Top Ten Things You Could Be Saying To Yourself That Will Guarantee Your Failure As A Writer by Katharine Grubb, 10 Minute Novelist

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I spend DECADES of my life saying negative things to myself.

Slowly, I’m addressing them one by one, changing what I say and taking positive steps (like NOT buying a box of donuts to eat in one sitting) to make my life better and my soul happier.

Below I have a list of the top ten things wannabe writers say to themselves that keep them stuck in failure.

Top 10 Things You Could Be Saying To Yourself That Will Guarantee Your Failure As A Writer by Katharine Grubb, 10 Minute Novelist

If you are saying any of these things to yourself, then you will, most certainly fail.

The reason? This negative self talk is a paralyzer.

It fosters inaction.

The antidote is two fold: say positive things and take baby steps out.

1. I’m So Disorganized.

Okay, this could be true. You maybe disorganized because you lack focus, or management skills or a plan. But all of those things are tools.  Successful people have learned how to use these tools that they can stay organized. This is the secret that super organized people know — organization does just happen, it’s daily work! If your house, office, desk, ideas or life is super disorganized, find the tools the experts use and make them work for you!

What to say to yourself instead: Today I’m taking 10 minutes to get more organized. I’m starting small. Something is better than nothing. Go me!

 What to do: Take 10 minutes, start with Pinterest and search for specific links, then create an organization board. Don’t get distracted. This is your starting place for the actual work. Or, take 10 minutes to make a list of the specific areas you want order in. Then, commit to ten minutes a day working on this area. You’ll see progress. You’ll find order. Try also Flylady.com (my personal favorite).

2. I’m Not Any Good.

This could be true. You may not be a good writer. How do you get better? With practice. Writing is a skill and the most talented writers in the world still have to practice! They did not just spring up out of the ground as NYT bestsellers. They worked on their craft over and over until they grew in skill and confidence. Learn all you can about the craft of writing. Be teachable. Find a mentor. Take a class. And write every day!

What to say to yourself instead: Everybody has to work hard. I’m no different.

What to do: Take 10 minutes and write. Don’t evaluate it or edit it. You just practiced! Then take another 10 minutes and request writing books from your local library’s website, or search Goodreads for the best books and buy them, or go to Writer’s Digest website and spend ten minutes reading. You can learn to be a better writer on ten minutes a day.

3. What If Someone Doesn’t Like It? 

Someone is not going to like it. This is a fact of life in the world of artists. If you choose to be an artist, then you’re choosing to have a bad review occasionally, you’ll receive a rejection letter or two and your skin will have to toughen up. But somewhere, someone will like it. This is your first fan. If you don’t write, you’ll never find them. It is for this reader (and all their Facebook friends, Twitter followers and Google+ people) that you write what you write.

What to say to say to yourself instead: What if someone does like it? That will be awesome!

What to do: Read all the one-star reviews of your favorite books on Amazon.com. Some of them are horrible, aren’t they? Notice how this negativity keeps these authors down. (Hint: it doesn’t!)

4. I Don’t Have Time.

You’ll pardon me if I roll my eyes on this one. For nearly every other item on this list, I have great compassion, but I don’t for this one. The truth is you have time for everything you want to do. All you need to accomplish your writing goals is a minimum of ten minutes a day. I know that this is true because between my five children, my homeschooling responsibilities and my homemade bread baking, I found time to pursue my dreams in ten minute increments.  It took me five years to write my first book, but I did it. I examined my carefully to find the time, made the time and then worked all the time!

What to say to yourself instead: I can find the time!

What to do: Spend ten minutes looking at your schedule on a daily and weekly basis. Where is there lolly-gagging time that can be devoted to writing? Where are you waiting for your kids? What Netflix show can you forfeit for the sake of writing? I bet you can find a lot more than ten minutes a day.

5. I Don’t Have What I Need.

This excuse is an easy fix. If you are reading this, you’re on a computer or a smart phone. That means you have what you need. Don’t have word processing software? Put your work on Google.docs. Do a search for all the great writing apps for smart phones. Or go low-tech and buy a spiral notebook and a pen. You can get what you need to be a writer very easily. Don’t let this small problem keep you from pursuing your dreams.

What to say to yourself instead: Wow! That was easy!

What to do: Spend ten minutes finding a place at home that will be your workspace — it doesn’t have to be big or glamorous. (I spend years standing at my kitchen counter on an iMac.) Then set up a document, create orderly files, put that journal in your handbag, get a great pen. You can do this!

6. I’ve Failed Before.

We’ve all failed. The first time you tried to walk, you fell. The first time you tried to eat solid food you spit it out. The first time you tried to read, you got it wrong. I can GUARANTEE that there are grammar and spelling mistakes in this blog post. Failure is a part of life. I’m not a psychotherapist, but I’m going to guess that it’s not the failure that’s the problem here, but the feeling of worthlessness that plays piggyback on that failure. This took me a long time to realize but the truth is, failure doesn’t define me.  I am so much more than my series of mistakes. I’m going to fail in the future, that’s a given. But I’m not going to let it keep me down.

What to say to yourself instead: I’m going to fail in big and small ways, but so what?

What to do: Read this. I am especially impressed with the fact that Oprah was fired because she was too emotionally involved in the story she reported.

7. I’m Not As Good As Them So Why Try?

Trying really hard not to eyeroll here, bear with me. Of all the excuses on this list, this one is the most cowardly. It’s bad enough that you have no confidence in your God-given skills and abilities, but then you take what you perceive as your weakness and compare it someone else’s strength and naturally come out lacking. It’s a double whammy against who you are and what you were created to be. You are never going to be as good as anybody. Do you know why? BECAUSE YOU ARE YOU! If you have artistic inclinations, then you have a distinct point of view, a unique voice, a perspective that no one else has ever had (you’ll still have to work hard to make it shine, but still). The world needs you!

If you really, really want to believe that the success of other people is the reason to hide your talent under a bushel, then you should be ashamed of yourself. I want this post to be encouraging and hopeful but I’m half-tempted to tell people who actually believe this crap to stay on the couch, stay in front of Netflix, do nothing. Please. I want your future readers for myself.

What to say to yourself instead: Dangit! I have something to offer!

What to do: Put some blinders on. And for the love of Pete, stop comparing yourself to others.

8. I’m Too Old To Try Anything New.

This one is breaking my crap-o-meter. You are NOT too old. Life is going to pass you by if you don’t pursue your dreams now. You don’t want to come to the end of it and wish you’d take ten minutes every day.

What to say to yourself instead: My kids (and grandkids) need to see me pursue my dreams!

What to do: Read this Huffington Post article about writers who got published later in life. One woman was 99!

9. There’s too much to learn, so it’s too hard.

When it comes to writing and marketing and publishing there is a LOT to learn. The bad news is that there’s always an new app or a new social media platform or a new guru to read.  The wealth of information is intimidating and overwhelming. Instead of thinking about how hard it is, choose the easiest thing or most interesting aspect of writing/marketing pursuit and only do that. The good news? Nobody knows and implements it all. The most successful people have put limitations on themselves so that they keep the ever growing information monster at bay. You can do that too.

What to say to yourself instead: My time is valuable. I’m going to focus on one aspect of my goals, like writing, and learn a little bit every day. 

