by Maralyn D. Hill
Many of you may or may not think of yourself as an expert, but it’s to your benefit to build an expert platform. Why do you need it? Well, if you don’t consider yourself as an expert, why should someone else? If you’re an expert, others will be more inclined to read your book or your articles.
The Internet provides many short cuts to building this platform that are new and target a larger audience. Added to off-line techniques, you can “brand” yourself. I’m going to mention some of the things that have worked for me in the past 2-1/2 years.
When I had a TV and Web feature for Time-Warner Cable from 2002 to 2006, I did not have to worry about my platform. My profile, column and TV show were featured daily on a TWC website and 4 to 10 times a week on cable channel. I didn’t have to worry about a platform. Everyone knew me.
Let’s move ahead to 2007. I had been in Phoenix one year and I no longer had a daily web presence, even though I had a website. It did not have new content. Here is how I suggest starting:
• On-line networking sites (Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, Digg, Stumbleupon and other social sites). Keep your social sites focused on business.
o Start with one and a month later add another one.
o Refer to my “Successful with Words” column of on-line bios for making this process easier.
o Learn one site before you move on to the next.
o Spend 15 minutes to 1 hour a day on this, depending on your schedule.
• Write a newspaper or magazine column or an online column.
o Place articles in on-line magazines.
o Make comments on blogs about your topic and sign off with your name and website or blog address.
• Have a web page with a blog (last month’s column featured 12 steps for blogging).
o A blog to which you add posts a minimum of once a week will keep your web page in search engines showing new content. Otherwise, it will be static.
o Be sure your website is well designed and uses key words. People read web-sites like a “Z”. So, the upper left corner is the most important spot, then upper right, lower left and finally the lower right.
• Have your e-mail signature include your website and blog address.
• Secure speaking engagements whenever possible (If you have a book, speaking assignments are the best place to sell your book).
• Be a host on radio shows or TV shows whenever possible.
• Be active in professional organizations (on the Board or a Committee is beneficial).
Many don’t think it is necessary to have an expert platform. They will be left behind, as this online pace keeps moving at a faster pace. I started when marketing/publicity was quite standardized. I’ve had to rebuild and cement my own platform.
You need to be willing to share knowledge. Readers/listeners want to know, “What’s In It For Me,” WIIFM.
The improvement in my book sales, speaking engagements, editing assignments, and earning opportunities has increased. There are many more steps, but this is a start I know works.
Please feel free to ask me questions about any of my suggestions.
Maralyn Dennis Hill is Executive Editor of Luxe Beat Magazine and is known as The Epicurean Explorer. She was born to travel and loves to tell the tale. As a professional food, wine and travel writer, Maralyn is intrigued by all aspects of spa and culinary tourism. From local cuisine to Michelin Star, simple to gourmet, she thrives on discovering flavors, spices, and trends worldwide. Not only does she love to share the tales of unique customs, Maralyn also believes that her passion for global travel is the greatest geography lesson. The best part is meeting people along the way and hearing their stories. Learn more at www.successwithwriting.com.
There’s an old saying “you are what you read”. I believe it may be more appropriate to say you are what you write! If you’re like many newly minted authors, your book, when it’s finished, will energize you and most probably change your life and the lives of others as your book becomes a permanent addition to the knowledge tree of original authored works.
This is the age of the author, a new era where people like you and millions of aspiring writers and authors can publish without limits — whether you have a personal need to leave your “life mark” on the universe, a professional need to publish a “book of expertise” to attract more customers, or the desire to finally put to use your classical training as a writer to launch a masterpiece of fiction to the masses. For people of all ages and cultures the idea of some day writing a book has now become a reality. And it’s happening with speed, as countless new titles are being published, reviewed and purchased by readers around the world. The Internet has brought the world to your fingertips where you can write, publish and market your book from wherever you are with a computer and a connection to the digital cloud.
Advancements in print-on-demand, online distribution, eBook reading devices and the way we socialize online with services like Facebook and Twitter has forever changed the way we think about books, where we buy them, how we read them and how they get published. In this New Book and New World of Publishing the opportunity for you to tell your story and do it credibly and affordably has never been more compelling. With a publishing partner to support you and a global marketplace of buyers, you need only be the most relevant to your reader to achieve success as a published author.
