Originally published on hazelandwren.com
by Sonja Hegman
When we’re children we dream of being artists, cowboys, astronauts, and princesses, but we never follow through with those things. We’re told they’re foolish goals. We’re told that artists starve and that you must be a royal to become a princess. (But now there’s Kate Middleton who’s given a new generation some hope.) Regardless, we’re told to find “real” careers.
So what is a “real” career? To my family, writing was always the thing I’d do until I figured out my life plan. When they learned I was contemplating law, they couldn’t have been happier. “That’s a good, solid career right there,” they said. And yes, in college I did have a brief moment where I pursued media law, but writing still called to me.
I graduated with a degree in journalism and proceeded to work in the news world for the better part of a decade. When that world began to implode, I high-tailed it out of there. I figured it was as good a time as any to pursue my dream of writing a book. The problem: no one knew who the hell I was, so making money right away wasn’t going to happen. I started freelancing.
I wrote stories about theater, fabric, environmental issues, and tents, but none of it was fulfilling. I knew to make a living as a writer I wouldn’t always get to write enthralling pieces. Talking to someone about tent lighting for an hour was not on the top of my dream list. It paid the bills, at least for a while.
I struggled for many years as a freelancer. My main goal was to pay my rent instead of thinking long-term, instead of creating something of value that would last. My determination prevented me from succumbing to the call of a cubicle job until I had $20 left in my bank account. I started to think of myself as a failure. Cube work would not be my fate and it made me think there had to be a way to make decent money at writing. I learned I was right.
Three years ago while attending a business event in New York City, it was brought to my attention that writing is a business. Let that seep in for a minute: writing is a business. For most, it’s probably not something you’ve ever thought about. I was right there with you.
Business brings all kinds of boring things to mind, right? Flow charts and quarterly reports and stocks that you don’t understand. The biggest bore for me in life is numbers and, to me, that’s all business was. Words are my thing and anything remotely related to numbers will make my eyes glaze over. Still, for some reason, writing as a business resonated with me.
It made sense, not only because it explained why I wasn’t super successful as a freelancer, but also because, if done right, you can make serious cash as a writer. From a business perspective, I thought about other things I could write besides books or freelance articles about fabric swatches.
Writing is a necessary skill in most businesses. Every business now needs a web presence so my first line of attack was to get cozy with web designers who needed awesomely written web pages. From there, I expanded to ghostwriting and ghost-tweeting. Most business owners don’t have the time to write blog posts or maintain social media. And so, my business was born.
The scariest part about starting a business is taking the leap. I was terrified. I thought I could write on the side and still create a viable business. It can’t be done. When I gave my writing and my business the attention they truly deserved, that’s when things started to happen. I found my moneymaking path as a writer and it’s the happiest I’ve ever been. My childhood dream of becoming a successful artist has come true. Now, what are you going to do?
Learn how Sonja separates the business side of writing from the creative side, in regards to handling criticism, in her next guest post in this series coming soon!
Sonja Hegman is a reporter turned business owner turned author, who’s learned so much from her mistakes as a virgin in business that she wrote a book about it. Trials of an Entrepreneurial Virgin: How to create a successful writing business, will be out in October. You can also catch her in real time every Thursday at noon CST for her #WritersChatStew Twitter chat where she talks even more about treating writing like a business. Follow her at @ChiefWordsmith. For more information visit http://www.entrepreneurialvirginbook.com/
Image courtesy of jaylopez
by Sherrie Wilkolaski
We've talked before about creative ideas for fiction authors to use to expand their blog -- but how do you make the time? We're going to explore time saving tactics that will help you build up your content to create an exciting and informative site for your readers.
1. Map out the week or year and create an editorial calendar of topics you want to cover and explore.
2. Set aside time just for writing blogs. Do you write better in the morning or at night? Choose your creative time!
3. Save time and schedule your posts out in advance.
4. Admire another author or writer? Accept and encourage guest bloggers on your site.
5. Submit your blog articles to other websites for extra exposure.
This week I want all of the Infintiy Publishing authors and publishing experts to get focused on promoting themselves and what better way than to become the next guest blogger for the Infinity Publishing. We're looking for content that focuses on publishing, information that would be of value to an author, at any stage of their writing career. Industry news and publishing experiences is ideal. Learn more.
