Jan 14

Your Author Platform – Is it Ever Too Soon to Start?

Creating an Author PlatformNewbies to the writing arena have many questions about creating an author platform. And, the most puzzling one is whether they need a website before they have a book published or in contract.

In fact, I’ve recently been questioned twice about whether a newbie with NO book on the publishing horizon should bother to start working on a platform and more specifically on an author website.

Both individuals felt it would be like putting the cart before the horse.

It’s important to know that this though is far from the case.

Creating a website at the get-go is putting the horse before the cart. It’s one of the forces that will pull you forward and help you establish your online platform, your presence and visibility.

So, the answer to the title question is NO. It’s never too soon to begin your author platform or your author website:

– If you want to be a writer or an author,
– If you intend to submit manuscripts to agents and/or publishers,
– If you intend to self-publish a book, the answer is still the same.

The time to get your online platform started is RIGHT NOW. And, the foundation of your platform is a website.

Keeping up with Marketing Trends

When one author mentioned she was writing a children’s middle grade book and didn’t have a website, I responded that it was a mistake. I told her websites are an essential part of an author’s online platform.

Her reply caught me by surprise. She was advised by a well-known and respected educational site for children’s writing that she should wait until she received a book contract before creating a website.

If this were 10 or 15 years ago that advice would make sense. But, today, agents and publishers want to know what the potential new author’s platform is beforehand.

Please note that this revised article was originally written in 2013, hopefully the views of this site has changed.

The size or lack-of-size of an online platform can make or break a contract.

The powers-that-be expect you to have a website in place and be involved in social networks before you even submit a manuscript. They expect you to be a big part of the marketing involved in selling the book.

Jane Friedman, Media Studies instructor at the University of Virginia and former publisher of Writer’s Digest, says, “You must cultivate a readership every day of your life, and you start TODAY.” (1)

Why do you need to start your online platform TODAY?

In a single word, the answer to that question is TIME. Establishing an online platform takes time.

It takes time to establish yourself as an authority in your niche. It takes time to develop a relationship with your readers. It takes time to develop trust. And, it takes time to broaden your reach.

Real life example:

One of my former clients created a website. And, she created pages on two of the major social networks. She did all this way before she started to get her book written.

The results? She has thousands and thousands and thousands of followers on both social networks. I’m talking about well over 30,000 followers.

You can be sure I added this information when writing the query letter for her.

Do you think this will make a difference in a publisher or agent’s view of this new author?

You bet it will.

They’ll know she’s able and willing to help sell her books.

Since your website is the foundation of your author platform, it’s absolutely, positively necessary to get a website setup and optimized as soon as possible.

It’s from this focal point, your hub of information, that you will draw the attention of the search engines and readers. You may even catch the attention of a visiting editor, publisher, or literary agent.

Your website is also the place you will get readers to sign-up for your mailing list – further building your marketing reach. It’s the place you will begin a long-term writer-reader relationship.

Think of your author website as the launching pad of your book marketing platform.

Reference
(1) http://janefriedman.com
(Sorry, this was revised from a 2013 article and I can’t find the URL to the article.)

NEED HELP GETTING VISIBILITY AND BUILDING AUTHORITY FOR YOUR AUTHOR ONLINE PLATFORM?

Check out my e-class through WOW! Women on Writing:

Build Your Author/Writer Platform
More Readers, More Authority, More Sales

It’s a 4-week in-depth and interactive e-class through WOW! Women on Writing and covers all the tools you’ll need to build visibility and traffic, and boost sales.

Build your author-writer eclass

Jan 07

Walking Through Walls Book Trailer

Middle-grade fantasy adventure storyWalking Through Walls was honored with the Children’s Literary Classics Silver Award.

Set in 16th century China, this middle-grade fantasy adventure is about 12-year-old Wang. Not liking to work, it really bugs him that he has to help his father tend the wheat fields. Thinking he can bypass work and struggle (and become rich and famous), Wang sets off on an amazing adventure to find the Eternals, a legendary group of mystics who can perform magic!

The story is based on an ancient Chinese tale.

