May Writers' Forum 2019
Big Changes at MailChimp
How 5 Great Writers Got Started on Their First Books
What You Need to Know about MailChimp’s Recent Changes
I have been a big fan of MailChimp. I use it and I often recommend it to other authors who are looking for an email subscription/newsletter management system. I dread the idea of moving to another system, because it takes time to set up all of the emails, templates, and automations that make my life simpler every time I want to send a newsletter to my subscribers. HOWEVER, the recent changes at MailChimp are important to note, particularly if you have a growing subscription list. MailChimp remains free to use if you have 2000 or less audience members. The change that’s most important to note is that those who have unsubscribed from your list are considered as part of this audience. So—simple solution right? Just delete the unsubscribes. NOPE – not so fast. If you have any outreach at all in the EU, you must follow the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) standards, which mean you need to keep data on those unsubscribes as part of the anti-spamming rule. Three trusted bloggers/publishing industry promo professionals have written articles about this. They also give some options as to what other email subscriber/newsletter management systems are good alternatives to MailChimp. (Please note that the Nick Stephenson article does not address the GDPR component.)
From David Gaughran: Time to Ditch MailChimp?
From Barb Drozdowich at Bakerview Consulting: MailChimp has Shot Itself in the Foot
From Nick Stephenson: The MailChimp Controversy – Which Email Marketing Option is Right for Me?
How 5 Great Writers Got Started on Their First Books
Author Sarah Stodola gives us a quick look at how five great writers got started on their first books. This is fun article, particularly if you think that famous authors never struggled. Read the full article HERE. Stodola is the author of the book “Process: The Writing Lives of Great Authors” if you prefer a more in-depth look at the topic.
The 5 C’s of Writing a Great Thriller Novel by James Scott Bell
I do not write thrillers; however, this advice from thriller writer James Scott Bell will work to make sure your plot hums along in other genres, too. Read more about how to gain an edge with your writing using these 5 Cs: Complex Characterizations, Confrontation, Careening, Coronary, and Communication. James Scott Bell gives excellent help to authors in his writing craft books (see below). Click on any of the images to learn more about a particular title.
What’s the Difference Between Tone & Voice?
How to Avoid One Dimensional Characters
Mary Kole teaches us how to avoid and fix one-dimensional characters that lead to predictable fiction. See if her article can help you create better characters.
Using Adverbs in Fiction Writing – clunk versus clarity
I always appreciate Louise Harnby’s writing tips and her notes on using adverbs are so useful. We’re always taught to avoid adverbs, but maybe it’s okay if you do it right? Check out her excellent examples HERE.
What are Action Beats and How Can You Use Them in Your Writing?
Another helpful article from Louise Harnby digs into action beats in your writing. If you’ve never heard about this, you’ll find her advice extremely helpful as you write (and edit.)
A Deep Dive into POV
I think many times a certain story just feels like it has to be told in a certain point of view, and as an author, you don’t spend a ton of time thinking about it. But other times, you’ll weigh the pros and cons of different POVs. C.S. Lakin’s advice can help with this important decision. She also discusses how genre expectations will influence which POV you choose. Click HERE to read the ins and outs of selecting the proper POV for your story.
Grammarly vs. Hemmingway
The Writer’s Cookbook gives us a pro-con comparison of using the Grammarly and Hemmingway editing applications. In recent months, I’ve heard many different writers talk positively about both, but I have yet to use either. If you’re in the same spot and trying to decide if one of these may be helpful to you, this article is worth a read.
How to Write a Non-Fiction Book Outline in Two Days
Well, of course, I want to know how to do this! Two days, that’d be awesome! Esbe Van Heerden gives us some great tips to make this a possibility on Joanna Penns’ blog the Creative Penn. She gives an incredible outlining structure that includes key questions an author needs to ask about the topic and their goals for the book. Great stuff – read the whole thing HERE.
Beyond Good Writing: Two Literary Agents Discuss What Matters Most
Sangeeta Mehta guest posts a Q&A with agents Linda Camacho (Gallt & Zacker Literary Agency) and Jennifer March Soloway (Andrea Brown Literary Agency) on Jane Friedman’s blog that gives us insight into what literary agents care about and look for (beyond an excellent manuscript.) From marketing potential to author platform, see what they’re looking for HERE.
Knowing When to Fly: Leaving Your Critique Group
This article caught my eye—not because I’m looking to leave my critique group—but because my critique partners have been so incredibly important to me (and continue to be.) I was curious what might go wrong that would make you want to leave. Lisa Bubert gives a quick look at critique group dynamics in a guest post for Jane Friedman’s blog HERE.
BookBub Partners – 20 Fantastic Book Cover Design Resources
I’m finding more and more helpful information over on the BookBub blog these days and this article is no exception. Diana Urban has complied 20 Book Cover Design Resources to help you choose the best book cover designer—samples, links, and some pricing are directly in the article.
Endorsements Sell Books
Author Terry Whalin gives you the steps needed to ask well-known authors for their endorsement of your book. It might seem like a hard thing to do, but what to do you have to lose? Here’s how to be professional and succinct with your request.
Self-Publishing Basics: An Unabridged List of the Parts of a Book
Joel Friedlander of the Book Designer wrote this list nearly ten years ago and it has withstood the test of time. If you’re mapping out your first independently published book, you'll appreciate having all the parts of the book listed in one place.
In a related article, Author Deborah Jay, gives us “10 Things to Update Each Time You Release a New Book.” Handy list!
