Top 10 Effective Ways I Deal With My Evil Inner Critic

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by Katharine Grubb, 10 Minute Novelist

In my writing life, my inner critic is the single greatest threat to my success.

My inner critic blames me for things that go wrong.

My inner critic calls me names like stupid and loser.

My inner critic compares me to others and finds me wanting.

My inner critic sets impossible standards of perfection.

My inner critic tells me that if I’m not the best, then I’m nothing.

My inner critic beats me up for the smallest mistake.

My inner critic keeps track of my failures and shortcomings.

My inner critic exaggerates my weaknesses.

My inner critic threatens to withhold love.

My inner critic attacks me with rage when I fail.

My inner critic says, “You’re a failure. So why try?”

My inner critic is especially loud when I feel pleasure, when I feel love, recognition or success.

 

And if my inner critic is successful, then he has produced severe anxiety in me and made me feel worthless. It’s at this point, I’m in complete bondage to this stupid, foolish, bumbling henchman and I am dragged away to be imprisoned by fear.

The problem is, I forget just how much power I actually have. A few weeks ago, I described how I was going to kick fear in the teeth, but it’s kind of hard to do when you’ve already let that inner critic have too much ground.

Top 10 Effective Ways I Deal With My Evil Inner Critic  by Katharine Grubb 10 Minute Novelist

I’m not an expert, but I think these are very good steps:

1. Recognize the inner critic right away. You know his voice: it’s negative, accusatory and hopeless. In your head, it sounds either just like you or like someone in authority over you who was really good at saying toxic stuff like this.

 2. Yell right back at him. My therapist told me I can tell him to shut up. He will. You owe it to yourself to fight back. And you can mentally. And if you’re in a place where real people are saying stuff like this to you, leave them. 

“Learn to catch yourself and stop yourself immediately when you are engaging in negative self-talk.”
Bryant McGill, Simple Reminders: Inspiration for Living Your Best Life

3. Concentrate on positive truths and self-affirmations. It usually takes me about four or five self-affirmations to get this inner critic to evaporate. (Yes, he evaporates. Why was I so afraid of something made of air?) Get in the practice of collecting positives about yourself as your weapon against your inner critic. Keep them posted where you can see them. Surround yourself with people who love you and encourage you. Inner critics love vacuums — so don’t allow yourself to have one. Fill your life with good and evil can’t come in.

 4. Get to work. I’ve been finding that this inner critic shows up more frequently when I’m stuck on something. With a little hard work and determination, I get over the hump and he’s got nothing to stand on. Set your timer. Write for 10 minutes. This may shut that inner critic up for a while.

 5. List all the people who do love you and build you up. We need reminders sometimes of who is on our side. This inner critic does not want you to succeed. Listening to it and giving it attention will make you miserable.

“Negative self talk costs more than even the richest person can afford. So be nice to yourself whenever possible … and know that it is always possible.”
Doug Pedersen, Tuna Breath: A 275-Pound Teenager’s Coming of Age Story

 6. Recount all your victories. My inner critic, for all his nastiness, is a really bad accountant and can’t see that there are far more successes than failures. Yours probably is too. If you have to create a list of all the ways you’re awesome and paste it to your computer screen, do it!

7. Enjoy your moments of victory and accomplishment for what they are without focusing on the tiny mistakes. Your inner critic also has very bad vision. He can only see the faults and failures. It’s likely someone in your life taught you to look at the world that way. I suggest you change your prescription and look for good and you’ll learn to really revel in your success.

 8. Celebrate who you are on your journey. Our paths to success are filled with bumps, detours and near disasters. This is part of life! While they can be frustrating and painful, instead of sitting down on the side of the road to bawl in self pity, we should celebrate that we’re still going forward! Stop every once in a while and say to yourself, “WOW! Look how far you’ve come!”

“As believers, we must speak only words of prosperity, health, and power.”
Lynn R. Davis, Deliver Me From Negative Self Talk

9. Stop comparing yourself to others. Your inner critic may be obsessed with the success of other writers. He may whisper in your ear that you should be doing this better, or you should be published by now, or you should have more reviews because of other people’s successes!  This is a bunch of ca-ca. Your success is yours alone. Just tell that inner critic to shut up once and for all so you can focus on being you!

 10. Practice good self-care. I’m far less likely to hear from the inner critic  if I’m well rested, I’ve eaten well and I’ve exercised. Take a moment and check yourself. Are you putting your physical well being at the top of your to-do list? This could be all you need to silence that inner critic.

If I actually listen to my inner critic, then it’s like I am putting the handcuffs on and I’m allowing him to drag me into fear. There’s no way I can be successful and listen to him at the same time. One of us has to go.

What about you? What does your inner critic say? How are you kicking fear in the teeth?

Top 10 Tips To Make Your Blog Title More RT Worthy

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by Katharine Grubb, 10 Minute Novelist

Everybody wants their blog to be noticed.

But in reality, that’s a little tricky. According to Tumblr stats, there are 375 million on Tumblr alone, that’s one for every person living in the United States. That stat doesn’t count WordPress and other blogging platforms. Writers are constantly encouraged to blog more, but getting noticed is becoming more and more difficult.