You can find out how the story came about at:
Writing a Fiction Story – Walking Through Walls Backstory

As book marketing is an essential element of an author’s life, here’s a book trailer I created for my book. I’d love to know what you think of it in the comments!

If you’d like to order your own copy of Walking Through Walls, please go to:

Amazon – Walking Through Walls
4RV Publishing (the publisher): http://www.4rvpublishingcatalog.com/calderwood—cioffi.php

Before you click on Amazon, find out why you should buy directly from book publishers:

As this site is for those wanting to become a children’s author and those wanting to learn about writing for children, I think it’s important you know that supporting book publishers is essential.

Distributors like Amazon may be convenient, but buying directly from the publisher puts more money in the publisher’s pocket and in the author’s pocket. This MATTERS!

And with Amazon allowing third-party sellers, you don’t know who you’re buying a book from or where they got that book. Some of them sell for well under retail and others sell for a crazy amount above retail.

Why not support book publisher and authors and buy directly from the publishers. The cost is about the same, so please support the book industry!

Children's ghostwriterWhether you need rewriting or ghostwriting, let me take a look at your story. Just send me an email at: kcioffiventrice@gmail.com. Please put “Children’s Writing” in the Subject box.

Or, give me a call at 347—834—6700

Let’s get your book in publishable shape today!

 

Dec 23

Publishing Your Book the Hybrid Way

Book publishing with the hybrid publisherAs with everything, the publishing industry has changed. With the difficulty in getting a traditional contract through queries and proposals and the hands-on learning and doing of ‘real’ self-publishing, there is a third option: Hybrid publishing.

So, what exactly is hybrid publishing?

According to Ingram Spark, “Hybrid publishing combines some elements of traditional publishing with those of independent publishing.” (1)

But, that definition is kind of vague as there are different formats within hybrid publishing.

The partnerships

There are some hybrid companies that offer publishing assistance. These companies have expertise in the arena, whether it be editorial, design, marketing, or all aspects. This type of publishing has a form of gatekeeping to ensure quality. They will NOT print just anything.

While an upfront fee is required, it’s more of a partnership. These companies work with you. They’re vested in your book’s success. They make money from sales just like you do.

The pay to play companies

Then there are the hybrid companies that will publish anything as long as the author pays for it. There is no quality control. Back when, vanity presses were noted for this. These companies don’t care if you sell a single book, they already got their money.

And, there are variations in between. So, pretty much, any company that helps you get your manuscript published and turned into an ebook or paper book for a fee is a hybrid company.

It really is confusing.

You might though be leery of companies that offer 100% royalties to authors.

Publisher’s Weekly has an excellent in-depth article on hybrid publishing. It’s definitely worth the read if you’re think of paying to help get your book published: The Indie Author’s Guide to Hybrid Publishing

And, publishing expert Jane Friedman offers great advice on How to Evaluate a Hybrid Publisher

What they all have in common

Before you can think about self-publishing a book, no matter what route, you need to write a story. And, since your name will be on that story as author, you should write a quality story, one that you’ll be proud of.

I can help with that. I’m a children’s ghostwriter and can turn your idea into a publishable story. Or, if you have a story, but it needs a lot of work, I can rewrite it for you.

If you’d like to discuss a project, shoot me an email at kcioffiventrice@gmail.com

You can also check the Contact Page for my phone number if you’d prefer discussing it over the phone.

References
(1) Publishing Options: Traditional, Hybrid, Self-Publishing

MORE ON WRITING

Small Home-Grown Book Publishers – Good or Bad?

Secondary Characters – Are They Important?

4 Writing Tips on Using Descriptions

 

Dec 17

3 Reasons Why Editing Should Come Before Self-Publishing

Edit before you self-publishSelf-publishing is an amazing beast. It has brought the world of publishing into the hands of you, Joe, Beth, and everyone and anyone who wants to write a book. It has brought writing power and freedom to all.

But, with writing power and freedom comes responsibility.

This means that while it’s true that self-publishing has opened a tremendous amount of doors and anyone can now write and publish a book, it doesn’t mean you can slap anything together and self-publish? You need to produce quality (edited) content for three reasons.