What to do: Find one or two blogs on writing to follow. Read one book at a time. Don’t panic over what is left, just do what you can when you can.

10. I Don’t Have Anything Worthwhile To Say

Deep sigh. Then a hug. Then another sigh. I totally get this. Sometimes the desires that we have to write are lonely. They don’t exactly have ideas to play with. Personally, I’ve found that ideas, for some reason, inspire other ideas. The act of creating sometimes can spawn new inspiration and then you have something to say, something you didn’t know was in you.

What to say to yourself instead: Hey Muse! I’m going to sit down to work, you’re going to join me!

What to do: Write for 10 minutes about anything. Sign up for Sarah Selecky’s daily writing prompts. Then, watch this Ted Talk about the creative muse by Elizabeth Gilbert (this is my all time favorite Ted Talk. It makes me cry every time!)

The most powerful voice in the world is the one you use to talk to yourself.

Make sure the voice you use is the one that can keep you motivate, encourage yourself to succeed and keep hope alive.

It took me about 20 seconds to come up with ten, because I’ve said every single one of these to myself. I know how powerful these lies are.

 

So, what else are you saying to yourself that could be keeping you down?

What can you say to yourself instead?

What can you do to change everything?

 

Top 10 Signs You’ve Given TMI & Need to Cut The Dickens Out Of Your Backstory by Katharine Grubb 10 Minute Novelist

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Free fiction

You are not Charles Dickens.

As much as you may want  to be Victorian, champion for the London’s most needy, and father 10 children, that doesn’t give you the right to overwrite your novels.

That is, if you intention is to sell them in today’s market, you may want to reconsider how much backstory you have and how you may want to cut it.

In today’s market, there are general guidelines for genres. Writer’s Digest has a nice article that breaks it down for your use. But these are general guidelines. Anyone who self-publishes can basically do whatever they want. And if you look hard enough, you’ll find exceptions to nearly ever rule. Harry Potter, anyone?

I’d like to suggest that as you are sculpting your novel, you do take into consideration its length. Look specifically at all the backstory you may have included. Then cut it.

Top 10 Signs You've Given TMI & Need To Cut the Dickens Out Of Your Backstory by Katharine Grubb 10 Minute Novelist

You May Have Too Much Backstory If . . .

1. You have told your reader how everyone is related to everyone else in the first two paragraphs. Save all familial connections for your own notes. Then only give the reader the information in organic ways, slowly, across several points in the first act. There’s  a big difference between these connections being interesting and being relevant. If any cut makes a difference to the story when it’s gone, put it back in. 

Top 10 Signs You've Given TMI & Need to Cut The Dickens Out Of Your Backstory by Katharine Grubb 10 Minute Novelist

2. You’ve listed three items on your main character’s resume early in the book. Where they went to high school, what kinds of grades they earned and where they worked the summer of 1988 is all critical character development and needs to be kept in a back room. This is like the family information — needed only in your notes. 

“There are books of which the backs and covers are by far the best parts.”
Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist

3. You’ve mentioned you protagonist’s high school experiences and your main character is 27. We’re all shaped by our experiences as youth. But only mention them if they are pivotal to the events that are currently happening between the covers of this book. If something happened in Miss Simmon’s English class that was that significant, either mold the plot around it or write a prequel. 

4. An old boyfriend makes an appearance and your MC flashbacks to the break up scene. This is a lot like the high school trauma. For your own notes, you may want to know that your main character got dumped by the academic team captain the night before the big match, but unless it’s part of the current story it shouldn’t be mentioned. Everyone has a heartbreak.

“Reflect upon your present blessings — of which every man has many — not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.”
Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol and Other Christmas Writings

5. It’s in the first chapter. You should never, ever have backstory in the first chapter. No. Don’t do it. First act? Yes. Your first chapter’s purpose is to set the tone, identify the setting, introduce your main characters to your readers, touch on the big objective and themes of the book and hook your readers so they want to hear more. Your first chapter should be full of action in that it thrusts the story forward. Backstory is usually passive. It can’t thrust anything, except my eyelids to lower. Think about moving it to chapter three after you’ve cut it down. Way, way down. For the reader this can be as ill-fitting as the Artful Dodger’s found wardrobe.

6. You defend yourself by saying that Dickens  did it so you’re doing it too. No! A thousand times no! We don’t read the great authors of the past so that we can create dictums for current discipline in our writing. We read great authors of the past because their work has lasted a long time, because they are a part of our literary culture and because it’s good for us. The demands of today’s market has nothing to do with past books. If you want to sell to modern audiences, you need to be approachable, sophisticated, and savvy, not dated or old-fashioned. Unless you don’t want to sell books at all.

“I have been bent and broken, but – I hope – into a better shape.”
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

7. When you get carried away. You’ve stopped the big action between the dragon and the knight  to tell the reader how the sword the knight is using was forged by the elf who was once engaged to the driad, who died of a curse from a witch, who lives in the hut in the enchanted forest, that is full of fairies who sing in a full moon, which only comes out once a year because this story takes place on another planet in another galaxy that was formed billions of years ago. What I’m trying to say here is that backstory kills action. If you have an important action scene, you need to complete the scene before you throw in the backstory. Backstory is passive. Backstory drags down pacing. Whenever you put it in, put it between big action scenes so your reader can catch their breath. But even then, make sure it’s not that long because you don’t want to calm your reader down so much that they go to sleep.

8. When you’re overly proud of your research. You catch yourself saying, “but I RESEARCHED the slums of 1840 London! My reader needs to see how hard I worked!” This is a hard truth in writing, especially if you write historical fiction: your research work shouldn’t be too obvious to the reader. Your research is for your artistic and integrity and accuracy. Historical fiction fans will love that about you. It’s not though, for showing off in the story. Save your most interesting finds for the author’s notes. That way readers who are really into it can appreciate your hard work. Better idea? Create a blog about your research topic! You’ll find new fans for your work!

“You are in every line I have ever read.”
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

9. When you believe that every work that comes out of your keyboard is golden and precious and can’t be omitted. Now this may be true during Nanowrimo when you just need to pad that word count. But in a novel, you need to be brutal with excessive words.  Brutal like Bill Sikes’ attack on Nancy. Your objective as a writer is to communicate clearly and excellently. That will require you to cut out what is irrelevant, unnecessary, tangential, dull, passive, overwritten or inconsistent.

10.  You’re so into telling, rather than showing, that you named your main character William Tell. He lives in Tell City, Indiana, he has a job as a teller, and for vacation he goes to Telluride. My point? Show. Instead of telling us that Mr. Tell is angry, show us that he threw the mug across the room. How do you know if you’re telling? If your words create a visual image of action, then you’re showing. If your words feel like a list, or your reader’s mind has a mental gray space where the action should be, or you are imprecise in what is happening in the story right now, or your verbs are weak, then you may be telling. Get a good beta reader or critique partner and let them mark up places that need to be written more interestingly. You can find one in this group on Tuesday’s Buddy Day. 

“It’s in vain to recall the past, unless it works some influence upon the present.”
Charles Dickens, David Copperfield

 Not convinced? Here’s more Signs You’ve Given TMI, Need to Find A Sharp Instrument, & Cut The Dickens Out Of Your Story

You may have too much when you feel like there’s a pause button because you need to explain something.