How do you get more traffic to your blog? Follow the meme #MondayBlogs!

The#MondayBlogs idea is brilliant. On Mondays, anybody who wants to can post a link to their blog and those who follow that hashtag, on Twitter, Pinterest or Facebook, can find new blogs to read and new writers to enjoy. In theory, those who participate read each others’ blogs, RT and favorite the heck out of them so that the whole world can discover this new talent. I have found dozens of new readers this way and I love doing this.

Top 10 Tips To Make Your Blog Title More RT Worthy

How Can I Get More RTs On Twitter?

I would LOVE to RT and favorite everyone who participates in #MondayBlogs on Twitter, but honestly, often the headlines or tweets that contain the link are so lifeless and dull that I’m not the least bit interested in them. I’d like to suggest, with a few changes in the tweets, all of us could see good results. I’ve listed a few things I’ve noticed (and things I try to implement) —and I’ve written some over-the-top silly blog title headlines to get the point across.

1. It’s All In The Headline

Consider your #MondayBlogs Tweet as a headline of the original post. The more concise and clear, the better. “My Thoughts on Dyeing” is terrible. Be specific. “Why I Dread Coloring My Hair This Summer” is much clearer and much more interesting. Don’t know where to start? Start with “Who” “What” “Why” or “How” and fill in the rest!

2. Follow Headline Rules, like Capitalize Each Important First Letter

This makes your tweet look more grown-up and polished. Tweets like “five ways to get your cat to sing” are wimpy and indifferent and I certainly wouldn’t be interested. But “Five Ways To Get Your Cat To Sing” at least looks like you’re trying.

3. As Tempted As You Might Be, Don’t Say “New Blog Post”

 Duh. We know. Just leave us a link. We can figure it out. Whenever I see this, I conclude that the writer is unimaginative or stuck in 1999 or both.

Click the link to find out more about #MondayBlogs
Click the link to find out more about #MondayBlogs

4. Put As Much Thought Into The Headline As You Did Into The Post Itself

Use vibrant verbs. Keep it Short. Pretend for a minute that it isn’t a blog post, but a magazine article and these first few words are on the cover of Cosmo. (It would be best, though to keep it rated G, unlike Cosmo). “Top Ten Tips To Make Your Blog Title More RT Worthy” is a little long, but it’s clear. I could have also gone with “Your Blog Title Sucks. So Fix It!” But I’m trying to be helpful. And nice.

5. Use Numbers

I asked someone a few weeks ago what their biggest pet peeve on Twitter was and they answered that seeing this: “Eight Ways To Use Your Crock Pot for Cleaning” and “Top Ten Toothbrushes for Dogs”  — the numbers in the title seemed to be too much. A pet peeve? Really? Folks, this is good headline writing. If you can quantify the contents of your blog post into a list and then use that list in the title, you’ve got something interesting. This is exactly why I write all my blog posts in Top 10 lists. My blog posts have structure, continuity and all I have to come  up with are ten points and I’m done.

6. Exaggerate A Little

“Folding Chair Options That Will Change Your Life Forever” Well of course, it won’t exactly change my life, but the exaggeration might compel me to at least click the link and see what the fuss is about. I love the fact that Twitter is so casual, you can get away with a little exaggeration and hyperbole and it may make you all the more charming.

7. Be Funny

 Now not everyone can do this well. But if you can use humor in your headlines or tweets do it! Humor is powerful. If you can get a smirk or a chuckle or a LOL out of someone, you’ve won half the battle. If you can be funny consistently, then you are building a reputation for wit and comedy that can bring readers to you.

8. Sell You, Not Your Book

 As tempting as it is to say, “My Romantic Comedy for Ninjas is $.99 today” for #MondayBlogs. Please don’t do it. I personally find this off-putting. We all have books to sell. Instead, tell me something about you, something you’re struggling with, something that demonstrates how much we have common. Then, after I get to know you, and discover how awesome you are, I’ll be happy to buy your book and maybe even interview you here about it!

9. Study Other Headlines

Spend twenty minutes and read all the headlines in your magazines and newspapers. See if you can make your blog titles just as pithy and pointed as those writers did. There is a REASON why headlines are designed the way that they are and professional writers are trained to capture readers’ attention. Learn from them. If you call yourself a pro, then act like it!

10. Consider the Blog Post Itself

If your having trouble writing a headline for your 1500 words on your writing angst, then there may be a reason. Keep your blog posts simple and to the point, then you’ll see that the titles are much easier to write.

Learn From The Experts

And do a little research on your own! Here is a fascinating article on Forbes about headline writing. And another list of very practical suggestions from author Jeff Goins.

And a whole honkin’ bunch of articles from Copyblogger. Really, after all this information, there’s no reason why your headlines need to suck.

So what do you think? Am I off the mark here? Do you think I’m expecting too much? Do you have any suggestions to add?

There Has Never Been a Better Time In History to be a Writer

But the downside to that is that we are competing against each other for readers. We must be willing to  be our very best with every tweet, every status update, every blog post. Don’t get lazy with things like this. Put your best foot, uh, I mean tweet forward and see what happens.

