Category: Marketing Page 1 of 6

Combat!- Part II

“In the Christian life, one fact is crystal clear: we are at war. It involves every Christian—and collectively the entire Church—and it is a holy war. It does not involve physical combat; it is against spiritual enemies. It is a hard-fought war, demanding everything a believer has and is…To do their part in this war, individual believers must engage the spiritual enemies with the weapons and equipment with which God has endowed them. We can learn about all of this through God’s Word, but His truths are also illustrated through the events that have occurred in human military history. This book uses both, surveying the military history of Israel from Abram’s operation to rescue Lot through the fall of Jerusalem and examining our spiritual warfare in the light of military history and modern military organization.” (From the back cover.)

Write2Ignite featured Dennis Peterson last April talking about his path to publication for his latest book, Combat! With the release of the book in February by TouchPoint Press, Dennis is now on the other side of the process. In this second interview he answers more questions about the book and how he plans to market it.

How did you research the military aspects of Combat?

 Having taught history for a number of years, and having conducted quite a bit of research as a history textbook author, I already had a good background in military history. I conducted even more specific research into biblical Israel’s warfare and military theory and strategy by reading copious amounts of material by experts in the subject–ancient historians, Sun Tzu, Jomini, Clausewitz, and veteran high-ranking officers from America’s modern military. I then applied what I learned from that research to the individual’s spiritual warfare.

Do you think of the book as a devotional? 

If it is, it’s an awfully long devotional! I see it rather as a Bible study. Each chapter has four or five (or more) discussion questions that relate to the information contained in the chapter.

How are you marketing Combat?

I posted Facebook updates on its progress all along the way, announced its release date as soon as I learned it, announced when it was available for preorder and where, and then announced its actual release. I also had several partners (I guess the term for them now is “street team”) who also promoted it on social media using their platforms, thereby broadening the reach of the news. I also printed business cards that showed the cover on one side and basic ordering information on the back and bookmarks, which also showed the cover and ordering information but also gave a description of the book and information about the author, and began handing out those at every opportunity.

Are you speaking to any groups?

I have spoken in one local Christian high school’s chapel. I am willing to consider more as opportunities become available.

Are you planning on holding bookstore events?

There are several local bookstores that I intend to approach to arrange book signings.

The believer is to “put on the whole armor of God,” as the complete Roman panoply shown here illustrates. Illustrator: Preston Gravely

What was different about writing and publishing this book?

 

The publisher of this book was different than the one for my first book. The previous publisher was an academic publisher that tended to market solely to libraries and schools, and they did little to help spread the word beyond their catalog. The current publisher has posted numerous social media announcements about the book. They even monitored my own Facebook posts about the book and shared them, further broadening the market. They expressed confidence in me and my work, even offering me a contract for my next book! The only negative aspect that I’ve experienced is not having access to my book earlier. The first publisher had author’s copies to me several days before the book was available to the general public.

Have you had any reviews?  Interviews?

I had the first customer review appear on Amazon as soon as the Kindle version was available. It was written by one of my former Basic Composition students, and it made me feel as though all my efforts in the classroom so many years ago actually had made a difference after all, at least in one student’s writing life! “Suite T,” the blog site of Southern Writers magazine, published Part I of a two-part feature story about the book on February 21. Here is Part II of that feature.  As for interviews, a reporter for the Greer Citizen newspaper interviewed me and devoted about 1/3 of a page in the paper’s entertainment section to a write-up about the book before it was released.

Thanks, for sharing all of this with our readers. In addition, TouchPointe has contracted Dennis to write his next book which is titled, Christ in Camp and Combat: Religious Work in the Confederate Armies. Look for an upcoming review of Combat! on this site.

Check out all of Dennis’s books at Amazon.com by searching “Dennis L. Peterson.”

Visit and follow his blog at: https://dlpedit.wordpress.com.

 

CONTENTMENT: MY Writerly Word for 2020

This past year was a difficult one for me. Due to our financial situation, we have not been able to travel, which has always been my go-to for inspiration. A new destination has the ability to shake up my brain cells and send them in a new direction, but this year, they stopped. Cold.

