My Self-Pub Journey

book marketing 2

Regardless if you self-pub or not, you will be responsible for the marketing of your book.

That was one of the most depressing things I discovered as a new author. I naively believed that once I wrote an amazing story my publisher would take care of the rest. Unfortunately, unless you are an A-list client, the marketing of your story rests upon your shoulders. If I swore, I would probably drop a stronger phrasing of “dang it” right now.

OK, so we have to market our books, how do we do it? I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but writing isn’t exactly a social activity. But, to sell books, we have to be social. Dang it!

Alright, I just ate a batch of cookie dough and now I’ve accepted the fact that I must not only write, but I must learn how to market. That’s what this series on my blog is going to be dedicated to. I recently came off the fence and decided self-publishing was for me. There were a number of things that influenced my decision, but the fact that I was responsible for marketing my book with or without a publisher was the deciding factor.

As I progress along the road of self-publishing I will share what I learn along the way. I’d love to hear your feedback about what has worked for you or what has failed. Also, I’m open to new ideas about marketing.

Without further ado, I welcome you My Self-Pub Journey. Let’s do this, dang it!

Step 1: Claim Your Domain
-Where do I begin? Create a Blog and Claim Your Domain

Step 2: Build an Email List (coming soon)
-What is an email list and why is it important?
-Creating a budget friendly marketing campaign using welcome and follow-up emails.
-Begin your campaign.

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Why a Blog?

blog

We hear it all the time, set up a blog. And we think, that’s all nice and fun, but I’ve got nothing to say. That, I have learned, is a big fat lie. We are writers, we have a ton to say.

But why is a blog so important to a writer? The answer is, platform.

Platform is a word we hear thrown around all the time in the writing world. A platform is a basically how you let the world know about you. It’s a base you stand on and say, “This is me. Read what I have to write. You’ll like it, I promise.”

There area a thousand ways to promote your work on social media, but before you head into the world of Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest, you MUST start a blog and here’s why. A blog is a landing point for all of your fans. Your social media accounts should lead people to your blog. Your blog is your home and your social media accounts are the road signs directing people so they don’t get lost trying to find the party.

You don’t have to be some computer whiz to start a blog. Go to WordPress.com and get started. You can find tuturiols all over the web about how to create a blog. I personaly prefer WordPress. I’ve used Blogger in the past but WordPress allows a little more freedom, which I like.

Things to consider when starting a blog:

  1. Responsive Program: Choose a program that is responsive, meaning it’s formated to work with a cell phone. WordPress is reponsive.
  2. About You: Create your “about” section first. Then consider what you’ll blog about. You don’t have to blog right away, just get your site set up and your posts will come to you.
  3. Use Pictures: Always use a high-quality picture with each post and put it at the top of your post. Posts with pictures get read more than posts without pictures.
  4. Be Human: Show Don’t Tell.
  5. Have Fun: It’s a big world and there are millions of blogs out there. Don’t worry about followers just play with it for a while and make your mistakes when you don’t have anyone watching. When you feel like you’ve got it figured out, begin promoting your site.
  6. Publishing Options: WordPress has a few options I always like to use before I publish a post: “Sharing” & “More Options.” I will cover how to use these options in a future post.
  7. Keep People Reading Your Blog: In a later post I will discuss how to use links to keep people reading your blog, or how to link people to resources you want to recommend.

That about covers it for now. Go out and create your blog. If you would like, go ahead and post a link to your blog in the comments below. And feel free to share other tips you might have.

List of Common Writing Errors and How to Fix Them

I am studying, The Curious Case of the Misplaced Modifier: How to Solve the Mysteries of Weak Writing, by Bonnie Trenga.  This are my notes from her “Top Ten Writing Misdemeanors.”

it’s vs. its
The only time it’s should be used is if you can substitute the words “it has” or “it is” in the sentence.

who’s vs. whose
who’s means “who is” or “who has”
whose is possessive:  Whose book?  Whose car?

