows down because they run out of things to write about. Anyone who has worked with me and has received one of my epistles will tell you that finding something to write about isn’t usually a problem for me. 😉 Continue reading “Four Years of Putting Myself Out There in Cyberspace: Happy Blogging Anniversary to Me!”