Image courtesy of Caesantana
By Karen Hodges Miller
The other day I had a writing deadline. I wrote a lead. Deleted it. Wrote another. Deleted it. Played some solitaire. Checked my email. Wrote a third lead. Deleted it. Got a snack. Wrote a fourth lead. I was suffering from that dread disease, Writer’s Block. If you haven’t experienced Writer’s Block, you just haven’t been writing long enough. Believe me, it will happen to you.
The symptoms of Writer’s Block are easy to identify. You sit at your computer and nothing happens. Unlike the day or week before when words flowed easily from your mind to the computer screen, now there is nothing. If you do manage to write a few sentences they aren’t good. They don’t express your thoughts or ideas, the grammar is terrible, the structure is poor. There is no grace or creativity in your words. If the first symptoms persists for more than an hour or two you move to the second stage of the disease. You begin to doubt yourself. Why did you ever think you could write in the first place? Obviously your talent has gone, fled to the far reaches of the atmosphere. You are sure it will never return.
Yes, the symptoms of Writer’s Block are obvious. But what is the cure? Well, just like falling off a horse, the best cure for Writer’s Block is to get back up and try again. Of course, that is not as easy as it sounds. Some writers have allowed the disease to last for years.
The best cure for Writer’s Block is a deadline. I had to get that article I mentioned done because an editor was waiting impatiently for it. If I didn’t get it finished, not only did I not get paid, I was letting someone down.
Set A Deadline. If you don’t have a deadline imposed by someone else, give yourself a deadline. Tell yourself that by a certain time you will have written a certain number of words. Then, even if you are not happy with those words, don’t erase them. Let it go and come back to the work in a day or two. You may find that what you have written doesn’t look so bad after you’ve slept on it. It may just need some fine tuning to reach your usual creative standard.
Do Some Research. Sometimes the problem is that you don’t have enough information. You may be missing a small piece of information, or you may need to spend some time researching your topic before you can write about it. This problem goes for fiction as well as nonfiction. Good fiction is based on knowledge. Your “research” may just take a different form. You may need to think more about your characters, flesh them out in your head, find out more about a setting or spend some time outlining your plot.
Check the Internet. Look at what other authors have said about your topic. Seeing how someone else has started a similar article may give you an idea how to write your own.
Walk Away. Take a break from your work and do something else for awhile. Just make sure you have written at least a few sentences so that you will have something to start on when you return to the work. Set a time to start on the piece again. Mark it on your calendar. Remember, the only real cure for Writer’s Block is to keep on writing.
While over 80% of Americans say they want to write a book, most never will. Karen Hodges Miller offers her 25-plus years of experience as writer, editor and publisher to entrepreneurial authors who want to realize that dream. She holds a variety of workshops and seminars each year on book writing, publishing and marketing. Karen’s experience as a freelance business reporter gives her a fresh outlook on the creative world of writers and the practical world of business owners. As founder of Open Door PublicationsSM LLC Karen has helped dozens of authors bring their own ideas to market; the company published almost two dozen books since 2006. Karen began authoring her own series of books for authors in 2010. “Finish Your Book! A Time Management Guide for Writers” is a practical and inspirational guide for the busy writer who must find time to write while juggling a business and personal life. “Sell Your Book, Think Outside the Bookstore,” to be published in April 2011, includes over 100 practical, specific tips for book marketing along with interviews with a variety of nationally-known publishing and marketing experts. Learn more about Karen at www.OpenDoorPublications.com
Image courtesy of Marzie
by Sherrie Wilkolaski
Writing a book synopsis is arguably the most difficult step in the publishing process. How can you contain an entire book in one, small paragraph? We're here to help and guide you with a few tips!
All In The Details. It may seem arbitrary, but it's important to include at least your main characters name in your book synopsis, if your book is a work of fiction that is. This is the first time your reader will connect with your story, and a character's name will help solidify this. It may be personal taste, but I also think that your book title should be included at some point, possibly near the end. This will aid you from a marketing standpoint as reviewers may post your synopsis to their website.