You may have too much when you think that detailing people’s opinions of other characters is an excuse for head hopping.

You may have too much when the details that you have to share reveal a secret, which, would be best suited saved until much later.

You may have too much when you’ve decided that a little backstory is easier to write than action or dialogue.

You may have too much when you have referred to childhood trauma way too early.

Backstory does have its purpose.

As a writer, you need to spend time developing the pasts of all your characters so that you can define their desires and goals. Each character should make decisions based on the composite of their past experiences. But these experiences aren’t always welcome in a narrative. You also need to be thorough and diligent in your research. This adds credibility to your story and integrity to you as a writer. But just because you thought it, doesn’t mean it needs to be written.

Editing all those words is more painful than Scrooge following around the Ghost of Christmas Past, but if he can be honest with the mistakes that he made (and make big changes) so you can you!

Top 10 Ways To Equip Myself To Be An Expert Starer by Katharine Grubb, 10 Minute Novelist

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Oh, how I love Flannery O’Connor for about ten gazillion reasons.

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When one of my literary heroes says it’s okay to stare, you better believe I’m going to do what she says.

But in my staring,  I need to be equipped. I need to have the right tools. I need to know what I’m doing. I need to know why observing people makes me a better writer.

Today I’d like to present Top 10 Ways To Equip Myself To Be An Expert Starer

Top 10 Ways To Equip Yourself To Be An Expert Starer by Katharine Grubb, 10 Minute Novelist

1. I should have something with me at all times on which to take notes. If not the Evernote app on my smart phone, then a real life notebook and paper. Evernote is good for documenting and putting things in the correct file AND I can sync my phone notes with my iPad and my laptop. But then the kinesthetic experience of writing with an actual pen is therapeutic and calming and feels a little more artistic.

2. I should use my camera on my phone (at least if I’m discreet). Once when I was in Chicago O’Hare’s airport, I saw a woman who looked exactly like Michael Jackson. Everything in me wanted to take a photo and put it on Facebook, (oh, you pesky ethics!!!)  but instead I just wrote down detailed notes about her black suit, pointy boots, ghostly pale complexion, blunt black bangs and vibrant lipstick. This took place in 2013 and I can still picture her!

3.  I should have a regular observation time. Part of the mom’s job description is to wait on kids. Since I know I have to be at soccer practice at a certain time every week, I should devote some of that waiting time to observing the people around me. You’ve got waiting time too. Use it to stare!

4. I should tune into my senses. The five senses should be my first step in observation of anything. What do I see? Hear? Smell? Taste? Feel? I should go into as much detail as possible in my notes and if I go off on a tangent, all the better!

5. I should speculate on the story of people based on their appearance. I was dying to know what the Michael Jackson look-alike was up to. In your observation notes, play junior Sherlock Holmes and deduce a little. That scar? Was that a childhood injury or the battering from a spouse? Those shoes? Are they worn because the wearer only has two pair? What story could be told by the lack of a wedding ring? The weight problem? The limp? If I make the most of my staring, I use my speculation to fuel my imagination and even if I never make it into a story, this mental exercise is still a win!

6. I should throw in some metaphor and simile to describe what I see. He was as big as an ox. It’s okay to start with the expected, but I should stretch my mind and compare the people I’m watching to other things or ideas. She was as creepy as a mysteriously androgynous dead pop star. 

7. I should exaggerate. Maybe there was a logical reason why this woman looked so much like MJ. But maybe she suffered from a mental illness and was obsessed with the King of Pop and this flight out of Chicago was the first leg of her journey to Neverland where she would try to reunite with Michael’s chimpanzee and have dinner with Tito. That’s the making of a story! I should totally write any ridiculous ideas down when I stare!

8. I should be honest with myself about what caused me to stare. Sometimes I catch myself being so wrapped up in the voyeur aspect of people watching, that I reduce these people to objects. That’s not cool. I need to treat them with dignity (which is why I never took a photo) and even if I find something in this moment that is story worthy, I need to always remember that the half -naked redneck at Wal-Mart probably has feelings too. It’s one thing to use others as inspiration. It’s quite another to mock them.

9. I should not whisper. If I’m with someone else, then I need to restrain from talking about the weird people around me. Even if they don’t overhear me, it doesn’t help my reputation if I’m known to be critical of others. I should save these observations for the privacy of my own creative time.

10. I should combine my notes with other things. Once I leave the setting and I’ve kept my notes safe, I should go back to my files at home. I should tuck these notes away safely or thumb through other ideas and see if this today’s observation will enhance anything.

Good observers are good writers. With practice, your observation skills can enhance your prose and make your characters and your stories richer.

So go ahead, stare!

Top 10 Questions To Ask Others and Avoid Being Labeled Another Emily Dickinson by Katharine Grubb, 10 Minute Novelists

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If you are a writer, then it is likely that you prefer to be isolated from the rest of the world.

You spend your days thinking up great stories, making them as perfect as you possibly can. You may create that ideal lover, that ideal setting or that ideal story that you believe is the only story worth telling, at least for now. You may often be so engrossed in the creation of your little world that you forget that when the story is over, you may have to share it.

And that thought makes you want to pretend you’re Emily Dickinson.

Emily Dickinson was an American poet who lived about an hour from where I do now, in Amherst, Massachusetts from 1830 to 1886. Dickinson was a famed recluse. And when she died, her family found over 1800 poems that she had hand composed. Some had been “published” in that they were sent to friends, but most were left undiscovered. And this video from Crash Course and John Green explains my favorite commercial jingle related Dickson explanation. 

You don’t want to be Emily Dickinson.

Okay, having 1800 poems written would be kinda cool, but if you are going to have readers, editors, agents and publishers, you’re going to have to come out of the house and show others your work.

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This means that you should get feedback.

This means that you have to open yourself up to criticism. This means that you may risk being misunderstood or disliked. This means that someone may not agree with your choices. This means that you may need the opinions of beta readers, critique partners or writers groups in order to be the best that you can be.

Yikes. That sounds scary. It’s bad enough that we’re writers. But we have to do this too?

When we start out, we’re hesitant and flighty, nervous and fretful. We crave affirmation that we’re on the right track, but we stop so often to ask, we make little progress. Then it doesn’t help that there are so many book/websites/blogs to read about how to be a great writer that it just makes us more insecure in who we are.

Oh, we writers are an insecure bunch aren’t we?

So are we good or not? How do we know? When do we find out? Why isn’t there a rule about this?

Um, well, this is the problem with the subjectivity in good writing. No one really knows. But that doesn’t help you, the new writer.

Good writers, or at least writers who want to be the best that they can be,  use beta readers’, critique partners’ or writers’ groups’ opinions to iron out the story’s wrinkles, find out what’s missing and see what the writer doesn’t see. You can use beta readers early in your writing journey, say, after the first draft. Or you can wait several drafts into it and then let trusted people read it.  Either way, you may find it helpful to give them specific questions to answer about your manuscript. Need a beta reader? The 10 Minute Novelist Facebook group has Buddy Day every Tuesday just for this reason! 

