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Well, hello again. What does this make it? Three weeks? Doesn’t time fly?

You’re probably chomping at the bit to start the writing process but I’ll let you into a little secret. You’re already doing it.

Writing starts way before you type ‘Chapter One’ a third of the way down the first page.

Firstly, there’s all that preparation you have to do. Oh now come on, stop your whining. We all have to prepare for something or other. For example, take builders. They wouldn’t build a house on mud, (unless you’re watching TV show Cowboy Builders), because their house would sink within a couple of years; pretty much like your novel would.

No. The builder has much preparation to do: Dig foundations. Get Building regulations approved. Add concrete. Bring up the damp course. Only then does he start to build his house. – And in case you’re impressed by my knowledge of building, don’t be. My father is a builder and I can build a brick wall 🙂

It’s much the same with writers. Preparation is a MUST! Without it, you’re novel is guaranteed to sink. Trust me.

Still with me? Tantrum over? Excellent. Let’s move on.

After last weeks post you should now know what genre you’re writing for. But why do we have to talk about social media now? Isn’t that something to think about after we finish writing our novel? And where do we even find a social media site?

I’m glad you asked.

What is Social Media?

Social Media is exactly what it says.

‘Social’ is the social interaction between two or a group of people. It’s similar to going out at night and getting together with friends, or meeting and making new pals.

‘Media’ is media. Just as newspapers and magazines report news, entertainment, local stories, and fashion, your ‘media’ runs pretty much the same. With your friends and ‘new’ cyber pals, you build relationships and discuss everyday life…as well as your work, writing, and upcoming releases.

Building a Brand

Remember, our name is our ‘brand’. The only way we are going to build on it is by using it…. All the time. 

Decide what social media sites you are most comfortable with and plaster it ‘everywhere’. The more you use it, the more you become associated with it. You want people to remember it.

When I first started using twitter I had a random name, like most of us do. We hide because we don’t want to be ‘seen’. But that isn’t going to help us when it comes time to sell our books. Make sure it’s your name (or your pen name) that you use on the social networking sites. To my knowledge, Waterstones, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble don’t have the resources to find me if someone asks for a book by ‘EssexGirl71’.

But why do it now? Wouldn’t it be better to wait until I have written my book before I start promoting myself?

Well, you can but other than your mother and her friends at the W.I., you’ll have nobody to buy it. By building your brand now, you’ll have a loyal following of friends all queuing to read your book when it’s finished.

And, an extra tit-bit of information. I regularly hear that if a publisher or agent likes your book, the first thing they do is Google your name to see how big a presence you have on the internet. A well written book just doesn’t seem to be enough anymore.

Promotion

The promotion package no longer comes wrapped in glittery paper and tied with a silky smooth bow. Here’s why:

Pre-internet: Author wrote a book. Author personally delivered, or posted, manuscript (remember those days?), to the publisher. Author returned home for a well deserved cup of tea before starting their next novel. Publisher runs around like a headless chicken promoting book.

Post-internet: Author writes a book while tackling social media. Author publishes novel either via traditional, indie, or the e-publishing route. Author works their ass off promoting and marketing the novel. Publisher relaxes with a cup of tea.

Promoting and marketing is exhausting and time-consuming and when you first start out, you’ll be doing everything yourself. Try different things. Watch what method makes the biggest impact.

Er, just to clarify, I am not telling nor condoning you take the same drastic action as Russell Brand, but if you do, send me pictures 🙂 

Social Media Sites

So, that brings us to which social Media should we undertake?

There are many out there: Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Goodreads, MySpace,Google+, LinkedIn….. the list is endless. And you will never have the time to join all of them. You have a book to write, remember? So, pick two or three and throw them into the mixing bowl.

Although I can be found on Google+ and Linkedin, I have two main sites I frequent; Twitter and Facebook. Not surprising as they are both listed in the top ten of social networking sites.