Take A Look Back. Review your chapters and write down the main events in each; then narrow this list down with another edit. You will want to include the most vital plot points in your synopsis but without giving too much away. It should be a teaser of sorts as your main goal is to keep your potential reader intrigued enough to purchase the book. If your book is a piece of non-fiction, such as a cookbook, you can also highlight key recipes that you think your reader will enjoy.
Two's Company. Because there is no definitive length to a synopsis, it’s recommended you have two versions: a long synopsis and a short synopsis. The longer synopsis can be used on the back of your book or interior flap of your hardcover's dust jacket. Your short synopsis will be a great addition to media pitch emails as it will give book marketers a taste of your book without crowding them with too much detail.
Do you have tips for writing a synopsis? What is your favorite part of your book synopsis? Share with us!
Image courtesy of tonyamaker
by Sherrie Wilkolaski
When brainstorming up your newest marketing plan as an Infinity author, why not taken pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and start on your newest book? Crafting an appealing book is 90% of the marketing battle. After all, good “word-of-mouth” is some of the best advertising you will find but only if you have an appealing book to talk about. However, in addition to writing a fantastic book, the next best marketing tactic is to write more good books.
Ever heard of "binge readers?" Binge readers find an author they like, and they then seek out and scoop up every single title that the author has written previously. It's a win-win for authors and book lovers alike. Each new title you write will broaden your name recognition and generate more sales for all your previous ones.
Lacking inspiration and stuck with a bad case of writers block? You don't necessarily have to write new indiviudal books. Better yet, expand on one of your books to create a series. Start a trilogy or work on the prequel or sequel to your current title. Branch out and write a new story from another character's perspective. Foster your fans' addiction and have them eagerly await the publication date for each new installment. This will not only grab the attention of loyal readers but market to new fans who will ultimately buy previous books in your series.
Bestselling authors expand their audience over time, so now is the time to write and publish your next book. Infinity Publishing is here to help you along the way and provide you with the easiest and most comprehensive self-publishing experience. Learn more about our publishing services today!
Image courtesy of ugaldew.
by Mel Lewis
My time in the golf industry goes all the way back to 1950. The last 14 years before I retired were spent as the golf tournament director at Braemar Country Club in Tarzana, California. They where among the most rewarding years I spent as a PGA golf professional. The reason being, my main focus was helping nonprofits and charities including churches, schools and booster clubs plan and run one-day charity fundraiser golf tournaments.
It was such a pleasure to meet and work with so many wonderful people, dedicated to helping others by raising funds for their causes. Along with Braemar’s private event director, over the years I was involved in hundreds of pre-tournament meetings, helping and showing charities how to plan their fundraisers. Realizing that many of these people where not even golfers and had little knowledge of what was required to fundraise through golf and thinking about those already holding an event but wanting to make it better, I began running two teaching seminars a year hosted by Braemar. These seminars were named “Golf Tournaments 101” and became so popular and successful that it was obvious writing a book on the subject was something I needed to do. And so the two year journey of writing my book “Golf Tournaments 101” began. It was exciting to start, knowing the book would be rather unique as very little has been published in book form on this subject.
While writing “Golf Tournaments 101” my goal was to lay out all the information step by step in an easy to read and understandable way. There was very little research needed, everything I wanted to get onto paper was already the knowledge I had built up over the years. The experience from the hundreds of pre-tournament meetings held with the charities’ tournament coordinators and then being with them every step of the way on tournament day needed to be catalogued. Having never written a book before it didn’t take long for me to have a new found respect for authors. There seemed to be no end to the number of page rewrites, correcting English, etc. Sorting information within a chapter into the correct order was critical. Much of that final work was done in a team effort with my good friend and the book’s editor Lynne LaFond DeLuca, a nationally recognized expert in the golf management industry and private event planning fields. Finally nineteen chapters came together, each one covering an aspect of planning and running a fundraiser tournament. For example in chapter two I wrote about forming a tournament committee and laying out the sub-committees needed to cover tasks like signing up players, social media marketing and building a team of volunteers to work (and have fun) on tournament day. A whole chapter was written on how to run a “Golf Marathon”. It lays out how with as few as twenty players and requiring less time and planning than a larger tournament, many thousands of dollars could be raised with this kind of one-day event.
