The Writer's Workout

Platform and Social Media Must Not Be Your Center

Today’s post is excerpted from The Writer’s Workout: 366 Tips, Tasks, & Techniques From Your Writing Career Coach (Writer’s Digest, 2011) by Christina Katz. With so much emphasis on the social networking aspects of creative careers these days, you might expect an expert on author platform building to promote an extremely social approach. But I […]

A Gentoo penguin with egg

Writing on the Ether: Self-Publishing Babylon

Reverse Penguin! Library ebooks: All over the ice Self-Publishing Babylon: And talking peace in the alley A Swell new book: And how to handle criticism Ethics in fiction: Beautiful dead girls Extra Ether: Good stuff   Reverse Penguin! So crikey. Just when you think you have it all worked out—the difference between mammals and publishers—you […]

Jane's Facebook profile

Too Many Facebook Friends: Blessing or Curse?

On my personal Facebook profile, I am slowly but inevitably reaching the cap for friends (3,810 of 5,000). It’s prompting me to reflect on (1) how exactly I got to this point (2) how many people are turned off by this number (3) if *I* am turned off by this number and (4) what difference the number makes, if […]

Prometheus, 1839, Grigory Karpovich Mikhailov, Hellenica online

Writing on the Ether: Publishers and Value-Added Marketing

  Prometheus unboxed Extra Ether: Publishers and value-added marketing Vegetables and the National Book Awards Klout doubts A burnt bridge is hard to cross (thus spake Fortune, Cookie) Brian and Don started it New independence in Book Country But if you publish it yourself, will they come? Non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) in contracts How social are […]

How Should You Spend Your Book Marketing Budget?

Author Brad Swift asks the following: I have a number of fiction and nonfiction books now available through Amazon as Kindle editions and POD hard copies (through CreateSpace). The selection can be viewed on my Author’s Page. I’m now wondering if I were to raise capital (say through a KickStarter campaign or otherwise) to promote […]

lone tugboat

A Tugboat Arrived

Today’s guest post is by Louisiana writer Darrelyn Saloom. Read more of her posts here. On a brisk, clear morning in Baton Rouge, I lay in a Hilton hotel bed and watched tiny tugboats push huge barges up the muddy Mississippi. Little did I know, hours later, a tugboat would arrive and tow Deirdre Gogarty […]

Content Curation

3 Tools for Curation

I love a good curator. I find curation more valuable these days than content. My latest e-newsletter focused on 3 curation tools. You can view it here. (Subscribe by clicking here.) I also mention a couple articles related to curation that you should read: Content Is a Service Business (O’Reilly Radar) by Andrew Savikas Accessibility vs. […]

10 Phrases to Purge From Your Speech & Writing

The following is excerpted from Word Savvy by Nancy Ragno, recently released by Writer’s Digest Books. The following mistakes occur so often that they have come to sound and look correct. Undoubtedly, you will recognize some entries as known errors, but others may give you pause: “Is that an error? I didn’t realize that.” Since the […]

Temple at Sounion / Photo: Porter Anderson

Writing on the Ether: One Short Golden Age

Late addition to the Ether One short golden age Careful. We are a destination for detonation this week, my Ethernaut. That plate is hot, these gases are flammable, and those matches are rattling in the box. Don your tinfoil computing suit. I don’t want to have to hose you down. Here we have mild-mannered author […]

Lego Computer Guy

How to Hire the Right Website Designer

Today’s guest post is by Eliana Berlfein, a website designer based in Boulder, Colorado. A website is a big investment in your career as an author, and often the most visible aspect of your platform. While you might be able to handle it on your own, many authors find it worthwhile to hire design help that’s […]

Laura Oliver

What Territory Do You Explore With Your Writing?