Relevance is king in today’s world of keyword search algorithms from the likes of Google and Amazon and other search engines and online bookstores. Think of it as a continuing process of matching the thoughts and actions of your reader with the content in and around your book. From the embryonic stage of idea creation, to the moment a reader begins searching for your book or topic of interest relevance is a factor. The good news is that you can now design and create a relevant foundation for your book that includes a unique cover design, title and all types of content related to your book, whether print, audio or eBook.
Mixed media books are the future, and you as an author can now affordably offer your book to readers in the format they prefer. Some people are always on the go and only have time for car audio, others prefer digital eBooks that they can carry wherever they are and for the majority of readers providing a quality hardbound or softcover book will continue to satisfy their needs. New capabilities that include video and other device driven features are here and there more on the way. Readers have preferences and just like you have your favorite restaurant your readers have his or her preferred reading formats and places to purchase books.
Bookstores are near and dear to many of us who write and read books. They along with other brick and mortar stores will still be with us, but the acceptance and growth of online bookstores is staggering and we are only at the tip of the iceberg! Book buyers around the globe are now in control, they may see your book in the review section of a magazine but more likely they will be searching for a specific topic of interest, reading a blog or seeing an article online that will spark their discovery of your book. Many of these new storefronts are connected to specialized niche content that will interest a very targeted group of readers.
These smaller markets or niches are often overlooked by the old guard publishers because of their size as they need a larger number of buyers to recover their costs. The new book, new world of publishing has created an immense opportunity for books from infinite origins, no matter the size, as the cost of publishing and marketing to these smaller audiences has been reduced. Additionally, writing shorter books on very broadly appealing topics is an opportunity in the new publishing revolution as readers are looking for ways to learn and be entertained in smaller slices of time.
Marketing your book in this new publishing landscape has developed into an incredible opportunity for you and those who are motivated and ready to embrace technology and the Internet. Creating relationships, partnerships and various other forms of communication can now be achieved without ever leaving your favorite chair. By combining traditional marketing strategies and the power of the “Net” the globe is your playing field where only the amount of time in a day may limit what you can achieve.
It is my hope that you are as excited as we are about the future of publishing. You are at the beginning of a journey at a time when you literally have the world by your fingertips. Focus on what you love and pick a publishing partner you can trust to help you to do the rest. We welcome the opportunity to earn your trust in this New Book, New World of Publishing.
Publisher & CEO
John F. Harnish, Vice President Author Services
Some folks might think this is a trick question, sort of like which came first: the chicken or the egg. No writer wants to publish a book that goes splat like a broken egg as it hits the floor-never going anywhere except into the trash. Indeed there are a few writers who have invested many long months and even years in toiling to complete their manuscripts, only to chicken out and never submit their first effort at writing a book for publication. Such a waste it is to have invested so much time and effort in creating a relatively polished draft of a book that lingers incomplete in an endless state of unpublished limbo.
Dan Poynter, author of more than 125 books, is quick to explain to aspiring authors that all published books are always only 95% complete-there's always an elusive 5% of undoneness that haunts all authors. Even established authors with a long list of publishing credits have that nagging feeling to do a wee bit more tweaking of their written words or perhaps do yet another rewrite of the opening of chapter three. However, keep in mind the chaos factor: your changes to chapter three will flutter throughout the rest of the book and the ensuing storm is likely to plunge you into another complete rewrite of the entire manuscript. Yes, it's another dratful delay that will keep your book from being published and release for public consumption.
Late in the 1960s, I discovered freelancing magazine articles and stringing for newspaper wire-services could produce a rather lucrative revenue flow. For sure checks would be forthcoming when the assignment was completed prior to the deadline, within the required word count, and right on target with the assigned topic. Of course my always hungry agent would call to see how I was progressing. I didn't need her gentle nudging me along because I knew a check would soon be on the way because most of the terms of payment were upon acceptance of the piece and not the delaying terms of upon publication. I dare say there was only one time when my agent called to inform me that I had to do a rewrite. Ugh, I was less than thrilled being told I had to do a rewrite, but I was totally elated learning the rewrite was because the editor liked my article so much that they wanted me to expand the assigned piece to become a lead feature. Naturally for more money!!!
