Apologies: Websites Down Yesterday

Murphy's Law

Our websites were down most of yesterday, so please accept our sincere apologies. Our hosting provider Hostgator was having problems; this meant that millions of websites were down — it wasn’t just us. :-) Hostgator’s been a brilliant host over many years, so let’s hope that they fix whatever the problem was, quickly.

The outage meant that we couldn’t post the material that I’d scheduled for this blog, and for  the Just Write a Book Blog, before everyone takes off for Easter. We’ll be publishing it as we can, in between other commitments this holiday.

If you sent an email message, thank you for getting in touch. And yes, I’ve added an extra day to the Get Hired to Blog offering so you won’t be disadvantaged.

Julia and I will be available over the holidays, so please get in touch if you need help with anything. It may take us a little longer to respond.

Fingers crossed that there won’t be another outage, and again, sincere apologies for any inconvenience caused. If there should be an outage, please contact us via email or social media.

We wish and yours you peace and joy. Stay safe over the holidays. Check the blogs if you need holiday inspiration for your writing. :-)

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Your Blog: 5 Tips to Make It Work Harder for You

Your Blog: 5 Tips to Make It Work Harder for You

Your blog is an investment in your writing future. Way back in the late 1990s, I dithered for months about starting an “online journal”, as blogs were called then. My intuition kept nudging me: “Start a blog!” My response: “No thanks, too busy…”

Thank heavens I finally paid attention to my intuition… my blogs have done more for my writing than anything else. Any writer who’s been blogging for a while will agree, I’m sure. The most common comment I hear from writers who’ve started blogging is: “I wish I’d started years ago.”

That said, your blog can always work harder. Let’s look at five tips to make that happen.

1. Use Your Blog to Promote Your Writing – Your Blog’s a Writing Sample.

If you’ve recently started a blog, you’re wondering: “what do I blog about.” The short answer is anything you please. It’s your blog. You’re the master of your domain. (Pun intended. :-))

The slightly longer answer: you blog about whatever will help you to achieve your goals for your writing. For example:

  • If you want to get writing jobs, blog about the topics you want to get jobs writing about. That may be health, business, politics, celebrity gossip – whatever. Make sure that you include a statement in your sidebar like: “I write about (your topics) and many others. Please get in touch if you need a professional writer for your projects.”
  • If you want to sell your books, blog about them, and the subjects you cover. If you’re writing romance, write about your characters, or the location in which your romance is set. Loretta Chase and Isabella Bradford write the Two Nerdy History Girls blog because they write (wonderful) historical romances.

Tip: lighten up! Have fun with your blog. You should always enjoy whatever you’re blogging about, so follow your passions. I love thinking about writing, and teaching writing, so that’s what I blog about.

Over the years I’ve created blogs about Mac software, photography, dogs, green tea, yoga, health… There was a time when I’d get an idea, and immediately create a blog. These days, I’m more likely to write an ebook.

Important: GRAB Your Name!

The most important website/ blog you own will be that under your own name. Your name stays the same, no matter what you write. So make sure you grab your name – I grabbed AngelaBooth.com quite late in my online career. If you don’t already own your name, get it now.

2. Write About What’s Important to YOU Now. (Your Blog Is Your Focus Group.)

Your blog helps you to work out what to write, AND it gives you feedback about what’s likely to be successful.

For example, let’s say you want to write a mystery novel. Review a couple of mysteries on your blog. Do those reviews get traffic? Of course you need to do more research to see whether you should be writing in a genre, but your blog’s readers will tell you what works for them. They’re your own personal focus group.

3. Want Something? Talk About It on Your Blog.

Blogging is instant publishing. The minute you hit the Publish button, millions of people all around the world can view your post. (Think no one’s reading your blog? Make an idiot statement or two, and you’ll soon learn that you do indeed have readers. :-))

So, it makes sense that if you want something TALK ABOUT IT.