“Judge tenderly of me.”
Emily Dickinson

I’d like to suggest that the world is only big enough for one Emily Dickinson. I’d like to suggest that you get over your fear and ask for help from other writers. To help you, I have this:

Top 10 Questions To Ask Others & Avoid Being Labeled Another Emily DIckinson by Katharine Grubb 10 Minute Novelist

1. What were the strengths of the book? Start off with a positive! If anything else goes wrong, you at least have one or two nice things others say. 

“I know nothing in the world that has as much power as a word. Sometimes I write one, and I look at it, until it begins to shine.”
Emily Dickinson

2. Who was your favorite character, why? The characters need to be interesting, not necessarily likeable. They need to have a distinct arc. They need to change either for better or worse. They need to be consistent. 

3. Did you think that the plot lines were plausible? Even if your story takes place on a distant planet, underwater or sometime in the future, you need to make sure that the things that happen have the possibility of actually happening. If it is too far fetched, even in fantasy, your reader won’t be interested. 

“There is no Frigate like a Book
To take us Lands away
Nor any Coursers like a Page
Of prancing Poetry –
This Traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of Toll –
How frugal is the Chariot
That bears a Human soul.”
Emily Dickinson, Selected Poems

4. Did you think anything was missing? You first readers should be paying close attention to what isn’t being written about? If they say to you, I kept waiting for this to happen and it didn’t.  Then you may want to find a way to fill that hole. If one reader thinks something’s missing, another may too. 

5. Where you ever tempted to put the book down and not pick it up? Why or why not? This is a good question. Your beta reader should tell you when things get boring or dry. If you don’t need the description of the back alley behind the pizza joint, don’t put it in. If you don’t need the backstory of the girl next door that explains her scar that you’ll never mention again, then take it out. Your reader’s willingness to keep going is good marker on whether or not you’re doing your job as a storyteller.

“But a Book is only the Heart’s Portrait- every Page a Pulse.”
Emily Dickinson

6. Did you find the setting fully described? Regardless of your genre, your setting will have a role to play in the story. The story itself will dictate how much of the setting is pertinent. Pay attention to what your beta reader says about it. You may have given us too much information or maybe not enough. 

7. Did you find the characters to be distinctive? Each character needs to be developed enough that the readers have no trouble remembering who is who. My personal goal is removing all the dialogue tags from their conversations and see if I can spot the distinctions in what they say. Ask your readers if they can find distinctions easily. If they can’t, consider fleshing them out more, or combining a couple of characters together. 

“I have been bent and broken, but -I hope- into a better shape.”
Emily Dickinson

8. Did you understand the goals of each of the characters? Each character should want something. Sometimes what they say they want and what they really want are two different things. Ask your readers if the goals are clear and reasonable. If they aren’t, then spend the time to clarify them. You may find by fine tuning goals, the character itself will become richer. 

9. Did you “see it coming” or were you surprised by the progress of the story? You story should be plausible, but not predictable. Hopefully your readers can be honest with you about what they saw coming and what may seem cliched. You may have to change a few things, but that’s okay, your work will be all the better. 

“Opinion is a fitting thing but truth outlasts the sun – if then we cannot own them both, possess the oldest one.”
Emily Dickinson

10. Do you wish that other things had happened to the characters that didn’t? I had a reader once who told me that she thought my poor main character went through far too many conflicts and I should ease up on her a bit. I respectfully disagreed. The variety of conflicts made the story a good one. But check with your readers. They may give you an idea you hadn’t thought of. 

Now Emily Dickinson did write, 

“Saying nothing sometimes says the most.”
Emily Dickinson

I’d have to disagree with her. I think that we need feedback from others. It is scary. But once your get your answers, handle them gracefully. You don’t need to follow every suggestion. Just use them for what they are: another helpful tool in your novel-sculpting.

“They might not need me; but they might.
I’ll let my head be just in sight;
A smile as small as mine might be
Precisely their necessity.”
Emily Dickinson

And the nice thing about having relationships with other writers is that we can reciprocate! Our turn will come when we can be the one who is called to critique. Hopefully we’ll remember the experience and answer these questions with grace and gentleness.

You need not be afraid of others’ opinions about your work. As poetic as you may be, it’s healthier not to be an Emily Dickinson.

Take your chances with the world and be as good a you as you can be.

Top 10 Signs That You May Be A 10 Minute Novelist by Katharine Grubb, 10 Minute Novelist

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Are Your Big Writing Dreams Worth Finding the Time?

Writing a novel takes hard work. It takes order. It takes discipline and planning. It takes courage and determination and tenacity. Anyone can do it, even if they have only ten minutes a day. (How do I know this? I wrote a novel in ten minute increments. Hence the name of this blog!)

I am a 10 Minute Novelist and I Have Amazing Friends
I am a 10 Minute Novelist and I Have Amazing Friends

Sometimes we think that we also need long, uninterrupted hours, an isolated cabin in the woods, a whiskey habit and a carton of Marlboros to be a writer too. But we don’t. Sometimes we need to stop thinking about how much different our life is from the idealized writer life is and just do what we can. We may have been in the habit of thinking that we can’t write at all unless conditions are perfect, the kids are more cooperative and inspiration strikes.

But I’m here to tell you that there are no such things as perfect conditions for writing.

There are, however, writers out there who make the most of what they do have and accomplish their dreams in less than ideal increments. I call these folks 10 Minute Novelists. 
Great gifts for writers
Mug says, “In the time it takes to drink this coffee, you could have written 300 words.”

Are you a 10 Minute Novelist? Ask yourself these questions and see!

1. The baby wakes you at 4:30 and after you settle him back down, your first thought is “How many words can I get in before the whole family wakes up?”

2. While watching a crime show, a prosecutor mentions “solitary!” Your first thought? Solitary confinement? That sounds heavenly! I could get so much done there!

3. You’ve said to yourself “one of these days, when I have the time, I’ll get that book written!” Except that you’ve said it so many times no one believes you.

4. You treasure time alone in the bathroom to collect your thoughts and you may have a notebook and pen stashed somewhere just in case you get inspired.

Why can't I write?
That hashtag? That’s our Weekly Chat on Twitter! Join us!

5. Whenever you hear someone say they wrote 3000 words in one day, your first thought isn’t “good for you” your first thought is, “will they press charges if I slap them?”

6. There’s an inch of dust on your laptop.

7. You think that real writers have sprawling desks, live in isolated cabins, chain smoke, drink themselves silly, wear a lot of black and possibly own several cats. Then you decide, well no wonder they write so much, no one could stand to be near them!

8. If you’re honest with yourself, you think that your dreams are selfish. That your responsibilities are far more important and lofty than any silly, childish fantasy. That the desire to write a book is nothing but a vain attempt of mortality. And then you don’t know why you’re so sad.

9. You’ve watched Two And A Half Men and thought more than once, “I could write better dialogue in my sleep!”

10 Somebody once told you that you had talent, but you’ve never found a way to express yourself in writing. And that kind of bugs you. And you don’t know where to begin. Click this to find out how to squeeze in ten minutes to pursue those dreams of yours! 

If any of these are true about you then you may be a 10 Minute Novelists. That means that you are time-crunched writer with big, big dreams.