Now that's a rewrite with a purpose and a cash reward waiting at the completion of my efforts is an excellent incentive. My agent referred to me as her perfect word-smith because if the price was right I'd write on almost any topic. Indeed I shamelessly confess I wrote for the folding green, thusly, my agent would pass on assignments offering only a publishing credit-bylines don't put immediate cash in the bank account. However, with time permitting I'd write freely for the American Cancer Society, the Heart Association, Planned Parenthood, and various community betterment groups as my way of creating good karma by providing purposeful help from the donation of my talents.
Too many writers embark on doing a rewrite without a defined purpose in mind-except with the intent to polish their manuscript one more time, or maybe a friend read it and made the suggestion that you need to include more of this or perhaps less of that. Opinions are so subjective-another friend might remark you need less of this and more of that. Stop trying to write for the masses and focus on first reaching one reader with your wordsmithing skills. When your words resonate well with one unknown person, you're on your way to reaching a whole lot more folks with your creative efforts.
It would be easy for writers to avoid falling into the bottomless pit of overwriting and rewriting if manuscripts were like a Butterball turkey with one of those little thingies that pops out when the turkey is cooked just right. Sadly that's not the case. Thusly the writer needs to make the fateful determination that their book is as done as it can be and submit the book for publication. Serve up that turkey and feast on the juicy joys of your completed efforts as you banish once and for all any thoughts of doing another delaying rewrite.
After submitting your book for publication, I would strongly recommend paying a mere .019 cents per word for Infinity's copyediting service to provide the peace of mind that typos and grammar goofs have been professionally purged from your book. If you want more individualized help creating or completing your book, you might consider getting feedback from an experienced developmental editor offered in one of our advanced Book Genesis programs.
The proof books are specifically for you to read over to make certain the book is essentially just how you submitted it to Infinity Publishing a few weeks ago for publication. This is not the time to go changing this and that all around, such undertakings will only delay the publication and distribution of your book and you could incur additional expenses to facilitate making more needless changes. The odds are those changes aren't going to make a bit of a difference in the quality of the overall good read you are providing for your readers.
Give yourself the gift of closure with your book, pronounce it finished, you're at the end of the writing process, now get it published and out there so folks can buy your book and read your telling words.
Copyeditors are, as a group, very patient and forgiving readers. We love noticing nitpicky details and fixing subtle errors to help you present your audience the most polished and professional version of your book possible. We could spend all day moving commas and repossessing possessives, and many days we do. Editors aren’t impervious to frustration, however, especially when we come across the same small exasperating errors over and over again . . . in the course of one manuscript.
What errors make us reach for our red pens every time? We asked the Infinity copyediting staff, “What is your biggest pet peeve?”
*One of the most common mistakes an author can make is punctuating dialog incorrectly — and if it happens once, it’ll probably happen many times. Here are a few simple things to check for when punctuating dialog:
1. Quotation marks should surround only the text spoken by a character — not the attribution (he/she said), and not reported speech (I told him yes).
incorrect: “The apple tree is too tall to climb, he said.”
correct: “The apple tree is too tall to climb,” he said.
2. When a character ends a statement, use a comma instead of a period if the sentence continues after the dialog. Similarly, if any text introduces the dialog, a comma precedes the quotation.
incorrect: “That is a tall order.” She said. He turned to me and said. “I don’t want to go home.”
correct: “That is a tall order,” she said. He turned to me and said, “I don’t want to go home.”
If a complete sentence follows the dialog, it is safe to use a period.
incorrect: “I’m a private eye,” my cigarette glowed in the dark room.
correct: “I’m a private eye.” My cigarette glowed in the dark room.
3. Punctuation (including question marks and exclamation points) lives inside the quotation marks.
incorrect: “Is there really a rainbow over there” she asked? “That’s amazing”, she yelled!
correct: “Is there really a rainbow over there?” she asked. “That’s amazing!” she yelled.
