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Archive for June, 2010

Editing. Possibly one of the most loathed words in a writer’s vocabulary. It’s a necessary evil, but with the right tools and some help from people who understand what you’re doing you won’t need to put it under getting a root canal on your to-do list.

The first thing you need to do is to evaluate is your budget. That may seem like an odd thing to suggest, but there’s a good reason I have. If you can afford to pay a professional to help you in the editing process, then do it. They get paid because they know what they’re doing.

Once you’ve checked your budget and know what you can afford, decide who you need to hire. I recommend reading Joel Friedlander‘s post What Every Self-Publisher Ought to Know About Editing before actually hiring anyone because each part of the editing process calls for a different skill set. You want to hire the right person for the right job.

Once you know who you need it’s a matter of searching for the individual who can do the job within your budget limitations. Start with your POD or print house. They often have editing packages that easily fit into smaller budgets. If you don’t find what you need there, then ask around. Most self-published/Independent Authors will be happy to make referrals. It’s in our best interest to help other self-publishers/Independent Authors find people who will do a great job editing.

Perhaps you’ve looked at your finances and found you have a big fat ZERO in your budget for editing expenses. Let me just say, not having a budget for editing expenses does not excuse you from the process.

If you absolutely cannot afford to pay someone to edit your work, then you must be even more vigilant when you do your own first edits and re-writes. Invest in some good style and grammar books (you may find them in your local library or, better yet, second-hand on Amazon.com). I like Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing and the most recent edition of the AP Stylebook. You can also find a lot of free editing information on the internet just by doing a quick search. Just remember that searching for an answer can be time-consuming (especially if you tend to get side-tracked) and sometimes confusing.

Once you’ve done plenty of editing on your own, it’s time to submit your work to a writers’ group like Critters or Absolute Write. Be sure you choose the right forum when you submit your work or you’ll be in for some nasty returns. Keli Gwyn of Romance Writers on the Journey: Resources for romance writers en route to publication suggests in her post “How to Find Critique Partners” that writers find a critique partner in their particular genre.

Another good idea is to let plenty of people read your work before sending it to your POD or print house. I particularly like getting the insights of my non-writer friends since they make up the largest part of my readership.

Whether you have money to burn or a wallet full of moths, there is no excuse for skipping the rigors of good editing on The Road to Writing.

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There’s a story I once read, one of those email stories that get forwarded multiple times, about a group of frogs.  Each frog is doing its best to race to the top of a high tower, but one by one they drop off as they begin to hear others declaring, “What pain!!! They’ll never make it!” One little frog, though, just keeps hopping. Higher and higher he climbs, until finally he reaches the top. Later one of the frogs who had dropped off asked the little frog his secret, to which he replies…

he is deaf.

I know another story, one I think most people are familiar with, about a little train that believed he could make it over an enormous hill. Turns out he was right. He could, and did, make it up and over that hill.

If you follow the line of thought from both of these stories you’ll begin to understand what it takes to be a successful Independent Author. In a world where consensus is the norm (and if you don’t think that’s true, then just watch what you do the next time you’re caught in a “highway swarm” as  Brian Ahearn of Influence People was), doing something that’s considered different is usually warned against — strongly. To be an Independent Author you have to be deaf to the “warnings.” I’ve found in most cases it’s best to just smile and nod, then move forward with your own plan.

Being an Independent Author takes a strong belief in your book, in what you have to offer, in you. There’s a lot of helpful information available to anyone who decides to self-publish, but it won’t do you any good if you self-doubt right along with it. While you won’t have to deal with a rejection letter from a traditional publisher and you will have complete control over every aspect of your book, those are only a few boulders removed from the giant hill an Independent Author must climb. The good news is that it can be climbed.

After you’re atop the self-publishing tower, after you’ve climbed the Independent Author hill, you can shout “I knew I could!” on The Road to Writing.

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I don’t think there is anyone who would disagree that blogging on a regular basis is a must to gain a solid reader base. If you want to be noticed you have to get the attention of not just people, but the internet spiders, especially those of Google. The question, however, is how often should you blog?

The vast majority, I think, would say that you absolutely must blog everyday. Their reasoning? Usually it’s an assumption that everyone prefers having their email inbox glutted with “great” new posts on a daily basis. Or it’s all about increasing your Google rank. Or both.

While blogging daily will increase your Google rank, unless it is of very high quality, a daily blog (even just on weekdays) can be seen as a nuisance to your readers — and a major stress factor for you, especially if you’re a highly sensitive person. I strongly disagree with the thought that it’s a wonderful idea to blog on a daily basis, from both a writer’s and a reader’s standpoint.