Top 10 Ways To Get Your Readers To Fall In Love With You

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According to an interesting article on WikiHow, “How To Fall In Love” you can find yourself in a satisfying relationship in a few not-so-easy steps.

 I’d like to suggest that authors follow their advice to be “in love” with their readers. And hopefully, readers will fall in love with them too!

Top 10 Ways To Get Your Readers To Fall In Love With You by Katharine Grubb 10 Minute Novelist

  1. Boost Your Self-Esteem. For those looking for romance, this means exude confidence, know who you are, and stop comparing yourself to others. This will make you attractive to others. Writers should do the same thing. Take the time to make yourself into a good writer.  That means that you need to seek out challenging mentors and coaches that can push you to be better. You may need to take classes. You may need to have a critique partner who makes you cry. No one wants to follow a loser. So train like a winner. This also means looking good. You need to make a good impression. All of your social media personalities should be consistent and reflect the emotional goals of your brand. In other words, act like a professional! 

2. Consider why you want to fall in love. The article suggests that if we are looking for a romance to “complete” us or give us validation, we may be in it for the wrong reasons. I totally agree. I also think that writers who pursue publication for fame, fortune or any other reason may need to reconsider. Being a great writer who can live off their income takes a lot of work. Only you can decide if you’re doing it for the right reasons.

3. Consider what you’re looking for. If you are looking for a romantic partner, then you need to put some thought into what kinds of people you enjoy. You also need to think deeper than a pretty face or huge biceps. Writers need to be just as thoughtful. They need to know what kind of writers they are. Do they write mysteries? Romances? Thrillers? Steampunk? They also need to know what kinds of people read their genre. If you don’t know who you are or what you want, you’ll have a lot of trouble finding readers.

4. Meet people. This should be the most obvious. If you want healthy relationships, romantic or otherwise, you have to get out into the world. For writers this can be terrifying because we often like hiding out with our laptops and our cats. You can do this in real life, such as with a writers’ group or book club. You can also do this online, where we care far less about personal hygiene. My personal favorite group is the 10 Minute Novelists group on Facebook. Join us. 

5. Open Yourself To New Possibilities. This is good advice all the way around, for any part of your life. To have what you’ve never had, you must do what you’ve never done. For lonely singles, you may want to try a local meet up or ask your friends to set you up. For writers, this means you need to stretch yourself. Try signing up for a new social media platform. Try joining a chat. Try calling your local library and asking them if you can drop off one of your books. Get over your fear. Take chances. You’ll probably be surprised at how fun it is.

6. Give Things Time. This is the best thing on the list. Writers absolutely cannot expect to be best sellers overnight. That’s as ridiculous as a lonely woman arriving at a singles dance expecting to meet Prince Charming, getting engaged in three months and married in a year. Be content to start at the beginning. Don’t be afraid to fail.  Write every day that you can. Don’t give up because it’s hard.

7. Develop The Relationship. Now this is where the article assumes you’ve met Mr. Right, (or at least Mr. Right Now). The author suggests that you talk, expressing interest in the values and experiences of this new person in your life. This is great advice for you as a writer too! I totally believe that if we are going to have life long reader fans, we need to start with our friends! This means talking to them. It means asking good questions. It means getting your focus off yourself (and your book sales) and work at this new relationship.

8. Open Yourself Up Emotionally. This is also great advice! Now in a romantic relationship, you need to take risks and be vulnerable. Sometimes that’s really scary! Writers have to take risks too! With each reader that reads your book, you have to be willing to get a mediocre or bad review. You have to be able to handle rejection. You need to not take it seriously when they say, you’re not my type. There are plenty of readers out there, so if your heart gets broken, keep trying! To be successful, you must deal with bad reviews like a pro. It also means understanding that art is subjective and what one person loves another will hate. The artistic nature of this business makes everything wonderful and everything harder. Sigh.

9. Build Trust. All relationships are built on trust. How do you build trust? You keep your word. You communicate gently. You don’t antagonize. You don’t criticize. You don’t judge or condemn. You don’t ignore. An affable, approachable writer who is trustworthy to his readers will be in greater position for long term success than one who is disrespectful and lacks integrity. This means absolutely no misrepresenting yourself! No manipulating numbers! No fudging reviews! No underhanded dealings! Any shortcuts you may take to “gain readers or followers” will someday come back to bite you in the butt. Don’t do it.

10. Appreciate what you’ve got. No one likes to be taken for granted, not even readers. Once you have readers who are willing to buy your books, keep them posted on what’s next for you. Say thank you by sending personal messages. Do your best to remind them that they are important to you. This will go a long way to building a great writer/reader relationship. You must understand that your readers’ attention is precious.  They will  have no trouble finding other books to read. Respect this. Don’t take it for granted. Don’t answer questions hatefully or sarcastically. Be warm. Be generous if you can. Get to know them, don’t just make it all about you.

To get our readers to fall in love with us, we’re going to have to work. We’ll need to take our art seriously, their relationship seriously and give everything our best.  

There are no shortcuts. Sorry about that.