Join our Facebook group to meet hundreds of writers from all over the world who are just like you. This is such a cool place to hang out, that Writer’s Digest named us one of the best websites for writers in 2016. Many of us are just starting out on our writing adventures. Some of us are very experienced. Some of us have book deals and agents. All of us though know what it’s like to squeeze writing goals around a busy life. Want to start finding an extra 10 minutes today? Here’s how!

Your dreams are worth 10 Minutes. Find them. Put down some words.

Be amazing!

Top 10 Reasons You May Hate Marketing And What You Can Do About It by Katharine Grubb, 10 Minute Novelists

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If I weren’t a writer and mother of five, I’d go into psychology or social work and listen to people.

Oh, I know it’s not all fun and games, like what I saw on The Bob Newhart show in the ’70’s, and from what I understand there’s a whole lotta of schoolin’ to go to, but I like thinking about what people are thinking about. It just could be fun!

psychology writing fear marketing sales ebooks self-publishing
This totally dates me. But I used to watch The Bob Newhart show on Saturday nights in the 1970s. It was the same night as Mary Tyler Moore and The Carol Burnett Show. Among other things, Bob Newhart played straight comedy against his kooky patients. I’d totally do that job if that’s all I had to do.

(And if you really love good situation comedy, click here to watch the pilot episode of The Bob Newhart Show.) 

Until I decide to take the plunge and become a shrink, I’ll satisfy myself with addressing the problem that some writers have:

The Reasons They Hate Marketing.

You poor, poor writers. You pour your heart and soul into your books. You create these magical worlds, these vibrant, three dimensional characters, these intricate plots, these thrilling stories that culminate in an figurative or literal explosion of action and dialogue that leaves your readers breathless, weepy and ready to plunk down more dough for the next installment.

Fabio: "Reading is so stimulating!" Damsel: "I was totally thinking reading. Yes! Reading!"
Fabio: “Reading is so stimulating!” Damsel: “I was totally thinking reading. Yes! Reading!”

Sadly, if we are to have readers, we have to go find them, convince them that our stories are worth spending money on and do it in somewhat civilized way.

The truth? We’d rather not. We’d rather hide behind our computer screens and only have the kinds of relationships that require us to type words.

I’d like to think, (I’m qualified to do this because I pretend to be a TV psychologist) that there’s more to our nervousness about marketing that we don’t like it. 

I’d like to suggest that there are real fears and anxieties here. And if that is the case, it’s going to take some doing to overcome them.

Top 10 Reasons You May Hate Marketing And What You Can Do About It by Katharine Grubb, 10 Minute Novelists

 

1. You’re not sure that you’re  good.

A lack of confidence is normal. Every author goes through that. How To Overcome: Hire a professional editor. Join a critique group through Scribofile.  Get a writing buddy on our Facebook group. Then, ask them for their honest feedback and then weigh what they say carefully. Improve where you need to but believe them when they say it’s good.

2. You have a creepy association with salesmen.

We all have creepy association with salesmen. Salesmen have a bad rap. They’re known for being slimy, smarmy and untrustworthy. How To Overcome: Just because others are bad sellers doesn’t mean you have to be. Remind yourself that your work is good, it’s worth buying and you have no ulterior motives. Be authentic with all your relationships and you’ll find selling to be easier.

3. You’ve seen the numbers and they’re not encouraging.

Millions and millions have books have been published in many different formats through many different types of publishers and platforms. It’s true that your little bitty book really isn’t much compared to them all. It’s enough to be very discouraged. How To Overcome: Have low expectations. Gain one reader at a time. Be content with small beginnings.

4. You’re  a little bit embarrassed that you are asking for money to do something you love.

How To Overcome: Change your thinking. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being paid for your hard work. You deserve something of value in exchange for the hard work you’ve put into it. You have talent, you’ve shared it with the world, now receive your compensation. The world operates like this and generosity will certainly open doors for you, you should never apologize for finishing the end of the transaction. This TED video explained to me so beautifully the art of asking. Amanda Palmer made me happy to give up my fear of asking.

asking Amanda Palmer marketing selling ebooks publlishing
Click the image to go right to the Ted link for this video.

5. You have haters.

We all have haters. That’s the beauty and the problem with art: what’s beautiful to some is repulsive to others. What to do: Thicken your skin a little and make your art the best it can possibly be. Then read all of these accounts of writers who were rejected and lambasted in reviews. Then, go back and read the good things your real fans have to say. There are more people in the world who would agree with them. Wouldn’t it be fun to find them?

6. You’ve failed before.

All of us have failed. We’ve failed from the first time we tried to walk, or read or even say coherent sentences. Our failure shouldn’t define us, it should just make us more human. What to do: Make a list of all the ways in which you are successful (if you need help, ask someone close to you). Practice saying positive things to yourself.  Try new strategies or approaches or take active steps to learn what you’re doing wrong that will make you more successful as you market.

7. You don’t want to be one of those pushy writers.

Some writers still haven’t got the message: hard sells get you nowhere. What to do: Don’t follow their example! Instead build relationships, ask questions, engage with people in an authentic way so that they want to buy what you’re selling. You never, ever have to be a slimy salesman.

selling books ebooks marketing hard sell

8. You’re not sure what you want.

What to do: Answer this: What does success look like to you? Is it thousands of books sold? Is it entertaining your friends and family? Think long and hard about what you want your sales goals to be and then take concrete steps to get there. Once you are on the path to your own desires, you may even find that marketing can be fun.

9. You’re not sure about the learning curve.

What to do: Have low expectations. Yup, it’s intimidating to think that once you write a book you still have to learn how to edit, publish, format, and design it. Then, once it’s available, you have to learn Pinterest, Twitter, WordPress, Canva, Tumblr, Periscope, Snapchat or whatever social media platform people are telling you that you need to sell your book. Instead of freaking out about all of it, outsource what you can and only concentrate on one or two social media platforms that you’re the most comfortable with. And go slowly. There’s no rush. If this is worth doing, it’s worth doing right.

10. You just don’t like people.

What to do: Fake it till you make it. One of the reasons why you’re holed up in your office with your coffee, cigarettes, holey sweater and numerous cats is because the world that you create on your own terms is a lot nicer than reality. I get that. In our stories, the good guy wins, the homely girl finds love and everyone vacations in the Maldives. But honestly? The best marketing you’re going to do is going to come out of relationships and connections. You’re going to have to put on your big writer panties, go out into the world, either IRL or online, introduce yourself and be nice. Even if it’s not sincere. Even if all you know to talk about is coffee, cigarettes and cats. Do it. Everything about your life will be better with friends.

Or maybe your issues are deeper than Bob Newhart can handle in a 22 minute episode.

If they are, that’s okay.

But please know that lots of writers have to buck up their courage to market their books. This fear of putting yourself out there is pretty common. Consider joining a writing group (like all the sweet folks at 10 Minute Novelists) where you can find encouragement, tips and community. And they might just help you with your big issues.

And let me know if any of this helps.

I’ll make sure to send you a bill.

marketing sales books publishing fiction Twitter
It’s Mommy issues. Definitely.

 

Top 10 Things I Do On A Daily Basis That Make Me More Productive by Katharine Grubb, 10 Minute Novelist

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I am NOT perfect. I make a LOT of mistakes, but one of the biggest things I did right was decide that I would make time for my dreams.

(I wrote a book about it too! Look over there on the right!) 

