February Writers' Forum 2019


50 Best Writing Blogs of 2018

50+ Publishing Resources You Should Know About

The February 2019 Writers' Forum -- All the writing craft hints and indie publishing tips you need to know.


50 Best Writing Blogs of 2018

Well, look at that . . . this blog was named one of the top 50 Writing Blogs of 2018 by the UK Writers’ Hub. I’m really pleased to be in the company of so many great information sources. I read a lot of these blogs myself—and that’s where I get much of the great information that I put here in the Writers’ Forum each month. Check out the full list at: https://ukwritershub.com/blog/show/best-writing-blogs

50+ Publishing Resources You Should Know About

And since we’re all about lists of 50 . . . here’s an excellent list of 50 resources for authors. You’ll find everything from website design to editing information and marketing companies and more. 



Finding Time for Writing - Tips and Tools for Organizing Productive Writing Time

Writing Time

One of the hardest things for writers is often finding the time to write, particularly at the beginning of your writing journey when you’re juggling a day job as well. Deanna Cabinian addresses this with a clear cut list in "Finding Time to Write." 

The Christian Editing website has good advice for new writers in "9 Keys to Writing Your First Novel." This list has some important notes that you might not think of, but which will make our initial journey into novel writing much less stressful. 

In "A Time to Write and Time to Not Write" C.S. Lakin talks about how it is okay to take breaks from writing when we need them.

And the Publication Coach gives us "13 Ways to Prevent Overwork from Affecting Your Writing." This is a basic wellness checklist that works well for any occupation.  

Writing Craft

Character Voice and Objectives

Mary Kole's many years of experience in the kid lit business have made her an excellent resource on many writing craft issues. Two articles from her so far in 2019 had very useful advice that work well whether you write for kids or adults, so I decided to share them here.

The first one, "Author Voice and Third Person POV," gives advice for writing a book from multiple characters’ points of view and the importance of maintaining character differences with the voice in each section. If you’re planning a multiple point of view work, you need to read this.

The second article, "Character Objective and Writing a Strong Protagonist," dives into a discussion about establishing (early in your story) what your character wants and what the stakes are for achieving it with added advice on how to weave that into your story.

Use All Five Senses to Enrich Your Writing

The BookBaby blog gives us a good reminder about integrating all five senses into our writing. We often focus on sight and sound and kind of forget about taste, touch, and smell.  

Seven Editing Hints You Need TodayEditing Help

A new blog that I’ve just found is “The Blood-Red Pencil: Sharp and pointed observations about writing.” I like their list of seven editing hints for making sure you do your own best editing before utilizing the help of a professional. My favorite tried-and-true method that’s on this list is reading the whole manuscript aloud. You won’t believe the errors you’ve missed while reading silently.

Target Audience & Selling Your Book

I’ve put these two articles in the pre-publication section because even though most of us start writing because we are inspired or passionate about an idea, we might not take the time to think about the practicality of who are readers will be or whether the story will sell. Lisa Poisso writes “Will Your Novel Sell” and guides you through finding comparison titles that will help you determine whether your story is commercially viable. 

Equally helpful is the guest article Dana Sitar penned for WritersDigest.com, giving you some simple questions to ask yourself to help you find the target audience for your work. Read the full article here.

Pitching Your Book - Learn How to Write a Great Log LinePitching Your Book – Log Lines and Book Descriptions

Earlier this month, Tracey Kathryn shared her experience at the New York Pitch Conference with us. If you want to publish your book, you will definitely be pitching it to someone! One of the important things to develop is a log line—that one or two sentence summary of your story. It is incredibly hard to write a succinct, yet powerful, log line. Check out the resources in the New York Pitch conference article, and also check out r.r. campbell’s article “The Logline: Your Novel in Fifty Words or Less.” He has great advice!

Something longer than a log line, but equally difficult to write is your book’s description. This is what will go on your jacket flap or back cover. Somehow even though we can pen an entire novel, when it comes to writing shorter descriptions about our story – log lines, synopses, or back cover copy – we can become almost paralyzed. The Exciting Press website walks us through writing our book descriptions in Seven Tips for Building Better Book Descriptions.

What to Do AFTER You’ve Been to a Writing Conference

Most articles give advice on what to do to prepare for a writing conference or what to do once you are there. This guest post by agent Irene Goodman for WritersDigest.com is the first article that I’ve read giving tips on What to Do (And Not Do) After Attending a Writer’s Conference.

Indie vs. Traditional Publishing

There’s never a shortage of articles debating the decision between indie publishing and traditional publishing. One of my all-time favorite authors Colleen Hoover walks through the pros and cons of each type of publishing in a very matter-of-fact way. See her whole article for BookBub here. 

Is Kindle/Amazon Exclusivity a Good Idea?

You may have heard about indie authors going wide with their book distribution or staying exclusive to Kindle/Amazon. The Savvy Book Writers' blog gives “10 Reasons Why Authors Should Stay Independent,” detailing many problems that authors have when they give one retail outlet too much control over their work. Definitely something to think about. 

E-Book Distribution - where will you sell your books?

E-Book Distributors

So, if you’ve made the decision to go wide and distribute your books beyond the Kindle platform, you’re going to have some decisions to make on how you’ll do that. You can upload your book directly to each platform separately—Nook, iBooks, Kobo etc.. or you can use an aggregator. Melinda Clayton of Indies Unlimited gives us an updated Draft2Digital vs. Smashwords comparison. These are the two most well-known e-book distributors. 

And even better, is an article by David Wogahn, 2019 eBook Distribution Roundup, which gives us some seriously awesome comparison charts to help us make our decision on where to place our e-books.