So, you’ve chosen ‘your’ social media sites. What do you do now? How much do you update them? I try to visit my sites at least ONCE a DAY. I update my status, have a chat and a giggle with people, and generally walk away with a smile on my face. Social media can be FUN!

Still not sure? Check out my Facebook page and see how it works for yourself.

Blogging

Okay, now we’ve reached that word that scares the hell out of some writers. Blogging. Take a deep breath. Hold it. Hold it. Breath out. Blogging. Say it. Blogging. See, it’s not so bad, is it?

Blogging is another way to meet the world outside your window. And it’s a wonderful way for writers to enhance their writing skills.

But what do I blog about?

Hey, you’re a writer with a fabulous imagination! Trending topics are reviews and information on gathered research. Start by blogging once a week until you find your feet. Most importantly, be consistent with the timing of your posts. 

Remember, you are a writer the moment you decide to write your book. Be proud to call yourself a writer.

Need more help on the art of social media and blogging? Social media Jedi, Kristen Lamb has two fabulous books on the subject.

So, your task this week is to check out which social media sites you wish to build a presence on. And let me know in the comments section. It will be interesting to see what are the more popular sites.

You can also find me on FacebookTwitter, Google+ and Linkedin

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Welcome back! Wow, you must be serious about wanting to be an author.

During this ‘So, You Want To Be An Author’ series, I’m using all my WWBC knowledge taught to me by author and social media Jedi, Kristen Lamb, to help you become a better writer.

Last week we talked about why we wanted to become a writer and what it was about writing that we love so much, we need to write ourselves? And there were some brilliant answers.

This week, I want to talk about genres.

How many of you know what a genre is? Pretty much every single one of you, right?

Well I’m not ashamed to admit there was a time way, way back when they baffled the hell out of me. Huh? Is this girl a thicko, or what? Hang on. Before I’m hung, drawn and quartered, let me explain what I mean.

There are two main categories in writing: Fiction and Non-fiction.

Non-Fiction

I’ll touch briefly on non-fiction as this post is mainly about fiction writing.

What is non-fiction writing?  Non-fiction is factual. It’s real. Under this heading we find DIY, health and beauty, sports, automobile, craft, autobiographies, etc, etc. Non-fiction shows, narrates, and even gives helpful little pictures of the topic we wish to learn more about. Got it? Good. Now lets move on.

Fiction

Right, now let’s get down to business.

What is fiction writing? Fiction is totally fabricated and made up – hence why I love it so much.

Now, I myself love writing thriller and crime novels although I’m currently writing a paranormal (but that’s whole other story). Fiction has many sprogs: historical, contemporary, western, romance, science fiction, young adult. The list is endless. But, how do we know which genre is for us?

For example, as I said earlier I am currently writing a paranormal novel. But, I recently entered a competition and paranormal wasn’t an option. Instead I found ‘supernatural’. Okay, close enough,’ I thought. Paranormal – supernatural…. same thing, right?

I mean, most of the genres seem straight forward. Horror pretty much speaks for itself and you can’t go wrong with romance… Well, unless you write a romantic suspense. What does that make your novel? Romance or suspense?

If you plan on writing for Mills & Boon, then you’re pretty much covered. They have a gazillion categories for everything you can think of: medical, nocturnal, western, historical. You just can’t go wrong….unless you’re writing something that has zilch romance. Then forget Mills & Boon.

So I thought I’d try to simplify the genre dilemma a little.

Genres

Western: Howdy. If it has cowboys, horses, (maybe) a damsel in distress, a saloon and a heard of cattle being yee-hawed across a prairie between 1800 and 1890, then western is your partner.

Historical: Whether Victorian, Edwardian, or Tudor, these tend to be based around specific eras with a ton of knowledge to go along with it. If you like your history and you like your research, this just may be the one for you.

Horror: Slicing and dicing is the theme here. Lots of blood, gore, and frightening the bejesus out of your reader.