Each bullet on this list is a long tedious task that can only be accomplished with hard work. Discouraged? Don’t be. Good relationships and enthusiastic tribes take time. And it starts with what’s inside you!

Readers are worth it. 

Top 10 Ways To Respect Your Art As A Writer by Katharine Grubb

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Thank you, Internet! 

Because of you, I have to do so little work to expose myself and my family to the works of the world’s greatest artists. Gone are the days when we have to pay for parking at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts. Now, all we have to do is click the mouse a few times and we are seeing, perhaps not perfectly, the art of the masters.

Click the link for print availability

I appreciate this as a writer because I clearly don’t have enough distractions as it is. But I also can appreciate it because I believe that writing is an art. I also believe that like the great painters of western civilization, great writing can be something that can be respected and revered. I believe that inspiration comes from a lot of different places and that exposing myself to great art will touch my soul somehow, and make me a better writer in the long run.

I believe also that even beginning writers need to have a great respect for the art of writing. Just because visual art is cheap and easily accessible doesn’t mean we shouldn’t enjoy it. The same can be said for the art of writing. Just because publishing has never been easier doesn’t mean that contemporary writers should reduce it to something common.

I’d like to suggest that all writers, regardless of their experience and tastes, learn to love their art.

Top 10 Ways To Respect Your Art As A Writer by Katharine Grubb

 

1. If you love your art, then you respect the masters. You have spend time reading the works of great writers, analyzing their style and choices. You’ve saturated yourself only with the best books so that you can be inspired and taught how to be great.

2. If you love your art, you don’t makes excuses for others’ bad works. This is tricky, but if we were truly respectful of the craft of writing, then we would have no trouble being honest in a review on  Amazon.com or Goodreads. We’d point out technical flaws, we’d question the author’s choices, we’d give our reasons for reducing our ratings from four to two stars. We’d be thoughtful and kind in our observations while at the same time backing up our claims.

3. If we are respectful of our art, then we should have no trouble with receiving critical reviews, even the ones we don’t agree with. We can’t leave honest reviews with integrity if we aren’t willing to receive honest ones in return.

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4. If we respect our art, then we have studied the rules of it. Despite popular platitudes in the writing community there are rules to writing. If we respect our art, then we see the rules as helpful boundaries –especially those that allow us to be clearer and better understood, such as grammar! And spelling! If we respect our art, we don’t look for excuses to break the rules. Instead we look at the rules as friends.

5. If we respect our art, then we are willing to put time into it. It is disrespectful to the art and to our readers if we are looking for ways to cut corners in our composition or creation. If we respect our art, we don’t look for easy answers like, “how many times do I rewrite this paragraph before it’s good enough?” The answer is “at least one more.”

6. If we respect our art, then we take the commitment to craft seriously. We read blogs, we read writing books, we go to conferences, we take notes, and we look for ways our prose can improve. You can’t love and respect your art if you are too proud to take correction.

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7. If we respect our art, then we write every day. Every day! There has never been a concert pianist that didn’t sit down and play for hours on a regular basis. There will never be a great writer that doesn’t slap their butt in their chair and their hands on the keyboard. If we respect our art, then our diligence in regular writing should be like breathing.

8. If we respect our art, then we don’t tie our identity to the current work-in-progress. To respect our art means to allow it to stand alone, separate from us, open to the criticisms and praise of others. As time goes by, and we add more to our finished works, we see it as an entire body of work, with individual pieces that have each had a place in the building up of our careers. The single titles are not big enough to fill the satisfaction of a lifetime of hard work. (I’m not crazy about that sentence.)

9. If we respect our art, then we don’t compare it to others’ works. It is OUR art. We can be inspired by others, but to truly respect art, that means that we refuse to copy or cheapen our work by making it derivative of someone else’s.

10. If we respect our art, then we’re never in a hurry. The best things in life are the things that take time to nurture. Rushing through a story for the sake of publishing it weakens the art process and makes the final creation the literary equivalent of a Big Mac. Take your time. Do it right. Respect and love your reader.

So, what do you think? How can you respect your art? 

Top 10 Ways Good Marketing Is Like Good Parenting by Katharine Grubb, 10 Minute Novelist and Mother of Five

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Becoming an author is like becoming a parent. 

The writing of the book, was the pregnancy. You conceived the idea in a romantic, intimate moment.

You developed it secretly in the dark. You wrote while stuffing your face with all kinds of snacks. You tried to explain your characters and your plot to others and they just didn’t understand. And the length of the ms got bigger and bigger. And you wondered will I ever get this done? Will I be waiting for the arrival forever? 

And the big day comes!

You get your little bundle of joy from Createspace or some other expert labor and delivery establishment! You count all of the pages to make sure that it is all there!  You think that your book is the most beautiful and the most amazing thing that was ever created! And you tell all your friends! You post it on Facebook! There has never been a book before this book! No one will be a better author than you!

And then the novelty is over.

The well wishers have bought their copies. You realize that you’re the one up all night with the little buggar. You second guess yourself, are you the best marketer you could be? Amazon Kindle sales are nice but the reviews aren’t as complete as you’d like. The sales are only trickles. You thought that perhaps something significant would happen now, something bigger? The blues come on you and you don’t know what to do. One star reviews smell like dirty diapers. Rejection letters are the mean toddlers who throw sand on the play date. And then there’s that other author close to you who says, “I would never do that to my book! What are you thinking? What kind of an author are you?”