Books, Bookmarks, Business Cards or Digital Giveaways. What Should Authors Be Ready to Give Away?
As you near your book launch date, you will print up some sort of giveaway materials that will help promote your writing. Most commonly, authors create bookmarks, but there are a host of other materials that can be useful for promotion. C. Penticoff provides you with a list of possibilities and what each ought to include for maximum promotional value HERE.
The Amazon Conundrum (AKA Why Some of My Books Are in Kindle Unlimited and Most Are Not)
If you’re wondering of the pros and cons of being exclusive to Kindle with your ebooks or if you should distribute them wide on other platforms as well, you’ll appreciate Lindsay Buroker’s article on the decision she’s made and why. What I’m finding is that many authors are alternate between the two options for different reasons. See what might work best for you and your goals.
How to Convert ePub to Mobi
If the different file format conversions for ebooks have you confused, you’ll appreciate this Kindlepreneur article on epub conversion to the mobi file format. This article delves into the best software to use and provides a solid guide to this important step for all authors. My program of choice Jutoh is not listed here, but I find this ebook formatting software reasonably priced and easy to use as well.
How to Make the Most of Goodreads
Have you neglected to set up a Goodreads author account and claim your books? Don’t wait any longer to do this. There are a lot of active readers on Goodreads and the process isn’t hard. Joy Ranacorte gives the step-by-step instructions on Goodreads set up.
How Do I Add Video to My Amazon Author Page?
Susan Stitt gives the details on how to add videos to your Amazon author page. Also included in this article are links that will take you back to a previous post on setting up your Amazon author account and shows examples from different authors. Once that’s done, don’t miss the chance to share promo videos and book trailers on this page. It’s great exposure and it’s free!
Your Author Platform and Branding
There are many articles that discuss author platform and creating your author brand. In the past few weeks, an article from David Gaughran, “How to Build an Author Platform,” provides a comprehensive look at what an author platform truly is (and what it isn’t), including where you should invest your time. Kimberly Grabas of Your Writer Platform has a three-part series on author branding. Part one is “Personal Branding for Authors: What it is and why it’s essential.” Part 2 discusses “Building Your Author Brand: The Most Common Mistakes Writers Make.” Great details to consider as you go about building your sales and reaching your audience(s). (I’ll bring you part 3 next month.)
Anne R. Allen discusses the difference between your author persona (online) and your author brand in her post “What’s Your Author Persona? How to Be Yourself Online—Only Better.” While the title made me laugh, this gives authors the chance to think about how they want to present themselves online--hint: don't talk about your visit to the doctor or what you ate for breakfast--unless that's part of your brand.
AudioBooks: Working with a Narrator
Melissa Bowersock wrote a description of her experience working with her audiobook narrator, giving anyone who is new to this process a great checklist of best practices. This is on my 2019 goal list . . . I'll be sure to report back on my personal experience.
Use Images Properly on Social Media and your Website
Often, I am dismayed to see authors (and other creative professionals) using watermarked images on their website and social media posts. If you see an image that is watermarked, it is clearly NOT FREE to use! Do not use it without properly paying for the download of that image. Additionally, there are a lot of pirated images floating around without watermarks. Make sure that you’re using reputable free sites to find images to enhance your writing. The Digital Reader website has an excellent article from late April, “How to Find Free and Legal Images Online.” And just two weeks ago, the Book Designer shared this list of “72 Free Image Sources for Authors.”
How Can I Promote My Book for Free
We’re all on a budget. Here’s a short and sweet list from David Kudler at The Book Designer, reminding us of the ways you can gain free attention for your book.
How to Use Media Attention to Build Your Email List
And speaking of FREE . . . if you have the good fortune to be in the news, here’s how you can use that attention to build your email list. Chris Well at BookWorks gives you all of the ways to capitalize on this attention and what you might give as enticements to get those email list sign ups.
9 Reasons Authors Need Newsletters
And if you’re thinking you don’t need to build an email list of your own subscribers, here are nine reasons why authors need newsletters from the Book Designer. The most important point (I believe) is that you don’t “own” the access to your social media followers. Social media platforms can change their terms of service at any time and make it harder to reach the followers you worked so hard to acquire in the first place.
How to Use Guest Podcast Appearances to Reach Readers
In their series on reader outreach strategies, the BookWorks blog is discussing how authors use guest appearances on podcasts to reach new readers. Belinda Griffin points out how advantageous it is to share your knowledge with whole new audiences via others’ podcasts. (Last month she also discussed how to do this same thing as a guest blogger HERE.) There are so many excellent writing podcasts out there. One of my favorites is the Writescast hosted by author r.r. campbell.
4 Dirty Little Secrets About Social Media Marketing for Authors
I don’t know about you, but that headline had me clicking quickly to see what the heck the 4 dirty little secrets were. Frances Caballo always has useful information on her site Social Media Just for Writers, but these four secrets are going to help make your writing promotional life easier.
Hashtags for Writers
Kindlepreneur has a comprehensive article listing all of the hashtags writers might like to use and how many tweets (per hour) contain that hashtag, so you get an idea of the popularity of any particular hashtag phrase. You’ll want to bookmark this list.
LinkedIn Pages: Know the Basics
Bakerview Consulting gives an easy-to-follow infographic on how to use your LinkedIn page. Sometimes it is easier to learn something via good graphics than reading a long article. I appreciate this Bakerview's excellent infographics on so many social media topics.
Happy Writing, Valerie