So, you’ve been staring at a notebook or computer screen, waiting for divine writing inspiration to strike. You’ve tried to think of something, anything, to put down on paper, but it all seems wrong. You’re in a writing slump. Luckily for you, you’re not alone. Many writers go through the exact same experience, and we’re here to give you a couple tips that could help you out. Write, Write, Write As you’ve probably heard before, writing is a process—a messy one. The first step? “Fart it out,” as one of our authors, Caley Cantrell, would say. Seriously though, to get out of a slump, just start writing. Put anything on the page. Make yourself do a ten-minute free write, and don’t let yourself stop to think or edit. Betty Flowers, a professor at University of Texas, says that to start writing, you need to let loose your “madman.” Your madman is the creative voice in your head that is full of passionate, fun ideas that are the heart and soul of your work. If allowed, your madman could let you go on for pages and pages on the same topic without any judgement or restraint. As a result, your work may seem a bit messy to begin with, but that's okay. When you let your madman take center stage, your own unique voice is able to finally emerge through your writing. So, worry about structure or cleaning up your masterpiece later. The key here is to let out all of your built-up creativity without tearing yourself down or calling your work “not good enough.” Of course, not all of the content your madman creates will end up in your final draft. However, writing with your madman in mind allows you to start somewhere by finally getting your thoughts down on paper and bringing life and playfulness back into your work. And hey, you might just end up surprising yourself. So, let your inner creativity loose and come back to patch up your work later! Write Writing Into Your Schedule If you’re in a writing slump, chances are you’ve consistently pushed off working on your latest project. While you make promises to yourself that you’ll work on it tomorrow or sometime in the near future, you find other things to consume your time to avoid feelings of frustration regarding your craft. It’s okay, we’ve been there too. With a mentality like this, we recommend that you start scheduling writing sessions into your everyday routine. Of course, setting aside large portions of time each day for writing isn’t always realistic on a day-to-day basis, however even on the busiest days, writing for an hour or two can make a big difference. Scheduling time for your craft will not only make you feel obligated to sit down and write, but it will give your latest project the time and attention it deserves. Phone a Friend When writing, you’re often flying solo. Because of this, being a writer can seem like one of the loneliest jobs out there. Though there are benefits to being your own boss, sometimes it may be hard to find the motivation to sit down and write. With this in mind, we recommend that you find someone to talk to about your craft. Discussing your work with a trusted friend or community member can give you helpful feedback, inspire you with new ideas, and give you the encouragement you need to keep writing. You could even go a step further by setting deadlines with them—send them a couple of chapters a week, or more! This will not only provide you with consistent, constructive feedback on your latest novel, but it will also help compel you to stick to your writing schedule. Discussing your work with someone can also allow you an outlet to express any concerns, frustrations, or anxieties that have prevented you from feeling enthusiastic about writing. Finding the root cause of your lack of motivation can hopefully prevent it from happening in the future and allow you to easily jump over any mental hurdles in your way. Do Your Research If you find yourself scratching your head and coming up blank on who to send your work to, don’t fret. There are helpful resources online and in your local community that can also motivate you on your writing journey. For example, try enrolling in a writing class. If you’re currently in high school or college, fill one of your elective slots with a writing course the next time you’re able to sign up for classes. If you’re not a student, a quick Google search can show you community centers, or writing centers, near you that provide helpful writing courses, tutors, or workshops you can use to your benefit. By researching the resources in your local community, you can still have that one-on-one experience to discuss your craft. If you don’t have the means to enroll in a class, try joining an online community for some writing inspiration, such as The Isolation Journals created and hosted by Suleika Jaouad. By signing up with your email, you’ll receive a fresh writing prompt in your inbox every morning. Online resources like this exercise your imagination and allow you to free write to your heart's content. Who knows, maybe one day one of these prompts will surprise you and end up contributing to the latest novel you’re writing. For other online writing resources, check out this article by NY Book Editors titled “11 Top Writing Communities You Should Join and Why.” Don’t Mentally Beat Yourself Down This one is perhaps the most important tip of all. We know that writing is a very personal and emotional experience. Your work is your baby, and because of this, you want it to be perfect. However, remember that you also need to take care of yourself and your mental health. Even if you’re unable to produce much during your scheduled writing time, that’s okay. Walk away from your work and try to come back to it tomorrow after a little TLC. Who knows? Instead of your writing desk, you may actually find the divine inspiration you seek in the most random of places. Because of this, always keep a notebook handy for when your brain randomly gifts you good ideas. (Did you know that waterproof notepads actually exist for your shower thoughts? Something to think about…) All jokes aside, it’s good to be critical of your work, but don’t become your own worst enemy. Remember that consistently associating your craft with negative feelings and emotions is not good for you or your work. Too much stress could possibly cause your passion for writing to slowly slip away from you, and we don’t want that to happen!
