Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Five Keys To A Successful Query Letter

By Kristi Sayles

Do you know what a query letter is? If so, you are of a rare breed-a writer. Most people don't. I discovered this when I created “Instant Query Letters” software. “What's a queer letter?" they ask. The sad thing-they aren't joking.

Query letters are a major part of your life if you are a freelance writer. Almost every request for magazine articles includes the statement to “query first.”

We know that this means to send a detailed summary of the article to the publisher. You should never send the completed manuscript until it’s requested.

I decided to ask a few editor friends about their preferences when it came to querying. They told me that a great query letter must do five main things:

-Grab attention immediately.

-Summarize your article or book idea in the most compelling fashion.

-Emphasize why YOU are the best one to write about the topic.

-Show your professionalism.

-Display your writing credits.

First, I highly recommend beginning your opening with the first line or two of your article or book. It immediately draws the editor or agent’s attention to your idea. Since you’ve probably sweated over the perfect beginning anyway, why not let it do double duty?

Second, make your points quickly, yet concisely. Don’t drag out your story idea. Build excitement in your recipient to WANT to read more about this fascinating story.

Third, tell why you are so knowledgeable about the topic. Why did you choose the topic? Are you querying about an article about dogs? If you are a professional trainer, then say so. Are you suggesting a “How To…” book? Tell your qualifications.

Fourth, you should always present yourself as an intelligent professional. Be sure that your writing tone is confident without sounding arrogant. Always double- check your grammar and spelling. Many editors have stated that they will not deal with writers that do not show enough pride in their work to use a spell-checker!

Finally, toot your own horn! This is where you get to brag about your writing accomplishments. Most editors will appreciate the fact that you’ve written something that has been considered good enough to be published.

If you are a new, unpublished writer, there’s still hope for you. Many editors are looking for new talent. Don’t mention that you have not been published. Simply make it clear that you have enjoyed a particular article recently published, then name the article and state how your article idea would mesh with the magazine as well. Actually, that’s a good idea for all queries to include!

Now that you’ve gotten a handle on the five important query letter components, what are you waiting for? Find a magazine that publishes your kind of writing, query it right, and spend the time waiting for your response by creating new queries. That way, no matter what the reply, you can always have fresh ideas to send out.


Kristi Sayles, author of numerous magazine and ezine articles, invites every writer to try her “Instant Query Letters!” Software. It creates fast, easy and fool-proof queries that contain ALL of the necessary components of a great query letter after the writer follows the simple Q and A format! It’s a huge help to those learning to query and a major time-saving tool for more “seasoned” writers. Get it now at http://www.instantqueryletter.com -More writing software by Ms. Sayles at http://smartauthor.com

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Kristi_Sayles

Writing Query Letters

By Marg McAlister

A QUERY LETTER is written to an editor or agent to describe a piece of writing to ask if they'd like to see it. It is sent in lieu of an unsolicited (unasked for) manuscript. (A COVER letter is a letter sent to ACCOMPANY a manuscript.)

Before you write a query letter, check to see if the agent/editor offers guidelines to writers - make sure you are targeting the right market for your writing. (Many publishers now have guidelines on the Internet.)Also check your Writer's Marketplace guide.

New York agent Don Maass, in his interview with Writing For Success, offered these guidelines on writing a query letter:
"Make sure your query letter is brief and businesslike. I really recommend the four-paragraph query letter as follows:


Say something like: 'I'm looking for a literary agent for my mystery series.' What more do you need to say than that? The agent thinks: Okay, so what is this series?


The second paragraph is a description of the property that you're offering. All I really care about is the story. Does the story have an interesting commercial premise? If you don't have the knack of coming up with a neat hook or a pithy, strong pitch then all you have to do is tell me the beginning of your story. What is the problem that he/she faces? If you can give me those three things, and give them to me in an interesting way, I promise you I will want to know what happens next.

The job of the query letter is not to sell me on representation. The only thing the query letter has to do is convince me to read the manuscript. Sometimes we ask for a couple of chapters and a synopsis, but even if we ask for those, the query letter has done its job. All that I need is to be hooked - and the beginning of any good story will hook any reader.


Now that I'm interested in the story, who is the author? Who wrote it? A little bit about the author is helpful - not too much. How does your experience relate to the story?


The closing: Say something like this: "I look forward to hearing from you. I'm prepared to send you the first three chapters and an outline or an entire manuscript; please let me know what you would like to see."

Keep it short, simple, sweet, businesslike. When you're reading 250 letters a week, and trying to do it in an hour or two - trust me: brevity counts.

Make sure you include a stamped, self-addressed envelope for the editor's or agent's reply. If an editor responds with a 'yes, we'd like to see your work' then your writing has been SOLICITED, or asked for. Send it promptly, and in your cover letter mention that the piece is being sent at their request.