I realized that if I was going to actually write in 10 minute increments, I would have to organize my life. Now, I’ve been doing this 10 Minute Writer/Novelists gig for nine years, so I’ve streamlined my procedures pretty well (and THANK GOD, my kids are older!)

But I still have 10 Things I think about on a daily basis that makes my organization and productivity possible.

Top 10 Things I Think About On A Daily Basis That Make Me More Productive by Katharine Grubb

 

1. I know where everything is.  I minimize clutter, assign places for everything and have no trouble throwing things away. Need help with this? Check these top ten blogs for organizing! 

2. I have a plan every day. Most of the time I keep it in my head — but I also write lists and keep a calendar. I’ve also discovered that daily schedules have to be flexible, especially as my family’s needs change. Passion Planner has the coolest free stuff for people who want to keep lists too! 

3. I know how long each task should take me. I figured this out when I was devoting my housework to 10 minute increments. Ten minute tasks include: starting a load of laundry, folding one basket of clothes, starting  meal prep, cleaning the bathroom, emptying the dishwasher, emptying all trash bins, vacuuming one floor of the house. Having this information helps my plan my day. I owe one person for this method. I love you, Flylady! 

4. I communicate my time needs to my family. I started training my children when they were young that I would need 10 minute increments to work. Generally speaking, they understood it. Now that they’re older, they have no trouble respecting my need for some alone time. Need a list from a great resource? Try this! 

5. I model good attitudes to my children regarding staying organized. This is the most important item on the list. If I whine and complain about anything I do, my children will, most assuredly echo me. If I want them to be happy cleaner-uppers, then I need to whistle while I work. It’s cheesy, but it works. Need a song? Try these! 

6. I set a lot of timers. Thank you Apple! My iPhone has what I need: alarms, timers, and world clocks to tell me if my friends in the UK are up to talk! Oh, I kid. I’ve now graduated from my microwave timer to my phone, which is better because my microwave didn’t fit in my pocket. How about this one? 

Great gifts for writers
Mug says, “In the time it takes to drink this coffee, you could have written 300 words.”

7. I plan my meals in advance. Generally speaking, I know what we’re going to eat every meal of the week. I also cook the same things every weekend. I love to be creative in the kitchen, but the “old standbys” go faster. I have a couple dozen recipes that I always have ingredients for and I’ve practiced cooking them so often, that I’m pretty fast at it. I also couldn’t function without my crock pot and rice cooker. Wanna go a little crazy? Try once a month cooking! 

8. I don’t waste time shopping or doing other errands. I keep orderly lists and go out as little as possible, combining as many errands as I can. If an item didn’t make the list, then it has to wait a week. It’s brutal, but that’s why we buy four gallons of milk at a time. I use this app to create my lists. 

9. I multitask if possible. I use down time to get stuff done, but I also understand when multi-tasking isn’t such a great plan. Like for all of these reasons. 

10. I delegate household tasks. This is my secret weapon. My kids have always had a lot of responsibility around the house and the older they get, the more jobs are given to them. Some people think having five children is hard work, are you kidding me? Because I do have five, I have an army that cleans the house every Saturday morning, tidies every afternoon and cleans the kitchen twice a day. How do small families do it?

 

All of these took practice, but none of them were too difficult. If you’re  new to the idea of working in 10 minute increments (and perhaps a little intimidated) pick one of the things on this list and practice it for a few weeks until you gain confidence. Then pick up the other one.

know you can find time to pursue your dreams.  Even in as little as 10 Minutes a Day!

Top 10 Things You Can Do When You Are Stuck, Either Literally or Figuratively

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You’re stuck.

This post is exactly what you need, assuming you’re not so stuck that you can’t read a screen.

If you’re stuck figuratively in the writing of your novel and you need a clue on what to do next, this list is for you.

If you are stuck literally: you have gum in your hair, you’re dealing with Super Glue or you’ve driven into a ditch, I can help you there too.

I’ve got all kinds of unstuck solutions for you below. Why do this? Because bouncing back and forth between the literal and the figurative isn’t the least bit weird. 

Top 10 Things You Can Do When You Are Stuck, Either Figuratively or Literally

 

Figurative Stuck Tip #1:

Go back and remember the requirements of your genre.  So this is a romance? You need a misunderstanding. This is fantasy? There’s something magical in his pocket and he doesn’t know how it got there. This is science fiction? You just lost all your oxygen. Do something, fast, or everyone is dead! This is Young Adult? You’ve either been inspired by your favorite poet, you’ve written bad poetry that you want to share, you have to write a book report about a poet or your Emo sister thinks she’s Emily Dickinson. This is a mystery? Oh, someone needs to drop dead. Right here. Under mysterious circumstances. Even if it’s a red herring, do it anyway. My point is that sometimes we get too close to stories and we forget what we are trying to accomplish. If you go back to the “rules” you may be inspired.

Literal Stuck Tip #1:

If you get gum in your hair, rub it with coconut oil and then comb it out. Or you can try these other options from WikiHow.

Figurative Stuck Tip #2:

Have your character take a rest. Pull back a little. Let the main character sit down and eat or sleep or rest and rethink all of what their up to. Remind the reader the mission that’s at stake. Why? If you have a lot of drama, action or intense scenes, your main character needs a breather unless his name is Jack Bauer. He needs to process all the action and so does your reader. You can always cut this later, but you may find that this helps you see the big picture and give you an idea on what to do next.

Literal Stuck Tip #2:

Your crazy aunt has gotten into the Krazy Glue again, hasn’t she? When will you learn to keep it out of her reach? When will you learn how to unstick her fingers? The good folks at Krazy Glue have answers. Here’s a tip, don’t let the person with Krazy Glue on their fingers have access to the computer’s mouse.

Figurative Stuck Tip #3:  

You may need a good tornado to shake things up a bit in your story. Not seasonal? Not the right part of the country? Then an earthquake! A hurricane! A blizzard! A freak thunderstorm! And with every natural disaster you could have power outages, flash floods, injuries and deaths! Never underestimate the power of the earth to cause some great drama for your story!

Literal Stuck Tip #3:

Allstate Insurance apparently has had a few calls about this. So many that they apparently had to write a blog post about how to get your truck out of the mud. I suppose that’s helpful of them, but maybe you shouldn’t be driving in the mud to begin with? Oh, I get it. The flash flood from the previous paragraph did this! I swear this list is getting very dramatic!

Figurative Stuck Tip #4: 

Bring in your antagonist’s antagonist. Someone is out to get your bad guy. He’s a bad guy, he’s made an enemy or three, right? Your bad guy owes someone money. Your bad guy or gal is connected romantically with the wrong flirt. Your bad guy or gal is getting a little too big for his britches among the powers that be. This is a force that can stir up some interesting trouble in your story and maybe can be used for your protagonists advantage.

Literal Stuck Tip #4:

Let’s say you’re out camping and you wake up in the middle of the night needing to um, shake the dew off the lilies. But you can’t get your tent zipper open! It’s stuck! Perhaps in your camping gear, you packed any of these nine household items that can unstick a zipper. But keep in mind, that stuck zipper could be all that’s between you and bears. You may want to leave it stuck.