If you want to write for a magazine, write about the magazine’s latest issue. Mention at the end of the post that you’ve sent them five query letters (assuming that you have) in the past six months, and that you’d love to write for them.

If you want to work with a company, blog about their products. Then let the company know (send them a tweet, or an email message) that you’ve blogged about them.

I know that in blogging, everyone talks about “traffic.” The truth is, that no one needs untargeted traffic. If you get a tsunami of the wrong kind of traffic – the wrong audience for your blog – it can cost you money when your hosting fees go up. Think about what you want, and use your blog to help you to get it.

4. Become Known as an Expert. Get Paid.

Experts get paid more. Want to become an “expert”? Blog about the topic in which you want to become recognized. Once you’ve written ten posts about a topic, you’re expert enough for writing purposes. You can always research, and ask questions to learn what you need to know to write with authority about the topic.

(“Expert writers” are writers first. You don’t need an advanced degree in a topic to become expert in writing about it. Real experts are usually woeful writers.)

Let’s say you want to travel. Start a travel blog. Here’s an excellent article in which travel bloggers talk about what they do. Could you make money as a travel blogger?

Why not? Start blogging. Whatever others are doing on their blogs, you can too. If you become known as an expert on Paris, some company or other may pay you to go to Paris and write about it.

5. The More You Put Into Your Blog, the More You Get Out of It.

As I said in Make Money Blogging in 2014: 20 HOT Tips:

Mae West said: “Keep a diary, and someday it’ll keep you.” Similarly, keep a blog, and someday your blog will keep you.

Your blog can always work harder for you. As we’ve said: it’s an investment in your writing future. You can make six figures when you get hired to blog by large companies; you can promote your books, or you can turn your blog into a business. A blog is a powerful tool, AND it’s huge fun. Enjoy your blog. :-)

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Blog Jobs: You’re Doing It Wrong

Blogging Ace: 6-Figure Blogging Bonanza

Want to get hired to blog? If you’re looking for blog jobs, you’re doing it wrong. Professional blogging is a highly paid career, and it starts with YOU.  While there are endless blog content writing jobs, most aren’t worth your time. They’ll send you broke. They pay too little, and do nothing to build your profile as a professional writer.

Most writers, when they’re looking for blogging gigs, look at the gig.

Try looking at YOU first. What do you have to offer? When you focus on what you can do for a business, you’re suddenly no longer a sad little writer who’s begging for a gig. You get to put a price on your services, and they’re valuable. In sales terms, rather than a price taker, you become a price maker.

Your challenge: quality client don’t advertise for bloggers

As I said here, in Get Hired to Blog:

If you’re looking for writing gigs, you’ll have seen that many businesses advertise for bloggers. Unfortunately, the businesses which advertise are all doing so because they’re looking for cheap content.

You can do much better. You can find clients who don’t advertise, but who pay well for blogging. Did you know that experienced professional bloggers charge their clients a minimum of $1000 per month, per blog? Consider that if a blogger’s working for 20 clients, that’s $20,000 a month. You can blog for businesses too, if you’re prepared.

You’re not just a WRITER, you’re YOU

Writing for top-paying clients starts with YOU. You need to know what you bring to the table — what you can do for the business which hires you. For most writers, that’s a total change in mindset. We’re focused on the writing… but that’s not why a business will hire you. A business will hire you for many reasons, but the primary one is that you’ll make money for them.

In Blogging Ace: 6-Figure Blogging Bonanza, you’ll find a very clever way to create a Unique  Selling Proposition: a reason for businesses to hire YOU, and not someone else. It’s a fill-in-the-blanks statement, with examples. It makes you stand out from the writing crowd. Once you know what you bring to the table, your confidence will grow.

You’ll be able to approach businesses confidently, because you know why a business needs you. And you’ll be able to set and get the rates you deserve.