Each one of you has been published or is in the process of publishing a book. Congrats! You’ve experienced firsthand how arduous and exacting the process can be, but hopefully you’ve also reaped some of the rewards. It's important not to lose steam, so start thinking about releasing your second book. Your momentum is building, and your authorial fame is just starting to grow! If you published your book some time ago, don’t worry--it’s never too late to publish your second book (just ask Harper Lee!). This email is directed toward people who have written one book and are considering a second, but please note that this also applies to your third or fourth or fifth book! You Already Know How to Do This Do you remember how scary publishing your first book was? Putting yourself out there to publishers and agents; navigating the publishing contract process; passing your book over to your editor, hoping they will do it justice; finally holding that printer’s proof in your hand; and ultimately, marketing and selling it. For a first-time author, this list is daunting! But you’re a pro now. Either you’ve already done all of this, or you’re somewhere in production. You have gained many skills and experiences since you started this process. Think about how much you’ve improved as a writer since having your work professionally edited. Think about the things you could do differently the second time, knowing what you know now. Think about how nervous you felt on the first run, and how far you’ve come in championing your book and yourself. The whole process is often much easier the second time. Use all of your resources from your last book to inform your marketing plan for your new project. You likely already have lists you can use: an email newsletter list, lists of media contacts, a list of local and regional bookstores, a list of local venues for appearances. Start from the top and use all of these resources again with your second book. Keep Your Name Active Nothing will help to retain your online and other media presence more than releasing a second book. When your first book came out, we sent out a press release to media all over the world, and we continue to post about your book on social media and our website, not to mention all the wonderful promotional work you’ve done yourself! Launching a second book, you show your followers that you are an actively writing author with more than one book in your head. Use the Success from One Book to Drive Sales to the Other When people search for your first book, they may be directed to your second book, and vice versa. For example, if a person buys your first book from Amazon, they may click on your name to see what else you’ve written. Some online retailers have options for “More By This Author,” “Related Titles,” or similar buttons. Even on our own website, a person can easily travel from one of your books to another. Having multiple books increases your visibility for all of them. If You’re Writing a Series We mentioned earlier that it’s never too late to write your second book; however, if you’re writing a series, timing becomes infinitely more important. You don’t want the first book in a series to go cold when there are important sequels to come. If sequels are not released within a couple of years from the first installment, people can lose interest in your series and may not come back for a second. Imagine that by the time people read your book, you’re already posting information about its sequel. You may see an increase in followers who want to stay up-to-date, and you’ll likely see an increase in preorders for that second book as well. Final Words Like we said above: We want authors with more than one book in them. Since we’ve worked with you before, you don’t have to submit your work through our website submission system again. Instead, if you have a follow-up manuscript you’re ready to share, send it directly to Robert Pruett or your former project manager, and we’ll give it special attention.