I love this insight from Laura Oliver on the writing life, in a post called “Territory.” She discusses the themes that can permeate our writing, sometimes over a lifetime. (I’ve also heard this phenomenon called one’s “ultimate life concern.”) Here’s a snippet: Most writers have a territory they explore for a time—perhaps an entire career. It […]

Cat and chicken sharing breakfast

Go Fly a Kite

Today’s guest post is by the lovely Darrelyn Saloom. Read her previous guest posts, or follow her on Twitter. The cat wakes me at six in the morning. She wants to go outside before the sun rises. I don’t want to roll out of bed yet. Even the hen is still roosting beside the back […]

Writing on the Ether: Publishing Conference Gemutlich

Writing on the Ether: Conference Gemütlichkeit

Conference Gemütlichkeit So when the publishing gets weird, the weird go to conferences. Digital conferences. Transmedia conferences. Convene and confer. Confab and rehab. Early bird discounts are extended to all. Then simply extended. And extended. Do not attempt to adjust the verticals of F+W Media, they’re bigger than you. A #toccon is a token of […]

Jane Knows

When’s the Right Time to Leave Your Big Six Publisher?

I received the following question from published author Lisa Earle McLeod—who I remember first meeting at a Foothills Writers Guild conference in South Carolina: Hi Jane, My first book, Forget Perfect, was published by Perigee (Penguin USA) in 2001. It did moderately well. Now 10 years later, as sales were starting to peter out, Forget […]

Child Reading

Can Children Develop Adequately Without Books?

It is a pleasure to bring you this lovely essay from April Line. April is a freelance writer and writing teacher. She lives in north central Pennsylvania. Visit her online at April Line Writing. Starstruck The theatrical performance of Max & Ruby: Bunny Party came to my town. I freelance for the arts and culture section […]

Jane Knows

How to Sell Low-Cost Subscriptions to Short Stories

I received the following question from Gail McConnon: Re: Question on Serializing a Short Story Collection through a Paid Subscription I know. That subject header is enough to make the head spin. Just stay with me for a minute, though. There’s something I’d like to do, but haven’t a clue where to start. I’m really […]

Writer Unboxed

Do-It-Yourself vs. Professional Help

Yesterday was my regular contribution to Writer Unboxed. I discussed how some independent authors are putting their work out there with zero professional help. Here’s a snippet: Working with professionals should challenge you. It should raise the bar. You’ll probably feel some doubts about the quality of your work. This is a good thing. Professionals usually […]

Blank Faces by Rommel Adao

I Hate Press Releases

This is part rant, part advice. I don’t write this post as if my needs were everyone’s. But it’s frustrating to see authors AND PUBLISHERS—who probably have little time and resource to begin with—wasting their time by contacting bloggers (and others in the media) with dead-on-arrival press releases. Let’s back up for a moment. What […]

Writing on the Ether: Inspiration Nation

  Inspiration Nation If they’d asked me, I’d have nixed both the spelling “Syfy” and 95 percent of that TV channel’s programming. But all I need is their slogan for a few minutes. “Imagine greater.” I’m over this inspiration jag in the writing community. Inspiration, or the pursuit of it, becomes our little drug so […]

WordPress Plug-Ins: The Bare Essentials

This past weekend, I was a presenter at PodCamp Cincinnati. Many talented people in social media attended from the region, so I learned quite a few things myself. My favorite session was by Daniel J. Lewis, the event organizer, who gave a snappy session on essential WordPress plug-ins. I’m going to share a few recommendations […]

Electric Speed Newsletter

3 Indispensable Software Tools for Writers

This past Sunday, I sent out the latest issue of my e-newsletter, Electric Speed. It featured 3 indispensable software tools for writers. You can view it here. Click here to subscribe & never miss an issue.  

Why Writers Should Get Over Pop Music

Pop music is the worst thing that could happen to your writing. It’s for dates and bad wedding receptions. Turn it off at once. Pop is designed to structure your ideas. Stereo hearts in the dark with pumped up kicks. And it works far too well for a writer’s good. As Noel Coward told us, […]

by Emilie Ogez / Flickr

My Secret for Battling Procrastination

To some, I may appear productive. But like many, I’m a horrible procrastinator. I try to think about my weakness in positive terms, e.g., “I work better under pressure.” That is true—I believe there’s nothing like a deadline to force you to be creative (one reason why I love blogging!). However, for some projects, I […]

heaving to port

Writing on the Ether: Too Many Books

Capt. Linn warned us: “Too many books!” So no, yeah, whoa, the heaving ship of publishing lists to starboard, everybody to the rails, it’s Frankfurt! And then achtung, now we’re Dramamine-ing to portside as they all skitter back, ‘twixt poop deck and TweetDeck, tote bags stuffed with digital drama. And my God, shall not the […]

Are You Worried Your Ideas or Work Will Be Stolen?