Another editorial pet peeve is:
*Dangling and misplaced modifiers are hateful things. Although the name might sound intimidating, they are simply descriptors that have lost their way in a sentence, so that they no longer explain what the writer intended. A dangling modifier seems to have no subject at all, whereas a misplaced modifier wants to be adopted by a new one. The easiest way to avoid this trap is to keep related words close to each other within a sentence.
incorrect: Being Saturday night, the student decided to procrastinate.
Being Saturday night is a dangling modifier — it has no subject, and so it seems that the student = Saturday night.
correct: Since it was Saturday night, the student decided to procrastinate.
incorrect: My phone has a specific ringtone for my girlfriend that sounded chipper.
That sounded chipper is a misplaced modifier — it’s been separated from its subject, a specific ringtone, and instead, seems to imply that the speaker has a harem of girlfriends, but only one who sounded chipper.
correct: My phone has a specific, chipper-sounding ringtone for my girlfriend.
And last but not least in editorial pet peeves:
*Homophone (or homonym) confusion is so rudimentary that it almost shouldn’t be considered a pet peeve, but it’s everywhere! Of course, many people have difficulty remembering the differences between words that sound alike, such as to/too/two, farther/further, and your/you’re; it’s harder to be patient with mistakes involving less common words that sound similar, but mean very different things, such as so/sew, cereal/serial, idle/idol, and except/accept. Many of these errors are made when an author is writing quickly and relies on a spelling checker alone to catch his or her mistakes; others stem from a lack of understanding of the words’ meanings. There are two techniques to help reduce homophone confusion:
1.) Read your manuscript multiple times, and have as many people as possible read and critique it.
2.) If you have any doubt about the spelling or use of any word, look it up in a dictionary.
incorrect: For a different prospective, I asked my dad, formally a minor, if a mining cart would need duel break peddles to keep access wait stationery. I listed to what I herd with wrapped attention.
correct: For a different perspective, I asked my dad, formerly a miner, if a mining cart would need dual brake pedals to keep excess weight stationary. I listened to what I heard with rapt attention.
V.P. Spoken Books Publishing, Dave Giorgio, January 21, 2011:
We spend a lot of time talking and writing about making a book great. Personally, I believe heavily in the concept of writing, rewriting, rewriting, and rewriting, until the author feels the book is as good as anything that has been published, or at least truly as good as the book can be.
I will be honest in that I have spoken to thousands of authors, and many of them are in such a rush to publish, that they go about doing so without a single look back with a self-critical eye.
I believe it's important to have a really good idea of where your book stands in the big picture, and to be able to publish the book knowing that the book has really been given the scrutiny it deserves, and then perhaps even a little more.
The answer is: HARRY POTTER.
Yes, that is my answer to this question and I'll tell you why. I've read and reread those Potter books numerous times. They are just so engaging and beautifully written. Part 1 of the 7th movie came out recently and I saw it. I decided to reread book 7 in anticipation of part 2 of the 7th movie coming out in July. And as I near the end of the book, I realize just how excellent the book is, as well as the fact that I don't want it to end.
Have you ever enjoyed a book so thoroughly that you reread it? It stands to reason that only a really well-done book is going to be experienced this way, multiple times.
Now, think about the intense scrutiny that this author must have put into the writing of those books. The process of the editor reading, marking, noting, highlighting, requesting changes, making suggestions, etc. Picture in your mind the labor that went into the creation of such a book.
If you really give it strong consideration, I think you'll have to conclude that such a book was not written and then published without such scrutiny and attention. In fact, it was that scrutiny and critical attention that created what the book is today: a book so excellent that it can be read over and over again. Timeless.
And so, if you think about your book this way, as a book that will be adored in such a manner, my sense is that you'll have even more of what you need to make your book the best it can be. Perhaps, even timeless.
It’s a new year! Why not start it off right in terms of your manuscript? If you’re like me, your resolution was to complete your manuscript and finally turn it in to a publisher or agent.
This is no easy task, as writers tend to be perfectionists. It can take years for a manuscript to be complete and even then, we never think it’s perfect.
