Monday, July 26, 2021

How it Started, How it’s Going

By Rochelle Melander

The “How it started, how it’s going meme” became a thing in the fall of 2020, when a Twitter user posted a relationship update. (NY Times article) For me, the meme has become a great way to think about my path to becoming a professional writer.

Inspiration versus Perspiration

How it started: “I’m waiting to be inspired!”
When I started writing, I spent a lot of time waiting to find a marketable idea. I’m not alone. Many writers tell me they’re going to write as soon as they find a project that inspires them, get a flash of inspiration about how to approach a project, or feel inspired.

I get it. Who wants to waste time working on something boring? It makes a big difference to have a project that gets you up in the morning and keeps your butt glued to the chair all day.

How it’s going: Years of working have taught me that inspiration happens in the middle of the research and writing process and not before. Or, as Jack London said, “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.”

Schedule time for your writing life—and treat it like a job. (If you stick to it, it might be your job someday!) Even if you have no clue what you’re going to do, show up. Use the time to brainstorm, explore, and research new ideas. Or figure out how to approach an idea you have. Or simply write a really bad first draft.

Books versus Blogs

How it started: “I’m not going to waste my time writing articles. I want to write books!”

After successfully defending my master’s thesis, I wanted to turn it into a book. My professor suggested revising specific chapters and submitting them to journals.

I recently met a young man who desperately wanted to write a book. He had an idea and a rough outline—but no real content to put into the book. When I suggested he might test market some of the ideas by writing blog posts, he refused. He was a book writer.

How it’s going. Books rock. They give an author plenty of space to develop characters and ideas. Plus, they come in these cool little packages that are easy to sign and give to family and friends! Blog posts? Articles? Well, they’re quick—but who really cares?

You should! Blog posts, magazine articles, and other short pieces provide lots of opportunities for writers. They build your skills. Spending years writing profiles of local physicians and celebrities gave me the writing chops to profile the writers in my new book Mightier than the Sword. Plus, I learned how to follow guidelines and meet deadlines.

Second, short pieces expand your reach and build your platform. I edit a periodical with a circulation of 125,000. My writers regularly tell me that they get fan mail from subscribers. These readers will buy their books someday.

Finally, short pieces lead to books. Many of my books started out as blog posts. When an idea gains traction, I might write a series of posts that will eventually make it into a book. My book Level Up: Quests to Master Mindset, Overcome Procrastination and Increase Productivity was based on several years of blog posts.

If only versus Write Now

How it started: “If only I had _____, I could write a successful book.”

I just saw a sales page for a splashy new program that promises to teach me the mindset I need to become a bestselling author. My mouse hovered over the “buy now” button for a moment before my inner voice reminded me, “You know this.”

Full confession: over a twenty-year writing and coaching career, I’ve purchased programs like the one I stumbled on the other night. They never deliver. They can’t. Because the secret to success is a mixture of hard work, persistence, and pure luck. (And no one can teach you how to get that lucky break.)

Many new (and experienced) writers believe that the secret to success is on the other side of the next word processing program, planner, or writing class. They look longingly at more successful authors and believe they have discovered the secret sauce to a becoming a bestselling author.

How it’s going.

Over the years, I’ve learned that hard work and persistence pays off. When I launched my writing coaching business, I created the tagline, “Where maybe someday becomes write now.” Our “If only” wishes and worries keep us hoping that “maybe someday” we will succeed.

But I’ve learned that if you keep writing and submitting, you will get better and you will get published. It’s not the juicy, romantic, and magical answer that I’d hoped for when I started twenty years ago. But it’s the surest path to success I know.

Your Assignment: Dream up your own How it started. How it’s going. meme
How do you want your writing career to unfold? Write your vision of where you want to be in five years. Once you know what you want to achieve, map out a plan to get there.

Then start moving forward. Today you might take a tiny step toward achieving that goal—attending a class, reading mentor texts, or revising that story for the fifth time. But those small steps add up and soon you will be celebrating big accomplishments!

About the author: Rochelle Melander wrote her first book at seven and has published 11 books for adults, including Write-A-Thon: Write Your Book in 26 Days (and Live to Tell About It) and Level Up: Quests to Master Mindset, Overcome Procrastination and Increase Productivity. She’s a professional certified coach who helps writers, creatives, and entrepreneurs overcome distractions and procrastination, design a writing life, turn their ideas into books, navigate the publishing world, and connect with readers through social media. Mightier Than the Sword: Rebels, Reformers, and Revolutionaries Who Changed the World through Writing is her debut book for children. Visit her online at write now! coach or Rochelle Melander

Monday, July 19, 2021

The Insta Ding


If one is on Instagram they have heard the notifications ding many a time. Or maybe they haven't. Maybe they have them turned off. Maybe they have their phone on mute. Maybe you don't even have Instagram. Let's pretend you do though. That way we can get on with some Instagram tips.


Followers are easy. Genuine followers not as easy.

There are lots of follow loops, those follow4follow things, or dozens of other ways. But how many are genuine? Very few. Many will follow to unfollow. Many will simply block or ignore you. It is a real crap shoot what you end up with. Although you do usually end up with an increase.

