September Writers' Forum 2020

Wisconsin Writers Association 2020 Fall Conference

Everyone Wants Barnes & Noble to Survive. Can It?

Traditional Publishing Enjoys Its Best Sales in a Decade—Despite Supply Chain Problems

The September 2020 Writers' Forum -- All the publishing industry news, indie pub advice, and book marketing tips you need.


Wisconsin Writers Association 2020 Fall Conference – October 3 – Still time to register!

The Wisconsin Writers Association Fall Conference is this Saturday, October 3. This is a steal at $30 for those who are already members of WWA and $50 for non-members. There is still to register HERE. The lineup includes: Dasha Kelly Hamilton, MKE Poet Laureate; Erin Celello, author, Miracle Beach and Learning to Stay; Ann Garvin, author, I Like You Just Fine When You’re Not Around; and Jennifer Lee Goloboy, Agent, Donald Maass Literary Agency.

Everyone Wants Barnes & Noble to Survive. Can It?

Jane Friedman writes a detailed assessment of key events in the Barnes & Noble timeline and what we might expect moving forward, particularly with James Daunt now at the helm. Smart article (as always.) This article was shared on Friedman’s public blog but is a sample of what readers get when they subscribe to Friedman’s email newsletter The Hot Sheet

Traditional Publishing Enjoys Its Best Sales in a Decade—Despite Supply Chain Problems

Also, from Jane Friedman, you’ll want to read this update about the publishing industry in general. If you’re one of the authors or publishers who have had to endure printing delays, here’s the real story behind that growing problem and more. 


The Challenge of Creating Powerful Settings

C.S. Lakin pushes us to look harder at how we choose settings for our stories and how those choices can pack specific emotional punch for scenes and entire novels. Read the full article here:

Zara Altair also gives tips on incorporating scene details in a way that is engaging and keeps the story moving. 

Where Novelists Get Stuck: 3 Common Issues with Early Drafts

Susan DeFreitas gives us tips to combat problems with pacing/tension, the character arc, and plot structure in our first drafts. Read it HERE

Passive Voice: When is ‘it’ the better choice?

Pam Firth writes for The Detail Devil website and gives us exceptions to this typical rule of editing—to get rid of the passive voice. So when is it okay to use the word it? Find out in the full article

Writing Shy Characters

Amy Holland writes a blog post for the Good Story Company answering the question, “Do you have any tips or tricks for making a shy, introverted protagonist pop on the page? How can I make my protagonist dynamic for the reader while still staying true to her quieter personality?” Her advice is fabulous and tells the writer to give your introverted character a backstory—why are they introverted in the first place? And she also asserts that shy characters do not have to be boring. This is really good set of tips—particularly for those writing in the children’s market.

How to Show Emotions in Non-Viewpoint Characters

Louise Harnby takes on this tricky skill of how to reveal the emotions of characters other than those whose point of view we are seeing the story through. We can’t know what they’re thinking or feeling internally—so how can you do this while utilizing your main character(s)’ powers of observation. Read the full article HERE. 

Dialogue Tags

Oh, dialogue. It’s never bad to have a refresher on how to use dialogue tags properly. Amy Wilson gives us a good tutorial in “Tag, You’re It! Using Dialogue Tags Effectively."


How Long Should You Query Your Manuscript?

Lisa Poisso discusses her six-month query cycle in this article and also points writers to the hopeful signs to look for that show they may be getting close to getting a contract.

How to Find Publishers

Jane Friedman gives you the tools to search out both publishers and agents who would be good fits for what you write. Super article with tremendous resources

Conversely --- Here’s How NOT to Find a Publisher

Richard C. White is a guest on Connie B. Dowell’s Book Echoes podcast talking about avoiding scams. Take a listen HERE.

Victoria Strauss at Writer Beware has another warning for us—this time scammers are impersonating reputable literary agents. (As if this business wasn’t already hard enough.) Read her details on what to watch out for:

26 Magazines that Publish Writing for Children and Teens

Authors Publish shares a list of magazines seeking submissions for children and teen topics. Lots of variety here. Check it out.

The Power of Author Collaborations

Sandra Beckwith encourages us to collaborate with other authors to grow our audiences, entertain/educate/inform new audiences we don’t already reach, and to improve ourselves, too. There’s a lot more to this article including advice on how to get started!

A Writer’s Guide to Fair Use and Permissions + Sample Permissions Letter

Jane Friedman (again-she’s such a rock star) helps us out with the tricky area of what falls under fair use and when to seek permission from the content creator. There’s a handy infographic that can walk you through the process of when to seek permission, too. 

4 Lessons from 4 Years of Self-Publishing

Deanna Cabinian is candid about the lessons learned as a self-published author. Important article to read if you’re considering publishing this way.  