Another task in writing my book was to put together a CD that includes over 30 files to make the planning and running of a tournament much easier. These were files I had used in many tournaments and included:
- Player entry forms
- Tournament pairing-team lists
- Income projections
- Rule sheets and much more.
I also put together a PowerPoint presentation to show committee members at the first tournament meeting. It covers every chapter, giving everyone a broad outline of everything needed to be achieved throughout the planning stages and throughout tournament day.
To add a little color to this text/guide book I included an introduction about my family’s history that spans five generations in golf. Our most famous family member is my great great uncle Jamie Anderson, three times winner of the British “Open Championship” in 1877-78-79.
The finished product printed in a beautiful, colorful and professional way by Infinity Publishing is something I am very proud of and now seems like it was worth all the effort.
Overall the experience was more than I had anticipated, but once I got myself organized it all started to come together, one chapter at at time. If you're an author who is struggling with getting through completing your book, just keep your eye on the ball and it will work itself out.
Best of luck to you!
What was your writing experience like? Share with us in the comments section below.
by Laura L. Valenti
On a recent trip to Branson, my husband and I were treated to a show by SIX, a brothers singing group who also do marvelous impersonations and to a performance of JOSEPH, at the Sight and Sound Theater. While watching, I was reminded numerous times of how much artistic talent we have right here in the Ozarks. Typically, as a culture, we tend to think if someone wants a career as a singer, actor, dancer, or writer, they’re only choices are New York or California, but one trip to a place like Branson will show you a whole difference side of the entertainment industry. On the drive into town, billboards advertise those who have been on national circuits like Neal McCoy, the now late Andy Williams, Frankie Avalon and others as well as those who have done so but never in a well-known forum. Yet, these folks work daily in the field that they love and go home every night with no road trips, no living on a bus, and no paparazzi.
The same is true of writers. While the vast majority of us will never have our name on a New York Best Seller List, sell a hundred thousand copies of anything, or go on a national tour, that does not mean there isn’t plenty of writing talent right here in the Midwest. As a published novelist, working on a fifth (novel not bottle!), I’ve sold a couple thousand books but I’m well aware of the fact that an appearance on The Today Show is not likely. Like so many others, I once had dreams of such and I have been told “well, your books are quite regional”. That is true, as it is of many others, including The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Shepherd of the Hills, but the bottom line is that instead of comparing myself to best sellers, past or present, I’ve found great satisfaction in simply being the best that I can be. That may never take me to the East or West Coast but it has made me a novelist to my family, friends, hometown and the many new colleagues and perhaps most significantly, READERS I’ve met along the way. One of the best discoveries of this roller coaster ride as both a novelist and a freelance feature writer (non-fiction) are the many fascinating people I’ve met—readers and interview subjects—folks I would never have any reason to meet otherwise. They are truly the treasure trove of this business.
I’ve been told there are people right here in Missouri who are big lottery winners but I’ve never met any of them. I’ve also been told there are a few writers in the state who have garnered a New York publishing contract and I’ve never met any of them either. I suspect they are probably about equal in number. That very possibly being the case, I’m not going to worry about either. After a few years in this, working cooperatively with local libraries, booksellers, and book clubs, selling in person and through the media as often as possible, I’m selling books on a regular basis. It may never get me to a six figure income, but it’s already been a marvelous adventure which is ever challenging with incredible surprises and joyous encounters tucked around every twist and turn.
I am also very thankful for the recent changes in the publishing industry. While they are blamed in part for having thrown the New York publishing industry into freefall mode, they have also made it possible for the little writers to become published authors. Writers like me have benefitted greatly from the revolution in self or independent publishing of the last decade or two, in no small part because of professional independent publishers like Infinity.