Children: Don’t confuse this with young adult. The children genre is usually aimed at toddlers and kids up to the age of eleven. So no bad language or sexual references. We don’t want mumsy-wumsy throwing a fit.

Here’s an example of how not to write for children – I warn you, it’s rude.

Young Adult: Probably the easiest way to describe this genre is to think Stephenie Meyers Twilight saga, or L.J. Smith’s (you can see her 30 second interview here), Vampire Diaries. All involving teenagers doing way much more than I did when I was their age. I was a good girl 🙂

Paranormal/Supernatural: This is a big genre at the moment. Vampires and werewolves are a hit with readers of all ages. So if it has fangs, claws, no reflection, rises from the dead, or wears a halo above its head – stick it here.

Mystery/Crime/Police Procedural/Detective: Firstly, if your opening page starts with your main character searching for her hair brush, not only does this NOT mean it’s a mystery, but I will brain you. However, if your story revolves around an unsolved crime, murder, or anything else that needs both the protagonist and your reader together searching for clues and piecing the bits like a jigsaw, then you may call it a mystery.

Fantasy: Not to be confused with science fiction, this one can be set anywhere; Earth or some made up land where unicorns, fairies, elves and trolls make an appearance – along with a magical maze and a spellbinding witch. Fantasy is totally make-believe, thank God.

Science Fiction/Sci-Fi: Futuristic aliens, robots, the distant galaxy or downtown New York; if you can explain it, no matter how far-fetched, using science, then you have yourself a genre.

Romance: Two people meet, two people fall in love, tragedy strikes, two people break up. reader cries – but then two people get back together for a happy ending and reader goes to shops to buy another box of tissues.

Chick lit: Ever read Sophie Kinsella’s Confessions of a Shopaholic or Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones Diary? How brilliant are those books? Aim at the female population to provide nothing more than humor, romance, and good old-fashioned girl power.

Thriller/Suspense/Espionage

Action/Adventure: Similar to thriller/suspense for its car chases and fight scenes, this genre is usually aimed a the male race and often uses an expert of some kind: whether ex-military, police, bomb expert, or in Sly Stallone’s case a mountain guide. Then the story will bung said hero in a jungle, dessert, or on top of a mountain. Sometime, though, if the hero is really lucky he’ll stay in his own city.

Legal Thriller: A large part of the action takes place in a court room while we run through a did-she-didn’t-she scenario. If you haven’t ever read John Grisham, surely you’ve seen his movie The Firm? No? How about Judge Judy?

Commercial/Mainstream: These are of no specific genre but are whatever is trending in the ‘moment’. They are, more often than not, plot driven and are expected by the publishing powers that be to make a ton of sales and wads of cash.

Literary: Unlike commercial novels, these tend to be more character driven. But that about ends the description. Even publishers cannot pin-point what makes a novel – literature: use of language, ability to address human conditions, it’s ‘truth’, moral ambiguity…

Right, I think that about covers it. So now it’s your turn. What genre do you write? Have you ever chosen the wrong genre? Do genre labels confuse you? Do you have a story where you are unsure of the genre? Let me know in the comments and together we’ll crack it.

You can also find me on FacebookTwitter, Google+ and Linkedin

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You guys are pretty intelligent. I want your opinion on something that has been bothering me for a few months now.

 

Do you prefer to ‘request’ the friendship of a facebooker or are you happy to just ‘like’ them?

 

I have two Facebook pages. The first is my personal page. I’ve had it for years and even though I don’t visit very often, have ignored my farm, and neglected my animals to the point they have up sticks and moved to Cafe World, it is the place I know I can catch up with old school mates, family members, and close friends whenever I like.

 

Then I have another page which is my ‘Donna Newton Author Page’. I do frequent this page a lot. I post blog updates, talk about what I’m up to, and discuss topics with other writers.

 

My dilemma is this. My personal page gets quite a few friend requests from people I don’t know and as this page is, well, personal, I decline them. My status updates on this page are private after all, as are my friends.