Marg McAlister has published magazine articles, short stories, books for children, ezines, promotional material, sales letters and web content. She has written 5 distance education courses on writing, and her online help for writers is popular all over the world. Sign up for her regular writers' tipsheet at http://www.writing4success.com/

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Marg_McAlister

Monday, July 27, 2009

Simple Tips For Beautiful Writing

By Steven M Griffin

As I research this product and that method, I'm often amazed how so many people take the time to create blogs and write articles, and yet the prospect of proofreading seems totally alien to them. You know who they are... they misspell words, misuse words, and generally ignore the squiggly red lines under some of the words. Nothing turns me off faster than a poorly-edited post. It makes me think that the writer isn't very bright, even though I know that that's probably not true.

Now, please understand... I am fully aware that some folks just have a little difficulty spelling, and I sympathize. However, if you know that there might be errors in your work, make sure you read it carefully, then re-read it. A lot. One trick I use to make sure my posts are error-free is to read the copy a few times. Read it as a draft. Then read the preview, so you can see how it'll look to the reader on your website. Then, print it, and read the hard copy. Sometimes, errors will hide from you on the screen, then jump out at you on paper. Then, after you've posted it, navigate to it on your site, and look at it again. Then, do that the next day. You'd be surprised how often I'll have to open my blog and fix a problem I overlooked 15 or 20 times.

Another thing to watch out for is misuse of words, or improper homonyms: "That's 'there' car (wrong) over by 'their' house (correct)." "To 'air' is human (wrong) but learning not to 'err' (correct) is divine." Points are never, ever "mute"... they are "moot." If you're not sure, Google it. And if that doesn't work, re-write the sentence using a different word. Just make sure to get it right. These errors are hard to catch, because they get past spell-checkers: none of those words were misspelled. Worst of all, improper homonyms are even more evil than misspelled words. Misspelled words just make one look a little lazy. The wrong word, spelled correctly, makes one look, well, dumb.

Finally, double-check for "correctly spelled typos." Most people make the same mistakes over and over. I'm always typing "coat" when I meant to type "cost." "Please" sometimes becomes "lease." Again, the spell-checker won't help here. You just have to eyeball it! And it's also a good idea to let someone else look at it, too. We all tend to miss our own mistakes. Oh, and if you do have someone else look at it, and she immediately finds a couple of mistakes that you missed, don't snap at her and mutter "smart-a%$" under your breath. That's not nearly as productive as it sounds. Trust me on that one!

Why am I nit-picking about this? Because this is a business. Businesses spend a lot of time and money making sure everything is just right. None of these tips will cost you a cent, but missing any of them could cost you a customer. So spend a little extra time making sure your offering, whatever it is, is as professional-looking as possible.

Steve Griffin is the author of Real Home Business Trends, a blog dedicated to de-mystifying home based business. He cuts through the double-speak and technical jargon, and explains, in plain English, just how to get an internet business up and running from the ground up. See for yourself and cut through the confusion at http://realhomebusinesstrends.com/ for a lot more great information.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Steven_M_Griffin

Sunday, July 26, 2009

TV: The Way to Cost-Effectively Promote Your Book

By Marsha Friedman

When I asked one of my clients which medium was most beneficial for him and why, he said, "I found that you get almost instant results with TV. Viewers believe what you have to say and as a result you get to reach tons of people in a "real" way. And the results are tremendous. From one TV appearance alone I got close to 1,000 subscribers to my book's newsletter."

This particular client has other products he's selling beyond his book, and because he gets such a great response from most of his TV appearances, this became a key part of his marketing strategy.

Now, if you're just promoting a book, traveling to different cities is not a good idea because the return on investment doesn't play in your favor.

What I strongly recommend though is for authors to do as many local media appearances and book-signings as possible in the cities where they live. I can't emphasize this strongly enough. For viral marketing reasons, credibility reasons, branding, networking and sales reasons, it's very important to build a solid promotional base from which to grow, and your hometown is the perfect place to start building.

From there you can branch out to other cities. If you travel on business, use those trips as an opportunity to do TV and radio appearances in those cities.
The important thing to know is that you may have the potential to be a guest on TV, and if so, it's a great opportunity to gain the recognition you need to make your book well known.

Another client told me, "The cost benefit analysis of TV is a no-brainer. Not only do you get the benefit of this quality exposure, but the amount of credibility you build is priceless!"

And make no mistake; it's all about building credibility. Whether the credibility is for you as an author or for your business, the positioning of you as a guest on TV is the kind of credibility you can't buy.
And if you want to eventually get on National TV, you need to have some good local interviews under your belt. We find that to be almost a pre-requisite these days from producers at the national level. But, the payoff can be big.

Another client sent us an email after he did a very short interview on a nationally syndicated TV show. He said, "Thanks for scheduling my TV appearance! Wow! We had a record number of visitors to our website which of course means great online book sales and a huge number of people added to my data base for future sales."

