Monday, December 22, 2014

Christmas Wishes from the IWSG Team

2014 has been a great year. We saw the IWSG group celebrate our third anniversary, this website saw its first anniversary helping writers across the globe, and the Facebook group has grown to 1790 members, plus the Critique Circle is taking off as well. On top of all that, we also pooled together and released the IWSG Guide to Publishing and Beyond, a free resource for anyone to download.

So, from the IWSG Team, we'd like to thank you for your support and to wish you a Merry Christmas and a happy and productive New Year. May your writing dreams come true and your inspiration and motivation always flow.

We will return here on January 5th and our first IWSG post day will be Wednesday 7th

What do you do over the Christmas season that's not so traditional?
I always... watch Die Hard (best Christmas movie ever), play poker with the family (with one and two cent pieces that go back into the bottle until next year), and eat far too much seafood (the joys of Christmas in Australia). No writing gets done. But I'm okay with that. I view Christmas as a great recharging time.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Where to Find a Great Book Cover Artist

They say don’t judge a book by its cover–but we do. The cover art has to grab our attention while conveying the tone of the story or a scene from the narrative. And if the cover falls short, we won’t go any further.

Publishers have staff illustrators or freelance artists they use. But if you self-publish your book, you’ll have to find an artist on your own. (Unless you’re already a professional artist and understand cover design.) How do you decide which one? And what type of artwork works best?

M. Pax’s artist is Erin Dameron-Hill, a graphic artist who uses stock art.

M. Pax also offered this advice:
My advice for hiring anyone - personally talk to the authors who have used the artist. I mean, send an email and ask. Just because an author gives a credit, doesn't mean he/she was pleased. I think talking to other authors is the best way to find a graphic artist. If you see something you like, contact the author.

Some artists incorporate computer animation into their covers. Gwen Gardner uses Corona Zschusschen, a Dutch artist.

Others use more traditional means, often with stunning results. Cherie Reich called upon Laura Sava to do her latest cover.


Ultimately, you want your cover to look as professional as those produced by a traditional publisher. And if you select a good artist who can accurately capture your vision, it will. Below are three covers–one by a self-published author, one by a small press, and one by a large press. Would you know which one is which?

Now, where do you find a cover artist? Below are websites that list numerous artists and illustrators. And don’t forget to check with other authors for their recommendations. Find an artist with a good reputation, produces quality covers, and who can successfully capture the spirit of your book!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Pad Your Resume, and Wallets, by Writing for Small Markets by Sylvia Ney

The idea of publishing a piece in well-known glossy magazines or national newspapers, can become an alluring, but unfulfilled dream unless you are already widely published or connected to the right people.

Smaller presses can be an excellent stairway to success by attracting the attention you desire from the larger publications. You might consider starting local. These writing jobs often mean a more steady income, a growing writing portfolio, and some interesting story assignments.

Writing locally also gives you the advantage of familiarity. You will be able to appeal more easily to your readers since you shop the same places, travel the same roads, and are otherwise affected by the same social and environmental issues they are.

Even though local publications often can't pay as well as larger publications and the article assignments aren’t always riveting (how many “best of” article topics can I create), the less competitive nature of the smaller market makes it far more likely that a local editor will take a chance on you and your writing skills, and then return to you for future needs.

(Sylvia with Chicken Soup for the Soul publisher, Amy Newmark, in the middle.)

Regularly exercising your skills of brainstorming, researching, conducting interviews, meeting word counts, and anticipating deadlines will ensure improvement. This will in turn arm you for articles you can query regionally or nationally.

So, who in your community needs your writing skills?

Local publications - Don’t assume the local paper is the only publication in need of writers. That little magazine you pick up for free in the grocery store needs writers. So does the real estate guide with articles about local happenings that arrives in your mailbox. To start, arrange an in-person meeting with the editor or write a friendly, but professional email introducing yourself. Let the editor know if you have clips from previously published work and be prepared with a few article ideas to pitch if they express interest.

Tourism organizations - Local organizations such as visitors' bureaus or chambers of commerce probably create more written content about your area than anyone else. Contact the directors to see if they need assistance creating print or web content. Be flexible and creative when considering how you can help promote the local area. You could write traditional articles (like lists of the best parks in the area), proofread monthly e-newsletters, pull together a calendar of events, write blog posts, or regularly update their social media accounts.