Back in Branson, as I listened to a mezzo-soprano who was part of the chorus in JOSEPH while she belted out her song, standing just a few feet away from us, I noticed the look on her face which spoke volumes about how much she enjoyed what she was doing on a nightly basis. And it made me realize, I feel exactly the same way about what I do.
As an Ozark freelance writer and author, Laura L. Valenti has written hundreds of newspaper and magazine features. She is a ten year veteran of the Laclede County Sheriff’s Department, including three years as their jail administrator. She is the author of non-fiction books, such as Ozarks Meth: A Journey of Destruction and Deliverance and four novels, including The Heart of the Spring, The Heart of the Spring Lives On, Between the Star and the Cross: The Choice and Between the Star and the Cross: The Election. Laura and her husband, Warren live near Bennett Spring, Missouri. Her books are available at Infinity Publishing’s website bbotw.com, Amazon.com and her website www.BetweentheStarandtheCross.com.
by Sherrie Wilkolaski
Oftentimes authors underestimate the importance of researching their next project. Why spend your time researching when you could be writing, especially when you’re on a deadline? What we forget, however, is how important research can be in creating and establishing memorable characters. Consider these tips the next time you start writing.
1. Create believable characters. When it comes to character development, the author knows them best. Their background, physical traits and personality, even their body language. The sky is truly the limit when the goal is creating characters that your audience will find intriguing or relatable. By the end, you will be the one that knows exactly what makes your characters tick.
2. Refer to your blog. If you’ve designed blog articles around your characters, look back at them to spark new ideas. You might just stumble upon a new story, divergent plotline or entertaining antagonist. Referring back to your older work can help in the development of your characters, both old and new.
3. Practice makes perfect. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither were your characters. They might evolve and change throughout a single novel or across an entire series. You might not initially like how you wrote them or they might end up surprising you. No one character is exactly the same, which is why practicing writing different types of characters, even ones that may be out of your comfort zone, can be so exciting.
4. Test out new ideas. If you’re working on a new character or not sure which way to take an established character, ask your readers. Post a sample book excerpt on your website or social media. You’ll create excitement; your readers will enjoy being a part of the process.
How do you develop your characters? Share with us in the comments below.
Image courtesy of forwardcom.
by Ratna Dalal
We are living in incredibly interesting times. Back in 1990, while giving a talk as part of my thesis presentation at I.I.T. in Chicago, the audience was told by my advisor that I spoke very well. To this another advisor namely Prof. David Sharpe remarked,“Wait till you read what she writes. She writes beautifully”. At that time I thought, if I ever get a break from my career as an architect, it would be a good idea to pursue writing.
In 2004 I finally got a break from my career when the chapter of motherhood began in my life. Seizing upon this as a great opportunity, I started writing my first book of contemporary fiction with a dozen short stories. By 2007 the book was completed and hence my research on how to get it published in a traditional way began. As an architect I had written a book of short stories and I was trying to get it published. Hence I was an outsider at three levels or shall I say trifecta! In those days a writer needed a literary agent to sell his/her book proposal to a publishing company. But it typically took two to twelve years to find one! Who has that kind of time?
So I sent my book proposal directly to a few publishers. One wrote back: it’s a great piece of literature but we can’t find a slot for it. A couple of stories were sent as entries into short story competitions. It was only later that I learnt that even before you send your story, the winner is predetermined! So it is a waste of time, effort and money. It was shocking to know that this was happening in America, the land of meritocracy. At this point I was glad that I did not do this for a living!
With this I decided that finding a traditional publisher/literary agent was a waste of time. But the writing bug had caught on and so I started a blog. Initially I posted a few technical papers which were published in Indian magazines in the past. Then I introduced a few elements from my book in the blog. The blog soon got a regular following and received 10,000 hits each year with many appreciative comments from people in different sectors. Now the book was on the back burner but I was happily following news and events about how tectonic changes were going on in the publishing world and how it was getting harder and harder to publish traditionally. My inbox started getting offers to self-publish my book. But in 2008 such books did not make it to the best-seller list and were not reviewed. So I just let time elapse till it would become more widely acceptable.
