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!”

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.

Closing Out a Series: Guest Post by Kristen Otte

closing out a book series

Today’s guest post is by Kristen Otte, the author of the Adventures of Zelda series about a tenacious pug. If you haven’t had a chance to read these books yet, you are missing a treat! Not only are they ideal earlier readers for children, but you’ll enjoy them just as much as your children or grandchildren do! As she publishes book five of the series, Kristen explains how she feels about ending the series and why she made the decision.


The release of The Adventures of Zelda: The One and Only Pug is a sad and exciting milestone for me. This release marks the fifth book in the Zelda series, but it also is the final book in the Zelda series. I know this may be a disappointment for many of the young fans (and parents of those fans) of the series, but I know it was the right decision.

The Adventures of Zelda were never “supposed” to be anything more than a few funny short stories that I wrote to practice my craft. But, after writing a few stories based loosely on the antics of my real life Zelda, I couldn’t stop writing. The stories flowed through my fingers on to the keyboard. Soon after, The Adventures of Zelda: A Pug Tale was published.

The early reader response was better than expected. I kept writing, and by book three, it was clear that young readers enjoyed reading about a stubborn, adventurous pug.

The titular pug and her book. ©Kristen Otte
The titular pug and her book. ©Kristen Otte

The momentum for the series has continued to build over the past year, and I published the fourth book in the series in the summer of 2015. So why stop at book five? Continue reading “Closing Out a Series: Guest Post by Kristen Otte”

Beta Readers Can Save You from Embarrassment—Guest Post by Chandi Wyant

beta readersAs a professional freelance editor, I encourage every writer I work with to use beta readers. Most fiction writers know this is an important step, but did you know it is equally important when you write nonfiction? You’ll do yourself a huge favor by gathering your posse early in the process to learn what works and what doesn’t in your manuscript.

Author Chandi Wyant, who is working on a travel memoir about her solo forty-day pilgrimage in Italy, offers another important reason to seek that valuable input.

*****

A beta reader is a not a professional editor, but rather, a volunteer who reads your manuscript to provide feedback before you publish it, or before you submit it to agents or publishers.

I recommend seeking beta readers who are familiar with your genre and who are not close friends or family members.

 

Why a Memoirist Needs Beta Readers

Utilizing beta readers is an excellent idea for all genres. I’m going to focus here on why they’re essential for memoir.

Many authors in this genre write about traumatic things in their lives, and this is very challenging to do without sounding whiny.

This is where a beta reader can step in and save you from embarrassment. All authors are too close to their manuscripts and need an outsider’s perspective—and a memoirist is particularly entwined with her manuscript because it’s a piece of her life.

Click To Tweet

I have seen twice, with my own manuscript and with a friend’s, that beta readers saved us from the embarrassment of putting our book out into the world when it wasn’t ready.

My friend (who writes nonfiction like I do) was sure her book was ready for publication, but a beta reader told her, Continue reading “Beta Readers Can Save You from Embarrassment—Guest Post by Chandi Wyant”

Or Not to Be Is Now Available!

I am so excited to share the news: today, 11/11, is the release day for Or Not to Be, Laura Lanni’s debut novel.

Alive, Anna considered leaving her husband. Dead, she naively believes she has escaped this difficult choice. How cruel for relationship problems to tag along to the dead side.

On November eleventh, Anna Wixim, mother of two, number geek and palindrome seeker, finds herself dead at forty-four. While wandering the universe and watching her family grieve, Anna learns that the two-way portal between her life and death remains wide open. Still, Anna hesitates to return to the man she loves. She has many reasons, real and imagined, to hesitate. The universe is full of wonder; time is boundless; she doesn’t have to do laundry. And her husband doesn’t want her back.

Based on his own experience in crossing a yawning space-time gap, her husband, Eddie, understands the rules of the universe, including Anna’s free choice to come back to him. He also knows that she doubts his love because he forgot to say that he loved her—for twenty years. On top of that, he wasn’t even nice for the last two months of her life. Don’t judge. It wasn’t fair for the universe to reveal Anna’s deathday to him. Eddie couldn’t function, couldn’t have a conversation or take a full breath, faced each year with the relentless approach of November eleventh.

I’ve had the recent good fortune of working with several amazing and talented writers; if you follow this blog, you already know Laura is on that list. I wrote about her journey here, but today I just want to say:

“Thank you, Laura Lanni, for letting me be a small part of this incredible book!”

Please help me celebrate by visiting Laura’s blog and leaving a comment, and then hurry over to Amazon.com to purchase your very own copy in print or ebook. (No Kindle? No problem— a FREE Kindle reading app is available for most major smartphones, tables, and computers.) And don’t forget to leave a review . . . which you’ll probably write in the middle of the night, because once you start reading this book, you won’t want to put it down!

Read the first three chapters for FREE here.

Happy Reading,

Candace

 

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.