“I wish I had known that before I self-published.” 25 authors share what they’ve learned.

Sandra Beckwith compiled these 25 tidbits of advice from authors who published independently. Equally good advice to read before you indie pub your book. 


Publishing Wide for the Win with Erin Wright

Erin Wright joins Joanna Penn for a discussion of what it means and takes to make your books available on every platform and every format. Listen to the podcast HERE.

Book Cover Design Ideas: 7 Proven Tips for Creating Yours

C.S. Lakin walks us through easy-to-follow steps that begin with studying the covers in your genre. She gives great advice on typography, color, and cautions you to be honest about your own design skills when it comes to this important element of your book’s success. Read the full article.

How to Change Your Kindle Keywords and Why You Should

Yes, I harp on keywords a lot – but I find that this is a little understood and often ignored area of book marketing. Authors often set these keywords inside their book’s set-up pages on Kindle or elsewhere and then sort of forget about them. Don’t do that. Read the Kindlepreneur article for a matter-of-fact look at how to manage/change your keywords. 


Online Book Events: A Necessary Pivot in 2020, But How Do You Compete?

Yes, this month’s Writers’ Forum has been a Jane Friedman love fest – but she’s soooo smart and writes the best advice articles. You really should follow her directly, so all of her goodness is delivered via email. Here, she’s pulled together advice about online book events from a number of authors —some of my favorites in fact: Hank Phillippi Ryan, Angela Ackerman, Kristy Woodson Harvey and more!  Great advice on how to make your online events work it was has become a bit of a crowded space!

Book Marketing Tips from a First-Time Author

Andreas Wagner shares what worked for him as he marketed his first book. This is a mix of free and paid activities that are accessible to everyone. Read his list here.

14 Surprising Ways to Market Your Book

Hannah Guy’s list includes expected and unexpected suggestions. I’m guessing you haven’t thought of all of these.  While book trailers, writing for other publications, contests, and book giveaways are often used--buying billboard space is not often suggested. That one is interesting but maybe not great for every genre—particularly niche topics. Fun, quick read. 

Is Affiliate Marketing the Next Thing for Writers?

Echezona Enemou defines affiliate marketing for those who are unsure what this really means and then examines all of the ways affiliate marketing can supplement your income. If you aren’t currently an Amazon affiliate and your books are available on Amazon, you should at least sign up for the program even if it is only to use affiliate links for your own books. This is (so far) the most thorough article I’ve read on this topic that was targeted specifically to writers. 

Why Authors Should Know Their Target Audience

I could have placed this in the Pre-Publication section of the forum, because that’s when you should really be thinking about this. Kate Tilton is a super-smart book marketer, working with many bestselling authors. Her advice is (no surprise) spot on when it comes to thinking about the target audience for your book. How can you create the right marketing plans or ad campaign if you don’t know who this audience is? (Hint: You can’t.) Read the full article here. 

Rights Reversion: How to Give an Out-of-Print Book New Life with Self-Publishing

Erika Liodice advises authors who have had book rights revert back to them how to make the decision on whether to indie pub the book. Not all books in this category are suitable for re-publishing independently because they tend to be older and might not generate sales without an update; however, there are often books that have plenty of shelf life left. 

24 Sites on Where and How to Distribute a Press Release

We’re always told that we need a press release to promote our book launch. PR specialist Jules Marie has compiled this handy list of places that distribute press releases. This is available in both article form and as a podcast HERE. 

Website Housekeeping

The IngramSpark blog (yes – they have a blog) features a quick checklist article from Nate Hoffelder that remind us that our website might need some TLC. Are you doing any of these six? Number six is having “no website at all.” I agree. If you’re a published author, you must have a website! The other five tips are about info that you may have missed adding or missed updating. 


Free Social Media Scheduling Tools for Authors

Gladys Strickland reviews some of the free social media scheduling tools that might make your author life easier.

Canva Content Planner

Canva has recently added a content scheduling function. I haven’t tried it yet—but I’m going to. Here’s a tutorial on how to use it. If you’ve never used Canva, I whole-heartedly endorse it to easily create engaging and professional graphics that will enhance your social media posts and newsletters or blog. The basic Canva is a free online tool, but I’ve upgraded to Canva Pro for some of the extra features. Take a quick look at Canva here.

Odd October Occasions Offer Book Promotion Opportunities

Sandra Beckwith lists some of the fun dates you might use to promote your books in October . . . do your books fit any of these topics? FYI October 30 is National Candy Corn Day. YUM or YUCK?

TikTok Limits and Restrictions

Social Media Today shares a great infographic about TikTok Limits and Restrictions. With this platform much in the news of late, it never hurts to educate ourself a bit—even if we don’t currently use it.  

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

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