 

Figurative Stuck Tip #5: 

A innocent needs help and needs it right now, like say, she needs to tinkle and can’t get out of her tent. How better to demonstrate the virtue and goodness of your protagonist (and make him interesting and likable to your reader) than to put in in the way of someone who really needs help?  A small child. An unwed mother. A hurt puppy. Have your main character stop everything, because they have that streak of goodness in them, and possibly WD40, and help them. And in the middle of the helping of them, they realize the clock is ticking or opportunity is missed, or they dropped their gun or THEY SAW A BEAR something happens that will keep them from accomplishing their ultimate goal. They need to not only be delayed but also regret, even for just a minute, thinking about someone else when they needed to care for themselves.

Literal Stuck Tip #5:

You find it hard to swallow. I’m not talking about this literal/figurative list, I’m talking about actual food. This is a video that demonstrates how to administer the heimlich maneuver. People, slow down. Chew your food thoroughly!

Figurative Stuck Tip #6: 

Someone from your main character’s past shows up. The ex girlfriend/boyfriend, the one that he thought he was going to marry, shows up and has a really good reason to talk to our main character. Maybe she misses him. Maybe she’s changing her mind. Maybe she’s really a psycho who just likes toying with him. It almost doesn’t matter what genre you write, everyone has a past. Use it to mess up your character’s plans!

Literal Stuck Tip #6:

As a homeschooling mother of five, I have a lot of quick fixes to big problems. I’ve divided a candy bar into fifths and had five content children. I’ve explained all they needed to know about the facts of life, in a whisper, during a church service, in 7.5 seconds. I can make dinner for my large family in 15 minutes if everyone is out of my way, but I’m no MacGyver. You could do a lot worse in your literal stuckness than if you read this book and be prepared for anything. 

Figurative Stuck Tip #7: 

Your sidekick has second thoughts. Up until this point, your sidekick has been the person that your main character has depended on to keep going.  Kind of like Pete Thornton or Jack Dalton or Murdoc. Kinda.  But now the sidekick should get kicked to the side. Forget MacGyver, let’s think Hobbits! You know how in The Return of the King when Gollum tries to make it look like Sam at all the lambas bread and then lied about it? Frodo, understandably because he was a complete basket case at that point, kicks Sam to the curb and is willing to go on without him. Sam’s explanation is harder to swallow than lambas bread. And neither of them appear to know the heimlich maneuver. Of course, if this hadn’t happened, then Sam wouldn’t have been able to save Frodo’s sorry butt yet again, but this little bit of drama was awful. Can you set up a situation like that where your sidekick either disagrees with your main character, or speaks the truth when it’s not welcome or sees something your main character doesn’t see? This will add to your conflict beautifully, especially when sidekick comes up just at the right moment and saves the day.

Literal Stuck Tip #7.

If you are ever out fighting a Ringwraithe and you get stabbed by sorta dead king, it’s great to have an elf on your side to race you to Rivendell. And Kingsfoil. That helps too. I bet Arwen knows the heimlich maneuver just fine.  Yes, I realize that my literal stuck tips are getting kinda figurative. Here’s another tip: When you don’t know what to write about, throw in a hurt hobbit. 

Figurative Stuck Tip #8.

What is your story’s big finish going to look like? We all know that the big climactic moment is the doorway in which Act Two moves into Act Three, and you may or may not know what you have to do to get there. Why don’t you mentally jump ahead and list a few necessities. Like, what kind of trap will your hero have to be in? What kind of mutually exclusive choices will he have? What pressures will he have? What will the antagonist have at that moment to make life miserable? How can you get our hero out, without it making look too easy? Once you’ve answered these questions, work backward. (Here’s a hint: your reader has no idea in what order you wrote your scenes in!)

Literal Stuck Tip #8:

I’m a mother of five. That means that at some point, I had five toddlers. Sometimes more than one at a time. So when I say that you really need to know how to unstick a clogged toilet, I know what I’m talking about. This video can show you more. This is a serious life skill. I wonder what MacGyver has to say about this?

Figurative Stuck Tip #9:

Think Third Act. Even if you don’t have your climactic moment all sculpted out, ask yourself what do you want to accomplish? Every good ending is a permanent one that makes sense to the reader. What do you want your ending to be? If you can write out in a paragraph what you want from the ending, then you can think backward from this point too and try to see the steps necessary to put your protagonist in that situation. Your antagonist needs to be foiled. How will you foil him?

Literal Stuck Tip #9:

 Here’s a bunch of photos of unusual things stuck in unusual places. I have no idea how they got them unstuck, but I tell you what, this could be a great way to unstick your story.

Figurative Stuck Tip #10: 

In a couple hundred words or so, tell the story from the point of view of another character. This may give you fresh insight into the conflicts. It may reveal a misunderstanding or hidden motive. It may clarify something that’s been bugging you.

And the last Literal Stuck Tip #10:

All I need to say here is Don’t Do This. Any of this.

Being stuck can be state of mind. It can also be an issue of physics. Regardless of whether or not your stuckness is figurative or literal, your story may be helped one way or another with these tips.

What do you when you’re stuck? And please, this is a family friendly site. Thank you for not telling me everything.  

Making Your Author Platform Work for You — A Guest Post by Rachelle M. N. Shaw

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By Rachelle M. N. Shaw

In such a highly competitive world of publishing, it’s no surprise that author platforms have taken center stage and become the foundation for any writer’s success.

But who has time to keep up with all the Tweets, Pins, and Instagram posts needed to do so? The truth is, successful authors don’t. They pick the top few social media sites that fit their style and their audience, and they roll with it.

By Making Your Author Platform Work for You --

What an Author Platform Should Do

  • Provide original content fitting of your audience through a well-designed blog or website
  • Become a place where you regularly engage with your followers; this doesn’t mean you sit back and let autoreply do all the work
  • Teach readers about yourself or your writing process
  • Allow readers to connect with you and follow you on various social media
  • Build your credibility as an author
  • Act as a landing site for media and for readers seeking events that you’re hosting; it’s a good idea to include a press release, a bio, and a professional photograph of yourself in at least one place
  • Tastefully link to your books, including where to buy them

Keep in mind that even though your platform is about you as an author, its main focus should always be on your readers and what you can provide them.

Think of it as a job interview—you want to show off your skills while marketing yourself as a prime candidate for the position.

What an Author Platform Shouldn’t Do

  • Spam readers with promotions for other authors—if you want a creative way to spotlight other authors on your website or blog, try author interviews; they’re a fun and easy way to build connections
  • Contain nothing but reblogs from other sites (it’s okay to share some of these too, but the majority of your posts should be ORIGINAL content)
  • Use completely automated responses
  • Be information based only (readers need a way to connect with you personally; a newsletter or blog is a great way to achieve this)
  • Ignore rules regarding grammar, punctuation, and spelling—this will sink your credibility faster than a one-star review
  • Feature a bathroom photo of yourself or one you took while out drinking with your buddies
  • Spam readers with promotional content for your own books (keep it to a minimum with a blurb or tagline and links for buying your books; you can also put your information about your books on a separate, clearly marked page)

Choosing Social Media that Is Right for You

The most important thing to sort out when it comes to choosing which social media you want to use is which ones will cater best to your audience. For me, though I write both YA fiction and general nonfiction about the craft of writing, the age for my target audience for the two overlaps the most for readers between the ages of fourteen and twenty-nine. For that reason, sites like WordPress, Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram are my main areas of reach. However, six social media sites still proved to be too many to invest my time in. So I opted to keep things simple and to go with the sites that worked best for me in terms of audience and comfort level: the blog on my website (a WordPress substitute that actually works better since it leads followers directly to my own website), Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook. Through active engagement and regular original content, I’ve been able to build a relationship with my readers on those sites, and my author platform has grown because of it.