For more great writing and publishing information, check out Change It Up Editing and Writing Services on Facebook, where I share interesting articles and links about writing and publishing.

Marketing Children’s Fiction as an Indie Author: Guest Post by Kristen Otte

Kristen_Otte_Book3-Front_Cover-v2As a freelance editor, I have the good fortune to work with talented authors who write in a variety of genres, both fiction and nonfiction. One of the most prolific is Kristen Otte, author of the children’s chapter book series The Adventures of Zelda and the YA novel The Photograph

In honor of the release of The Adventures of Zelda: Pug and Peach, Book 3 of The Adventures of Zelda series, Kristen agreed to share some of her secrets for marketing children’s fiction as an independent author.

*****

I never intended to write children’s books. When I started pursuing a career in writing a few years ago, children’s fiction didn’t even cross my mind. But then my husband and I adopted a pug named Zelda.

Zelda was two years old when we rescued her, and she has been a handful from day one. She’s a little pug who is light on wrinkles but heavy with spunk. Her crazy behavior, coupled with a writing-group challenge to write short stories, led to the creation of what is now The Adventures of Zelda children’s chapter book series.

The stories started off as fun blog posts to make people laugh. When I took a few of the stories to be critiqued at my writing group, I realized that I might have stumbled upon something great for kids. My eight-year-old nephew read a few and loved them, so I kept writing about Zelda the pug.

Two and a half years later, the release of The Adventures of Zelda: Pug and Peach marks the third book in the series. Kristen Otte IMG_1225I think that means I am officially a children’s book author. Along the way, I have learned some important lessons about what it takes to be an independent children’s author. Continue reading “Marketing Children’s Fiction as an Indie Author: Guest Post by Kristen Otte”

3 Perks of Editing, Or What I’m Doing on My Summer Working-Vacation

Freelance editingMy editing life has been busy lately, and my apologies for the infrequent blogging in recent weeks. Hugs to everyone who has written to make sure I’m okay—and yes, I’m fantastic! Working as a freelance editor isn’t without its challenges, but it has some real perks, too.

Perk #1:

Freelance editing has its pros and cons, but the biggest pro for me is the ability to work wherever I choose. As many of you know, I live in South Florida, which is a paradise in the winter . . . but in the summer? Not so much. But lucky me—I am in the Pacific Northwest as I write this, and until the middle of August, I can pretend I don’t know anything about hurricanes! I guess the best label for my time away from home is “working vacation,” with an emphasis on the “working” part. And I’ve had a wonderful time editing many different projects in the last several months! Before I get to those, Continue reading “3 Perks of Editing, Or What I’m Doing on My Summer Working-Vacation”

Reading Challenges of a Visually Impaired Writer in the Digital World: Guest Post by Kerry Kijewski

Visually Impaired Writers

I recently met author Kerry Kijewski on my Facebook page. She commented that she really enjoyed the writing- and publishing-related posts on my page, but she couldn’t always access the links because she is blind. After some back-and-forth discussion, I learned that if I just added the links to the comments section, Kerry could access them with her reading software for visually impaired writers.

That conversation got me thinking about the other accommodations a blind reader/writer might need, so I asked Kerry to share her thoughts with us. Before I met her, I’d never considered how technology helps or hinders the creation and consumption of digital content. Now I know a bit more, and so will you:

Kerry Kijewski @TheIWanderer talks about the challenges of being a visually impaired writer. #blind #writers Click To Tweet

*****

I was born blind, but I had enough sight when I was younger to read and write large print. In the beginning days of computers I could use large print magnification programs. That seems like another lifetime to me now.

Over time my sight worsened to the point where I was unable to read a screen at all. I had no choice and moved to speech programs, one in particular called JAWS.

I learned braille when I was very young, at the same time I learned how to read print. I used them in unison until my vision worsened and I was strictly a braille user. Braille is less and less common these days with technology everywhere, but braille displays are still used. These are devices that produce electronic braille, like little typewriters. They can be connected to computers and used wirelessly with most phones and other devices.

A few years ago I moved to Mac and I now use my MacBook laptop to write my blogs and search the Internet. The speech program Mac uses is called VoiceOver and is built right into the operating system. This allows better function than others such as JAWS.

I discovered iPhone a few years ago and have been hooked ever since. Again the VoiceOver is built right in and all I had to do was go into “Settings” to activate it. I touch the phone’s screen and move my finger around, from App to App. The phone speaks as my finger moves and I double tap where I want. I am able to text and type with the touch screen keyboard.

As a blogger, writer, and book lover, I seek out people and resources that relate to these things. I came across Change It Up Editing and Writing Services and Candace, and I am glad I did. I was pleased to find a warmth and personal connection from the start. I hesitate sometimes to lead with my blindness and the problems that can cause because I don’t like to seem like a nuisance. When I wanted to read her helpful posts about writing, I found I was often unable to click on the links, mostly on my iPhone. I don’t pretend to understand why it works sometimes and not at others, but I believe it has something to do with screen shot vs. strictly a link. I am glad I spoke up and let Candace know that I was only able to click on her posts if she put them as a link in the comments. She has continued to do this ever since, and I very much appreciate that she took the time to listen to my concerns, but she never would have known if I hadn’t spoken up and explained it to her.