There’s no ceiling on your income as a professional blogger

What are you charging for your blogging services now? Chances are you’d get more gigs if you approached prospective clients with a “here’s what I can do for you” standpoint, rather than presenting yourself as a generic writer. Today, businesses know the value of a blog, but they don’t have the staff or the expertise to blog. When you do, you can set the rates you want, and get them.

I’ve mentioned the student who went from $45 an hour, to $150 an hour, and is fully booked. You can do this too. There’s no need to blog for a pittance, when you present yourself as a professional.

Check out Blogging Ace: 6-Figure Blogging Bonanza and start doing professional blogging the right way. It’s much easier than hunting for advertising blogging gigs. A business’s blog is a powerful marketing tool. When you make money for your clients, you’ll discover that there’s no ceiling on your income.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Blogging to Sell Books: 5 Tips

Blogging to Sell Books: 5 Tips

Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve been focused on writing fiction. Oddly enough one topic came up again and again in my chats with writers: blogging to sell books. (By “books” I mean ebooks too, of course. :-))

There was a lot of confusion around it, and the entire topic of social media in general. Writers asked: “Does blogging sell ebooks/ Do I need to blog/ What do I blog about” etc.

Blogging Sells Books, But…

Does blogging sell books? Yes, but probably not in the way you think. Authors make a hash of blogging, and then say it doesn’t work… and that applies to all social media too. It’s why authors say that Twitter, Facebook et al are a “waste of time.”

As you may know, I’ve been blogging since 2000, long before it became fashionable. It was profitable for me then, as it is now. Nothing’s changed, except that many more people and businesses are blogging now.

Regarding the “probably not in the way you think”. We’ll have more to say about that in a moment. Consider these authors who used blogging to sell books:

  • Kate Mosse blogged Labyrinthe a decade and more ago. She’s a bestselling author now (I searched for her original Labyrinth blog of 2001, but I can’t find the link, so that blog has probably been taken down);
  • Bethany Kehdy turned a food blog into a business; and of course…
  • Julie Powell, the original foodie turned blogger, with the Julie/ Julia Project.

If you want to sell books, pay attention to what those three ladies did, and you’ll learn a lot. Authors are selling books by blogging. You can too.

Tip: get creative, and be yourself – and if you HATE blogging, don’t do it. ;-)

Let’s look at some tips to help you to sell books by blogging.

1. Platform, Platform, Platform: Win Readers One Reader at a Time.

We talk about platform on this blog a lot – a blog builds your platform. (Readership.) You do that ONE reader at a time. A reader reads a blog post, then another one a few weeks later. Maybe he joins your mailing list.

Then a few months later, he buys a book. Awareness counts. Awareness builds bestselling authors like Barbara Freethy when they write in series. Here’s a video interview with Barbara; she started publishing her own books in 2010, and has sold four million books.

2. “Who Are You?” Your Blog Answers Questions.

People want to know who you are. “People” includes readers, and also includes people in publishing. Your blog tells them who you are.

The amazing Amanda Hocking started blogging when she started self-publishing. Did her blog help her to sell books? I have no idea… But I AM convinced that her blog  AND her books made her appealing to St. Martin’s, which gave her a two million dollar book deal.

3. Opportunity Knocks: a Book Is Just a Book, But a Blog Is a Person.

Kate Mosse, Bethany Kehdy, and Julie Powell blogged and found enormous success, because their blogs made it obvious that they were real people. People identify with people. And in the case of these three ladies, opportunity knocked. You never know what will happen as a result of your blog.

You may get discovered… :-)

4. Accountability and Inspiration: Your Blog Feeds Your Creativity.

The biggest challenge in blogging is consistency, and persistence. Oddly enough, that’s exactly what it takes to write books. Blogs and books can be a match made in heaven.

Your blog gives you satisfaction. You can can publish a blog post much faster than you can write a book. I spend a couple of hours on Sunday afternoons, half-watching a movie or two, but primarily focused on my iPad and blogs. I work out what I want to blog over the next week or two.