This metaphor can go on forever. 

Just like parenting, we often don’t know what we’re doing when it comes to marketing our books. Just like parenting, we read good advice and we try it, but it doesn’t always work for us. Just like parenting, we have great aspirations, but sometimes we get caught up in our own inadequacies and our own faults. Sometimes the frustration of knowing what is best for us is overwhelming.

Like parenting, if we are going to market our books, we kind of have to figure it out as we go. 

Top 10 Ways Good Marketing is Like Good Parenting by Katharine Grubb 10 Minute Novelist

1. A good parent does what they can when they can. You don’t fill out college applications the day after coming home from the hospital. A good marketer understands that there are seasons for their book, look at the process in the long term and gives themselves grace.

2. A good parent has low expectations. A first time author should have them too. I haven’t  met a mother of a toddler yet that  didn’t. If you’re a first time author, understand that you won’t sell thousands of books. That’s okay. You’ve got your future ahead of you.

3. A good parent attends to the basics automatically. For a parent, that means having baby fed, washed, nurtured and well rested. For an author, that means having the manuscript well-written, well-edited, well-covered, and accessible to readers on the most basic of platforms, like Kindle direct. As your platform and skill set grows, your accomplishments will too.

4. A good parent doesn’t compare their kid or their style to another parent’s child or style. A good book marketer doesn’t either. What works well for your friend’s book, Amish Zombie Princesses won’t work for your book, Lint Art for the Lonely.  Like parenting, our marketing journey is a personal one and we have to choose what’s best for us and not judge others’ choices.

5. A good parent knows parenting is a game of inches. Children don’t master good manners in one lesson. It takes years. Authors who market should understand this too. A first book gains a few readers, the next book gains more. This game — parenting and marketing — is not for the impatient.

6. A good parent uses their community. Who hasn’t asked a friend, neighbor or family member to watch a child? What parent hasn’t depended on a social group to help them out? Authors need community too. If nothing else, an author’s community can encourage him, help promote, help fine tune and show how things can be done.

7. A good parent manages their time the best they can. They have an understanding of what must be done and figures out ways to get it done. A marketing author does this too. The engage with their readers without being too distracted. They delegate. They learn how much they can do in 10 minute increments.

8. A good parent takes reasonable risks. They want their children to stretch themselves, try new things and grow. A good marketer does this too. They aren’t afraid of speaking to the librarian at their local branch or calling the local paper. Both parent and marketing author knows you never know what great thing could happen if you try!

9. A good parent knows the “rules” but makes them work for their situation. A good marketing author does too. They’ve read marketing blogs, they understand generosity, they’ve taken great notes. Then they get good ideas and apply the principles their way.

10. A good parents sees the differences in their children and nurtures them accordingly. A good author may also see that each of their books opens doors that the other one can’t. They also aren’t afraid to learn from their mistakes and do better with children and books this time around.

Authors should take another lesson from parents — just because you do everything “right” doesn’t mean that there are guarantees. Parenting is fraught with heartbreak, disappointment, pain and expense. But then, it’s awesome and joyful and exhilarating.

But like parenting, marketing will take hard work, trial and error, risk-taking, expenses, time, energy, possible humiliation, disappointment, regret, sleepless nights, and the list is endless.

So are you a good parent/marketer?  What other similarities do you see? What has parenting taught you about marketing?

Top 10 Reasons To Treat Twitter Like A Big Cocktail Party by Katharine Grubb, 10 Minute Novelist

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Imagine yourself in a packed football stadium — one of the big ones like Gillette or Lucas Oil. Now imagine that every one in attendance at that stadium is shouting at the same time.

BIRDS

They aren’t shouting to players on the field, they’re not even watching the game, instead, they are trying to get the attention of the people on the other side of the stadium. Everyone in the stadium, including you, wants attention from others. Everyone wants to be known as clever. They want subscribers or followers or friends or likes. Everyone in the stadium wants the attention of everyone else in the stadium. This isn’t a great way to communicate. It’s chaotic, disorganized and discouraging.

Twitter can be like that for authors.

Yet, authors often hear stories of how books are sold, tribes have increased, and deals are made. Somehow Twitter works for those who know how to work it.

But if all you do on Twitter is shout into the crowd with no plan, no target and no order, you’ll probably come away disappointed.

BIRDS

Perhaps we should think of Twitter as a cocktail party instead.

Top 10 Reasons To Treat Twitter Like A Big Cocktail Party by Katharine Grubb 10 Minute Novelist

If you go to a cocktail party, your purpose is not ever to shout. Instead, you extend your hand, make small talk, find common interests, and exchange information with the guests there. Everyone has the same purpose — to get attention — but a party is more relaxed. You can be yourself. You can take your time. A cocktail party is a manageable way to start relationships because it’s based in conversation, not shouting.

These nine tips can help you make Twitter less of a shouting match and more of a party.