It’s as if I had a brick in my hand, and couldn’t lift my pen. My creativity was on lock-down. My mind was a blank. Oh, I could compose an email, and even write blog posts. But a story? Nope.

Have you ever had that feeling? Not comforting, is it?

What’s more, I felt jealousy rising within me whenever an author friend signed a new contract or received a raving review from Kirkus or Horn Book. It hurt when fellow authors posted about their school visits or bookstore signings.

It’s not that I hadn’t put forth the effort. Not at all. I had been contacting local bookstores and schools daily during the Fall, dutifully sending my one page of info immediately after I hung up the phone. I even kept a spreadsheet of the contact info and details of the email or phone call.

I felt like quitting Facebook and Instagram. Twitter, especially, was the worst. A knife went through me each time I witnessed someone’s successes as I scrolled. It’s not that I wanted to steal their joy or take away their accomplishments. Of course not. But I wanted it to happen to me as well.

It was then God brought the word CONTENTMENT to my heart and mind. If God has gifted me as a writer, then He knows what I need, right? And He has perfect timing. If He can move mountains and calm the sea, He certainly can remind my contacts to call and arrange a school visit. Or not. And, He can spark my creative muse in an instant. Or not. My part? To be CONTENT with what the Lord brings into my writing life.

My Word last year was PERSEVERANCE, and boy, did I persevere. I contacted over 30 schools, bookshops and conferences asking if I could share my author’s journey or teach a writing course. But in 2019, I had five events to attend where I could introduce my debut MG historical fiction, The Heart Changer.

This year, I want to rest in God’s plan for me. I have classes to take, and blog posts to write, and short trips to take as I search for ways to be inspired. And as I rest, do you know what is happening? Little by little, I see the Lord, my Master Designer, taking control and connecting me in almost imperceptible ways with my readers. What a freeing experience! I am released from my duty of cold-calling and reminders. CONTENTMENT is coming into focus as worry and doubt are banished.

I’m coasting down a gently flowing river on a raft, letting the current take me wherever it will. I lift my face to the sun, feeling its warm glow. I don’t need to worry about the destination, God has it all under control. I only need to rest.

Although I want to be content with my writing life and schedule, I am still open to connecting with the public in any region of the US. If you know of a church, school, bookstore or conference looking for a middle-grade author to participate in a bookish event, check out my Visit page. I love to share my passion for the Bible, history and the writing life with my readers!

Jarm (‘J’ pronounced as a ‘Y’) Del Boccio finds her inspiration in everyday life, but in particular, when she travels the globe, observing the quirky things that happen along the way. Focusing on the lives of characters from the past, Jarm is devoted to breathing new life into the pages of history.

Her debut middle-grade historical fiction, The Heart Changer released with Ambassador International April 26th, 2019. Connect with her at her Author’s Website.

Grow Your Writing Skills — Part I

Photo by Lum3n.com from Pexels

In an effort to grow my copywriting skills, I took Ian Lurie’s LinkedIn Learning course “Learning to Write Marketing Copy.” He broke copywriting down into four easy steps: create a plan, free write, write your first draft, and polish your writing. While the course focused specifically on writing marketing copy, I’ve been able to apply his method to fiction writing, blog writing, and even journalism.

This week, I’d like to focus on the first step.

Create a Plan

Have you ever taken a composition and rhetoric class? My first semester of college, I took English 101, which taught me how to research, outline, and write research papers. Throughout my education, I used that model (research, outline, write) for most of my papers and assignments, big and small.

The first step in any writing project is to research or create a plan. While I used a more structured outline for planning academic papers, I’ve found that bulleted lists do the trick for most copywriting and fiction writing projects.

Know Your Audience

Lurie suggests first jotting down notes about your audience. In my work as a copywriter for Liberty University Marketing, I primarily write to Generation Z high school students. Understanding my audience’s needs is important to every email, postcard, and booklet I write.

