Posted on 5 Comments

The Minimalist Writer

Along the city wall in York, England – a bow window used in the time of war. It’s all about focus!

As a writer, I can get caught up in FOMO: Fear Of Missing Out. Each time a new blog post or newsletter alerts me of a webinar I must attend, a book I should be reading, or a social media task I need to engage in, I get panicky.

Which is the most important? What if I make the wrong choice?

 

There is too much to do in a limited timeframe. Authors have families, other jobs, people and pets to care for, let alone places we’d like to go – just like anyone else. How do we fit it all in??

Can I make a suggestion?

We don’t need to!

As far as I’m concerned, there are only seven things we authors MUST do . . .

READ. WRITE. CONNECT. CRITIQUE. SUBMIT. INSPIRE. MENTOR.

Sound easy? It is!

 

#1 READ

Books that

– intrigue
– inspire
– inform

In addition, you must read in the genre you are writing in. And occasionally, to shake things up, choose a genre you would not normally read, or try an e-book or an audiobook. You’d be amazed at how a story gains another dimension when you listen to the words.

Join Goodreads, and find fellow readers who will share their favs. And you, in turn, can recommend yours.

 

#2 WRITE

For obvious reasons, if you are going to be a writer, you need to, well, write!

Every day, in some way.

It could be a letter. A blog post. A one-page prompt. An entry in your diary. Some creativity needs to flow from your pen.

I find having a weekly blog post forces me to write. Sometimes, being part of a challenge like NaNoWriMo brings out the creative juices. Or perhaps you work better with prompts. You can find prompts online or in a book. Take your pick.

 

The Charles Dickens Museum

 

#3 CONNECT

Connecting with others is a must — readers, writers, and professionals (agents and editors).

How is that done?

Through Social Media — pick one!

Facebook: if you love to post links, ask questions, share your travel pics, post cute animal photos, and share FB posts with others.

Pinterest: if you love to categorize images in a visual file for future reference, collect images for your next book, or writing tips to use later.

Twitter: if you can be succinct, love to connect with professionals, use GIFs and images, and ask questions or participate in pitch parties, etc.

Instagram: if you are all about a single photo, love to go live, to inspire others, and can tell a story in one image, but don’t necessarily care to share.

Also, writers’ groups like 12×12 are a great way to connect. You will find your friend list and writing skills growing faster than you ever thought possible! Memberships to professional organizations like SCBWI and ACFW are a must.

 

#4 CRITIQUE

Every writer needs a critique group. You can’t write in a vacuum. You need others to point out flaws in your writing, so you can perfect it. If signing a contract with an agent or editor is on your wishlist, then you need critique buddies to help you get that manuscript in shape.

The groups I’ve mentioned above will have critique groups to join as well as Word Weavers International, specifically conceived to help writers perfect their manuscripts in a friendly environment. They gather online or in person to encourage one another in their writing pursuits.

 

#5 SUBMIT

Of course, if you are going to be published, you need to submit! Here is a comprehensive guide to help you. Find the Writer’s Market 2020 here. The guide gives you tips of all sorts, and the categories are divided according to genre, subject, and type of publication. For those who write faith-based works, The Christian Writer’s Market Guide is a must-read.

And don’t forget the importance of writers’ conferences such as our own Write2Ignite and others like The SoCal Christian Writers’ Conference.     Each year, you have the opportunity to schedule appointments with agents and editors who might be waiting to publish your story!

 

#6 INSPIRE!

I don’t know about you, but I need to get out every so often and be inspired. Since I am a historical fiction writer, nothing gets my little grey cells working more than a trip to a historical town or museum. When I visited Bath, England years ago, my daughter and I had tea at this famous bun shop.

When we finished our treats, I visited the tiny museum in the basement of the shop which you see below. There was a small sign indicating that the woman who started the shop was a Huguenot girl who escaped persecution and fled to England. That tidbit of info was all I needed to begin my story, which I titled “Because of a Bun: Soli’s Saving Grace”.