For 20 years Marsha Friedman has been a leading authority on public relations and is the CEO of pay-for-performance PR firm EMS Incorporated. Go to http://www.emsincorporated.com to claim your free "Power of Public Relations" video and Ebook now!

Article Source: Artipot

Writing and Selling Your Book - Why You Need a Great Proposal

By Angela Booth

If you've written a book, the first step in selling it is writing a book proposal. Your proposal is a sales tool for your book, and some writers will write this before they even write the book.

But why do you need a proposal? There are four major reasons.

1. Your Proposal Is a Sales Tool: It Convinces a Publisher to Invest in Your Book

Publishing books costs money. Depending on the amount of copies which are printed, your publisher will invest quite a sum in your book. As with every other investment, your publishing house wants to know that it will recoup its investment and even make a profit.

Therefore your proposal needs to contain every possible argument to show that your book is a good investment.

2. Your Proposal Shows That the Book Will Sell

Publishers receive many proposals each week. They don't have time to research the topic or the market for your book. This means that the book needs to show the market for your topic, and that there are buyers for information on this particular topic.

Your book proposal must show that there are already books on this topic, and that these books sell well. Publishers are conservative and traditional, and if there aren't bestsellers already in your niche, it's unlikely your book will sell.

3. Your Proposal Shows Your Writing Style, and Provides a Sample of Your Material

Your publisher wants to know how you will approach your material. There will be other books which cover your topic. Your publisher wants to know whether your book is different, and in what way it's different. The publisher needs to know that your book will sell at least as well as other books on the same topic, and preferably that will sell more.

If you're writing on a hot topic or if you have a great story, then much will be forgiven you. However, here's what won't be forgiven: errors of fact, and overall sloppiness of presentation. Run a spell-checker, and check your punctuation.

Enjoy writing your book proposal; with luck, it will be the start of a long and profitable writing career.

Your book proposal determines the fate of your book: it needs to be a professionally written sales tool. You can get help from Angela Booth. Not only is Angela a top copywriter, she's also an author who's been published by major publishers. Angela offers a complete book proposal service, as well as writing coaching. Discuss your project with Angela today.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Angela_Booth

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Truth About Book Royalties

By John Eggen

If you ask the average book author how they intend to make money from their book, most will tell you they expect it will come from royalties. In my 27 years of publishing and marketing, I found that few authors and even fewer would-be authors understand how book royalties actually work. I want to teach you the basics of that right now.

The sad truth is that royalties are significant only if you end up writing a blockbuster bestseller ... but extremely few authors ever do. In fact, the average first run on a book today is about 3,000 copies and most books never print a second run.

The average royalty paid by a traditional publisher to first-time authors is between 6 and 10% of net receipts. Net receipts means the price paid by the purchaser, but what that amounts to is often misunderstood by book authors.

For example, most authors who expect their earnings to come from royalties also expect to rely on commercial book trade distribution for their book. In other words, they expect to distribute their book through the network of wholesalers and bookstores. Here is how the math on net receipts actually works in that situation. This is the key to your royalties.

Assume your book retails for say $20, to make it easy. If the publisher wants the book to be distributed through commercial trade book distribution, using a network of wholesalers and bookstores, the publisher must give the wholesaler an average discount of 55%. That is $11 out of your 20, so the net receipt to the publisher is 20 minus 11 or $9. Now, let us assume the author gets 8% royalty, which actually is high for a first-time author. In this case, the author makes $0.72. The math on that is $9 net receipts times 8% royalty which equals $0.72 on each book. That is it.

So if you wanted to earn say $100,000 a year from your book, at $0.72 royalty, you would need to sell more than 138,000 copies of your book each and every year, year after year after year. As I hope you can see, if you hope to rely on royalties alone, it is a very tough road to hoe.

I will share with you a little known publishing industry statistic that illustrates what I mean. Out of every 1,000 writers that contact literary agents to help them find a book publisher, only 10 end up with a publisher -- just 1%. Out of those 10 who do get published, only 1 of those writers ends up making any money from the published book. In other words, out of every 1,000 writers that contact literary agents, only one gets published and makes any real money from their book. The other 999 do not.

Why are those statistics so dismal? In part, it has to do with the fact that traditional publishing is a mature industry with a greatly increasing number of writers wanting to do business with a dramatically shrinking number of big publishers. But the main reason is because those writers do not know there are other big strategies to earn money with a book besides royalties. As the statistics illustrate, 999 times out of 1,000, it just does not work.

My friend Mark Victor Hansen likes to remind authors that writing your book is just 10% of the work. He emphasizes that the other 90% of the work is marketing of the book. Most authors never get this perspective from their publisher or anyone else. If the 999 out of a 1,000 writers knew and applied a few of the other time-tested strategies, most of them would probably succeed.