If, for example, I’m working on a direct mail advertisement, I start by making a list of things I know are important to Gen Z students:

  • Sustainability
  • Diversity and inclusion
  • Fiscal responsibility
  • Hands-on learning opportunities

Photo by Kaboompics from Pexels

And the list goes on. Once I have a list of Gen Z’s priorities, I can brainstorm ways our university can meet those needs. For example, I might write about Liberty’s energy-saving efforts and 40 percent recycling rate to address Gen Z’s interest in sustainability. 

Similarly, if you are writing fiction for children and young adults, it’s important to understand what’s important to them. In a session from Write2Ignite’s 2019 conference, author and presenter Edie Melson said that you need to be reading the current literature on the market. (i.e., If you want to write young adult fiction, you need to read young adult fiction.)

Reading young adult fiction or children’s books gives you an understanding of the types of stories that are popular, but it doesn’t tell you much about your audience. I suggest not only reading popular fiction for your target audience, but also researching your audience so you can understand what is important to them.

Make a List of Collateral Requested by the Client

Collateral is a marketing term used to describe the materials requested by a client for any given project. For example, if I’m working on some projects for College For A Weekend, Liberty’s four-day college visit, I might have 30-40 projects ranging from emails to class schedule booklets to temporary parking passes. However, I believe this step can easily be translated to fiction or even blog writing: make a list of key scenes/ideas.

Some authors write without an outline. They can just sit down and write their stories without any pre-planning. I’ve never been able to write without an outline, even if it’s only a few bullet points. But writing down the key scenes I want to include in my story or the main ideas I want to address in my blog post helps me get from one point to the next without running down a rabbit trail.

Note: An outline is not a binding agreement. You are not obligated to follow your outline once it’s written!

List the Styles that Will and Won’t Work for Your Audience

Now, this idea fascinated me. Until taking Lurie’s class, I didn’t really think about the style of writing I was using in my marketing pieces. But the more I thought about my audience, the more I realized that Gen Z doesn’t like being marketed to. So how am I supposed to market to Gen Z without them knowing they’re being marketed to? (Say that five times fast!) 

Through style.

Photo from Pexels

Most of my pieces are written in a teaching style. That is, they teach my audience about Liberty and then offer a call to action. (i.e., “Did you know you can receive $10,000 in awards and scholarships over four years just by submitting your refundable $250 Enrollment Deposit? We want to make college attainable for you; that’s why we offer generous scholarship packages and flexible payment plans. Don’t wait — submit your Enrollment Deposit today!”)

In creative writing, you need to choose the correct format for your writing — you need to know the purpose. In her session “Writing for the YA Audience” at the 2019 W2I conference, Melson reminded us that we shouldn’t be writing to tell young adults what to think. We should be writing to connect and entertain and then allow the audience to draw their own conclusions about the story, which may or may not be what we intended. 

While your audience may have different takeaways, you’ve given them a reading experience they are invested in rather than another textbook. It’s up to them to decide what to do with the material.

Tune-in on Dec. 5 for steps two and three, freewriting and writing your first draft!

About Emily

EmilyBabbitt is a promotional writer for Liberty University Marketing and specializes in residential undergraduate enrollment. She has done extensive research on Generation Z and has written for school-aged audiences in her work as a promotional writer and through contract work with Growing Leaders, Inc. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her husband, taking photos, and cooking. You can learn more about her work by visiting her website, EmilyMarlene.com, or connecting with her on LinkedIn.

 

5 Things Journalism School Taught Me About Writing

Photo from Pexels

I graduated in May of 2019 with a Bachelor of Science in Journalism and immediately transitioned into a career in marketing. I’m still learning the ropes of copywriting, but many of the principles I learned in journalism school apply to both copywriting and creative writing. I’d love to share some of those things with you.

Interviewing Strangers

One of the first skills I learned in journalism school was how to conduct interviews. In class, my professor had us practice interviewing each other before she sent us to the nearby computer lab to talk to other students — to strangers.

Approaching unsuspecting, and potentially unwilling, strangers was terrifying at first, but over time, the action became easier. By my sophomore year, I was excited to interview strangers.

