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New to Twit­ter and hash­tags have you scratch­ing your head? Don’t worry. It’s really very sim­ple. Hash­tags begin with #. That’s all there is to it. On Twit­ter any hash­tag can be searched mak­ing this a won­der­ful resource when you are look­ing for infor­ma­tion or want­ing to share some­thing. Here are a few basic examples.

#SO — Mean­ing Shout Out. In other words, peo­ple use this hash­tag to bring atten­tion to some­one or something.

#WW — Won­der­ful Writer or Wednes­day Writer.

#amwrit­ing — Help­ing writ­ers connect.

#amread­ing — A way for read­ers to connect.

#FF — Fri­day Fol­low, which is a way to share your favorite tweeters.

Obvi­ously, the pos­si­bil­i­ties are end­less. You can even make them up. For more infor­ma­tion, or to clar­ify a spe­cific hash­tag go to the offi­cial hash­tag site.

It’s been a lit­tle over a year since my first book was pub­lished, and I find myself reflect­ing. Prior to pub­li­ca­tion, I spent about a year and a half try­ing to learn how the book busi­ness worked. And let me tell you, it turned out to be a lot dif­fer­ent than I thought. I guess I was stuck in 1985, think­ing in pre-internet terms. I had in my mind this glo­ri­ous com­pany … the pub­lisher. After all, it had been pub­lish­ers who had sup­plied my con­stant need to read over the course of my entire life. I had some­how asso­ci­ated every great story with these pub­lish­ers rather than the authors who wrote them. And I did not real­ize how dra­mat­i­cally times had changed. Drat, you may say. For that’s exactly how I reacted. But soon I came to see the changes in this topsy-turvy busi­ness work to my advan­tage. In the past three years I’ve seen ebook read­ers and inter­net pub­lish­ing change from trends into busi­ness as usual. While it is my sin­cere hope that big pub­lish­ers are not totally lost, I can’t help but join the ranks of authors who feel like they’ve been tram­pled by those com­pa­nies. But that’s a post for another time. In the past decade there has been an entire indus­try grow from the ashes of those who have been burned. John LockeAmanda Hock­ing, and about a gazil­lion more authors on twit­terface­book, and the inter­ent are in the process of chang­ing the world. Even pub­lish­ing stan­dards like Richard Paul Evans are reserv­ing their ebook rights. And they aren’t alone. Exec­u­tives too see what’s hap­pen­ing; such as Ruth Har­ris who left the pub­lish­ing houses behind to go out on her own. I could go on and on, and I haven’t even men­tioned big pub­lisher suc­cesses, such as Claire Cook who walked the red car­pet when her book Must Love Dogs was set on the sil­ver screen, and still do most of their own mar­ket­ing work, some­thing the pub­lish­ers are sup­posed to do. And yet, even with the writ­ing on the wall, there are still a few deter­mined peo­ple claim­ing that inde­pen­dent authors are more like rejects than the real thing. At the thought I almost start laugh­ing. Sim­ply put, all it takes to find out the truth is to join the indus­try. It’s a whole new world out there. And to tell you the truth, I kinda like it.

Liebster Award — Bloggity Fun!

September 5th, 2011 | Posted by Annette in Books | Writing Tips - (2 Comments)

 

 

 

 

I’ve been work­ing on nar­row­ing down a few writ­ers to share. Believe it or not, this isn’t all that easy. There are so many amaz­ing authors try­ing to make their way in the crazy world of pub­lish­ing, and I can only send this to five!

Before I make my list, here’s how it works:

THE RULES:

1.Show your appre­ci­a­tion to the blog­ger who gave you the award by link­ing back to them.
2.Reveal your top five picks and let them know by leav­ing a com­ment on their blog.
3.Post the award on your blog.
4.Bask in the cama­raderie of the most sup­port­ive peo­ple on the internet—other writ­ers.
5.And best of all—have blog­gity fun and spread the love.

Okay, here we go …

As was posted pre­vi­ously, the totally awe­some Wendy from Scrib­blings of Wendy Jane sent this honor my way. To see just how great she is, refer to my pre­vi­ous post.