I recently received the following question from working writer Shannon Traphagen: I have been fervently working on my novel (I am 5 chapters into writing it) and feel I have a platform like no other. My protagonist and antagonist are strong, and I feel it’s a fictional story that’s never really been done before. I’m very […]

by Garda / Flickr

3 Blunders That Can Kill Your Author Platform

Today’s guest post is from author Kristen Lamb. The digital age author has more opportunities than any writer in the history of the written word. But with more opportunities comes more competition, and with more competition comes more work. Mega-agent Donald Maass will tell you there are only two ways to sell books—a good book and […]

Write-a-thon

The Story Bible: What It Is and Why You Need One

The following is an excerpt from Write-a-Thon: Write Your Book in 26 Days (And Live to Tell About It) by Rochelle Melander, now available from Writer’s Digest Books. In writing a series of stories about the same characters, plan the whole series in advance in some detail, to avoid contradictions and inconsistencies. —L. Sprague de Camp […]

Glacier National Park

3 Questions Every Creative Person Must Ask

I’m starting to find that the same dilemmas come up again and again when I talk with a group about online media and marketing. These are dilemmas that I can’t solve. They boil down to three questions you have to ask yourself—and be able to answer honestly—to find a path that’s your own, not mine. […]

Frankfurt rail station

Writing on the Ether: Digital Train Has Left the Station

The digital train has so left the station. That’s a Frankfurt railway stop, as a matter of fact. Fear and loathing, at home and abroad. International publishing-industry players met to hold meetings, attend conferences, drink heavily, and attend more conferences. They tweet-gasped at hotel wi-fi costing 19 euros per day and publishers warned of a […]

Sean Platt

The Evolving Model of the Entrepreneurial Novelist

It’s pleasure to bring you this insightful Q&A with writer Sean Platt. As his own website states, Sean Platt writes it all. He writes copy, websites, books, and has most recently developed a new epic thriller series, Yesterday’s Gone, with his writing partner, David Wright. In addition to my interest in the creation and marketing of […]

Writer's Digest (October 2011)

Book Proposals in the Digital Age

I started my first publishing job in 1998, and I immediately started reviewing nonfiction book proposals as part of an editorial team. By 2010, what constituted a strong book proposal had dramatically transformed. You can probably guess why. The Internet has forever changed how we discover, access, and distribute information and entertainment. For a nonfiction […]

Rumors of Water

You Don’t Need a Degree to Find Your Voice

The following excerpt is from Rumors of Water: Thoughts on Creativity & Writing by L.L. Barkat. I am opening a jar of green tea from Granada, Spain. It’s an old salsa jar, without its label. The tea is silvery and reminds me of those pictures I’ve seen of the mountain mist in China. There are […]

3 Keys to Sustainable & Successful Indie Authorship

Note from Jane: I don’t usually run posts that feature or promote a single service or solution. Authors need to find partners who not only fit with them, but also fit with their work and their audience. In Scott Sigler’s case, I think he’s found an excellent partner that helps empower his long-term author career. […]

Writing on the Ether: Buy My Book

This is my low horse. You should see me on my high one. They’re so skittish, these creatures. Especially around loud noises. Like “BUY MY BOOK!” And “FOLLOW ME BACK!” ‘Tis the season when bales of content are heaved onto the market. And as we share our social mediocrity, my little neigh-sayer, do remember: if […]

My Memories of a Future Life

Should You Serialize a Novel on Kindle?

Today’s guest post is by Roz Morris. Last month I released my literary novel as four episodes on Kindle: 100,000 words, in chunks of 25,000 words, at 99 cents a time. Why? Like many writers who enjoy blogging, my platform is a writing advice blog, Nail Your Novel. That was perfect when I was releasing […]

Will Boast

Write More Raw Material Than You Need

Last year, when I became a professor at the e-media department at the University of Cincinnati, I started working with more diverse media, and observing what goes into the making of even very simple videos. I worked with one of my colleagues on a 2-minute intro clip for an hour-long panel, and I assisted as […]

Phil Gibbs

3 Tips for Professional E-Book Covers

Today’s guest post is from Biba Pearce at Your Novel Online. An e-book cover has an important job to do. Not only does it present your book to the world, but it also says a lot about you, the author. It can be a powerful selling and marketing tool, or it can damage your image as […]