The two most important avenues for book marketing are the internet and word of mouth. Online reviews combine these! A good online review can be the push that helps someone decide to purchase your book. The more online reviews you have on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, the higher your book will rank in searches. This means your book will more likely show up when people type in your genre or browse for new titles to read. How to get book reviews Ask! Turn to your friends and family who have read your book. Request that your Facebook followers rate your professional Facebook page or redirect them to Amazon or Barnes & Noble. If a person has bought your book through Amazon, their review will show up as an Amazon “verified purchase” review. If they bought it elsewhere, they can still review on Amazon, and the star-rating will be averaged in with the rest. Anyone can rate your book on Barnes & Noble and all reviews appear to be the same, whether or not they purchased your book through Barnes & Noble. They will just need a Barnes & Noble account to log in. Ask your loyal fans. When someone reaches out to you personally to tell you how much they enjoyed your book, thank them (of course), and then ask if they would mind leaving those same sentiments in an online review. Trade! Find another author who is looking for online reviews, read each other’s books, and leave each other reviews! Find other things to trade for. Maybe it will be easier for another author or a reader to find the time to read and review your book if you help them in other ways! Maybe they need a short story edited or want an endorsement for their own book. Caution: You don’t want to leave a good review for a book you didn’t enjoy! It might be best to offer this trade to someone whose book you’ve already read or are confident you’ll enjoy. Offer rewards! Send an email newsletter or post on social media offering a giveaway or entrance in a contest in exchange for an online review. Caution: Do not ask for “good” reviews! Ask your followers for honest reviews. How to Handle Book Reviews The good, the bad, and the ugly: these are the different kinds of book reviews. Online, people feel more comfortable showing their worst selves. However, people also take to the internet to bolster and engage with people they support. You’ll likely get some reviews on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Facebook, or elsewhere, and they’ll likely be in your favor. However, you might also encounter some reviews you weren’t expecting. Read on to learn about how to respond to online reviews—the good, the bad, and the ugly. How to handle bad reviews Consider their points: Make the most of a bad review by taking their points into consideration. Think critically. Perhaps you do need to improve in these areas. “Thanks for your honesty. I’ll be sure to pay more attention to commas in the sequel!” Correct them: If the person who left the bad review has objectively made a mistake, thank them for their perspective and gently set them straight. “I’m glad you enjoyed my book enough to fact-check me! It’s true that not all of the events in my book took place in real life, which is why I thought it was important to add a disclaimer on the first page about identifying the genre historical fiction.” Deflect them: If someone left a bad review for personal reasons (ie. they don’t read your genre or they personally disagree with moves you made), thank them for their comment and then redirect them to another work of yours or you’ve read that may be better suited to their literary palate. “Sorry the bloodshed in my novel was a little much for you! If you’re looking for something a little less gruesome, you might like this book I read last summer.” Delete them: Sometimes, people do crazy, random, terrible things online. If someone has gone over-the-top attacking you or is wildly incorrect, it’s okay to delete their comment and even block them from your page. For a great example of how not to handle a bad review, check out how defensive this author got when she received a two-star review. How to handle good reviews Thank them for their kind words! Encourage them to cross-post their review on another site. Encourage them to share with friends. How to use good reviews Share on social media! If you get a Facebook review, it will automatically show up on your page. However, you can still share it to other SM sites. If you get a good Amazon or Barnes & Noble review, share across the board! Take a snippet to share in your post, then invite followers to click the link to read more. Post on your website! Add a “praise” tab where you can post any good reviews you receive. Use quotes in promotional efforts! Slap a great quote from a review at the top of a letter you’re writing to try to sell books or organize an event. The world of online book reviews can be wild, but equipped with the right tools, you’re sure to navigate the waters with skill!
Claire Galloway, author of A Call to Mind, talks with Houston Style Magazine about her experience with her son's TBI. What can't be easily seen by doctors and teachers is too often dismissed. The signs of a TBI might not be the "obvious" ones that physicians look for during an exam. They might look like social issues, laziness, or manipulation. Or they may look like some other problem depending on a specialist's area of expertise. (Consider the adage "When you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail.") Galloway says parental observations of unexpected changes in the ability of a child should be given far more credence than they currently are. http://stylemagazine.com/news/2018/jan/11/ignored-dismissed-and-misdiagnosed-eight-things-ev/