My Author page on the other hand is free for everyone to like. You don’t even have to ‘like’ me. You can view the page, scan uploaded photos, and read the statuses. You can comment, join in and then, if you really feel the urge to – you can ‘like’ me. It’s simple. I meet new people, have a laugh and in some cases, even added some ‘like’ peeps to my personal page.

 

So, what is my dilemma?

 

Should my Author Page be a ‘like’ page or a ‘request’ page? I know that I prefer to ‘request’ friendship rather than just ‘like’ someone.

 

So what are your preferences? What do you prefer to do? ‘Like’ or ‘Request’?  You’re comments will decide what I will be doing this weekend so please don’t be shy in airing your opinions 😀

Psst – I am going to run this poll on my FB page, too.

 

You can also find me onFacebookTwitter, Google+ and Linkedin

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There are different types of writers, and I would hazard a guess that you are one, too.

Am I right?

So, what do I mean when I say ‘absent author’?

Well, clearly I mean an author who is not present during the writing of their book.

What? How can you write a book if you are not present? It’s damn right impossible. Trust me, I’ve tried. One night, I told my computer to finish chapter four and when I checked it in the morning, nothing had been done. I know. It’s unforgivable. I spend hours sitting at my computer and it couldn’t even manage a measly few paragraphs for me. I promptly sent it to the naughty step and left it there to stew for a full sixty minutes.

As writers, whether you write fiction or non-fiction, we spend hours and hours researching, plotting, crafting, devising arc’s, editing, character backgrounds, re-writes……well, you get the idea. We work damn hard.

But, what is the absent author?

Hold on, I’m getting to it.

Let me throw a few names at you. Actually I think it’s easier to show and not tell 🙂

Left to right - Kardashian, Snooki, Loren Conrad

Okay, are we on the same page? For those of you still scratching your heads, I’m talking about ghostwriters – and not the supernatural kind.

Jordan (aka Katie Price), Hilary Duff, Nicole Richie, Lauren Conrad, and Snooki have all produced novels with the aid of ghostwriters.

They market the book via press and television, leading their young fans to believe they have in fact either picked up a pen, or tapped endlessly at their keyboard and written every word themselves. And, guess what? They get angry if questioned about it.

According to website ‘Jezebel’:

“Ms. (Nicole) Richie promoted her second novel, “Priceless,” in an interview last year with USA Today, describing her writing routine: write early in the morning, before the rest of her family wakes up. “I write all my own stories,” she said.

But Ms. Richie’s publisher, Judith Curr of Atria Books, indicated otherwise, saying that a ghostwriter did most of the writing of Ms. Richie’s book. (Ms. Richie did not respond to a request for comment.)”

Hilary Duff, who when quizzed as to why she didn’t credit her co-writer, basically replied with a ‘why should I? It’s my idea.’ (That is my edited version)

But is this right?

Agents and publishers know there is money to be earned off the back of the celebrity’s name. They also know if they market the product correctly, they can often secure the sale to the movie/TV rights as well. The publishers earn a stack of cash, and the substantially wealthy celebrity extends their ‘brand’….everyone’s happy. Or are they?

What about the writers who ACTUALLY wrote these books.

It is almost non-existent they are ever mentioned on the cover. Doesn’t the publishing industry owe the ghostwriter a little more credit?

Doesn’t the publisher have an obligation to let the reader know their beloved celebrity had (a lot of) help with writing the book they are about to read?

Shouldn’t the publisher have a conscious and clear their desks of celebrity endorsed stories? Maybe make a little room for the talent of up and coming novelists?

Then again, publishers and agents are in this game to make money. It’s probably the main reason they get up in the morning. They’d be nuts if, for instance, they were to choose first time and unknown novelist Sissy Smith from Ramsbottom, Kent over, say, Cameron Diaz.