BIRDS

If you follow these tips, you’ll start conversations, you’ll build relationships and eventually you’ll build your tribe.

1. Target specific types of people, not just other writers.  Other writers should not be your first market for selling your book. Instead, you should be looking for readers that meet your specific criteria. You know who you are looking for based on your genre, your setting, your themes, and characters. Take the time to think about your book and seek out readers who identify with certain aspects of it.

2. Ask questions of people you meet, don’t just say, “buy my book! It’s $.99!” Only blast tweets about their books.  If you are using Twitter as a an advertising medium, you are going to be disappointed. With the vast number of tweets every day, your message of “my Amish Zombie Princess romance is $.99” will get lost in the crowd. Questions, however, engage people who potentially could learn to love you.

3. Think long term. No social media platform guarantees instant success. To maximize the benefits of Twitter, you need to have a long term vision. Set a goal of following 50+ people a day. Schedule your blog post or “look at me” tweets but use the rest of your day to engage your followers and ask questions. You will see results if you commit to this daily, engage others and save the hard sell for something else.

4. Ask questions constantly and don’t overthink it. As you read people’s bios, ask them about their pets, their hometowns or who won last night’s game. You are going to have to get over yourself you are insecure or self conscious. Don’t waste this opportunity thinking “this sounds stupid” or “no one will respond”. Twitter moves so fast, that even if you do sound stupid, you can always tweet something else. Lighten up, ask questions and take chances.

5. Write an interesting noun-filled bio. At a cocktail party, you’re introduced with nouns, “Chip is an agent!” or “She’s a new mother!” or “He’s a marathoner!” The best nouns connect us to our jobs, roles, interesting hobbies and big dreams. It’s these nouns that will identify you to others and start conversations. Your bio should be a warm, friendly, specific introduction, not a CV or resume.

6. Search out relevant chats. There are dozens of chats on Twitter weekly. (My favorite? #10MinNovelists, every Thursday 9 PM EDT) Engage in one of them! You are likely to meet people in your target market who can encourage you. We all need community. We need encouragement, professional opinions and connections. I have meet dozens, if not hundreds of writers (my target market). Even if these writers never buy my books, I’m learning from them.  My writing life is all the richer for it.

7. Use hashtags appropriately. Hashtags are shortcuts to conversations. I’m the first person to volunteer to use one as a punchline, (#likethis #duh) but the purpose is to find common threads or topics quickly.  Your target market has its own set of hashtags. Find them! The people who use them are the people who may buy your book. The effort research is worth it.

8. Don’t treat Twitter like Facebook. It’s a waste of time to scroll through your Twitter feed to “catch up”. Twitter is so fast, that there is no need to go to where your 1200 followers left off yesterday and see what everyone had to say. Instead, create a list of your favorites or closest friends and check on them a couple of times a day. Use Hootsuite to track the threads of important hashtags. Find what’s trending and jump in the conversation, if you can’t catch up, don’t worry about it. Just go forward.

9. Make lists. Twitter allows for you to make lists to organize your followers. Use them. This will save time. Lists are also a great place to find more followers in your target market. And it’s perfectly fine to find followers from others’ lists — in fact if you may be able to find the lists created by others who share your target market (your competitors!) Take advantage of this: new connections are ripe for the taking.

10. Don’t get in a rush! Relationships take time. If you are antsy to make a sale, gain a reader or get a follower, it will show. And rushing relationships is a big turn off. Cocktail parties are meant to be relaxing — hence the cocktails. So pour yourself another glass, raise it high and toast to the beauty of good conversations through Twitter.

I love Twitter. I love its speed and its flexibility. I love that if I have an off week and don’t keep up with my tweets, I can pick up where I left off.

I love that writers everywhere are learning how to use it well. I love that most of my online connections have come through Twitter. But Twitter won’t work for you if you don’t know how to understand it’s strengths and weaknesses. So put away the football jersey and megaphone and slip into the little black dress.

Join the Twitter cocktail party, engage with others and have fun!


Conquering Twitter in 10 Minutes A DayWant more tips on how to make Twitter work for you? CONQUERING TWITTER in 10 MINUTES DAY is available for pre-order! Specifically written for authors, this book will help you think about yourself, your brand, your books, and your goals on Twitter, create great questions to ask and organize your time in such a way that you can get the most out of every tweet.

Available for $.99! 


Top 10 Ten Ways To Be There For Your Readers By Way Of ’90s Television

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I firmly believe that your readers can be your friends.

I think that if you are a wise author, you are looking at your readers not as someone who bought, read and reviewed your book, but someone who, could potentially turn into a raving fan. 

The term raving fan was coined by Kenneth Blanchard to describe a customer who enthusiastically promotes a company or service and would be a lifelong fan of the people behind it.

In the writing world, we can have raving fans too.

A writer who has raving fans will have an army or coalition of people who will always buy what they publish, they will always leave good reviews, they may also comment on the Facebook page or communicate with you on other social media. But the most important thing they will do is passionately tell other people about you. 

You can’t get raving fans overnight. You have to cultivate the relationship. You have to be friends.

You know, FRIENDS. 