 

 

#7 MENTOR

Just as the Brontë sisters mentored each other, and modern-day writers, too, as their classics wind their way into our hearts, we as writers need to find someone a bit farther behind us to come beside us on our journey. Have coffee with them and ask about their projects. Give them links to helpful resources. Offer to critique a story for them. They will thank you, and someday, do the same for another.

Did I leave anything out? Let me know in the comments below!


 

The Heart Changer - MG Historical Fiction
Jarm Del Boccio’s debut MG Historical Fiction, “The Heart  Changer”

Jarm Del Boccio’s debut middle-grade historical fiction, The Heart Changer, released with Ambassador International April 26th. You can connect with her at https://www.jarmdelboccio.com/  Purchase The Heart Changer HEREJarm loves reviews, as does any author! 

Here’s a handy Teachers’ Guide to use with The Heart Changer as a unit study.


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. Jarm Del Boccio is content with the journey God has placed her on, and lives with her husband, adult daughter and son (when he lands at home), in a tree-lined suburb of Chicago.

 

 

 

 

Posted on 8 Comments

It’s Not Self-Promotion

Marketing & Promotion

I was excited when my first book, Daily Reflections on the Names of God, was published several years ago. But my delight at the release of this project was tempered by the need to market it through a website, blog posts, newsletters, Facebook author page, Twitter, book signings, and other activities.

A conversation with an acquaintance highlighted the tension inherent in promotional activities. “Why are you doing book signings?” he asked. “If God wants your book to sell, then it will sell. You should trust Him.” His voice was tinged with reproach and his meaning was clear: a mature Christian should trust God rather than fall prey to the sin of self-promotion.

Marketing and promotion. I confess I’m uncomfortable with this part of a writer’s job. I dislike doing it and I hate that others—even family members—might mistake my actions for self-aggrandizement.

After all, I’m a Christian. The Bible tells me to be humble, to put others first, and—in the vernacular—to not toot my own horn. Proverbs 27:2 says to “Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.”

Still, publishing is a business, and that includes Christian publishing. In these days of staff cuts and diminishing budgets, most authors can no longer expect their publishers to roll out the red carpet to market their books. Even before a book is contracted these days, a traditional publisher wants to know what specific marketing plans you have for the project. If you’re not willing to promote your book, they probably won’t be willing to publish it.

My goal is to glorify God with my life. That includes my writing, which I believe is a gift He has given me. If this is true, then my goal must also be to glorify God in my marketing, just as I sought to glorify Him in writing.

This is not about me. I never want my marketing efforts to be self-aggrandizement. I don’t want to be the one waving her book high in the air, shouting “Look at me! Look at what I’ve done! Buy my book!”

Rather, I want to promote my books because they represent work God has done in and through me. He gave me an ability to use words for His glory. And He opened doors to publication in order to bless others. This is about what God has done. That’s what I want to say. I want to shout, “Look at my Creator! Look at my Redeemer! Look at what He has done! Look what He can do for you!”

The Bible tells us, “Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (I Corinthians 10:31 NIV).

If, in order to do that, I need to “put myself out there” then that’s what I do. But I do it in the hope that others will be blessed by the work He gave me. And they, in turn, will proclaim what God is doing and has done for His glory.

So, yes, I will continue to tell people about what I’ve published. Not because I want to draw attention to myself, but because I believe what I write will be used by God to touch others for His glory. And if that’s what I truly believe, how can I not tell others? How can you not tell others what God has given you for His glory?

What has God given you to bless others? What are you doing with your gift?

Posted on 2 Comments

Looking for an Afternoon Pick-Me-Up? **PLUS A GIVEAWAY**


Here’s a sneak peek at conference presenters with descriptions in their own words. We’ll be posting a teaser page each  Monday. You still have time to take advantage of the Early Bird Discount.

To register, visit: https://write2ignite.com/registration-2019/

 

Kim Peterson – Selling Snappy Sidebars

Sidebars fill the pages of magazines, our computer screens, and even some TV shows. Sidebars are short articles that accompany and relate to a larger work, yet they present a different angle. With today’s online and “everything now” mentality, these high-demand mini pieces often serve as the article. Come to this workshop to learn why editors, writers, and readers love sidebars. We’ll also examine the different types, how to be creative in assembling a sidebar, and how to write these snappy pieces to entertain and inform readers. You’ll soon be providing the extras your editor craves.