While I brainstorm blog content, I find that I get ideas for my current book projects. Over the years, I’ve found that when I skip blogging, I don’t write as much as I could on other projects.

5. “Tomorrow Is Another Day.” Your Blog Records Your Writing Journey.

Writing is a journey. As the years pass, you’ll discover that your best memories are of writing – not of your successes. Bestselling authors write. They wrote before they were published. They write today.

Let’s say you’ve published something – a nonfiction book, a novel, or a novella – and it goes over like a lead balloon. So what? It won’t make any difference to your writing today (unless you decide to mope). You’ve still got to get your writing done. And… “After all… tomorrow is another day”, as Scarlett O’Hara so wisely put it.

You never know what will happen with your writing – or with blogging to sell books. Blog away… :-)

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Fiction Writing to Pay Your Bills: Plotting Roundup

Fiction Writing to Pay Your Bills: Plotting Roundup

This week, we’ve been looking at the backbone of fiction writing: your plot. Every story you create must have a plot, defined as: “the main events of a play, novel, movie, or similar work, devised and presented by the writer as an interrelated sequence.” The keyword is “interrelated.” Unlike real life, in fiction everything has a reason, and every action has consequences.

Your plot arises from character. However, your plot isn’t character; your plot happens when your primary character is forced to take action. We could discuss plotting forever, but your writing is what counts. Your writing will change you; it always does.

Here’s what we covered this week.

Emotion: the Secret of Successful Plots.

In 5 Fiction Writing Tips: Emotion SELLS, we said:

If you can get a fix on what readers want, you can give it to them. Readers made the Fifty Shades of Grey series the publishing blockbuster that it is. Publishers jumped on that romance erotica bandwagon long after it started rolling. Why? Emotion. Fifty Shades aroused specific emotions. Fiction is all about EMOTION. Make readers feel, and your fiction will sell.

If you remember that fiction is all about emotion, you won’t go far astray with your plotting.

The End Is in the Beginning – Two Tips for Great Story Beginnings.

Story beginnings… Writers tend to waste a lot of time kicking off their stories.

In 2 Essential Fiction Writing Tips for Great Story Beginnings, we said:

A tip: in your first draft, don’t worry about your story’s beginnings. Too many writers spend days on a “great” beginning. Usually this wonderful beginning doesn’t get used because the story changes as you write it. Work on your beginning in your second draft.

Read the article for the two essentials you need to include in every story’s beginning.

What if You Could Find Ready-Made Plots?

In Fiction Tips: Finding Ready-Made Plots, we said:

It would be lovely if a plot were handed to you. They can be, if you know where to look. Shakespeare wasn’t big on original plots. As Shakespeare Online says: “With the exception of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Love’s Labour’s Lost and The Tempest, which are wholly original stories, Shakespeare borrowed his plots, down to fine detail.” If the bard can do it, you can too.

Read the article for sources of ready-made plots.

Secrets to Plotting Series of Ebooks.

Plotting a short story or a novel is all very well. But what if you want to plot a series?

In Quick Fiction Tips: More Series Secrets (Make One Free), we said:

A series of ebooks – this applies to nonfiction too – have SOMETHING which ties them together. For example, in a series I’m ghostwriting for a client, every story in the series takes place in one small town. So, we have recurring characters, seasonal events which take place in the town, and threats to the town from various sources.

Read the article for more on plotting series.

If You’re Just Starting on Your Fiction Journey…

Plotting can seem very esoteric when you’re just starting to write fiction.

My best fiction writing tip: just write. Take the basics of plotting on board, but don’t worry about them while you’re in the process of writing. It took me YEARS to understand plotting. Have fun with your writing. :-)

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Quick Fiction Tips: More Series Secrets (Make One Free)

Quick Fiction Tips: Series Secrets (Make One Free)

We’re all about fiction writing this week, and I’ve received questions from romance writing students about series.