I’m glad I learned to talk to people and ask good questions early on in my education because so much of the program was based on that discipline. Without interviewing skills, many of my news stories would have been lackluster because people are the heart of a story.

My senior year, I wrote a news story about Main Street Lynchburg, Va., receiving new water lines and electrical systems — not the most interesting story in the world.

But when I added quotes from a quirky barista known as “Coco” and an elderly camera shop owner who thinks the project is “experimenting with other people’s livelihoods,” the story took on a new dimension. 

Whether you’re writing a newspaper article or a work of fiction, talking to others will breathe life into your story.

Simplicity is the Key to Good Writing

Most news is written at an eighth-grade reading level. Journalists intentionally write at a lower reading level so news can be accessible to readers. When writing, journalists use simple sentences and words to get their points across. 

Similarly, in copywriting, we use plain English. When writing to a diverse audience, it is best to write plainly and simply because your readers may have different levels of education. (Am I the only one who read magazine ads as a kid?)

While fiction writers have a more specific audience, I still believe simple writing is the best writing because it doesn’t distract the reader from the story.

Transitions are Hard

Copies of the Liberty Champion displayed on my dorm room wall circa 2017

Both transitions in writing and transitions in life are difficult. 

Traditionally, journalists had to write as simple and short as possible to fit their stories into just a few column inches of the paper. That doesn’t matter as much now with the internet being the primary vehicle for news, but there still isn’t much room for transitions in journalistic writing. 

Academic writing is different than journalistic writing. It’s fluffier and lengthier and more formulaic. Every paragraph is supposed to be bookended with an introduction and a conclusion, and every section is bookended with introductory and conclusive paragraphs. And on it goes. 

Journalistic writing doesn’t have the time for paragraphs dedicated solely to transitioning from one thought to the next, so I learned snappy words to transition quickly from one subject to the next without giving my readers whiplash.

Similarly, I learned that transitions in life are difficult. (See how I used the word “similarly” to transition my thoughts?) 

Transitioning from being a high school student with an interest in creative writing to a journalism student dedicated to fact-based writing was difficult. At first, I felt like my creativity was being stifled because of the blandness of journalism compared to the freedom of creative writing.

But as my education progressed, the blandness transformed into a challenge, and I learned to write true stories creatively.

Again, I’m going through a transition from a journalism student to a copywriting professional. My creativity often runs dry because the copy I write is predetermined by my clients. I don’t get to choose my projects or conduct the research myself — it’s all provided. 

Yet I’m learning to incorporate creativity into direct mail pieces and monthly offer emails. And I’m beginning to realize that creativity is not unrestrained. It’s a tool I can apply to everything I write, whether it is client-provided content or a short story from my heart.

Writing is Easy. Editing is Hard.

I never had a hard time sitting down to write my first draft. After completing my research, transcribing my interviews, and framing an outline, the first draft flowed onto the page in a few minutes. 

Going back and editing is the hard part. Now, I don’t mean checking for grammatical errors. I mean cutting out unnecessary words and sentences, rearranging the flow of the story, and sometimes going back to the drawing board.

Usually, my first drafts ran long — around 1,200 words. At my college newspaper, we had a limit of 750 words per article so everything would fit into our 16-page paper. 

That meant I had to cut out about 450 words every week. That’s a big chunk of text (and work)!

The hard part of editing my own writing is admitting to myself that the first draft isn’t perfect. Over time I learned that a first draft isn’t supposed to be perfect!

Once I accept that my writing isn’t perfect the first time around, I can usually effectively cut out a few hundred words. Before submitting my work, I wait a day and reread the piece with “fresh eyes.”

Don’t Waste your Mistakes

You’re going to make mistakes at some point in your writing career, and that’s okay. Whether it’s misspelling a name or overlooking a grammatical error, know that you can learn from your mistakes.

During my time with the school’s newspaper, I made my fair share of mistakes. So I kept a document of my common mistakes on my computer. That way, I could refer back to it when writing my stories. 

I also worked as a copy editor for the school’s newspaper for two years, and during that time, I made some embarrassing mistakes (like overlooking a misspelling on the front page). Making a checklist of things to look for when reviewing your work (or others’ work) is a great way to cut down on mistakes and improve your writing and editing skills.