And now for my top five pics .… dun, dun, dun, dun .…

1) C. C. Jack­son  - Who is not only a great nov­el­ist, but just plain fab­u­lous in every way. Her book Stay was a final­ist this year in the Read­ers Favorite Book Awards in the Young Adult Sci-Fi cat­e­gory, a very com­pet­i­tive cat­e­gory by the way. Way to go Stacey!

2) Tia Bach at Depres­sion Cook­ies - Next Gen­er­a­tion Indie Book final­ist and fab­u­lous tweet­ing friend.

3) Melissa Fos­ter —  A five times award win­ner from Read­ers Favorite. Wow! That’s a lot!

4) Sarah Ket­ley - Who is just all around fab­u­lous. Make sure to visit her website.

5) Kath­leen Shoop - Who is a total inspi­ra­tion to me, but prob­a­bly has no idea that I think she is amazing.

There you have it: my top five pics. Now it’s time for blog­gity fun. Love that!

 

 

All shook up

August 4th, 2011 | Posted by Annette in Writing Tips - (0 Comments)

The pub­lish­ing world is chang­ing. Cer­tainly, that is no sur­prise to any­one. How? Now that’s the mil­lion dol­lar ques­tion. If only we knew in advance what the future will bring.

Let’s break it out:

Up until the 1990’s, the inter­net was for all intents and pur­poses, non-existent in the aver­age home. It wasn’t until 1995–96 that things really started tak­ing off. In that short amount of time, the infor­ma­tion high­way has lit­er­ally trans­formed the world. If we step back and look at the sit­u­a­tion in a his­tor­i­cal con­text, the results are truly stag­ger­ing. Change this fast and this mas­sive is prac­ti­cally unheard of in his­tory, except dur­ing a rev­o­lu­tion. Appar­ently, that is where we are right now.

Gone are the days when read­ers flocked to their local book­stores in search of infor­ma­tion. Now they just click. Think about it. What do you do when you need to build some­thing? When you want to know how to make some­thing, need maps for a trip, ques­tions on gar­den­ing, research … every­thing? Where once peo­ple sought infor­ma­tion in libraries and stores, now we turn on our com­put­ers. Want a recipe for crème brûlée? Look it up. You’re lit­er­ally clicks away. And you can see how peo­ple rated the recipe and read com­ments for sug­gested changes. Seri­ously, what we have gained from instan­ta­neous infor­ma­tion is absolutely astound­ing. No one dri­ves thirty min­utes in traf­fic to buy a book on hum­ming birds any­more. That would be crazy. We click. We type. We scroll.

Non-fiction went so rapidly from being pur­chased to being clicked that book­stores were left scratch­ing their heads. Hop­ing to keep up with the times, they added cof­fee, sweet snacks, lounge chairs, play­grounds, music, any­thing to draw peo­ple from their homes. Neigh­bor­hood book­stores dis­ap­peared so fast you would think they had gone up in flames, eaten alive by the big chains that were ready and wait­ing to pounce at the first sign of weakness.

Now we are in the midst of that same kind of change in fic­tion. The kin­dle, nook, Ama­zon, and any other online book dealer or ereader has made it pos­si­ble for authors to sell their work directly to read­ers. For the first time ever, writ­ers are talk­ing directly to their audi­ences rather than rely­ing on a mid­dle man. The only prob­lem is, the mid­dle man just so hap­pens to be the the pub­lisher. You see, the rea­son the future of fic­tion so impor­tant is because it is all they have left. Non­fic­tion has already blown out of con­trol, and now self-publishing threat­ens to do the same to fic­tion. It is true, there are only six big pub­lish­ers, but they are big because they inhaled every­one else who couldn’t stay afloat in these tur­bu­lent times. Between the reces­sion and the eread­ers, it’s no won­der so many arti­cles are com­ing to their defense. It is highly pos­si­ble that in a few years, they will start to crum­ble. See­ing the writ­ing on the wall, these big guys are reach­ing out to all of their big friends: Write an arti­cle in the Times. Save us! Get out the big guns and squish the lit­tle guy before he takes us out of busi­ness the way we took every­one else down.