In this article, I showed the limitations of relying on royalty potential and ignoring the other ways to earn money with your book. I can share with you time-tested strategies and tactics for writing a book that attracts a lifelong stream of clients and other income.

John Eggen has helped nearly 1,000 independent professionals and business owners to write and publish business-attracting books. Visit http://www.UltimateClientMagnet.com/ to subscribe to Ultimate Client Magnet (TM), the free E-course where John shows you how to create a book that attracts new clients and generates multiple income streams in as few as 90 days.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=John_Eggen

Creating a Realistic Timeline For Your Book

By Lynne Klippel

If I plan to write a book, how much time will it take?

That question is one of the most frequent ones submitted on my website. Since new authors have never written a book, it is almost impossible for them to determine a good timeline.

Use these general guidelines to help you get started. Note: I based these suggested timelines on the assumption that you are busy with your family, your business, and having a life. While you can always go faster, most people have limited time available to devote to full time writing.

Planning stage: 30-90 days. Use this time to determine your vision for your book, a marketing plan, and the main points you will cover. The most time you spend planning, the more successful your book will be. Most authors find an outline essential in this phase.

Writing stage: 90-240 days. Many authors can write their book in six months, even with a busy schedule. The key to success: proper planning and a committed writing appointment in your schedule at least 5 days each week.

Editing stage: 30-60 days. After you have finished your manuscript, you will spend time editing it. Then, you will work with a professional editor to further polish and perfect your manuscript. You will go back and forth several times with your editor until you both agree that your manuscript represents you professionally.

Cover design: 30 days. I suggest you do work with your cover designer in the while you are writing. You will finalize the cover during the editing phase.

Production phase: 60-120 days. After editing and cover design, your publisher will complete the legalities, create the internal design, and send your book to the printer. However, if you go with a traditional publisher, the production phase can take up to 24 months. That is why I recommend self-publishing or working with an independent publisher who works under the contemporary publishing model.

Marketing phase: Actually, marketing starts in the planning phase. It continues for 3-5 years after your book is printed. Marketing is fun, sharing your passion and excitement with potential readers.

There you have it. In roughly 9 months, you can write and publish your book. Mentoring and education will help you streamline the process.

Once you have your book, you can use it for the rest of your life, to attract media attention, highlight your expertise, and attract new clients. In fact, you can use your book as the foundation of a very successful business, the ultimate goal of many authors.

Want to create a successful book? Discover 8 book marketing blunders that you can avoid. Grab your fre.e ecourse at http://www.BookMarketingBlitz.com. Lynne Klippel is a publisher, author and book shepherd who specializes in helping authors write business building books.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Lynne_Klippel

Mark Twain on Strengthening Your Writing

By Tom Aaron

Mark Twain warns us on using adjectives: "As to the adjective, when in doubt, strike it out."

Clifton Fadiman warns us too: "The adjective is the banana peel of the parts of speech."

Adjectives modify nouns. In the examples below, we see a tired boy sitting down:

The tired boy sat down.

The exhausted boy sat down.

The weary boy sat down.

The worn-out boy sat down.

The sleepy boy sat down.

The nodding boy sat down.

The drowsy boy sat down.

More than one adjective can modify a single noun as in the examples below:

The tired little boy sat down.

The exhausted young boy sat down.

The small weary boy sat down.

Adding more adjectives weakens writing. Strong writing comes from strong verbs and nouns. You may be asking what strong verbs and nouns are. Strong verbs and nouns have several qualities:

1. They are precise.

2. Rather than being commonly used, they are less commonly used.

3. They are paintbrushes creating visual and visceral images.

We can edit these sentences to tell us the boy is tired without using any adjectives:

The boy gasped for air after running down the mountain and fell into the chair in front of me. The boy finished swimming across the river, emerged from the water, staggered to a chair, and collapsed.

We can further edit these sentences, without using any adjectives, to include that the boy is small.

After running down the mountain, the boy gasped for air and fell into the chair in front of me, his feet still 12 inches from touching the floor.

The boy finished swimming across the river, emerged from the water, stood up towering at least two feet taller than my poodle, staggered to a chair, and collapsed.

These two examples, written with verbs and nouns, reveal more than adjectives. Adjectives only tell. Nouns and verbs show. The adjective still has a place in writing. We would like to suggest the following list of rules:

1. Whenever possible, use verbs and nouns to show instead of using adjectives to tell.

2. If you must use adjectives to describe a noun, limit yourself to one.

3. When you use an adjective, avoid overused adjectives such as nice, good, bad, important, interesting, and beautiful.

4. When you use an adjective, try to use uncommon adjectives such as decorous, gratifying, iniquitous, burning, and ravishing.

5. Use a metaphor or simile instead of an adjective.

Metaphors show how differences can be similar. Here are two examples:

1. The boy liked swimming very much.

2. The boy was a fish, only leaving the water to sleep.

The first example is a common sentence. The second example uses a metaphor to convey the same information with stronger writing.