A lot of the Internet is visual. Photos and images are everywhere. This is the part of the Internet I am unable to access. Many sites are not set up to interact with VoiceOver. A mouse is useless to anyone without sight. The keyboard shortcut keys and commands work out most of the time. Sites aren’t set up for strictly keyboard commands. Maybe in the future they will take blind people into account when designing their websites, but Instagram is a reality and phone cameras are everywhere. The world is sighted and visual. I try my best to work and live alongside this world and to make technology work for me as best I can.

I am a shy person by nature and am always learning to speak up more for myself. Writing is the best way I have found to express myself and make my voice heard. I don’t wish to be defined by my disability, preferring to focus on what I have to offer the world. However, I am not ashamed, and I hope to educate people on these things they might not otherwise come across in their own lives. There are plenty of stereotypes out there about people with disabilities such as blindness. I hope to do my part to dispel such myths and make a difference and find a way to contribute to society in a positive way.

I use my ability to express myself through words to let people know I am here and I have something to offer the world. I fear that I won’t fit in and that I will be lost in the mix. I think I face all the same worries and fears about putting myself out there through my writing as anyone else. Some fears are universal. Writing is a frightening thing because you must open yourself up and let people in. It is a risk. I try not to hide behind my words, but instead to open up and be myself. I use words to let the world know who I am and what’s in my heart.

I want to thank Candace for giving me this opportunity to share my story here.

*****

Kerry Kijewski has a Certificate of Creative Writing and is working on her first novel, which she started writing during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).

  • Visit her blog: kkherheadache.wordpress.com
  • Follow her on Facebook: facebook.com/herheadacheblog
  • Connect with her on Twitter: @kkherheadache
  • She’s also on LinkedIn: Kerry Kijewski

 

Thank you, Kerry, for sharing your thoughts. I’m glad you let me know how to easily share information with you, and I invite everyone to visit your blog at http://kkherheadache.wordpress.com to learn more.

—Happy Writing,

Candace

If you enjoyed reading this, please subscribe to my blog and never miss a post! It’s easy: Just enter your email address on the right side of this page. And please know that I’ll never sell, share, or rent your contact information—that’s a promise!

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.

For more great writing and publishing information, check out Change It Up Editing and Writing Services on Facebook, where I share interesting articles and links about writing and publishing.

Chapter Summaries: Step 6 of How to Write a Compelling Nonfiction Book Proposal in 10 Easy Steps

chapter summaries for nonfiction book proposalWriting a nonfiction book proposal can feel overwhelming. You have a great idea for a book, you’ve written a chapter or two and are excited about shopping it to an agent or publisher, and now it’s time to create your proposal.

Your book proposal includes sections that outline everything your (eventual) publisher needs to know to position your book in the marketplace. In the first five parts of this series, I’ve outlined what you should include in your proposal in the following sections:

I’ve outlined what you should include in the following sections of your proposal:

As I’ve mentioned previously, I’m covering these sections in the order I usually read and write proposals, since each section tends to build on those that come before.

How to Write Chapter Summaries for a Nonfiction Book Proposal #bookproposal #nonfiction… Click To Tweet

Chapter Summaries for a Nonfiction Book Proposal

Everything you’ve presented in your proposal so far has been about you, your platform, your marketing plans, and the competition for your book. Now the rubber meets the road, so to speak, as you describe your book in enough detail to let an agent or editor understand what it’s about and why it is unique in the market—and why it will be profitable to publish.

Summarize each chapter in a paragraph or two, giving the agent or editor a feel for how your book covers the subject, demonstrating your writing ability and style, and presenting the information each chapter will cover and what questions it will raise and answer.

These summaries are the reason a nonfiction book proposal will sell an idea, even before you’ve written the entire manuscript—they give agents and editors an idea about the arc and flow of your manuscript.

As you write the summaries, think outline or précis—the goal is to be clear, compelling, and concise. Literary agent Jeanne Fredericks suggests, “To make the summaries more appealing, include some intriguing case histories, anecdotes or data, if possible. Communicate how the chapters will build on each other and advance your thesis.” And the Bradford Literary Agency suggests, “The style in which you deliver the description should be informed by the type of non-fiction book you are selling. A how-to book chapter description would necessarily be quite different from a travel narrative chapter description.”

While it’s important to have a topic or overview sentence to begin each chapter summary, this is the place to let your writing shine, so make sure each summary reads like a mini-chapters, not like a drab and boring outline. Don’t start each one with a version of “In this chapter I’ll discuss.”

Instead, do show: Continue reading “Chapter Summaries: Step 6 of How to Write a Compelling Nonfiction Book Proposal in 10 Easy Steps”