Nonprofits – these organizations always need confident and skilled writers. Offer to assist a local nonprofit you care about by writing and submitting articles about their work to area publications, writing financial campaign "ask" letters, updating websites and blogs, coordinating and writing newsletters, preparing press releases, assisting with grant proposals, or proofreading outgoing documents.

Start Ups - If you hear of a new business in your community, reach out and offer to write press releases, website content, ad copy, brochures, and introductory letters. You could also proofread or tighten copy they already have. Every business does better with a compelling story; be the person who writes those stories.

Don’t give up your dreams of writing for the New York Times, Good Housekeeping, or Better Homes and Gardens. Just be prepared to climb that ladder of success one rung at a time using local markets. Each step strengthens your writing muscles.

Sylvia Ney is a freelance writer and teacher currently serving as President of Texas Gulf Coast Writers. She has published newspaper and magazine articles, photography, poetry and short stories. She is also a member of the Bayou Writers Group and enjoys encouraging other writers. You can connect with her at Writing in Wonderland and through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Goodreads.

Monday, December 8, 2014

A Definition Of Author Platform

Platform is one of the most difficult concepts to explain, partly because everyone defines it a little differently.
But one thing that I know for sure: Editors and agents are attracted to authors who have this thing called “platform.”

What editors and agents typically mean by platform

They’re looking for someone with visibility and authority who has proven reach to a target audience.
Let’s break this down further.
  • Visibility. Who knows you? Who is aware of your work? Where does your work regularly appear? How many people see it? How does it spread? Where does it spread? What communities are you a part of? Who do you influence? Where do you make waves?
  • Authority. What’s your credibility? What are your credentials? (This is particularly important for nonfiction writers; it is less important for fiction writers, though it can play a role. Just take a look at any graduate of the Iowa MFA program.)
  • Proven reach. It’s not enough to SAY you have visibility. You have to show where you make an impact and give proof of engagement. This could be quantitative evidence (e.g., size of your e-mail newsletter list, website traffic, blog comments) or qualitative evidence (high-profile reviews, testimonials from A-listers in your genre).
  • Target audience. You should be visible to the most receptive or appropriate audience for the work you’re trying to sell. For instance: If you have visibility, authority, and proven reach to orthodontists, that probably won’t be helpful if you’re marketing vampire fiction (unless perhaps you’re writing about a vampire orthodonist who repairs crooked vampire fangs?).

What platform is NOT

  • It is not about self-promotion.
  • It is not about hard selling.
  • It is not about annoying people.
  • It is not about being an extrovert.
  • It is not about being active on social media.
  • It is not about blogging.

(This excerpt is taken from an article written by Jane Friedman and posted on her blog, Jane Friedman: Helping Authors and Publishers Flourish In The Digital Age. You can read the rest of the article HERE )

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Insecure Writer’s Support Group Guide to Publishing and Beyond – Available Now!

Just in time for IWSG post week and Christmas - The Insecure Writer’s Support Group Guide to Publishing and Beyond is available for downloading. Thanks to everyone who contributed – it is packed with information! Please help us spread the word about this awesome book.

Tapping into the expertise of over a hundred talented authors from around the globe, The IWSG Guide to Publishing and Beyond contains something for every writer. Whether you are starting out and need tips on the craft of writing, looking for encouragement as an already established author, taking the plunge into self-publishing, or seeking innovative ways to market and promote your work, this guide is a useful tool. Compiled into three key areas of writing, publishing, and marketing, this valuable resource offers inspirational articles, helpful anecdotes, and excellent advice on dos and don'ts that we all wish we knew when we first started out on this writing journey.

ISBN 9781939844088
235 pages, FREE
Find it at Amazon, (please tell Amazon you found it for a lower price elsewhere) Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, Goodreads.

And this Wednesday it’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. I encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.

The awesome co-hosts for the December 3 posting of the IWSG are Heather Gardner, T. Drecker from Kidbits, Eva E. Solar at Lilicasplace, and Patsy Collins!
Don’t forget to check out the IWSG Facebook group and the IWSG Critique Circle.

Thanks again to everyone who made the IWSG book possible, including the awesome IWSG Admins who spent hours editing and formatting. You all rock!