 

 

Vijaya Bodach – Writing Memoir (Part II): Being a Witness—Writing the Most Important Story

Can you think of any modern-day witnesses? These are people who questioned Christianity and found it to be true! And they will do anything to keep this Pearl, this Treasure, this Gift. Can you state the reason for your hope in Christ? Allow the Holy Spirit to speak through you. We are now living in a post-Christian society. We have the greatest number of people who have no religious affiliation. They are the “nones” (not to be confused with nuns). It is YOUR story that will make a difference in their lives, as you sow seeds of faith and hope in them. Yes, I’m looking at YOU!

 

Terri Kelly – How to Write Devotions for Children

Turn yourself into a writing machine. Don’t you want to publish a children’s picture book or a magazine article for teens? How about a middle-grade chapter book or nonfiction for children? There is a surefire way to sharpen your story: Write Devotions. In How to Write Devotions for Children, you’ll learn a simplified method that you can apply to all writing. Not only will you walk away with a plan for a publishable devotion to the best audience in the world—our children, you’ll gain a writing tool belt to wear for life.

 

Edie Melson – Writing for the YA Audience

We live in a world with a savvy and sophisticated young adult population. In their young lives—through media and the ready availability of digital information—they’ve been exposed to a lifetime of experiences. The first rule of YA writing is respect—respect for our audience, and respect for their experiences and opinions. The second rule is authenticity. Our YA readers can spot a fake a mile away. This workshop will cover the mindsets and expectations of this audience. We’ll discuss how this mindset affects our writing in multiple genres and for different age groups.

 

Tessa Emily Hall – Create Book Buzz by Coordinating a Blog Tour

Marketing isn’t always an author’s best friend—but in today’s publishing landscape, it’s a requirement. What if I told you it could be both exciting and cost-effective? And that, even with no prior marketing experience, you could reach readers from the comfort of your own home? 

This is what I have found to be the case through coordinating blog tours for my own books. Coordinating these tours have proven to be a powerful strategy to reach target readers and spread online buzz surrounding a new release. By tapping into my passion for the book, I have discovered how to create unique tours that invite my target readers to share in this excitement. 

Come to my workshop, Create a Book Buzz with a Blog Tour, and learn these five steps on how to kick off your virtual tour from the ground up—in a way that is both organized and efficient. You will also discover secrets on how to infuse your passion with creativity to brainstorm unique and fun content for your tour. 

Who knows? After coordinating your first blog tour, you might realize that marketing isn’t your worst enemy after all.

Steve Hutson – Why You’re Not Getting Published: Rejection-Proof Submissions

Have you sent off your manuscript to dozens of agents and editors, only to be rejected again and again? Learn the things they won’t tell you; discover the most common problems, and how to avoid them. Hint:  It may have nothing to do with the quality of your writing or your story.

GIVEAWAY

Posted on 9 Comments

Benefits of Growing Your Email Distribution List

Email ListsPlatform.

We hear it so often we want to scream, “Enough, already!” Yes, we know we need a growing platform. It’s why we spend hours on social media, trying to grow our lists of friends on Facebook, followers on Twitter and Instagram. And it’s why we wrack our brain attempting to come up with clever posts and memes that will generate lots of likes and hopefully go viral.

After all that work, oh look! I gained 5 friends and 3 followers! Or perhaps I have 3,000 followers, but the Facebook algorithm displayed my post on a mere 25 feeds.

So what should you do? Give up?

Don’t give up on social media. But do rearrange your platform priorities.

Here are five benefits of growing your email distribution list:

  1. You own your list.

Social media platforms such as Facebook own their site. They can—and do!—change their algorithms to suit their needs. So although you may have 3,000 “Likes” on your author page, Facebook might release your post to the newsfeeds of 50-100 of your followers, if you’re fortunate. To ensure all your followers see your post, you’d need to “boost” it (aka pay) for your post to be seen.