Cliches:  Here’s a list of cliches to avoid like the plague (see what I did there)

Similar Sounding Words
similar words-2.jpg

Hyphenated Compounds
A hyphenated compound come before what it is describing.  It doesn’t need to be hyphenated if it comes after what it describes.
1.  Example: The red-haired children jumped on the trampoline.
2. Example:  The children who jumped on the trampoline were red haired.

Fewer vs. Less

  1. Fewer is used when an item is countable.
    1. Example:  There were fewer pencils in the drawer than before the party.
  2. Less is used when and item is uncountable.
    1. Example:  There were less stars visible in the city sky than the country sky.

Generic Vocabulary & Phrases the Bore Readers

Generic Phrases:
is able to
there is
it is
this is

Generic Vocabulary
people
man
thing
good
interesting
different

More Writing Resources

Microsoft Word - VagueWordsList.doc

Wordy Writing

I am studying The Curious Case of the Misplaced Modifier: How to Solve the Mysteries of Weak Writing by Bonnie Trenga.  These are my notes from her chapter on Wordy Writing.

How to Tighten Up Wordy Writing

Take the wordy phrase and convert it using the formula below.

More Writing Resources

Wordy Writing Subs-2

Super Duper, Extremely Lengthy Sentences

I am studying the book, The Curious Case of the Misplaced Modifier: How to Solve the Mysteries of Weak Writing, by Bonnie Trenga.  These are my notes on long sentences and how to correct them.

Long Sentences and How to Correct Them

  1. Instead of using and or but, create a new sentence by substituting the following words:
    1. And: “in addition,” or “also,” (also should be added within the sentence)
      1. Incorrect:  The bird flew to his nest with a mouth full of twine and began stitching it together, and he dusted off the twigs.
      2. Correct:
        1. “in addition”- The bird flew to his nest with a mouth full of twine and began stitching it together.  In addition, he dusted off the twigs.
        2. “also”- The bird flew to his nest with a mouth full of twine and began stitching it together.  He also dusted off the twigs.
    2. But:  “however
      1. Incorrect: The bird flew to his nest with a mouth full of twine and began stitching it together, but he forgot to pick up some more twigs.
      2. Correct: The bird flew to his nest with a mouth full of twine and began stitching it together.  However, he forgot to pick up some more twigs.
    3. What out for use of these words often:
      1. Incorrect:  The bird flew to his nest with a mouth full of twine which was so big he had a hard time flying because he was a small bird, when realized after he began stitching together his nest that he forgot to pick up some more twigs.
      2. Correct: The small bird had a hard time flying to his nest with his mouth full of heavy twine.  After he began mending his nest he realized he forgot to pick up some more twigs

Long Sentences

  1. Find the MAIN IDEA and make it your 1st sentence.
  2. An em dash announces a break in thought.
  3. Keep the subject next to the verb, separated by no more than one extra thought.
    1. Incorrect:  The bird, with a mouth full of twine, who was small, had a hard time flying to his nest.
    2. Correct:  The small bird, with a mouth full of twine, had a hard time flying to his nest.
  4. Place no more than three ideas in a sentence.
    1. One Idea:  The small bird flew to his nest.
    2. Two Ideas:  The small bird flew to his nest with a mouth full of heavy twine.
    3. Three Ideas:  The bird flew to his nest with a mouth full of heavy twine and he barely made it to his nest.

More Writing Resources

Modifier Placement-Help Please!

Did you know modifiers can be misplaced, dangle, and squint?  Writing is hard.

In the book, The Curious Case of the Misplaced Modifier:How to Solve the Mysteries of Weak Writing, Bonnie Trenga provides a lesson on how to make sure our modifiers are utilized correctly.  Here are my notes from that chapter.

Modifier Placement

Beginning of a Sentence:  Keep the noun next to the modifier.

