October Writers' Forum 2020






How to Write a Ghost Story

Perfect timing on this article from Amy Holland at the Good Story Company. Are you in the mood for writing a ghost story? Here are tips to help you build the suspense and draw from what scares you the most.

Amazon Reader Review Myths: What You Need to Know

Many thanks to Sandra Beckwith for penning this excellent article dispelling the myths surrounding Amazon reviews that seem to swirl around constantly in author circles. The biggest myth is that you can’t give a reader a complimentary copy of your book in exchange for an honest review. That is simply false! Amazon did change review rules involving complimentary products a few years ago; HOWEVER, there’s an exception for books. The other two myths dispelled are WHO can review a book and whether you need to have bought the book from Amazon. Get the facts HERE.

ARE YOU A FAN OF THRILLERS, SUSPENSE OR MYSTERY NOVELS? You'll want to check out the Blackbird Writers Halloween Flash Sale and Giveaway October 31 and November 1 -- featuring mysteries, suspense, thrillers and more! The Blackbirds are a group for Discerning Readers, Talented Authors, and Suspenseful Books: Our Nest is Your Nest!


Dan Blank at We Grow Media is a publishing industry pro who helps writers connect with their readers in meaningful ways. The first time I heard him speak was at the Writers’ Institute a number of years ago. Since then his advice has been helpful to me on a monthly if not weekly basis. Here’s his approach, “I believe that writers have this magical ability to create stories and help others. Connecting their work to people in an authentic manner is an imperative that makes life better for everyone.”

His Friday newsletters are an important part of my week! You can learn more about Dan and sign up for his newsletter on his website at: https://wegrowmedia.com/


Are You Ready for National Novel Writing Month?

For the past two months writer/writing educator Tracey Kathryn has given tips to make National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) work for you. Catch up with her great advice here:

National Novel Writing Month: Ideas About Time Management and Composing Scenes from Tracey Kathryn

National Novel Writing Month Prep with Tracey Kathryn: Tips for Tackling the Messy Middle

Two Methods for Structuring Your Memoir

Allison Williams takes on memoir structure in this article for Jane Friedman’s blog with stunning examples that you’ll recognize from bestselling memoirs. She draws from fiction storytelling to create the pace and draw the reader into the dramatic action whether your memoir is based on a quest or on a quieter journey of personal growth.

Root Out These Five Writing Mistakes Before You Publish

Krystal Craiker gives us these five editing tips on the BookBaby blog, advising you to vary your sentence length, avoid passive voice and repeated sentence starts along with checking for clichés and more. If you’re at the point of editing a manuscript, you’ll appreciate this help.  

Three Tips for Cutting Your Word Count (Without Giving Your Whole Story the Ax)

You wouldn’t be the first author to write a long first draft and know that you need to cut words but are unsure how to get started. Leslie Vedder (on Jane Friedman’s blog) tells us how to cut transitions and descriptions—but also gives an overall tip of aiming to remove one word from every sentence or paragraph to trim your manuscript overall. Read the details of these three tips HERE.


30 Book Publishing Companies for Authors Without Agents

Dave Chesson at Kindlepreneur gathered this super helpful list of 30 well-established publishing companies you can query with your project without having an agent. This is a great list that spans many genres. 

International Insights: KOBO

The Alliance of Independent Authors has a lovely long post about the Kobo bookstore. I don’t know about you, but I sell a number of books on Kobo. It’s a big player in the international market. I found the article fascinating—mainly because there’s rarely a focus on this book seller and I was eager to learn more about it.



How to Format Your Book Description

I’ve known for a while now of the usefulness of the Kindlepreneur Amazon Book Description Generator Tool and in this article Barb Drozdowich walks us through using it. Did you want a star, a heart, or a number in your book description? This is the coolest thing ever! See if you can make your description pop. (Before and after pictures please if you do this.)

How to Host a Soft Launch for Your Book on Amazon

Stephanie Chandler of the Nonfiction Authors Association walks us through the idea of using a soft launch for your book on Amazon. This concept allows you to quietly launch your book and work out any kinks in the system before you officially launch it to the world. You don’t want to spend time and money promoting something if there are glitches with ordering or your book description. You can also use this time to set up some Amazon ads to boost the visibility of the book before your official launch date. Read the details HERE.


What You Can Learn About Platform from a 12-Year-Old

This is a fun article by Michelle Melton Cox that takes her author platform advice and applies it to the anxiety that her daughter had when starting a new school. These are fabulous reminders on how to conduct ourselves in any environment – Show up and be your best self! Share something! Invite someone to sit with you! Listen to them! I love this so much! Read it here. 

13 Fiction Book Marketing Tips from an Experienced Novelist

Victoria Jayne jumps into her fiction book marketing tips on the BuildBookBuzz blog, giving us 13 tips that range from basic (set up a website and social media accounts) to more complex like how to utilize book review services like Book Sprout or set up contests via BookSweeps. So much good advice packed into one little article. 

33 Quick and Actionable Tips to Improve Your Email Marketing Strategy

You should have an email subscription list and you should be communicating to them regularly. If you don’t have that yet, this article is not for you—but you should hustle over to MailChimp or some other email list management service and get started. For the rest of you, take a look at Barb Drozdowich’s email marketing tips to see if you can do a better job reaching out to your subscribers. 


Indie Author Twitter Chat

The Alliance for Independent Authors has a weekly Twitter chat that runs for an hour at 2 pm Central time on Wednesdays. You can join the fun by searching twitter for #IndieAuthorChat. Here’s the latest one with the subject “Top 100 Tools for Authors.

105 Hashtags for Writers

As you all know, the Twitter and Instagram subject filing system is fed by the hashtags users put into each Instagram caption or tweet. I’m always looking for fun hashtags that will allow me to connect better with writing audiences. Here’s a list of 105 hashtags writers should be using. 

Happy Writing (editing, marketing, and more!) - Valerie  


Another information-packed forum...thank you Valerie!

Thanks, Brenda! Glad you find these helpful! - Valerie

Great posts, as usual. Love the "cutting" words graphic! I stole it to share that link for my writers blog!

Hi Christine, Thank you! I thought it was perfect for the season. Share away! I make these graphics in Canva. It is such a nice program. - Valerie

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