If you read Kristen Lamb’s blog, you’ll see that social media plays a massive part in a novelist’s road to sales. However, you’d have to be dancing with the fairies and sprinkling magic dust to think you’ll ever create a name bigger than an A-list celebrity. Not even marketing 25 hours day will get you that kind of notoriety.

So, as always, I would like your comments.

Do you think publishers have a moral right to print the co-writer or ghost writers name on the cover of a novel? Should readers know whose writing they are reading? Or is it just a business and they are right to earn their money anyway they choose? Are you a ghostwriter? Would you want to be one?

You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Linkedin

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I want to ask a question. 

You’ve written a book. What direction should you take? Should you concentrate all your energy into querying literary agents and wait for months with bated breath in the hope one asks for a nibble? Or should you take the plunge and go it alone down the e-book road?

I am a book lover. I love holding a book in my hands, to feel the paper rough between my fingers. I love my book case. I love dust jackets….oh God, I love books full stop. Doesn’t everyone?

Up until now, I’d never considered owning a Kindle or Nook and, as an author, I couldn’t imagine my books being in any other format other than paper. I never thought the Kindle would ever take off. After all, how do you ask an author to sign a computer screen?

But, am I behind the times?

A couple of days ago I read a story in the Evening Standard newspaper which kind of got me thinking. I reiterate ‘kind of’. I’m not totally convinced, yet.

Most of you have probably already heard of Louise Voss. She was a struggling UK writer who couldn’t find an agent, took matters into her own hands, and published her novel on Amazon’s Kindle. She is now selling 50,000 books per month and has been offered a six-figure, four-book deal by publishers HarperFiction.

This also seems the case with writing duo Sarah Griffiths and Mark Williams, who write under the pen name Saffina Desforges. Their success on Kindle has led to discussions with a top New York agent.

We, as writers, already enter our stories into competitions and dedicate hours a week to social media so we can proudly boast our conquests to agents. Being able to brag at e-book sales is just another plus point, isn’t it? As author Linda Regan told me last year, “Agents have to sell you as well as the book. You have to be interesting.”

This all sounds super cool and easy, but is it? Going it alone sounds a mighty bit scary if you ask me. But, as I am the curious sort – and probably the only writer on planet earth that hasn’t looked at e-book (or indie) publishing – I had a nose around the Amazon web site.

So, let’s look at what I found.

Marketing.

If I was considering the e-book route, and let’s just use Amazon for this example as it’s the only site I looked at, I’d have to market the book myself. Okay, this I don’t find scary. It’s 2011 and I have Twitter and Facebook. Oh, and my good friend Kristen Lamb’s social media book ‘We Are Not Alone’ to guide me through – it should be a doddle. Plus, I have Kristen’s phone number and I know where she lives. She also taught me how to shoot a gun. There is nowhere she can hide 🙂

A big fat tick can go next to marketing.

What’s next?

Formatting.

Huh? I saw something about an rtf file and as I save all my work that way, I think I can tick that one too. Moving on swiftly.

Cost.

Books sell for as little as 96p on Amazon. How can anyone make any money from that?

Well, from what I can see, Amazon’s cut is 30%. I’ll round my book off at a £1 to make things easy, and because it’s late and I can’t be bothered to go fetch my calculator. I’ll earn 70p from each sale. Hmmm, that’s about the price of a chocolate Snicker bar these days, isn’t it?

Right, so unless I sell a hundred thousand copies, I’ll never be rich. Then again, writers don’t write for money. They write for the love of it, so that doesn’t matter.

(N.B. There is another plus point to this 96p Kindle e-book downloading, which is – I’d have saved a fortune on the rubbish Vampire Diary books).

Another tick.

Other bits worthy of a mention.

I retain the rights to my novel and, as the author, I’ll have full control of the book cover, pricing, and well, absolutely everything.

Tick, tick, tick.

I’ve tried to find some horror stories on the web regarding e-publishing on Kindle, but there really aren’t any out there.

So, that is why I am turning to my trusty followers. Have I missed something?