Top 10 Ten Ways To Be There For Your Readers  By Way of 90s Television by Katharine Grubb 10 Minute Novelist

 

Top 10 Ten Ways To Be There For Your Readers By Way Of ’90s Television

1. Be as accessible to your readers as Chanler & Joey was to Monica & Rachel.   Your social media presence should be there to nurture relationships, not just push your sales. Carefully consider every way that you and your brand are represented. If it’s not welcoming or easy to find, make some changes.  It’s this frequency and accessibility that can build a relationship. Just don’t come in unannounced. 

2. Be as generous as Phoebe was when she found a thumb in her soda.  In the relationships with your readers, make giving your default setting. Does someone need advice? Give it gently. Does someone have a question? Answer, and do a little digging for them. Give without any expectation of return. Readers will flock to writers who have something to offer — and I’m not talking about your free download. I am talking about your practical advice, your words of inspiration, or your funny stories. And if Ross ever needs fashion advice, make sure you give him the right bag.

 

3. Be as interested as Joey is when Rachel’s sister visits. But more appropriately.  This could be your How You Doin’  strategy. Take the time to ask readers about themselves. What is their life like? What do you have in common? I find that if I turn my purpose from “connect with readers” to “make new friends” not only is it more fun, but I walk away far more satisfied. I also lay the groundwork for future conversations that could evolve over time into rich relationships. Nobody knew in season one that Monica and Chandler would get married in season seven.

4. Be as excellent in your writing as Monica was in the kitchen. This is a pretty important item on the list. If you have entered a relationship with a reader and they have actually paid money for your book, then you better respect that bond!  That means your book should be the very best it can be — professionally designed and edited, followed the rules of good storytelling and presented well.

5. Be just as authentic as when Monica and Ross danced on national television.  It never ceases to amaze me how much people are drawn to me when I am honest about my weaknesses. It seems counter-intuitive; we think we should hide our flaws. There are some dance moves that should stay in the family room in 1989. But I’ve found that the more real I am, the more my readers (who are now my friends) circle around me to support me. My weaknesses then becomes my strength. Maybe it didn’t for Ross and Monica.

6. Be a soft sell, which means don’t take marketing lessons from Marcel the monkey. This whole “buy my book” mindset of many authors in social media is beyond annoying, like Ross’s pet you can be smelly, loud and it feels like you’re throwing poop at me. I suggest you scrap any sales strategy that is repetitive and one-sided. Instead, lower your expectations for numbers, work on finding readers one at a time and stick it out for the long haul. This type of strategy will work far better for you in the future.

7. Be light-hearted like a couch-centered situation comedy. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Yes, you’ve written a book. That’s a great accomplishment that thousands if not millions do every year. If fight for that image as a special snowflake then you’re pushing people, and potential readers, away.

8. Be consistent, like Phoebe’s song lyrics. This is also a pretty important item on this list. Your brand needs to be predictable. Your readers need to know that when they pick up a book with your name on it, they can expect certain things. If you’re a blogger, you need to stick to a schedule. Consistency keeps your words in front of your readers so they don’t forget you.

 

9. Be yourself, unlike Joey’s acting.  If you keep looking to the right or left so you can copy what that other writer did,  you need to STOP IT RIGHT NOW! You will never get anywhere by trying to be derivative! Instead write freely, with blinders on, doing the best you can in your own voice. (That doesn’t excuse you from being excellent!)

10. Be unique like Rachel’s haircut. Our lives are filled with unique stories, experiences, struggles and pain that qualifies us to have a niche in this world. Take the time to find yours. Don’t rush this. Everything that you’ve experienced, good or bad, has been given to you so that you can use it to be generous to others. Your readers need you.

Now, realistically, this could take a long time. Longer than Ross and Rachel’s relationship. But I’d like to argue that the hard work of investing in people, asking them questions, looking for opportunities to be generous to them, remaining authentic, will pay off for you as your platform grows.

What else is there? What else can we do to love our readers? As a reader, how do you like to be appreciated? I’d love to hear your thoughts on this! 

Top 10 Things You Can Ask Yourself If You’re Looking For Extra Time To Write by Katharine Grubb, 10 Minute Novelist

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Ever since I decided to find 10 minute increments here and there to write, I’ve viewed the time in my day differently.

Now, I compare wasted time to a designer coffee that I might buy daily without thinking about it.

I’d like to suggest that in the area of time management, conscientious writers need to consider the latte factor.

I did not coin the term Latte Factor. It was, however coined by financial guru David Bach. In his book, The Automatic Millionaire, Bach claims that consumers spend little bits of money here an there, say, buying daily designer drinks.

He claims, and rightfully I think, that these little bits add up. Wise consumers should see that this “money leak” is a problem in the long term. His suggestion is that consumers take active steps to stop those money leaks so that they can save money, perhaps significant amounts.

I’d like to suggest that we do the same with time.

We get only 24 hours in a day and we have to spend it somewhere. This may take some soul searching, but if you are really serious about pursuing your writing dreams, you’re going to have to make time for it.

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

I am a firm believer in writing in 10 minute chunks. And like Bach’s Latte Factor, I believe I  can find more time in my day if I look hard for it. 