Guiding Principles to Selling Rights

Most of us probably aren’t in the market to attempt to sell movie or tv rights to our work, however, it never hurts to be prepared with at least a working knowledge of these contracts. The Alliance or Independent Authors uses Andy Weir’s experience in selling the rights to “The Martian” after it was an indie publishing smash hit in their article: "Three Principles of Selling Rights." 

Establishing Your Own Imprint

I was so happy to see this article! Carole Roman (writing for Bookworks) tells us why having our own imprint for our indie publishing venture is a good idea, and she walks through the steps of establishing this key piece of branding in "Self-Publishing Imprint Advantages." 



Audio Books - A good investment for the indie author or not?Audio Books

We all know that audio books are very popular right now. Many indie authors have made the leap to publishing audio book versions of their work with that in mind. If you’d like a clearer understanding of how this process works, Understanding Audiobook Production: An Interview with Rich Miller" is a guest both worth reading on Jane Friedman's site. Conversely, there’s a BookBaby blog article that asserts that audio books are a bad investment for indie authors. What do you think? 


Fear of Public Speaking?

Okay, so let’s admit it, most of us are more comfortable behind a keyboard than holding a microphone in front of an audience. Publishing industry pro, Nate Hoffelder, gives 4 Tips for Authors in Public: How to Overcome Your Fear of Being Seen. I think these are great ideas to ease into being more comfortable speaking in public. 

Online Digital Presence – Websites – Newsletters & More

Anne R. Allen offers us “10 Mistakes for Authors to Avoid” with their online presence. These are good housekeeping tips for those of us who have a well-established presence online via our social media accounts and website. 

One of the major components of your online presence and really the most important one is your website. You may not know where to start. Robert Mening has an excellent article comparing the Best Website Builders you may find helpful. And while you’re building your website, keep in mind the pitfalls illustrated in Bakerview Consulting’s infographic “The Top 10 Reasons People Leave Your Website.” 

Part of your online presence may include sending out a newsletter. Christina McDonald’s article “How to Grow an Email Newsletter Starting from Zero” may give you just the boost you need to get started.

MARKETING & SOCIAL MEDIABook Marketing Insanity -- Yes, it's crazy, but you can do this!

Book Marketing Insanity

Judith Briles minces no words in her article “Book Marketing Insanity.” She writes, “Authors often don’t want to hear what works to sell books. John Kremer, marketing expert, often responds when an author asks, How long should I market my book? with How long do you want book sales? If you want books sales, doing repeatedly what doesn’t work is book marketing insanity. Successful book sales need some type of book marketing campaign behind them. As in what is needed to create a successful book marketing campaign—a campaign that includes the creation, the execution of pushing the book out. It’s called a plan.”

The article goes on to give a tutorial on the elements of a marketing plan, along with the commiseration on how long this takes. There’s (unfortunately) no magic wand for book marketing. This is good reading!

Media Networking Via Social Platforms for Author Publicity

Chris Well writes a very intelligent article for Bookworks on how to use social media to access the professionals who work in traditional media. Social media accounts for these professionals and their news outlets can be a treasure trove of information that can give you an edge to gain much-needed publicity. Read his tips here

Quick Links:

From Social Media Just for Authors: “How Not to Market Your Book: 10 Rookie Mistakes.” Ouch! I’ve done some of these, including number 12 – Not developing a street team. What’s a street team you may ask? 

The Book Designer has the answer in “Street Teams: How to Run a Smooth and Successful Campaign.”

From Frances Caballo on Social Media Just for Writers: “Using Video Marketing? Why It’s Important and 3 Apps to Try.” Ugh—this is one of my goals for 2019. I know I need to get more comfortable using video! 

BookBub Ads from David Gaughran. If you’re considering trying BookBub ads, click on this link (which is part 8) and then work backwards. Gaughran is one of the smartest book marketers out there and he’s willing to share his knowledge. Take advantage of it! 

Facebook Ads – a tutorial from AdEspresso. Are Facebook ads in your future? I adore this tutorial.

Do you feel like no one reads your social media posts? Here are "11 Creative Ways to Boost Reader Engagement" on your social media accounts from Diana Urban. (These are excellent ideas!) 

Keeping Track of Your Social Media Followers - Is it even possible?Social Media Question from a Fellow Author

Recently, another author asked me if there was a tracking system of sorts to help remember information about people who follow us on social media. This author's debut book recently came out and she has had a big increase in social media follows (yay!) but felt like she was losing track of where she had met different people. Unfortunately, I didn't have good answer for her. There's no real place to keep notes like this inside your social media accounts. You could keep a quick list in a spreadsheet for referencing, but otherwise you're at the mercy of whatever information people put onto their social media biographies to trigger your memory. Great question!

Where will I see you this spring? WRITING CONFERENCES 2019

Let’s Just Write: An Uncommon Writers Conference – Chicago, Illinois - March 16 & 17, 2019

Writers’ Institute – Madison, WI - April 4-7, 2019

WisRWA Write Touch Conference (Wisconsin Romance Writers) – Milwaukee, WI – April 5–7, 2019 (I’ll be attending this one.)

UntitledTown Book & Author Festival – Green Bay, WI – April 26-28, 2019 (And this one!)

SCBWI Magnificent Midwest Conference – Naperville, IL – May 3-5, 2019 (Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators). (I’ll be at this one, too!)

LakeFly Writers Conference – Oshkosh, WI – May 10 & 11, 2019

Happy Writing, Valerie  


Helpful as always, Miss Val! Congrat's on the website honor!!

Thanks, Christine! There's always so much information each month! I'm glad this is helpful. -- Val

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