There are at least three reasons you should edit your manuscript before you self-publish:

Reason number one: You have an obligation to your reader.

You want to give the reader her money’s worth. Whether it’s fiction or nonfiction, you want to create a book that will engage the reader. You don’t want the reader to stumble over grammatical and content errors while reading.

One of the drawbacks to the ease of self-publishing is those new to the arena don’t realize they should hone their craft before actually publishing a book. This means taking the time to learn about writing and self-editing, and realizing the importance of hiring a professional editor to edit the book before giving it to the world.

Reason number two: You have an obligation to other writers.

Part of the problem today is the ‘I want it now’ syndrome that self-publishing lends itself to. Authors don’t want to take the longer ‘proven’ road. But, learning the ropes really does matter.

Once your book is ‘out there,’ it becomes another element in the determining factor as to whether self-published books are of the same quality as traditionally published books. This is where your obligation to other writers comes into play. It’s not fair to diminish the value of self-published books.

Reason number three: Self-editing is a good book marketing move.

In book marketing 101, the first step is to create a quality product.

In a webinar, pro marketers Daniel Hall and Jason Fladlien discussed the importance of ‘the offer’ (your product) compared to the sales copy. By far, a quality product is much more important.

If your intent is to only publish one book, then quality may not matter from a marketing perspective. The saying goes, ‘if you fool me once, shame on me.’ If this is the scenario, then you don’t have to worry about readers/purchasers buying more from you. But, you’ll need to be careful here, because word-of-mouth is lightning fast in the internet world. This could easily stop your one-time purchasers also.

On the flip side, let’s assume you love writing and have decided to earn an income from it. Then, self-editing will play a huge part in your book marketing success. If you produce a sub-standard product (book), it will discourage a customer from buying your future books.

Remember, a great product will not only sell itself, it will usually write its own copy. Editing before publishing helps create a quality product.

Here are two links to help you with the editing process:

Writing a Book – 6 Tips to Hiring a Freelance Editor
Editing a Children’s Book – 10 Tips Checklist for Authors

Be a children's writerBeing a writer, like being any kind of artist who creates something from nothing, is an amazing ability. It’s almost like magic. And, you are in control. You decide what to create. The only limit you have is the cap on your imagination.

Check out my 180 page ebook (or paperback) that gives you all the basics of WRITING FICTION FOR CHILDREN. It’s newly revised and includes information on finding a publisher or agent, and marketing your books.

Learn to write for children

Dec 10

Opening Paragraphs

Tips on writing your storyContributed by Suzanne Lieurance

What’s perhaps the most important part of anything you write?

The opening paragraph, of course.

Yet many times, that’s the part writers have the most trouble with.

They end up with an opening paragraph that is too long, too
unfocused, and doesn’t really lead to what happens next.

With that in mind, here are some tips for writing a winning opening paragraph.

1. KEEP IT SHORT.

If your opening paragraph is clear and to the point, you shouldn’t need more than a sentence or two.

Also, keep the sentences in your opening paragraph short and easy to read.

2. MAKE IT ACTIVE.

Passive sentences can slow down your article or chapter from the
start.

Avoid this by using active sentences—subject, verb, object, for example—for the most part.

3. REWRITE IT LATER.

After you’ve written your article or chapter, go back and look at your opening paragraph again.

Does it really prepare the reader for what comes next?

Is it short?

Is it active?

If not, simply rewrite the paragraph.

Take time to carefully craft your opening paragraphs and you’ll have stronger, more focused articles and chapters as a result.

Try it!

For more writing tips and resources delivered to your e-mailbox every weekday morning, get your free subscription to The Morning Nudge from Suzanne Lieurance, the Working Writer’s Coach.

WANT TO BE A CHILDREN’S WRITER?

Learn to write for children

Being a writer, like being any kind of artist who creates something from nothing, is an amazing ability. It’s almost like magic. And, you are in control. You decide what to create. The only limit you have is the cap on your imagination.

Check out this 180 page ebook (or paperback) that gives you all the basics of WRITING FICTION FOR CHILDREN. It’s newly revised and includes information on finding a publisher or agent, and marketing your books.