  1. Email is more popular than social media.

More people have email than are on social media. Which means you can reach more people by email than by all the social media accounts combined.

  1. Email behavior is trackable.

You have a wealth of information available through your email newsletter provider. Open rates, click-through rates – it’s all available. This information will help you craft future emails that are more targeted.

  1. Segmented lists mean more personalized communication.

Based on how you segment your list, you can personalize your email communication. This will encourage increased open rates. Or you can personally target subscribers who have not opened your recent emails to encourage renewed interest.

  1. Email newsletters will help grow your social media accounts.

Include links in your emails to your social media accounts to help grow your followers!

So as you work to grow your platform, don’t stop your efforts on social media. But do make building your email newsletter distribution list your new priority!

Posted on 8 Comments

Easy Video Tool for Social Media

social media

Ever feel like Sisyphos? In Greek mythology, the gods punished Sisyphos for his greed and deceit by assigning an impossible task. He had to roll a huge boulder up a hill, only to have it roll back down when it reached near the top. And he had to do it for eternity.

Gaining traction for social media author pages often feels like a Sisyphean ordeal. Just when we think we’ve reached our goal—whether deciphering Facebook algorithms or reaching a new level of followers—the standards change. The proverbial boulder rolls back down the hill and we have to start again.

For example, first we needed engaging posts. Then we were told the posts needed images. Now the experts tell us static images are not enough. Videos are the way to engage our followers.

Social videos can do more than entertain. They can educate, tell a story, promote an event, highlight a testimonial, or provide a summary of your publications.

Still, many of us lack the time, money, or technical know-how to create engaging videos week after week, myself included. But I recently discovered Lumen5, a free app (there’s also a paid version with additional features) that enables me to create video stories with ease from my blog posts.

The first week I tried Lumen5, my Facebook engagement statistics achieved a significant increase. Weekly reach jumped 288%–from 861 to 3.35K. By the 3rd week, my weekly reach jumped to 5.8K. People engaged increased 164%, from 100 to 264 and then to 645. Even my Page “likes” increased. People I did not know shared the post and then became followers. All in the first 3 weeks! And that trend continued with subsequent video posts.

Using Lumen5 is easy, even for a non-techy like me:

  1. I uploaded my blog link (or you can copy and paste your content from Word):

Lumen5

  1. Select a format by clicking on one of the three options. I chose landscape…

Lumen5 format

  1. …And click on a theme:

Lumen5 themes

  1. Then I scrolled through the content and clicked on the significant sentences I wanted included in the video. Each time you click on a new sentence, it’s automatically paired with a new suggested visual slide.

Lumen5 content

  1. I went back and swapped out some of the photos for ones that were a better match. Click on Media and choose a different suggested image or use the search feature for more suggestions. Or upload your own photo.

Lumen5 photos

  1. You can also edit the text, reposition the text on the image, and highlight particular words for emphasis:

Lumen5 edits

  1. Then choose music to accompany your video. I chose a calm selection to fit my content.

Lumen5 music

  1. Finally, preview your video.

Lumen5 preview

  1. You can always go back to edit it further before you select Finish.

Lumen5 finalize

 

Here’s the final result:

Give it a try! Then share a link to your results in the comments!

(Note: this post first appeared on Blogging Bistro.)

Posted on 6 Comments

Marketing Your Children’s Book

Marketing a book can be overwhelming! Planning social media posts, website updates, blog posts, mail campaigns, book signings, and speaking engagements can cause an author’s head to spin. And then there’s that next book to write. And all these tasks occur at the same time!

How can you cover all the bases of marketing?

  1. Start with a list of the marketing tasks you’d like to do. If you’re not sure what things to include, consult one of the many reputable books on the topic or talk with a seasoned author.
  2. Create a game plan. Grab a calendar, and pencil in things that you want to accomplish. For example, if posting on Facebook is a daily goal, write that goal in each day’s block.
  3. Don’t get sidetracked. For example, if you plan to create a Pinterest board highlighting the kind of clothing worn by characters in your book, don’t get sidetracked looking for great recipes for dinner. Stay on track.
  4. Remember that little things add up. Staying the course on your marketing plan and doing a little each day as planned will eventually lead to a well-developed outreach to your readers.