The secret to building a successful author platform is this: you don’t have to reach every virtual corner of the Internet to do so.

You just need to delve into those media where you’re mostly likely to reach your target audience and provide them with solid content that they can’t resist.


Rachelle M. N. ShawAn avid reader who has an incurable need to research everything she comes across, Rachelle is an author of paranormal, horror, and writing craft books. Since scribbling down her first story at the age of eight, her love for language and books has blossomed into a full-time career. She currently works as an independent editor and author while being a stay-at-home mom to her children and two rather persnickety cats. When she’s not baking cupcakes or playing in the snow, you can catch her blogging, tweeting, or plotting her next series. Her e-book, The Eyes That Moved, was released in May 2015. It is the first in her three-part paranormal horror series The Porcelain Souls. Part two is slated for release in the spring of 2016.

Rachelle also has two solo short stories and the first in a four-book series about the craft of writing fiction in the works. 

Website: http://rachellemnshaw.com/  

Twitter: https://twitter.com/rmnsediting 

Tumblr: http://fmtpextended.tumblr.com/ 

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/rmnsauthor/ 

 Amazon page: http://www.amazon.com/Rachelle-M.-N.-Shaw/e/B00X8D3LSY/

Top 10 Writers Conference Substitutes For The Poor & Xenophobic

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If you’re a writer of any artistic credibility at all, then you have no money and you’re kind of afraid of people.

But don’t let either of those things stop you from becoming the best writer you can be.

The internet is full of free (and many not-so-free) writers resources that can help you become really awesome. Most of them have  the added bonus of not actually having to create small talk, bathe or find clothing that isn’t a moth-eaten sweater. For us financially strapped xenophobes out there, this is a win-win.

Top 10 Writers Conference Substitutes For The Poor and Xenophobic by Katharine Grubb 10 Minute Novelist

1. The Actual Conference 

A conference is an event, usually at a hotel, where a bunch of strangers meet in stuffy or inexplicably cold rooms, listen to a monotonous, overrated speaker read Power Point slides verbatim while the attendees struggle to stay awake. Are you sure you don’t want to scrape up enough money to go? How about these options instead? If you want to feel at home, mess with your home’s thermostat to make it as uncomfortable as possible.

What’s free:  The Muse Online Writer’s Conference  or the San Francisco Writers Conference

What’s not so free: The Backspace Writers Conference

2. Celebrity Authors Who Talk About Writing

Sometimes conferences have big name writers come and talk about their experiences. And then at the back table, when you’re standing in line to get their book signed, you get all tongue tied and forget how to spell your name for the inscription. Never fear, you can see these writers online and you lower the risk of fangirling significantly.

What’s free:  Anne Rice on YouTube, Susan Conley at TedTalks, Rick Riordan,  And all of these Ted Talk videos that are really cool. Need more? Do a search on YouTube for “Authors Talk About Writing” and you will be amazed at what you find.

What’s not so free: James Patterson Teaches Writing

3. General Fiction Writing Tips and Strategies

At a writer’s conference, often they have instructive sessions that go over the ins and outs of writing. If you’re lucky, they aren’t immediately after lunch, because then you’re fighting to stay awake. How about this? Go to these links for similar instruction and if you get sleepy, just put your head down on your desk. No one will know!

What’s free: Start here: Inside Creative Writing, episode one from Florida State University, Then, you can YouTube search: fiction writing.  You will find DOZENS of videos to watch. Watch them all!

What’s not so free: Gotham Writers Online Writing Classes

4. Ideas For Marketing

Sometimes at conferences, they have marketing experts come in and help authors with their platform and sales ideas. Who doesn’t want to sell more books? The more books we sell, the more conferences we can go to! Try these if you’re not going to conferences this year.

What’s Free:  Eighty-nine book marketing ideas that will change your life. And Five Easy Ways To Publicize and Promote Your Book or, my friend Rachel Thompson has created a list of sources for you! 

What’s Not So Free: This list from Publishing Review will give you some links to book promoting sites that can help you out. 

5. Writing Courses

So if you went to a conference, your speaker would cram a lot of information in a 55 minute session.  If you want something a little more thorough, you could take a course instead! And these courses don’t require you to get dressed or shake the cat hair off that holey sweater.

What’s Free:  Here’s a link to 10 Universities that offer free writing courses! FREE EDUCATION!  All you poor impoverished xenophobes out there don’t even have to get dressed!

What’s Not So Free:  Writer’s Digest has a lot of courses! These look really good!

6. Podcasts

It’s time to rest your eyes and use your ears! If you leave your earbuds in, all the time, no one will talk to you. Make the most of this alone time by listening to these writing podcasts. The Write Life has found the 10 Best for you! 

7.  Resources on Twitter

It’s all free! Here are 52 tweetchats and hashtags that can help you in your writing pursuits. And my favorite is the #10MinNovelists chat every Thursday at 9PM EDT. This is the great thing about Twitter. You can follow along and you don’t have to talk to anyone! (That is, unless you’re the host. Like me. Yikes.)

8. Agents’ blogs

Because you are true xenophobe, you can glean all the wisdom of some great agents through their blogs. Rachelle Gardner’s is a great place to hang out. Janet Reid has a lot of good stuff to say. Laura Crockett’s blog is not just informative, but it’s also so pretty! And Chip MacGregor is the only literary agent in this list that has bought me nachos. This is his blog.  Most of them don’t accept unsolicited manuscripts, so if you want to get their attention for your work, read their submissions guidelines carefully.

9. Editors’ blogs

And maybe the reason that you are xenophobic is because you’ve been stabbed with a red pen too many times. Never fear. These editors can’t reach you through your computer screen. But they do have a lot to say about writing and what not to do. This is Evil Editor, Query Shark, and Subversive Copy Editor. You know, they do seem a teensy bit scary. If they’re too much for you, go over to Robin Patchen’s Red Pen Editing Services and ask for a virtual hug, she’ll be happy to oblige.

10. Wrapping it all up on Pinterest

10 Minute Novelists have over fifty writing related boards on Pinterest that link you to hundreds of resources on craft, marketing, social media, writing prompts, structure, character, everything! And no one will bother you there. They’re free and when you’re done clicking all the pins, you’ll know everything and that’s our point here, isn’t it?

This list is NOT exhaustive. But it will certainly get you started if you can’t afford to go out to learn how to be a great writer. And DON’T forget your local library (although you should put clothes on to go there, and you may have to actually speak to someone. You can do it, though, most librarians don’t bite and if they do, they probably have all their shots.)

I have to stand next to the financially strapped and xenophobic writers this year, but that’s not an excuse for not learning all I can about how to write well. If I can do it, you can too! 

 

 

Do you have any other suggestions? What worked for you? What didn’t work? Are you poor or xenophobic or both?