Email has been a primary avenue of communication for years, and for some of you, this might be old news. However, the internet changes every day, and email grows ever “smarter”! We want to share some tips and tricks about email that we’ve learned the hard way. In this marketing tip, we’ll be talking about Gmail, the world’s most popular email provider. However, the points discussed here will be similar on other emails sites, such as Yahoo, AOL, or Hotmail. You may have to do some clicking around, but there’s a way to accomplish all of the following items through any email provider. If you have trouble figuring any of these tips out, a quick Google search (ex. “how to BCC on AOL”) should provide the answers you need. If you have questions, please feel free to reach out! We’ll do our best to help you. General Email Tips Subject Line Subject lines are a surprisingly important part of an email. They can make your emails more searchable after the fact, as we’ve addressed. They can also help your reader/recipient in processing their own emails. For example, if you use the subject line “Hello,” this tells your reader little about your message. If you use “Touching Base About Anderson Case,” this tells your reader what the email is about. They can choose to read it then or save it for when they have more time. You can also send an email without a subject line, which we do not at all recommend. Gmail will even prompt you with an “Empty Subject” warning. An empty subject line tells your recipient nothing, and you will have trouble searching for this email later! It may even appear to be spam and be sent to the recipient’s spam folder, which most people don’t check. Font While you have a myriad of options when it comes to your email’s font, it’s a good idea to stick to a select few: Times New Roman, Arial, or Calibri. Your emails will likely automatically start out in a font called “Sans Serif,” and this is just fine. Sticking to a few familiar fonts will keep your emails looking clean and professional. There’s no need to be fancy. We do not recommend using “cute” fonts like Comic Sans. You can change the font of your email by locating a drop-down menu in the bottom left corner of your email window. It may say “Sans Serif,” “Serif,” or one of the other options mentioned above. Click on this bar and peruse your options to choose the best font for your email. It’s also a good idea to keep your font to a 10- or 12-point size, unless you are really trying to call attention to something important. Similarly, try to avoid using excessive bold font, italics, underlining, or uppercase. Emails sent in all uppercase can come across as alarming, as uppercase type is the computer equivalent of shouting. Use sparse bolding or italics to emphasize things of true importance. Searching Unless you manually delete your old emails, it’s likely that your account hangs onto them. This archive retains all of the information you’ve received previously over email, including attachments and links. This is handy when you need to find something that was sent previously, either from you to someone else, or from someone else to you. Instead of asking a person to resend an email they’ve already sent once, you can simply look it up yourself. All email providers have the “search” function. In Gmail and many others, you’ll find this at the top of your screen, under your web browser and bookmarks. You can identify a “search bar” because it is usually accompanied by a magnifying glass icon, the universal internet indicator of a search. Simply click in the text field and type in your keyword. If you want to find an email you sent to someone else, click on your “Sent Mail” tab before engaging with the search bar. You can search using any keyword you remember from the previous email exchange. This is where it can get tricky. You’ll have to consider the best way to look up an old email. You can start with typing in the other person’s email address -- that is, the person you sent the old email to, or the person it came from. However, if you email this person frequently, this may not be the most effective way. If you remember the email’s subject line or a portion of it -- for example: “URGENT: rent due” -- try entering a word or phrase from this into the search bar. Similarly, if you remember a word or phrase from the body of the email, you can type that in as well. Choose a phrase unique to that email. “Thanks a lot!” would probably be found in many emails. However, “May 5th conference” or “spring field trip” might be better choices. Once you type in your search word or phrase, hit “Enter” or “Return” on your keyboard, or click on the magnifying glass. You will be provided with a list of emails that matches your search phrase. If you’re lucky, the email you seek will be at the top! Otherwise, you may have to scroll through several until you find what you’re looking for. If you open an email that turns out to be the wrong one, simply click on the angular arrow in the top-left corner, over your subject line but under your search bar, to return to your list of search results and avoid starting your search over. CC In email jargon, “CC” stands for “carbon copy.” This name is quite literal. When you send an email to someone, you have the option to CC a third person or several other people. The email will not be formally addressed to them, but they will also receive the email. This feature is useful in the workplace, when lots of people may be working together on a project, and need to see updates as they come in, but are not necessarily engaged in the whole conversation. This may be clearer through example. A contracted employee needs to send a weekly invoice to the company accountant to be paid for their time. However, the owner of the company may want to refer to these invoices to see how many hours the contractor has been working. The contractor would then email their invoice directly to the accountant, but CC the owner. When you are writing an email, click in the “To:” field, and the CC option will pop up to the right. (You will also see a “BCC” option, which we will address later.) Click “CC” and type any email address you want to CC in the CC field. You are required