What would you add to the list above? How have you used a calendar to map out your marketing efforts? Share with us in the comments!

***

Carol McAdams Moore writes for children and youth in the general and Christian markets. Learn more about Carol and her tween devos Dare U 2 Open This Book—Draw It, Write It, Dare 2 Live It—90 Devotions and Just Sayin’—Write ‘em, Draw ‘em, Hide ‘em in Your Heart at CarolMcadamsMoore.blogspot.com.

Posted on Leave a comment

Little Things Mean A Lot

New year, new calendar. I love the potential of a brand new calendar, don’t you? All those pristine pages with their empty little boxes…well, they started out pristine when I unwrapped the cellophane. But they’re filling up quickly!

As I look back on the past year, I had so many thoughts about how to market my book. I had planned certain tasks monthly, weekly, daily…you get the idea. Unfortunately, the calendar got away from me, and many of those ideas remained unfulfilled. I began to view the dwindling 2015 calendar as my enemy.


New calendar, new resolutions. Okay, maybe not new resolutions. It’s probably more accurate to say same resolutions, but new determination. Instead of the 2016 calendar being my enemy, I will ensure it becomes my friend. Here’s how I plan to do it…I will commit to do something every day, no matter how small. For example:

Use of Social Media
Very little time or effort is required to tweet or post something on Facebook on a daily basis. The content doesn’t always have to be about my book. You’ve heard it before: social media is just that – social! I need to spend time nurturing relationships with friends and readers instead of constantly trumpeting a marketing message.

Update profiles
Those profile boxes on Amazon’s Author Page, Twitter, Facebook, Linked-In, and all the other social media sites are there for a reason. Others read these profiles to determine whether to follow me. If I don’t keep them updated, I’m overlooking an effective way to market my book.

Effective use of email…and e-newsletters
Update my email signature to include information about the book that’s out AND the next book that’s in the pipeline. And of course, include links to my website, Facebook Author Page, and Twitter account.

I will start a quarterly e-newsletter this year. E-newsletters are an effective way to communicate with those interested in my writing. Some social media platforms control the number of people who see my posts. But with an e-newsletter I don’t have to worry about a third-party blocking my communications.

Blog
Commit to a weekly blog schedule. I know there are bloggers who post five days a week and some who blog three days weekly. If I tried either of those schedules, I’d be setting myself up for failure. But I can blog weekly. That’s a reasonable commitment for me. I’d rather blog consistently on a once-a-week basis than to attempt blogging more frequently and be inconsistent.

Comment on other people’s blogs
I subscribe to several blogs and often read them without commenting. This year I commit to commenting on at least one blog each day. By comments, I don’t mean “great blog.” I mean a comment that adds to the discussion.

Five Alive
I will apply the “Five Alive” rule to:

– pitching magazine articles related to the subject of my book.
– contacting a church or other organization about being a speaker
– contacting a bookstore about a book-signing

For each declination I receive, I will send out another query, keeping five requests active at any given time.

 

Of course, there are many other things I will do to market my book, but that’s for another post. Still, if I can faithfully do the little things I’ve just listed, that’s a great start!

What bite-sized marketing activities will you commit to doing this new year?

###

Ava Pennington is a writer, Bible teacher, and speaker. Her newest book, Daily Reflections on the Names of God: A Devotional, is endorsed by Precepts founder Kay Arthur. Additionally, Ava is co-author of Faith Basics for Kids,  including Do You Love Me More? and Will I See You Today? She has also written numerous articles for magazines such as Focus on the Family’s Clubhouse, Today’s Christian Woman, Power for Living, and Called.

In addition to her writing, Ava also teaches a weekly, Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) class. She is a passionate speaker and teacher, and delights in challenging audiences with the truth of God’s word in relevant, enjoyable presentations. For more information, visit her at www.AvaWrites.com.