A simile also compares two different things, often using the words like or as. We can use a simile to communicate the same information as follows:

The boy was like a fish, only jumping out of the water for a second or two at a time.

In moderation, adjectives help our writing. Most writers, however, overuse adjectives. Mark Twain thus cautions us. Our suggestion is the next time you reach for an adjective, remember the alternatives of strong nouns and verbs, and similes and metaphors. If one of these options is better for your writing, use it.

At Aaron Language Services, we provide Japanese to English and other translation, proofreading, and online English coaching to a primarily Japanese client base. Our site also offers many resources to ESL students, including Japanese language support and our sushi pages with many pictures of different kinds of sushi and explanations. If you are interested in editing texts in medicine and the hard sciences and have expertise, please click the link above to find out about working with us.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Tom_Aaron

Fear of Public Speaking? 3 Vital Questions to Help Smash Your Fear!

By Claire Carpenter

Fear of public speaking is extremely common. If you have been asked to deliver a public speech or give a presentation, spend a few minutes asking yourself the following questions. By answering these questions you will ensure that your speech content is focussed and relevant to your audience.

1. What is the Purpose of My Speech?

Before you begin writing your speech or presentation, you should ask yourself why you have been asked to speak. What knowledge or experience do you have that the event organiser wants you to convey? Be very clear about this, as it is vital in ensuring that your speech content is relevant.

Find out from the organiser exactly what they are looking for. For example, is it a formal business presentation intended to convey some specific information to your audience? Or maybe it is less formal and intended purely as entertainment.

2. Who Is My Audience?

Another crucial question. You must spend the time and find out exactly who your audience are. A fascinating and witty speech to one audience could be dull and confusing to another. Is your audience young or old, are they new to the subject, experienced in their field or complete experts? Will they be there voluntarily or involuntarily? What are their expectations of your speech? What do they want to get out of it?

Your speech should be tailored to suit their interests and expectations. Know what sort of language your audience uses and tailor your own words to match theirs. That way they will feel you are really talking to them.

Try to work out your audience's needs and interests, and tailor your speech to meet these needs. For example, do your audience need to fully understand a new subject by the end of your presentation?

3. What Are My Objectives From The Speech?

If you are clear about this from the outset, it will help you compose your speech in a way that naturally leads to a great result for you.

Of course, you should always be thinking about your audience and focusing on their needs and expectations. But you should have objectives too. It may be to get your audience to sign up to a new program you are offering? Or to entertain and amuse your audience, for example at a wedding? Do you want to provoke thought and discussion amongst your audience? Do you want to inspire or educate your audience?

You may even have a specific call to action at the end of your presentation. Whatever your objective, write it down and keep it in mind when you are writing your speech - you are more likely to achieve it.

By answering these questions your fear of public speaking should lessen and you will have a great foundation to begin writing the content of your speech.

Anyone can deliver a fantastic speech with the right training and preparation. Check out more tips on public speaking at http://www.tipsonpublicspeaking.com and learn how to deliver your presentation with total confidence and WOW your audience every time!

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Claire_Carpenter

Authors - Earn $99,000 From Your First and Every Book - Guaranteed

By Paul Godines

There are many ways to to make money from your book, besides just selling it as a stand-alone, and that's what this article will teach. To begin with we need to look at some basic math, lets begin with the cost of each copy.

If your book sells for $20.00 and you have $15.95 in expenses like you would if you self published. Than you would earn $4.05 per copy right? Well lets take a closer look, what if you sold an Audio CD with someone reading the story, as a package deal. Many people like to listen to audios while driving, or on their computer etc. So that's a nice feature right?

OK that improves the math a bit right because we could sell the package for maybe $25.00. Now the life expectancy of a self published product is between 150 - 200 copies, now lets do the math.
$4.05 X 200 copies = $810 dollars

Far from $99,000 dollars right? Well what do we have to do to get that book up to where it can become highly profitable? We need to add to our package deal, but first let me ask you a question.

- What could you offer to support the learning or entertainment of your story?

If your book is teaching someone to improve their business bookkeeping than you could add services and products to your offering. Lets say that you created a basic and advanced package which offered more details and additional support in varying ways.

This is an example of what you could include in such a package;

- Book, audio CD, workbook (filled with questions and spaces for answers) and 1 hour of private 1-on-1 phone coaching. Valued at $97.00

- Book, audio CD, workbook (filled with questions and spaces for answers) 3 monthly group tele-seminars for additional support and 1 hour of private 1-on-1 phone coaching. Valued at $495.00

Now each package can help people with varying levels of support, and at varying price points. The $97 dollar package, if with 200 sales would earn $19,400 and the $495 package would earn you $99,000 dollars. Not bad, right?