Don’t get me wrong. I actu­ally love the big pub­lish­ers. I love their books, their mar­ket­ing skills, and their mass dis­tri­b­u­tion. I would pre­fer that they all stay in busi­ness. But after find­ing out how many amaz­ing authors and amaz­ing books have been turned away by the big guys, and how many authors are now build­ing their plat­forms on their own, deliv­er­ing their amaz­ing prod­ucts directly to read­ers … I’m less inclined to feel as bad about it.

What it comes down to is this: the inter­net changed the rules. It’s not the first time some­thing like this has hap­pened, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. Unfor­tu­nately, in a world where no one truly under­stands what is hap­pen­ing, stay­ing afloat is eas­ier said than done. And as is always the case in a rev­o­lu­tion, those who sur­vive must learn to adapt.

Writing your book …

July 30th, 2011 | Posted by Annette in Writing Tips - (0 Comments)

It seems that every­one has writ­ten, or would like to write a book. With the Inter­net bring­ing the wall down between authors and pub­lish­ing, it is cer­tainly an excit­ing time to dive into the pub­lish­ing pool.

Before you begin, con­sider the fol­low­ing suggestions:

  1. Do your research. Research adds an ele­ment of real­ism, mak­ing your story more believ­able. As an added bonus, research can also spur the imag­i­na­tion, gen­er­at­ing ideas that you might not have con­sid­ered otherwise.
  2.  Pre­pare an out­line. Don’t worry. This doesn’t have to be writ­ten in stone. It doesn’t even have to be worded well. Out­lines can be very use­ful, open­ing your eyes to pos­si­ble holes in your story, where you need to do more research, as well as bring­ing a cohe­sive ele­ment to your book. If you really want to get nuts, check out these out­line sug­ges­tions by Indi­ana Uni­ver­sity and Pur­due. I’m not sug­gest­ing you go to those lengths, but clearly, you can use this tool to the extreme.
  3. If you have trou­ble get­ting started, write the sec­tions of your story that come more eas­ily. Start in the mid­dle. Start at the end. The point is to start. Write what you are pas­sion­ate about, and when you get stuck, take a break. When you come back to the project, reread what you have writ­ten. This will juice up your brain, hope­fully enabling you to solve the pre­vi­ous problem.
  4. Don’t be afraid to brain­storm. Not every­thing you write has to be per­fect. Some­times you just need to get your thoughts out there.
  5. As sec­tions and chap­ters come along, keep your out­line close so that you don’t miss any­thing. This will aid in orga­ni­za­tion, an impor­tant ele­ment for future readers.
  6. When you have fin­ished the first draft, you may be tempted to think that your book is done. It is not. Real­iz­ing this is absolutely cru­cial. Now it is time to clean the man­u­script. For ideas on how to clean and edit a man­u­script, go to my Check­list for clean­ing a manuscript.
For more great writ­ing ideas, here’s an awe­some arti­cle by 99%.

Good luck with your project and don’t get discouraged.

While it’s true that a man­u­script can be edited to death, as so elo­quently detailed in Gail Car­son Levine’s arti­cle there are many writ­ers with the oppo­site prob­lem. This is espe­cially true of new authors who choose not to pur­sue a tra­di­tional pub­lish­ing strategy.

When I first jumped into the amaz­ing world of ebooks and per­fect bound print, I assumed that edi­tors were plen­ti­ful and that I would find one that would fit my needs. We’d get along like peas in a pod, become best friends, or at the very least we would send each other birth­day and Christ­mas cards. If only it were that simple. Rather, my eyes were opened so abruptly that some­times, I think I’m still see­ing dou­ble. My dis­il­lu­sioned world did not last long, and when it came to an end I sud­denly real­ized that the con­tent of my book had been erro­neously mis­rep­re­sented because I thought I could pay some­one to find my typos. Out of my con­fu­sion came a whole new approach to print. I had to take charge. I couldn’t let any­one fig­ure out when my man­u­script was ready for pub­li­ca­tion except for me. I had to do it myself. And that’s when things started to get a whole lot better.