Why not make another resolution in regards to your manuscript? Keep it simple! Don’t over-think.
Writer’s Digest has 9 must-follow manuscript rules. Some of these rules include revision, avoiding explanations, and making sure your details matter.
These are small, simple things you can do to enhance your manuscript.
Click here for more of Writer’s Digest manuscript rules!
Director, Author Services, LinDee Rochelle, December 22, 2010:
“Mommy, where did I come from?” the baby word boldly asked. Everyone is tracing their roots. With the relative ease and affordability of book publishing, our ancestral origins have become books of genealogical fun and sometimes profit. The advent of DNA analysis has identified many a skeleton in the ol’ family closet; and some ancestral histories rival the best bodice-ripper!
We’re not the only ones, however, with captivating inherited stories. Word origins
are also a fascinating and informative discovery that can lead you to breathing new life into an old word, or turning a more unique phrase, to the delight of your readers. With the right amount of talent and promotion, one word could throw your next book
into the annual top ten lists…
An interesting comment that speaks to our word origins and usage as a whole is quoted in a 12/20/10 AP article, “Audacity of 'austerity,' 2010 Word of the Year” by Russell Contreras. Along with “austerity,” “socialism” made Merriam-Webster’s top ten list this year. Contreras offered an observation by Allan Metcalf, an English professor at MacMurray College in Jacksonville, Ill., and author of OK: The Improbable Story of America's Greatest Word.
“Around 20 to 30 years ago, everyone would know what 'socialism' was. Same with bigot [also on the list]. That fact that they have to be looked up says something about us." Unfortunately, we never learn from the article just what that says about us, but nevertheless …
Many moons ago I picked up a 1968 edition of Wilfred Funk’s Word Origins and their Romantic Stories (© 1950). It is still my go-to authority for distinctive words or common words with fascinating foundations. Funk’s cover example is priceless, “Apparently our English forefathers didn’t take too bright a view of marriage, for with them the word wed once meant ‘to wager’ and later on ‘to marry.’ You could weddian your money on a racehorse. Or you could weddian a woman ‘for fairer, for fouler.’”
But consider this: if you re-discover a word that has not been in recent use and offers a particularly vibrant meaning for a key phrase in your book, with some savvy marketing you might even spawn the 2011 word of the year. At the very least, your unique use might interest the media and attract some quality PR.
Let’s take “mugwump” for instance.
No, it is not a directive to mug the wimp—although, you could create that definition (taking liberty with spelling) in a coming of age story as youthful slang—see how easy that was? Actually, the term enjoyed its heyday in 1884 during a split in the Republican Party—not surprising, this odd little word is pretentiously political in origin.
The century-plus Algonquian Indian word meaning “great man” or even “chief” was coined in the press to address the superior attitude of members who refused to support James G. Blaine for president. Its common usage is as one who acts independently, especially in politics. But have you heard this term applied to anything—even political commentaries—lately? As we all know it could have aptly applied this year!
Perhaps a book slated to publish in the 2012 political year would benefit from the use and marketing of mugwump. Funk’s humor reigns supreme in his treatment of this word as he repeated a joke thought to be older than his attributed quote, but still, “Albert J. Engel is reported to have said in the House of Representatives in April, 1936, that a mugwump has ‘his mug on one side of the political fence and his wump on the other.’” Love it
In the sandlot ballgame that is currently independent book publishing (lots of players, but few who make it to the major leagues), your book needs more than the ubiquitous hook. Send it sailing over the heads of the crowd with contrived creativity, sans perilous hyperbole.
According to Funk: “Hyperbole—A term in rhetoric for an absurdly extravagant overstatement. The Greek hyperbole gave us the word, and the idea for it is made up of hyper, ‘over,’ and ballein, ‘throw.’ You have picked up that ball and thrown it much too far.”
With social networking spreading our words as contagiously as a virile virus (remember when “viral” only applied to ailments?) this marketing ploy is entirely possible. Contreras quoted John Morse, president and publisher of Merriam-Webster, "‘What we look for ... what are the words that have had spikes that strike us very much as an anomaly for their regular behavior,’ Morse said.”