If you're ready to go to learn more than go to; http://www.adaptonadime.com for your FREE "Fast Start Guide".

Paul Godines will help you Step by Step to Write a Book so you can Leverage your existing Skills, Knowledge and Experience, than teach others what you know in your own Highly Profitable Consulting Practice.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Paul_Godines

What Waiters Can Tell Us About Writing Better Proposals

By James A England

What can waiters tell us about persuasion? Well, how often has you tip altered depending on the quality of service? How often has your order changed depending on the recommendations of the waiter? And was you judgement about repeat business affected by the person who was your primary contact?

Successful food servers are not just good at increasing the size of their tips - they also improve the revenue for the restaurant by providing a service that is firstly good quality and personable (making people come back again) but by also making recommendations on what people should eat and drink - ever paid more than you intended for that bottle of wine because the waiter recommended it? Research also shows that repeating customer orders back increases tip size...as does how you give people sweets at the end of the meal. I'll be looking at that in my next book review "Yes! 50 Secrets from the Science of Persuasion".

Bad service drives me crazy in a restaurant. And I have no idea why restaurant owners put up with it - I'm sure that the main reason people don't return to restaurants is poor service. What's that got to do with proposals?

Well, look at your proposal as if it were a meal and the client was the diner...stay with me here...would you return to the restaurant? Or put it this way, does your proposal look after the client? Are they going to feel that even though you have recommended something expensive, perhaps even more expensive than they had intended paying, that it was worth it? Does your proposal give them a positive experience and value for money?

Or does it give them indigestion and make them feel as if they never want to eat there again?

How about repeating an order back? Tips increase, which shows greater customer satisfaction. Look at your proposals and be sure that you have accurately reflected the client requirement. Does anything annoy your more than receiving the wrong order because the waiter wasn't paying attention? No. So don't propose a solution that doesn't meet the client's requirement.

Feel free to recommend something better. They value your expertise in this area and want your opinion. And bear in mind, that a more expensive "five star" option makes a less expensive "standard" solution look more affordable...the restaurant knows this by putting all those expensive wines and champagnes on the wine list...all of a sudden you think that £30 for a bottle of wine isn't so bad after all.

People reward good experiences and avoid returning to places they have had a bad one. Make sure your proposal reflects our client's needs and concerns and makes recommendations for a solution. Go on and provide good service and they will want to come back.

There are lots of successful businesses out there that operate in different spheres and ways than yours or mine. But shouldn't be able to look at what makes them successful and integrate some of those features in our business to help us succeed?

Why not try it? Otherwise you may be heading the same way as that dodgy restaurant that you ate at last week.

Learn to Write Proposals

Contact: James England



skype: learntowriteproposals

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=James_A_England

What Are Some Good Public Speaking Tips?

By Martin Ng

There isn't anybody who's accustomed to speaking in front of large groups of people who at one time or another aren't in need of some good public speaking tips. No matter how good you are at speaking in public, you always have to make some adjustments depending on who you're talking to, or you just may want to learn some helpful tips so your public speaking skills can continue to grow. The better your public speaking skills become the more confident you'll become, and the more respected you will be for what you do. So what are some good public speaking tips that can help you improve your overall performance? Here are a few you may want to follow.

You must flow naturally:

Of all the public speaking tips there are the best one I can give you is that you absolutely must flow naturally with your words, especially if you're going to be in front of a large group of people. You want to make sure you're not stumbling and mumbling onstage because this will make you look as if you're nervous and people don't want to take advice from somebody who doesn't have enough confidence in what they're saying and lacks the ability to convince other people of the sincerity of what they're saying. So you'll want to do whatever it takes to make sure your words and speech flow naturally from beginning to end.

Do not let your fear show:

Whatever you do you absolutely must not let your fear show if you're fearful at all. People will not feel sorry for you; they will feel more pity for you than anything. One of the most helpful public speaking tips I can give you is to not try to hide your fear, but try and get over your fear altogether. This will come with experience as with anything. The more you do it the more confidence you'll gain and the more confidence you gain the less fearful you'll be. Whatever you have to do before hand to calm yourself down, do it. You want to be completely in control of your emotions once you are in front of large groups of people, they have to be convinced of you and what you're saying. If the audience you'll be speaking in front of isn't convinced of you, you'll have a hard time maintaining there attention.

Practice in front of a few friends first:

If you need some good public speaking tips one of the best places you can get those tips is from your friends. Keep in mind your friends will not be the people you'll be speaking in front of, but they might be able to give you a few helpful pointers on how they perceive you, and if you're convincing enough so you can make proper adjustments before the real deal. Your friends will be able to give you an unbiased opinion and you can feel at ease speaking in front of them. Take these public speaking tips seriously and you should be good to go whenever you have to speak in public.