What have you learned on your writing journey? I’d love to hear about the lessons you’ve learned in the comments below!

 

About Emily

Photo by Jim Smith

EmilyBabbitt is a promotional writer for Liberty University Marketing and specializes in residential undergraduate enrollment. She has done extensive research on Generation Z and has written for school-aged audiences in her work as a promotional writer and through contract work with Growing Leaders, Inc. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her husband, taking photos, and cooking. You can learn more about her work by visiting her website, EmilyMarlene.com, or connecting with her on LinkedIn.

 

Emily will be blogging for Write2Ignite on the first Thursday of every month. Her next post will be published on Nov. 7.

 

How Write2Ignite is Unique

Most of you know that Write2Ignite is a conference to equip adult and teen writers of Christian-worldview literature for children and young adults. But what else does W2I provide?[spacer height=”20px”]

One-on-One Consultations

Some conferences charge to schedule a one-on-one session with a faculty member. As a participant in Write2Ignite, you are entitled to two FREE consultations with the faculty member of your choice. This is a great opportunity to pitch your story, share your illustrations, or simply ask your burning questions!

Sign-ups for the 15 minute appointments with authors, agents, and publishers will begin at 5 PM on Friday, following the panel presentations. That gives you the opportunity to attend bonus and warm-up sessions and decide which professionals you want to talk to.  Brenda Covert will be available in the bookstore from 5-5:30 for those with questions about signing up. With the link to be announced on this website and W2I social media, you’ll be able to sign up on the electronic device of your choice (phone, tablet, laptop).

To sign up for an appointment, click on the link and scroll down the page until you see the (1–2) names of people you want to consult. (If you don’t have a way to do that, we’ll have staff available to help you.) Then check the available times, and type your name into an open space. Be sure to show up at the right time and place! Participating authors, editors, and agents will need to check the schedule for appointments!

If editors, presenters, or agents you prefer don’t have appointment slots available, you can still speak to them at the informal reception after Friday evening’s Session A workshops or visit with them during meal times. (The reception is scheduled for 8:45 – 9:30 pm in Hayes Ministry Center.) So don’t be shy!

Headshots

How many writing conferences have you attended where you had the opportunity to receive 4 to 6 professionally taken headshots suitable for business cards, book jackets, and social media at the nominal cost of $35.00? This is a great bonus for all W2I attendees.[spacer height=”20px”]
Contact Cathy Biggerstaff at hiskid410@gmail.com to make an appointment. Check the workshop schedule before making your appointment to avoid missing part of a workshop you really wanted to take in. You’ll be able to sign up at the conference, but signing up ahead of time secures your time.[spacer height=”20px”]

Silent Auction

A Silent Auction will be set up in Hayes Ministry Center. Items and services have been donated by supporters of Write2Ignite, with the proceeds to help provide conference programming. Stop by often to place your bids and check competing bids. Bid sheets will be taken up before the conference ends on Saturday and the items will be awarded during the final session giving you time to pay for and collect your treasures before you leave.
Auction items include writing critiques and writing books; a basket of home made soaps; a gift basket with Sentsy items; a pillow that a writer will love; and a gift certificate for a free painting opportunity with Truth Be Told Art. Rumor has it that Tony Snipes is donating a mystery prize! [spacer height=”20px”]

Editors’ Choice Award

Another feature at W2I 2019 is the Editors’ Choice award. Editors, agents, or authors meeting in conferences with attendees can nominate a manuscript they deem worthy of publication. W2I Team or a designated third party will either select or draw names from eligible nominees. The manuscript must be for a children’s or YA publication and must reflect Christian worldview values.
 The nominee selected will win a certificate for Christian Book Proposals that provides a winning author with free use of the proposal service ($98 value). Christian Book Proposals, formerly Christian Manuscript Submissions, is a service of the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA). [spacer height=”20px”]
Writers, this is a great time to work on polishing your best manuscript as you look forward to individual appointments with two presenters!

 

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