You may notice some rep­e­ti­tion in the out­line below. Don’t adjust your screen or start send­ing me emails about how I’m off my rockerThe rep­e­ti­tion is there for a rea­son. Most new authors jump into this piranha pool the same way I did, think­ing that they will find an edi­tor to fix every­thing. If that’s what you’re think­ing, think again, because unless you already have a book deal and are work­ing under a big pub­lish­ing house, you’re going to be in for a shock.

Here is what I sug­gest and cur­rently use as my model for prepar­ing a man­u­script with­out the help of a spendy editor:

1. Read and cor­rect your man­u­script until it you think it can’t pos­si­bly get any better.

2. Find a book club(s) where the mem­bers do not know you, and ask them to do a con­tent edit of your man­u­script. I pre­fer to use peo­ple out of state so that my read­ers will feel com­fort­able crit­i­cis­ing the con­tent (storyline) comfortably. You may want to pre­pare a ques­tionare to accom­pany the man­u­script. I have found it use­ful to have read­ers fill these out in pri­vate so that they don’t taint one another’s opin­ions. Be sure to keep the ques­tions open ended so that peo­ple can give max­i­mum feed­back. I also usu­ally throw in a few very spe­cific ques­tions based upon con­cerns that I have. Make sure to use peo­ple that are not prej­u­dice in your favor. The whole point is to find out if your story is any good. If you use your friends and fam­ily, what are they sup­posed to do if they hate your book? It’s just too awk­ward to be hon­est under those cir­cum­stances, and that’s what you need: hon­est feed­back, whether it is good or bad.

3. Take the con­tent edit com­ments seri­ously, but take them with a grain of salt. Some of the com­ments will be very good, mean­ing the point is valid, and some won’t. If you hear the same thing over and over, you know you need to address the issue. This is where you have to be objec­tive and put the story above your­self. Pride is not your friend in this phase. If you are not sure, use another group. Use as many con­tent read­ers as you need.

4. Review the man­u­script again. Rewrite and correct.

5. After you have fin­ished the con­tent edit­ing phase, and after you have cor­rected again, ask fam­ily and friends to proof­read your work. Make sure to use peo­ple that aren’t inter­est­ing in rewrit­ing the entire book. Use peo­ple that you can trust. Use as many peo­ple as you can! In my expe­ri­ence, you can’t get enough peo­ple to look at the man­u­script. The more eyes search­ing for errors, the better.

6. After this, proof­read the man­u­script again your­self. Rewrite. Cor­rect, cor­rect, cor­rect. Proof­read­ers will not catch every­thing. Most peo­pled lose their edit­ing skills once they get into a story, so don’t be sur­prised when your Great Aunt Helda, who holds a Mas­ters Degree in Eng­lish, misses some­thing. That’s why you want mul­ti­ple proof­read­ers, espe­cially those who are will­ing to read it twice.

7. Some new writ­ers think that all of this rewrit­ing and reread­ing is not their job. It is. It is 100% their job. Even those who are going the tra­di­tional route have to do this. There is no other way. So, step num­ber seven is, read it again, ten mil­lion times. Read it again, and again, and again.

8. Now that your man­u­script is as good as you can get it, it’s time to pub­lish in ebook for­mat. But, don’t put your com­puter away quite yet. Look for cor­rec­tions that may come from your read­ers. Take advan­tage of the ease of updat­ing your man­u­script through kindle/nook before purs­ing a paper copy of your book.

9. Finally, your man­u­script is pris­tine and beau­ti­ful, so per­fect that you are prac­ti­cally glow­ing. The time has finally come to pub­lish into print. Hooray! When that first book comes hot off the press deliv­ered to your door, remem­ber to smile! Con­grat­u­la­tions! If you haven’t started mar­ket­ing yet, it’s time to get cracking.