Writing for children tips

Traditionally Publishing – Keep Submitting

Small Book Publishers Fill the Gap

The Author Website – 5 Top Tips to Optimization

 

Dec 03

Writing Success – Do You Really Have the Power?

How do you become a successful writer?The question in the title has been asked for hundreds, probably thousands of years.

The simple truth of the matter is you have the power. You are in control of whether you become successful or not. Most of it has to do with your thought process.

Zig Ziglar said, “Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude.”

Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.”

These two men were giants in the business world and they knew the power of positive thinking.

So, it’s easy to see that what you think has tremendous power over you and what you can accomplish.

But, how do you change your thought process?

The Fix

To get on the right track, you have to stop making excuses and playing the ‘woe is me’ card. Stop thinking and saying, “I can’t do it.”

It doesn’t matter what your circumstances are, you have the ability to learn what you need to learn to do what you need to do to be successful.

Maybe you want to be a working freelance writer who actually gets gigs and earns a good living.

Maybe you want to be an author of an award-winning book and make money from that book, or use it to make money from opportunities that arise from writing a great book.

Maybe you want to have a successful business with 5, 10, 100, or 1000 employees.

Whatever you want to do . . . whatever you REALLY want to do . . . is possible to do.

But, there is a second part to the success process.

German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said, “Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.”

Ah ha!

Are lights blinking and bells chiming?

You can wake up every morning and say I’m going to make $500 today, but if you don’t work toward that goal, you won’t make a penny.

It’s your thoughts in collaboration with your actions that will give you the ability to succeed.

Below is the two-part success process broken into eight bite-size steps.

8 Steps Towards Success

1. Decide what you really what to become or do.
2. Find out what’s needed to accomplish what you want.
3. Believe you can do it.
4. Learn whatever you need to learn to get started and move forward.
5. Take it a step further and become an expert in one particular niche or industry.
6. Prepare a detailed business plan with short and long term goals, along with actionable steps to accomplish those goals.
7. Work, work, work.
8. If you need help, get it.

Start your success process today and take your positive thoughts into the NEW year with you.

This article is reprinted from: http://www.articlewritingdoctor.com/2015/10/business-success-do-you-really-have-the-power-8-tips/

Be a children's writerWhether you need rewriting or ghostwriting, let me take a look at your story. Just send me an email at: kcioffiventrice@gmail.com. Please put “Children’s Writing” in the Subject box.

Or, give me a call at 347—834—6700

Let’s get your book in publishable shape today!

MORE ON WRITING FOR CHILDREN

Writing – 6 Essential Steps to Publication

Writing with Focus

Ghostwriting Warning – Don’t Try This at Home

Nov 26

Making a Fiction Story Work – 5 Key Elements

Tips to writing fictionThink about the last time you read a story that stayed with you. A story that made you feel. A story that took you on an adventure or had you sitting on the edge of your seat. A story that made you cry or laugh . . . or think.

These types of stories have it. They have the key to making a story work.

So, how do you go about creating a stirring story?

Here are 5 top tips to writing a fiction story that works:

1. It’s got to have conflict.

All writers have heard this and the reason is because it’s true.

Your protagonist MUST be striving for something, and it should be something significant. She needs to have obstacles in her way that she has to overcome in order for the reader to be engaged enough to turn the page.

The reader has to be pulled into the story wondering if, and more so hoping that, the protagonist reaches her goal.

You wouldn’t have much of a story following a couple in an amusement park going from ride to ride, waiting on line for food, and so on. There’s nothing for the reader to get involved with. There’s no emotional element.

Or, what if a great writer puts two children in a story that takes place at the Bronx Zoo. The narrator describes in detail all the exhibits they visit and does it wonderfully. But, what does the reader have to sink her teeth into. Nothing.

One of my all-time favorite movies was Thelma and Louise. The conflict was never-ending. And, it was the conflict that keep you on the edge of your seat.

How would they get out of the mess they were in?!

That’s how you want your readers to feel. There needs to be conflict in order to make the reader feel. It doesn’t have to be ‘seat of your pants’ drama, but it needs to be significant. It can be external or internal, but it has to be something the reader can grab and hang on to. It has to make the reader get involved with the story and care about it.