to fill in the “To” field; the CC and BCC fields are optional. When you receive an email that you have been CC’d on, or an email to you with other people CC’d, you will see all these email addresses listed in the “To” field up top. When you respond to an email like this, take a moment to consider if you should “Reply” or “Reply All.” “Reply All” keeps the people who have been CC’d in the loop. A simple “Reply” will only reply to the person who sent the email. This is also better explained through example. The same contracted employee sends their weekly invoice to the accountant and CCs the owner of the company. The owner, after reviewing the invoice, decides that next week, the contractor should work more hours. This note has nothing to do with the accountant, so the owner would “Reply” to only the contractor in order to request an increase in hours. On the other hand, let’s say the owner reviews the contractor’s invoice and notices a mathematical error. The owner would “Reply All” in order to email both the contractor and the accountant, so all parties are aware there has been an error. This way, the contractor knows to be more careful next time, and the accountant knows to make this mathematical adjustment. When you receive an email from someone that has other parties CC’d on it, it’s generally good email etiquette to keep those other parties CC’d on your response. BCC The term “BCC” stands for “blind carbon copy.” A BCC functions similarly to a CC, but other recipients can’t see the BCC’d email addresses. We use this function a lot here at Brandylane. In fact, we use it to distribute our Marketing Tips! If you look at this email, you’ll see it is addressed to our publicity email address, firstname.lastname@example.org. All of your email addresses have been inserted in the BCC field. This way, all of our authors get the same email without our having to send it to each of you individually, and we can continue to keep your personal email addresses private.. This function is incredibly important when sending mass emails. When we distribute press releases here at Brandylane, we send them using mass emails that go out to hundreds of people. However, it would be a huge business faux pas to distribute all of these business contacts’ contact information to all the other parties. When you send mass emails, type your own email in the “To” field, and list all of your recipients in the “BCC” field. Setting Up a Signature When you write an old-fashioned letter, you sign your name. You can set up your email to automatically “sign” every email you send with customized language. For example, the Brnadylane publicity department signs its emails as follows: Christina Kann Publicity Brandylane Publishers, Inc. Publishing Books since 1985 5 South First St., Richmond, Virginia 23219 v: 804.644.3090 f: 804.644-3092 www.brandylanepublishers.com Belle Isle Books an imprint of Brandylane www.belleislebooks.com This is a very long example of what an email signature can look like, and you may have something similar set up for your day job. However, this can also augment your personal email! You may want to include your name, phone number, and a link to your author website. You can also include a logo of your name or book, if you have one. To set up an email signature, navigate to your Settings. The universal internet symbol for Settings resembles a gear, and in Gmail, you’ll find this button in the top-right corner. Click the gear, and then click “Settings.” You will be directed to your general settings page. Scroll down until you see a section labelled “Signature.” Simply type the signature you want into the text box, and be sure to link any website you use by highlighting the website address with your cursor and clicking the “Link” button. The universal internet symbol for a link looks like a portion of a chain -- a link, if you will. You can change the color, size, and font, but keep it professional! It’s good to show a little bit of personality, but you don’t want to go over the top. If you have an image of your signature stored on your computer for document-signing purposes, you can also insert this using the “Insert Image” button (a small mountain icon) and finding your signature file. Additionally, you can add a professional photo of yourself, which will appear next to or below your signature. This is done by again using the “Insert Image” button. Other tips Limit the number of emails you send. If you have several things to say, it’s okay to include them all in the same email! Send what has been requested of you, and follow any instructions you were given. Read the entirety of an email before responding. Being thorough means responding to every question asked of you. This also means emailing the correct person. At Brandylane, this means directing marketing inquiries to the publicist, book orders to our office administrator, and so on. Keep emails brief when possible, as it helps your reader process respond more quickly. If you choose not to create a signature, always end you email with your first and last name. This helps your reader, who may know several people with your name. After you send an email, there’s no need to call to confirm its receipt or clarify. Much of the time, people prefer email because it gives them time to think out their response and answer when they can. If you email and then call to confirm, they may not have had time to see it! Give up to three days for a response (unless it’s time-sensitive), and then, if you haven’t heard back, shoot a second email. If they fail to respond to the follow-up email, then it’s okay to call. Pay attention to small details, like how your recipient spells their name in their signature. We hope this tip has shed some light on the complicated nature of emails and its ever-changing face. This can be confusing, so if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out! We look forward to receiving excellent emails from you in the future!