Effective speaking is a lot like preparing for a wedding. All the planning in the world can't assure there will not be problems. But preparing speaking disasters and knowing in advance how to tackle speaking disasters means they do not have to ruin your presentation.

Check out Surviving Speaking Disasters to discover how to handle and avoid seven different kinds of speaking catastrophes. Get real solutions for real-life speaking disasters.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Martin_Ng

Fiction and Reality

By Dharmbir Sharma

Fiction is an integral part of human life. Man has an inherent need for diversion to get away, even if for a few moments, from the humdrum of life. Story telling has been one of the earliest ways of accomplishing that and over the ages it has grown into the diverse forms of entertainment we have in the present day world. Entertainment is basically of two types - active and passive. The active involves physical participation in one way or other, while the passive does not. Fiction is essentially a passive entertainment even though the mind plays an important role in it. Fiction always involves visualization whether it is covert or overt. The earliest form of overt visualization was the enacting of dramas as the civilizations developed. The development of technology brought in its modern forms - cinema and television. The covert form is inherent to story telling and reading. It is an inherent characteristic of the human (or perhaps any) mind that a thought is always accompanied by an image. So as soon as one hears or reads a story the mind visualizes the scene and the characters; this process continues throughout the story and often even after it has ended.

Fiction by its very definition is unreal. When we read a novel we know that the story and the characters in it are merely a product of imagination of the author. When we see a movie we know that the characters are just acting their parts essentially pretending to be someone other than themselves. Still we are emotionally affected by the twists and turns in the story. We laugh with them, weep with them, and even feel indignant towards the bad guys. The lovable hero or heroine may be despicable in real life and the villain may be a perfect gentleman, but we identify them with the characters they are portraying. In essence for that brief period we ourselves get transported into the imaginary world of the author. Strangely enough this happens also with the author at least to some of them. He or she goes through the same emotions while writing and perhaps later as well.

"Knowledge is limited, imagination is not." Albert Einstein said that although the wording of the second part might have been different. Einstein like any other human being was not infallible. Some of his views that he held right till the end turned out to be wrong even in the field of physics. In this particular statement also he seems to have it backwards. Knowledge may be limited in the case of an individual but in general it is unlimited even if we consider just rational knowledge leaving aside transcendental. Science in particular has demonstrated this at every step in the course of its development. Imagination pertains to an individual mind and is constrained by several factors depending on the circumstances of the individual. A mind can imagine only what relates in some way to things already stored in it. A person who has never been outside a remote place in wilderness and has had no contact with the world outside cannot imagine what metropolitan cities are like.

Getting back to fiction the imagination of the author also has to be based on his direct or indirect experiences. In this sense fiction is based on reality and to that extent it represents just another dimension of reality. Here of course we run into the philosophical problem of the precise meaning of reality. There are two diametrically opposite views - materialistic and spiritualistic. According to the former only things that can be perceived through our senses are real, everything else is unreal. The latter maintains that there is just one ultimate reality from which all that we perceive comes out and everything that is perceived is simply an illusion. We again consider a statement by Einstein: "Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a persistent one." He was obviously referring to the reality of the phenomenal world. The word illusion can have different connotations but in general it means perceiving something as different from what it is. So the existence of the thing is a prerequisite for illusion, it is not a mental construction. Imagination is purely a mental phenomenon and has nothing to do with anything actually existent. Therefore the relationship between fiction and reality is entirely different from that between illusion and reality.

In a philosophical sense the phenomenal world itself may be regarded as fiction. This is what Shakespeare perhaps meant when he wrote: "All the world's a stage, and all men and women merely players". We may as well think of everything in the universe (space, time, matter) as players because everything has its entry and exit. We of course run into the problem of stating what the stage is and who wrote the script. Shakespeare most probably believed in God, strict determinism, and in the reality of the world, so he did not have this problem. Now it is generally believed that the universe also has a beginning and will have an end. If the universe is also a player, are there multiple universes or does it come alone on the stage and then introduces other players? But what is the stage in this case? Quantum physics points to one possibility. At extremely small scales of space and time there is a quantum void that is not really empty but filled with energy which is constantly transforming itself into virtual particles and back. What remains after the end of the universe may be an infinite version of this quantum void filled with energy into which all the matter has converted itself. This universal energy is the source of and background for everything.

It is not merely a philosophical point either. We spend a considerable part of our life in the imagined or fictional world. We muse about the things in future and also dwell over the past imagining what could have been. The imagination about the future is based on our hopes and aspirations and to some extent it is a positive in the sense that we are in a position to mold our future if we sincerely try. But musing over the past is a futile exercise because we know for a fact that 'what could have been' is mere fantasy that never happened. Still it serves the same purpose as fiction from the point of view of entertainment. We entertain ourselves by imagining how life would have been, knowing fully well that it has no reality whatsoever. In a metaphorical sense past, at least the remote past, is fiction. In a certain sense history itself is fiction since it invariably contains the subjective bias of the author. What we know of Buddha and Jesus now is more fiction than facts.