Brave Rooney

What Advertising Can Teach a Children’s Writer

Today’s guest post is from Gerry Renert, a three-time EMMY nominated kid’s writer, who has recently become a published children’s book author. I never thought I’d end up writing children’s books, especially when my first paying writing job was creating print ads to convince upper-crusters they needed a certain brand of scotch to announce their […]

Writing on the Ether: Light My Kindle Fire

C’mon baby, light my Kindle Fire. And watch out for sparks from certain NOOKs in crannied marketplaces. Beware bald guys bearing 3Gifts. Silk, Bezosense, and smell that? It’s the lighter fluid of Android aspirationals yearning to be treed like iPads for Christmas. It’s beginning to look a lot like Amazon.   [blackbirdpie id=”119057323443486720″]   “One […]

How to Write Your Best Story

What Is a Story?

The following is excerpted from How to Write Your Best Story by Philip Martin. It may seem to address a simplistic question, but I must agree with Steven Spielberg when he said, “People have forgotten how to tell a story.” So I hope you won’t be too proud to remind yourself what storytelling is all […]

4-Ps of Marketing

E-Book Marketing 101

In case you missed it, my monthly column at Writer Unboxed was posted yesterday: A Checklist for Marketing Your E-Book. Here’s a snippet: Knowing how to effectively market your e-book can be a challenge if you don’t have any formal education or professional experience in sales and marketing. Plus, these days, the default strategy seems […]

Going Geek by John Carpenter

Using an Agent to Get on Kindle

I’ve been keeping an eye on John Carpenter and his book project ever since we first started having conversations on Twitter last summer. He’s a knowledgeable, savvy writer with a professional career in college admissions. His goal this past year has been to find a home for his book, Going Geek. Going Geek is a […]

Writing on the Ethr: Your Fastest Read Today

“I messed up, I owe you an explanation.” You see, Jane and I have been misspelling the name of this new column. This Flickr-ed into my mind while watching Netflix shoot itself in the other foot with Qwikster. Reed Hastings, having turned “flicks” into “flix,” should have named the DVD service Qwixtr. It’s not as […]

Uncertainty by Jonathan Fields

A Hidden Aspect of Creative Life That Underpins Great Work

The following is excerpted from Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt Into Fuel for Brilliance by Jonathan Fields. Uncertainty and fear of judgment go hand in hand. The more you lean into uncertainty and the greater the risks you take to create something that didn’t exist before, the greater will be the potential for you to […]

The Memoir Project

Don’t Write a Memoir to Get Revenge

The following is excerpted from The Memoir Project: A Thoroughly Non-Standardized Text for Writing & Life by Marion Roach Smith. It would be impossible to count up just how many people over the years have come into my class hell-bent on writing a revenge tale. So here’s some hard-won advice: Never write a story because you […]

Barbara Becker with son and grandsons, 1990

When Mom Was My Age (#44)

When Mom Was My Age is an interview series between daughters and mothers. New interviews appear on random Mondays. If you would like to participate, contact Jane. The following interview is with Barbara Ann Hess Hershey Becker (age 84), reflecting on her life at age 63, interviewed by daughter Shirley Ann Hershey Showalter. Shirley has […]

The Funny Man by John Warner

Using Word of Mouth (Not Media Attention) to Sell Books

I’ve known John Warner since my days as an acquisitions editor at F+W Media. He is among the most decent, classy, and talented authors I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. I acquired and edited three of his humor books at F+W (though only two were published—long story), and we partnered on a short-lived […]

Baggage at Rest

Writing on the Ether: A Valise Full of Numbers

The first time I flew into Heathrow, I was thrilled. Everyone was calling my name. “Porter! Porter!” Allow me to get your baggage this week. A valise full of numbers “In its one day on offer as (an Amazon) Daily Deal, Food, Inc. sold 14,158 ebook copies—an astounding number. Sales for the previous day were 9 copies.” […]

Far Niente Cave Library

Writing on the Ether: Your Media Sommelier

Your media sommelier here. Our first pairing: Noble, tart, and high time somebody said it “We agents, who have struggled to maintain a fragile sense of trust with writers, only deepen the chasm between our professional community and the artistic community we serve when we introduce more doubt into the relationship, and when we wave […]