I also believe that you can find 10 minute chunks of time to write if you are willing to  be brutal with the things that take up your time.

Top 10 Things You Can Ask Yourself If You’re Looking For Extra Time To Write

If You're Looking For Extra Time To Write by Katharine Grubb, 10 Minute Novelist

  1. Can you lower your expectations for the amount of writing you can do in a day?

2. Can you be brutally honest with yourself about those optional activities that you could eliminate, like PTA or that birthday party this weekend?

3. Can you get rid of time wasters, like mindless television?

4. Can you consider everything that you do, from the time you get out of bed each morning to the time you go to bed at night — where the time could be slipping from you?

“Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana.”
Anthony G. Oettinger

5. Can you get up a bit earlier? Or go to bed a bit later without affecting your body’s needs?

6. Can you streamline tasks like meals and chores so that they take less time? Can you plan or prepare meals in advance?

7. Can you delegate to your family members any appropriate tasks, like cleaning, laundry or cooking?

“For every minute you are angry you lose sixty seconds of happiness.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

8. Can you organize the clutter so that you don’t waste time looking for things?

9. Can you lower your expectations for holidays, extracurricular activities, or family events so that you can have more time?

10. Can you say “no” to people around who need your time and energy?

 

If you can write 10 minutes extra a day, every day for a week, that’s 70 extra minutes you can devote to writing this week. That’s 280 minutes more this month. That’s 14,560 minutes, (or 242.66 hours!) that you can write this year!

Our time is valuable and no matter how hard we try to hold on to it, it marches forward. Rather than giving up altogether, just look for those latte factor moments, make a few changes in your schedule and make the most of it writing!

 

Top Ten Reasons to Become a Reider: All About Janet Reid

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One of our 10 Minute Novelists, Sherry Howard, recently wrote this piece about Janet Reid, literary agent and blogger. Janet’s advice is excellent. It’s always a good idea to to listen to agents and learn from the experts. Enjoy! 

Janet Reid, of Fine Print Literary, is also well-recognized as her more ferocious persona, Query Shark.

There are  different aspects of Janet that are worth getting to know: the agent, the Query Shark, and the blogger.

Here are ten reasons to learn about agent extraordinaire, Janet Reid.

 

  1. Get to know the agent. Janet is most interested in representing crime fiction and narrative non-fiction,  although she occasionally says that she’s a sucker for great writing of any kind. She’s quick to suggest that writers of children’s works query other agents, because she’s honest that way. She represents some great authors: Patrick Lee, Sean Ferrell, Jeff Somersault, and Robin Becker, just to name a few.
  2. Get to know the Query Shark. Her massive library of query feedback, compiled as the Query Shark, is widely recognized as the best place to learn to write queries well. She has dissected hundreds of queries, and suggests, no—demands, that you read each and every one of them if you want to understand the art of the query. I’ve done it, and it’s worth the time. As a matter of fact, I’ve read them all more than once. Eventually, you’ll internalize some of the advice.
  3. Get to know the blogger. The blog is ongoing, and filled with rich content for any writer, whether you plan to query Janet or not. The content usually triggers writerly discussions among the woodland creatures, AKA blog Reiders.
  4. Get to know the Reiders.  Reiders are a lively bunch of blog devotees, many of whom comment daily. (I only comment when I think I have something to add value to the discussion, which isn’t every day.) When I told Janet about this post, she emphasized that the Reiders bring a lot to the table—the experience wouldn’t be as fun, useful, or informative without enjoying the comments, too. “I view this as a group experience.”
  5. Get to know the wizard behind the curtain. Janet accepts questions for her blog, and often blog comments trigger an answer from Janet in a new blog post. We know Janet “reids” comments because every once in a while she’ll inflict a shark nip at one or more of us for some misbehavior. Have a question? Find the link in the sidebar: Get in touch.
  6. Study the resources in the archives. There are several ways to find what you need: category, other posts, and a search tool that’s very efficient. If you have a question about writing, you’ll likely find an answer and a discussion. If not, see #5.
  7. See that agents can communicate if they choose to. Janet keeps a notice on her page about where she is with queries, and provides information about what to do if you haven’t heard from her. If you query her, you’ll know if she’s seen your query yet.
  8. Study her answers to questions. She has probably answered any writer question you can possibly think of. Her files are well-ordered, and a search will help you find what you need. See #6.
  9. Study her book recommendations. Janet recommends books she represents, but also other books. Pay attention. You’ll learn something about at least one agent’s tastes in books.
  10. Enter her flash fiction contests. Janet runs flash fiction contests that are a great teaching/learning tool. Her comments about the results give wonderful insight into what works, especially opening lines. She’s very specific about the winning entries, and what worked for her. It’s a great place to flex your writing muscles and enter, or just read and learn. Thanks to a regular Reider, Colin Smith, there’s a compiled reference of previous winners.

In the same Writer’s Digest issue that honored 10MinuteNovelists, Janet’s blog was recognized as “the best of the best” in the agents’ category. I couldn’t agree more!


Sherry Howard is a former school administrator, storyteller and poet. Her website is SheryHoward.org.

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?