From a reader’s view, I have enough emails to wade through that the daily blogs, unless they’re amazing, simply get deleted with nothing more than a quick scan. Those that come on a weekly or monthly basis I’m more likely to take the time to read because I believe that person really took the time to produce something of high quality. (It’s a judgement call, I know, but I just haven’t seen enough fantastic daily posts to believe otherwise.)

As a writer, a daily blog puts strain on an already tight schedule. For me, blogging isn’t just sitting down to write whatever pops into my head. There is a lot of research to be done for a quality blog. Not to mention a large amount of time actually crafting and editing it. After all, a “quality” blog gives useful information and makes sure the reader has ready access to helpful sites. If all I wanted to do was give a quick tip, I’d use Twitter.

One such advocate of daily blogging is Gary Smailes of BubbleCow. Gary says in his post Why (And How) Writers Should Blog Every Day, “If you are looking to build a platform then it all comes down to priorities. If you are going to build an online presence then you need to develop a voice and audience. The more you push, the louder your voice becomes.”

If you’re an HSP like me, then pushing and speaking louder is almost the antithesis of who you are. I’m sorry, Mr. Smailes, but there are other ways of making yourself heard.

Basic networking can be done via social media or face-to-face and you don’t have to shout to do it. Building a network, and a following, does not have to happen overnight. Trying to stretch yourself beyond what you can naturally do and without the needed downtime, something non-HSPs do on a regular basis, will only make a highly sensitive person overwhelmed. I know from personal experience that trying to market myself the way “everyone else does it” or, worse, the way “everyone else says I should do it” only gave me wicked heartburn and a lot of cranky days from lack of sleep. It didn’t improve my following at all.

What has worked is crafting quality weekly blogs and networking the old-fashioned way. As a highly sensitive person, I find I absolutely must be creative — and slow — in building my platform. I may not win a lot of readers today, but over time I’m positive I can entice many on The Road to Writing.

BTW: This post took 1 hour 15 minutes to write and edit. That time does not include research on the topic of blogging.

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Have you ever been stuck away from your computer with a deadline hanging over your head? What do you do? Grab your Smartphone, a piece of scrap paper or even a napkin and get to work.

As I sit here waiting for my flat tire to be fixed I started to worry about how I would ever get my post for this week finished in time. You see, I decided it would be best to refrain from using the computers at my job after one of them became infected with a virus. (I do a lot of research for these posts and with that comes the risk of viruses.) That means, with no computer access, I lose four hours of writing time everyday. My mornings and evenings are devoted to my little girl, so, again, no computer access. That leaves only a short time just before bed. It makes every lost moment (like now on my “writing day”) painful.

I’m a big believer in Murphy’s Law, but I also know that there are work-arounds to any obstacle — if you care to look for them. Writing on my little Palm Centro keyboard is not something I want to do on a regular basis, but, when faced with either doing that or losing even more writing time, I’ll take the hand crampage any day.

With a little luck, and a whole lot of creative thinking, any writer can find a way to keep working on The Road to Writing.

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As I was researching information for this post, (which is supposed to be on Financial Tips for Indie Authors) I found myself lacking inspiration. There are soooo many financial web sites out there that are targeted to just about anyone, though a quick Google search for “Financial Tips for Independent Authors” gains nothing of real value. So, as is my habit, I continued searching in different directions, hoping to find something to bring to you.

I considered venturing into my initial reason for starting TRTW (to make money online blogging) when, viola! Two and a half hours into the search I came across Master Dayton‘s article For the Casual Freelancer: If you don’t like to be told what to write…“.

Suddenly a few things clicked and I found myself signing up to be an author on Constant Content. They pay the author for each article purchased when their account reaches $5. Payment, according to their FAQ, is made at the beginning of each month. If you make more than $500 you can choose either to receive a wire transfer to your bank account or into your PayPal account (anything under $500 automatically goes into your PayPal account). Each article must adhere to their submission guidelines and if you have three articles rejected, then you can no longer upload documents to their site.

While I could be dreaming about huge payments being directly wired to my bank account, I’m not. To be sure, making money online, whether by blogging or freelancing for sites such as Constant Content, isn’t a cakewalk. In fact, although I’m looking forward to trying my hand at this new stream of income, I’ve come to believe what Darren Rowse of Problogger says in his article “9 Unsexy Truths about Making Money Online,” there are no guarantees of success. All each of us can do is try, going it one step at a time, on The Road to Writing.

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In my last post about BookBuzzr, I mentioned that I was disappointed that I couldn’t put the mini-widget in my sidebar. Well, after some help from the tech department (way to keep at it!) I discovered how to put my free book sample where it really belongs — in my sidebar. Now everyone can reach it regardless of what post they happen to land on.

Gotta say, I’m not a tech genius. I’m sometimes really slow and a bit thick, but I know quality when I see it. I now feel absolutely confident in recommending BookBuzzr to any independent author.

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