  1. The noun should come right after the comma
    1. Dressed in a purple gown, the elephant walked onto the stage.
      1. Noun:  elephant
      2. Modifier:  dressed in a purple gown
    2. Clues that a misplaced modifier begins a sentence:
      1. a past participle (past tense verb) begins the sentence
        1. Incorrect:  Dressed in a purple gown, the stage was bright that the elephant walked onto.
        2. CorrectDressed in a purple gown, the elephant walked onto the bright stage.
      2. as, like, or unlike begin the sentence
        1. Incorrect:  Unlike the ring master, the elephant walked onto the bright stage, who waited in the shadows.
        2. Correct:  The elephant walked onto the bright stage, unlike the ring master who waited in the shadows.
      3. if, it, or there occur after the comma
        1. Incorrect:  The ring master raised his arms, it was quiet.
        2. Correct:  The ring master raised his arms, the room became quiet.
        3. Better:  The room quieted as the ring master raised his arms.
      4. an -ing word begins a sentence or is the 2nd or 3rd word following a word in the chart below:
        1. Incorrect: After snapping his whip, the elephant bowed.
        2. Correct:  After snapping his whip, the ring master got the elephants attention and she bowed.
        3. Better:  The elephant bowed when the ring master snapped his whip.
          Words that Often Precede a Misplaced Modifier that Ends In

Middle/End of a Sentence

  1. Clues that a modifier has been misplaced within a sentence:
    1. a phrase begins with that or who
      1. who: describes people
        1. Incorrect: The ring master directed the elephant, who was wearing a top hat.
        2. Correct:  The ring master who was wearing a top hat, directed the elephant.
        3. Even Better:  The ring master, wearing a top hat, directed the elephant.
      2. that: describes things and animals
        1. Incorrect:  The elephant followed the ring master’s directions, that was wearing a purple gown.
        2. Correct:  The elephant that was wearing a purple gown, followed the ring master’s directions.
        3. Even Better:  The elephant, wearing a purple gown, followed the ring master’s directions.
    2. a phrase that could start with that or who, but doesn’t
      1. Incorrect: The ring master the elephant followed was tall and handsome.
      2. Correct:  The ring master who the elephant followed was tall and handsome.

Other Resources

More Writing Resources
Grammar Girl:  Misplaced Modifiers
Grammar Bytes:  Rules for Finding and Fixing Misplaced and Dangling Modifiers

Character Questionnaire

Ceremony T - Copy

I recently hit a low point in my writing, I found out one of my main characters had no personality, gasp!  So, I did something I swore I would never do, I filled out a couple of character questionnaires and voila, Jeremy suddenly had an awesome backstory that opened him up to some great character flaws.  Now, the questionnaires I filled out were a little repetitive and didn’t give me much room to scratch down my answers, so I combined them and put one together that I plan to use in the future.  If you are stuck or maybe just want to add a little more depth to your characters, give this a shot, you might be surprised what you come up with.

Outline of Questionnaire

A.  First, we find out a little about where your character it at when your story begins (29 questions).

B.  Second, we delve into your character’s parents and grandparents.  This is important because what your character’s family has experienced will influence the type of person your protagonist is, and will become (4 questions, each with a set of sub-questions).

C.  Third, we take a look at your character’s life.  How were they growing up, did they have it good or was it total chaos?  How many siblings did they have, did they like them?  What were their goals and dreams and did they ever reach those goals?  Answering these questions will make your character feel real and believable (12 questions, each with a set of sub-questions broken into age categories:  childhood, teens, young adult, adult, midlife, and senior years).

D.  After you’ve had a chance to reflect on these questions, I recommend you fill out the Character Flaw Worksheet I have provided.  This one is much shorter, only 5 questions-without sub-questions.

Happy writing!

Character Questionnaire PDF Version

Character Questionnaire Microsoft Word Version

Character Questionnaire Present Tense

Character Questionnaire Pedigree Chart

Character Questionnaire Parents

Character Questionnaire Past and Future