What do you think of e-publishing? Do you know anyone who has published on Kindle? Would you consider publishing your novel on Kindle? Have you already published on Kindle? What are your experiences? Do you know of any successes or, more importantly, have you heard any horror stories? Let me know.

You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Linkedin

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Like most of you, I like to read. Unfortunately, and probably unlike most of you, I am a very slow reader. With this in mind, I thought reviewing books would fit nicely into my two blog’s a month schedule 😀

My debut book has to be Kristen Lamb’s ‘We Are Not Alone’: The Writers Guide to Social Media. Why this book? Well, for one, I know Kristen and if it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be blogging now. As for the other reasons? Take your pick. Kristen is fast becoming the Queen of Social Media. She has been an invaluable mentor to me, and heck, she’s just an awesome gal. And if that isn’t reason enough, ‘We Are Not Alone’ is a best seller.

A year ago, if anyone other than Kristen had told me to read a social media book, I would have told them to get on their bike and keep pedalling until they reached the Sahara Dessert. I was a Facebooker. I Facebooked with friends. What did I need social media for? I’d tried Twitter and, although I’d met a few great tweeps, I didn’t really ‘get’ it. Then I read Kristen’s book and it transformed the way I look a social media.

So, what is this book about?

Well, for starters, it will teach you the importance of branding yourself. I’m not talking about taking a branding iron and burning your initials into your butt. I’m talking about the ‘YOU’ brand. Your name, as a writer, is your greatest weapon. I didn’t understand that at first. I can’t even remember what my first twitter name was. Something stupid for sure, unlike the DonnaNewtonUK I have now.

Secondly, Kristen goes on to explain what Social Media is, and how we can use it to our advantage. Take Twitter and Facebook. I have transformed both of these so they are working for me now. I still have my personal Facebook page. But now, I also have a writer’s page (www.facebook.com/donnanewtonuk). Who would have thought a year ago I would have built platforms?

And, further still, you will become a blogger like me. I know, how clever do I feel. 😀

Kristen will walk you, step by step, through the WordPress set up. She’ll show you the importance of Bio’s, what a # (hashtag) is, the advantages and disadvantages of having a pen name. Everything you never thought you’d ever need to know is in this book.

Kristen injects such a style and sense of humour that you’ll read it totally unaware you are actually learning something. What’s more important, you can read it without the aid of a dictionary.

Kristen also has a fantastic blog in which she further strives to help people like me understand the world of social medial.

My advice? Whether you are published or unpublished, you should definitely read this book.

Have you read this book? Let me know what you thought of it? Did it, like me, help you tackle the world of social media?

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I thought I’d have a bit of fun and set you guys a little task. Now, I am not the best query letter writer. No really, I’m not being modest. I really hate writing them.

Below, I have swallowed what little pride I have, and copied an old query letter of mine. Now, your task is to read it:

Donna Newton
1 Writers Lane
London

Mobile: 01234567891
pointwelldonna@googlemail.com

5th July 2011

Agent 007
Their Office
Agent Lane
London

Dear Mr Agent,

Re: Legend – The Messiah’s Cross

The Legend is a supernatural story set around two Reapers in a small Texan town. The idea was created for TV, and the pilot was written for the American market. Earlier this year I went to L.A., where my manager also suggested I adapt it into a novel.

I have been writing for many years and my previous publishing credits are all article based within the UK magazine market. I am a member of the Romance Writers of America and belong to Kristen Lamb’s Warrior Writers Boot Camp. I spent many years with Essex Police, where a large majority of my ideas are born. I have written one other novel, and am ready to start my third.

I have enclosed a synopsis and three chapters as requested in your guidelines.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

Donna Newton

 

Okay, read it? Good.

An author friend of mine, Linda Regan, severely chastised me for writing this letter. I want you to see if you can tell me why. Put your comments in the – you’ve guessed it – comments box, and I will publish the corrected version in a couple of days.

Have fun, and be kind to me.

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