We’ve established that you’ll build a readership and make more sales when you write in series. In our first “write in series” article, we included a quote from Russell Blake:

You can try stand-alone – I have – but my series outsell my stand-alone books 4 to 1. Once you have at least three books in the series, make the first one free. Earn your income from the rest, but give readers a whole novel to decide whether they like you or not.

You’ll sell more books, over time, when you write in series, and you can always bundle your short stories and novellas, and sell the compilations, as well as the individual ebooks.

But you have questions. The most popular question was: “how do you plot a series”? Let’s look at some fiction tips for series, quickly. Then you can get back to writing.

1. All Series Have Something Which Ties Them Together.

A series of ebooks – this applies to nonfiction too – have SOMETHING which ties them together. For example, in a series I’m ghostwriting for a client, every story in the series takes place in one small town. So, we have recurring characters, seasonal events which take place in the town, and threats to the town from various sources.

As far as plotting goes, I work on one book at a time. I write the book, and as characters and events emerge, I get ideas for additional stories in the series. Easy.

If you browse Amazon, you’ll see that “small town series” is so popular, it’s almost a genre.

Anything can tie your series together:

  • A family. If you’re writing romance, your series can be tied together via a family. All the siblings in the family have their own romances, in stories in the series;
  • A person. Lee Child’s written many books with Jack Reacher as the main character. You’ll find lots of series based on characters in thriller and mystery fiction;
  • An event. The event could be a war, or a period in history, or an intriguing event in history. You’ll find huge numbers of “mail order bride” romances on Amazon. It’s a trope. You can write a complete series about four or five or even more women who are all mail order brides.

2. Plot One Story at a Time.

You may be a budding George R.R. Martin, but if you want to pay your bills with your fiction, you’ll write stuff which you can start selling asap, instead of Game of Thrones.

It’s commonsense. Write a series of short stories. Then sell the compilation as a bundle, while continuing to sell your stories. Several of my students are doing well with this strategy; they write erotic romance. You can write whatever you like.

You’re plotting one story at a time, even though you have ideas (ideas are not plots, as we discussed in ready-made plots), because your stories change as you write them.

3. Write “Cliff-Hanger” Series, if You Like. (Accept That Some Readers DON’T Like Them.)

“Cliff-hanger” series are serials. The stories don’t end, until the series ends. Serials are easy enough to write. Your serial is one story, with a three act structure. Charles Dickens and many other writers wrote serials for magazines. The books were then published in volumes.

There’s a challenge with selling serials. Let’s say you’ve plotted a story, which you’re publishing serially, in five separate ebooks. Each ebook ends on a cliffhanger. Your challenge is making your readers aware that each story is just part of a whole, and convincing them to buy.

If you spend time on Amazon, and read the reviews, you’ll soon see that no matter how you describe a story, some readers just don’t realize that they’re reading part of a story, and they’ll penalize you with one-star reviews.

I’ve no idea why this is. Some writers cheat by not making it plain that an ebook is a serial. Nowhere do they mention that the serial has several parts. On the other hand, other authors describe their serials honestly. Some readers will be annoyed no matter what you do.

A few one-star reviews are neither here nor there. It’s up to you. If you want to write serials, by all means do. I admit that I’m a total wimp; I don’t write serials. Of course, one day I might get a brilliant idea and work out a plot which would make a perfect serial, and write it. Who knows? We write what we write… so it’s up to you.

4. Once You’ve Published the Third in a Series, Make the First Ebook FREE.

Offer the first ebook in your series free as soon as you publish the THIRD ebook. Some of your readers will buy books 2 and 3, and your next ebooks. Your free ebook builds your readership.

I hope these tips help you with writing fiction in series. If plotting is a challenge, you’ll love our new Plot FAST, Publish FAST: Craft Bestselling Fiction In Any Genre program.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, too.