2. The readers need to be invested in the story.

A good story brings the reader into the protagonist’s shoes. This is what will motivate the reader to like and root for the protagonist.

It’s all about making the reader ‘feel.’ The story has to evoke emotion on the reader’s part. The story has to have substance.

Going back to Thelma and Louise, one wrong decision spiraled out of control into what seemed to them as a live or die situation.

Circumstances and choices took them bounding out-of-control, as if caught up in a tornado. This kind of story creates investment.

It evoked emotion in just about everyone who saw the movie. Everyone was rooting for the protagonists.

In an article, “Make Readers Deeply Connect to Your Characters,” the author calls this key factor, “transportation.” You’re bringing the reader out of their reality and into your story world. You’re transporting them.

Like Alice when she steps into the rabbit hole. Down, down, down she went into another world.

3. The characters have to act ‘real’ and be likeable.

Your characters need to be multifaceted. They need to behave like real people. This means they’ll have good traits, but they’ll also have some bad traits or weaknesses. It may be they’re indecisive. Or, at the beginning of the story they may be frightened of everything.

Your characters should make great decisions, but they should also make poor ones.

Along with this, your protagonist needs to be likeable. He needs to have traits that the reader will admire and connect to. It’s important that the reader likes the protagonist.

Maybe your protagonist will be honest, heroic, responsible, generous, or loyal.

You get the idea. These are characteristics that most people admire in others. They’re characteristics that will draw the reader in.

I forgot what movie it was and I forgot the exact details, but basically the protagonist was sitting in a diner across from her date. Another woman, elegantly dressed, walked passed with toilet paper stuck to the bottom of her shoe. The toilet paper woman was heading to a table where a man was waiting for her.

The protagonist excused herself for a moment. She got up and removed the paper from the woman’s foot by walking behind her and stepping on the paper. Then she sat back down and returned to her conversation.

The woman that passed by never knew the kindness the protagonist showed her. And, the protagonist didn’t mention what she did to her date.

This one simple act of kindness spoke volumes about the character of the protagonist. She’s the type of person you’d admire and like to be friends with.

4. The protagonist needs to have some heroic qualities.

At some point in the story, the protagonist needs to step up. This can be in several small incidents that she overcomes throughout the story. Or, it can be in one climatic incident that wraps the story up.

In general, and especially in children’s stories, the protagonist needs to take action and reach her goal.

It may be after one or two or three failures, but ultimately, the protagonist must step up. Whether it’s physical or emotional, whether internal or external, she needs to fight through all obstacles that stand in her way.

Readers want a purposeful story. They want and even expect the protagonist to be victorious. Don’t let your readers down.

5. Tie-up all loose ends.

When you’re getting to the end of your story, make sure all loose ends are tied up. Any tidbits of information you put out there must be resolved.

You want the reader to go away satisfied. You don’t want her wondering why something was mentioned somewhere in the story and not resolved.

One example is mentioning that the protagonist’s close friend lost his dog. Then there’s no mention of it. Was the dog found?

WHAT HAPPENED TO THE DOG?

Another example is in a middle-grade manuscript I just read. The author had the friend of the protagonist saying he couldn’t go to the protagonist’s special event because he had something URGENT to do that day.

Afterward there was no mention of the urgent matter.

This is a NO-NO. What was so urgent? Why was it mentioned, if it wasn’t followed up with?

As I read the manuscript I knew that part would either have to be addressed (tied-up) or eliminated.

These loose-ends are things that will gnaw at the reader. They will leave the end feeling like something is missing. Again, this is a NO-NO.

So, there you have it.

While there is more involved in writing good fiction, these five are at the top of the ‘good fiction story’ list.

Sources:
Connect Characters
https://www.cs.indiana.edu/metastuff/wonder/ch1.html (Sorry, this link is no longer working)

THINKING OF WRITING YOUR OWN CHILDREN’S STORY?

Check out my 180 page ebook (or paperback) that gives you all the basics of WRITING FICTION FOR CHILDREN. It’s newly revised and includes information on finding a publisher or agent, and marketing your books.

Learn to write for children