Does it help? In some ways. You meet a few interesting people that way. It will up your numbers and allow you do to certain things. Like Swipe Up on stories once you hit 10K followers. Is it worth the hours of your life it takes to do it? Probably not. You could easily get 500K followers. But maybe 50 of them would interact. Not the greatest click through percentage for anyone. 

Best to follow the below tips unless you are looking for Swipe Up and such.

#2 Content

Stick to familiar content. It is like everything else you do to brand yourself. Don't go off-brand unless you can work it in. The followers you do gain that interact will interact for a reason. If it is for book quotes or pretty tree pictures then stick to such things. You can ignore the rule if you gain an interactive following of a million though. That many people will give you enough to get tons of interactivity on anything. 

Although there are other little tricks. If it is book quotes don't...

Post a random kitten picture.

Post a kitten picture with a book quote in the picture. That way you can double dip and even expand the interactive following you have. 

#3 Hashtags

Do they work? Yes. Do they work as good as they used to? Probably not. But they are still a help and can be easily put in. Research which ones work best for your niche and compile them all. Next post them in the comment section of the picture. Not on the picture itself. Then copy them to the clipboard and now you'll always have them to simply paste in the comment section the next time through. 

Why the comment section? Because then you can easily delete them later on. Plus, they don't overtake any caption that you write to go along with the picture. And another good reason is because sometimes people spam hashtags and they become blacklisted by Instagram. So if you use these hashtags your account will get flagged by their robot as spam.

#4 Return

This one is common knowledge to any blogger that has a successful following, but it is often overlooked. Return comments and likes. Newbie and Experienced alike overlook it. People aren't just going to magically come to you. If you make a movie that grosses a billion dollars you may easily get a following, but other than that the chances are slim. You have to put in the work if you want the return.

Of course never return anything that you don't approve of or the like. Hit the block button. Ignore. Do not engage with spammers or scammers or people looking for an argument. It's not worth it.

#5 Be Genuine

It goes a long way if you don't try to be something you're not. Yeah. You can get away with anything online. At least within reason. But people can tell. People will tell. You can only fake being a vet for so long before people realize you are a dog walker. 

You can also add little touches of you in. Something many can relate to. For instance...


When holidays roll around you can put pictures up that reflect how you celebrate. Does this go against number one? Sorta. But you could easily make them both work with a book quote in there. Although it may not be needed. Your followers like inside looks sometimes too. There is a difference between random and something about you. 

You with your cat thanking everyone for following you and/or telling you about yourself is about you.

A picture of a dead squirrel on the doorstep is rather random. Unless of course that is what your account is about. 

The last thing I'd recommend is to have fun with your account. If you treat it as totally business followers can tell and may become bored. But if you have fun with it then they will have fun with it and hopefully stick around.

Enjoy your instagram voyage and hopefully these tips will bring you more dings. If your phone isn't on mute.

Do you have any instagram author tips? Do you have instagram? Anything you agree with or disagree with? 

Tuesday, July 13, 2021

New Independent Writer Resource

 The Independent Aggregated Book Reviews website started as a place to gather reviews of independent and self-published books together in one search engine. There were so many, and it became so difficult to search, that it evolved into a review aggregator. From this came the idea to try and make some sense of all the reviews, not just from large sites, such as Amazon or Goodreads, but also from the hundreds of independent blog review sites that exist. We wanted to try and provide a single place where we can gather together as many reviews and ratings for individual books and from as wide a range of sources as we possibly could. Rather than producing its own reviews, it would take the wide range of reviews and ratings list them against each book, and then be aggregated to give an overall rating out of ten.

For authors, this gives a wonderful opportunity to have a central place to see their reviews and ratings across multiple sites in one location. This comes with the option of adding and combining all the reviews for their works. Authors can suggest a review or reviewer they would like to add. We also offer reviewers the option to link their reviews here automatically as they put them up. Aggregating them with other reviews for books on our site will help to show the wider rating of books. To help promote review sites, we will not copy review content, apart from a brief excerpt, and give a link back to the site to help promote them, where readers can find the original and hopefully many other reviews to read and books to enjoy.

The site's main features are the books submitted, each with an aggregated rating and showing the different editions of the book. If a book is one of a series, we can show them in order with their individual ratings to show readers how they progressed. It will also give a list of the editions that each book may have, from eBook to Paperback to Audio, and show how the ratings and reviews might differ between them. We also have listings for Authors, so that when browsing the site, readers can see the works they have created. From their works, we will also create an aggregated rating for each author, based on their books.

Overall, we are looking to provide somewhere, we as readers can see how well-rated a book is, across the spectrum of reviews and help to promote both independent books and reviewers.



FROM C. LEE--SOME MORE INFORMATION COMING: They used two of my books as examples because I was "playing" with the program and they had my information. I was curious that I only showed a few reviews, but when I asked, they explained they are only pulling reviews from Amazon UK right now. They plan to connect with Amazon US soon. This is a new resource, so I expect to see some other changes and have asked them to let us know here at IWSG.