However by 2009 with advancing digital publishing, short stories were making a comeback as people wanted quick gratification in small bites, through a digital medium. Here are a few articles about the same:
In Praise of the American Short Story
Going Solo Gets Crowded
By 2010 many new books with short stories entered the market. One even topped the best-seller list! Here are a few of them: Books of Short Stories in the Current Market. Meanwhile my blog had established itself well and many articles from it were also published in web-magazines, websites and LinkedIn groups based in UK, USA and India where they were often mentioned in the most popular section.
By 2012 self-publishing was becoming a norm and even being used by teenagers. Besides this e-books were gaining momentum along with cloud computing and social networks. Here are articles about the same:
In E-Book Era, Rule for Writers, Is Type Faster!
Do You Want the Good News First?
This year I read Steve Jobs biography by Walter Isaacson. His vision and spirit inspired and convinced me that now was the time to self-publish. His words of “think different” and “make a dent in the universe” threw light into a world of possibilities. In an article by Thomas Friedman, Jeff Bezos said “eliminating all the gatekeepers”- is making it easier and cheaper than ever to publish your own book, start your own company and chase your own dream.
With the decision made to self-publish, the question that arose was how to do it. I got four to five books from the local library on this issue. Most of them were junk and seemed like somebody had downloaded pages from a website and bound it into a book! The only useful, informative and well-researched book on this topic is ‘The Fine Print of Self-Publishing’ (fourth edition) by Mark Levin. He says, “While it is great to be a dreamer in book publishing, it’s smarter to be a realist”.
It covers useful topics such as:
Qualities of an excellent self-publishing company and the services they should offer.
Favorable contract terms.
Detailed survey of outstanding self-publishing companies in USA.
Detailed explanation of technical terms such as ISBN, LCCN, copyright procedure etc.
Infinity Publishing had the best website, a real person each time I made a phone call and even sent me a free and very useful brochure on how to self-publish. The brochure was a clear road map to this process with detailed description of each and every step.
With all this behind me, my book The Watercolor of Life is finally out in the market! The Gita says that one should do one’s karma and not expect results. As will be your karma, so will be the fruits (results) from God. By publishing this book I have done my karma! It was said that if the ship does not come to you, then swim to it. I say build your own ship, self-publish! As for self-publishing, according to Jeff Bezos, “Sixteen of the top 100 best sellers on Kindle today were self-published.” We are indeed living in incredibly interesting times!
Ratna Dalal is an architect by profession and holds a B.Arch. from S.P.A. (New Delhi) and M.S.Arch. from I.I.T. (Chicago). In 1989 she won the first prize in the national level ‘Spartek Study Abroad’ contest in India and was awarded an international scholarship. She has lived, studied and worked in India and U.S.A. and gained diversified experience as an architect in many different sectors. She is also a prolific writer, refined artist and blogger. Her work is shared with the world, via her blog: http://creativejoys.wordpress.com/. She is happily married with one child. The Watercolor of Life is her first book.
by Sherrie Wilkolaski
Where would romance be without the written word? Or is it the other way around? If you think about it, love is what drives so many authors to write. Whether it is the love for another person, or being passionate about a particular subject, love is most seemingly, on one level or another…always involved.
We credit authors like Shakespeare and Lord Byron for our classic love stories, but I think we should be complimenting their inspiration. Perhaps the subject of their affection wasn’t even aware of the role they played in the writing process. How scandalous. When researching a family tree it’s rare to find things like, “Aunt Hilda on your father’s side inspired Shakespeare’s, Romeo and Juliet. She waited tables in his local pub.” Perhaps the story behind the story, is even more more interesting than finding out you’re a direct decent of Shakespeare himself.
It is fascinating to know the history of where a character comes from and what the motivation was to create the details surrounding a personality or a piece of work. Jane Austen, who is the real, Mr. Darcy? As an author you’re having a romance with your writing every time you put pen to paper.
For all of your writers out there, today is the day to think about where your own inspiration comes from. You may want to thank your own personal muse, by writing something special, with them in mind, on this hallmark of holidays. Would you be as good a writer without that extraordinary someone or something in your life?
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Photo courtesty of Billy Frank Alexander Design.