So next year, let’s have more profitable fun with words! Check out Merriam-Webster’s words of the year since they began the lists in 2003, on the Savannah Morning News site. What’s the good word for 2011?
Warm wishes to you and yours for a wonderful Holiday Season! … LinDee
Every writer has a different kind of writing process. Perhaps you draw an outline of the key plot points. Perhaps you start with character development. Or perhaps you sit down at the computer and just start typing. Whichever process you choose, it is what best suits your.
However, for those who are new writers and are unfamiliar with the writing process the basic writing process includes:
- Prewriting- The first step in the writing process centers around your ideas and where you draw your infomation. Take time to buold your ideas and let the characters, setting, and plot fall into place.
- Drafting/Writing- This is, for obvious reasons, the most important step in the process. This is where you actually take your ideas and put them down on paper. I recommend just sitting down and writing. Don't be concerned with proper grammar, structure, or punctuation. Just get those ideas out of your head! There will be plenty of time to revise later.
- Revising- See? I told you you would get here. Revision is a big part of the process. Perhaps a key point in the story isn't going as well as you had envisioned it. Try writing it from a different angle and see where it takes you.
- Editing- Editing should not be confused with revising. Editing basically involves either fixing something or taking it out entirely. This part of the process can be the most frustrating of all, but it is equally as important.
- Publishing- Last, but certainly not least, once your work is complete you can put it out in the world with publishing. Getting published is every writers drea and ultimately, their goal. It isn't easy, but remember to never give up.
Click here for extended information on the writing process!
Inspiration can be hard to come by. More often than not, it is what writers strive to find. Gain inspiration from these words of wisdom. Let them inspire and inform you. And most of all, let them motivate you to write and keep writing!
- "One writes out of one thing only--one's own experience. Everything depends on how relentlessly one forces from the experience the last drop, sweet or bitter, it can possibly give." – James Baldwin
- “The good writer seems to be writing about himself, but has his eye always on that thread of the Universe which runs through himself and all things." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
- "We don't write what we know. We write what we wonder about." - Richard Peck
- “Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement; then it becomes a mistress, and then it becomes a master, and then a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster, and fling him out to the public.” - Winston Churchill
- "You see things as they are and ask 'Why?' I dream of things as they never were and ask, 'Why not?'" - George Bernard Shaw
- "You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club." - Jack London
- “Read, read, read. Read everything- trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You'll absorb it. Then write." - William Faulkner
- "To produce a mighty work, you must choose a mighty theme." - Herman Melville
- No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader." - Robert Frost
- “And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it." - Roald Dahl
Photo by: this lyre lark
by John F. Harnish
Many writers have a special personal file tucked away in a little used directory or saved to a disk that holds an assortment of short stories and other things they’ve written over the years. Well, as they say, there’s gold in them there files! More than likely you have enough of a collection of short stories, some essays, perhaps a few essays, a rambling perchance, maybe a couple of odes, and of course a sprinkling of poems that you could publish a collection of your work.
My first published book, Enjoy Often! is a collection of my work. The collection is a real mix of this and that so there’s something there to delight everyone.
Enjoying being involved in the whole creative process is another beautiful part of doing a collection of your work. In addition to writing, you also get to figure out the selection of the work you’ll be including and the order they’ll appear in your book. You also need to think about your cover design. Some authors like to pick one piece and feature it in the title and on the cover art.
Now the odds are, you have a few pieces of work that you’ve finished or maybe a couple of works-in-progress that could be finalized when you yield to the pull to work on something you love working on. That’s part of the beauty of this new kind of publishing—you get to enjoy doing the creative work you enjoy doing. Oh sure, we know it’s hard work and at times it stretches your gray matter most nicely—but you also have the reward of feeling that what you’re doing is feeling so very right with you because you love what you’re doing. It’s a win, win!
So dust off those files holding your work, and clean away the cobwebs of your mind so your creativity can come out and play with your new project. This isn’t like writing a whole new book because you’re having fun writing all the various individual pieces that will make up the whole of your new book.
Yield to your creative urging and visit with some of your writings that you’ve been saving.
Photo by: koalazymonkey