We all may be players on the world stage, still the question remains why we show the emotional responses to the happenings depicted in the fiction, whether in print or visual presentation, just as in real life? Just like dreams our imaginations get presented to us on the mental screen as if we were watching television or movies. And just as in dreams the real world gets supplanted by the imagined virtual world even though we are fully awake. That world still has perfect resemblance to the real one and everything happening in it seems real due to something changing in our cognition faculty. But the mechanism that triggers our emotional responses remains unchanged and therefore we react to the fiction in the same way as in real life.

Here we have some similarity with the virtual reality of the modern computer technology, which is an artificial environment created by software. It is presented to the viewer in such a way that the person temporarily suspends own belief pattern and accepts it as a real environment. In a way it is not different from the phenomenon of being transported to the imagined world of fiction, except that the computer doing the job is in the mind and we have no clue as to what is the software and who is the programmer.

That brings us to the cause of emotional response itself. In regard to fiction the most common emotions are likes and dislikes that may turn into their stronger forms of love and hate. In real life we love or hate a person because of some attachment through kinship, friendship, or even through indirect knowledge of the person. One cannot love or hate a person one does not know at all. Attachment can also be to other living beings, material things, and even to imaginary things. We love or hate a story or even an idea. For an ordinary person it is impossible to live unattached to things in the world. If one is able to get rid of attachment, one joins the rank of enlightened souls who are indeed rare. We carry our capacity and desire for attachment even into the imaginary world of fiction. We see the characters that we come to know as the story progresses, form our likes and dislikes, and react in the same way as in real life except that we cannot interact with them physically. But we do interact with them in our minds and hearts from where the emotions come.

The fact is that in a certain sense life itself is fiction. Like a story it has a beginning, an end, and lot of things in between. We do not know who writes this fiction nor will ever know. Thus we have an innate affinity with fiction and cannot completely detach ourselves from it. And perhaps that is why, while reading or viewing fiction we get lost subconsciously in the wonderland of imagination, but for that brief period we function exactly in the same way as we would in the real world of our perception. In that sense fiction is just invented reality.

D. R. Sharma is a retired professor with electrical engineering and physics background. He maintains a website http://www.cosmosebooks.com devoted mainly to philosophy, science, and self-development. Apart from academic activities he has a down-to-earth interest in helping poor and suffering people and runs small projects in rural India.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Dharmbir_Sharma

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Creating Great Fictional Characters

By Alex Jenson

If you are thinking about writing a book or have started one already, one of the major issues that you will confront is how to create great characters that come across as fully three-dimensional and credible to your potential readership. The fact that you are writing or proposing to write means that you already possess some knowledge in this area, but it is never hurtful to your project to take on board other writers ideas. Bearing that in mind, the first point I would make is this.

1. Read as much as you can but try not to get bogged down in a 'How to' culture. Advice and tips are useful to your cause, as I have personally found them useful, but at some point you need to put everything on the shelf and have the confidence to start typing. If I could recommend one great book it is 'The Art of Dramatic writing' by Lajos Egri. It's a brilliant work and will give you another string to your bow. You do not actually need to read a ream of material. Many books are designed for commercial reasons and will not necessarily help you to achieve the full three-dimensionality of character that you are looking for. Shorter, focused articles like this one will.

2. Use people you have observed/met in real life. I would not recommend writing characters based directly on friends and family. People you have met and spent time with; people who have been enemies, false-friends and acquaintances are all ideal building blocks for great characters. As a writer you are hopefully a fascinated observer of the human condition. Fiction is not real life, but the closer to real life that it reads (assuming you are not working in a fantasy genre) the better.

A technique I use is to amalgamate several people from real life into one fictional character, giving the character a new name. This gives you the freedom to expand the character into a truly unique person, who is inspired by real life, but well able to dominate his/her fictional landscape. Remember that you have to separate reality from fiction - using a real person down to the last nuance of their soul can work in some circumstances but I would not recommend it. Let the fictional character live and breath on his/her own terms in the world of the story. Even if they are based on a real person, this will give you freedom to let the character live and guide you through the writing process. Once you have started to write your character and they have come fully alive in your mind, you are up and running because now he/she is in a position to exist on his/her own terms, which leads nicely onto:

3. Let the character take control. Let him/her talk to you, tell you what's on their mind. Have a dialogue with the character, ask them questions, listen to what they want. This is a brilliant technique to use, because you are utilizing areas of your brain that you might never have used before. It takes strong focus and serious effort to inhabit the world you are writing about, but you must do it.

The more you believe that you are writing about a 'real' person, while at the same time maintaining control of your new fictional world, the better for you. In effect you are creating a place that is neither fully in the real world nor fully in your own head - I call this the writing dimension - it is a world separate from reality whilst also being partly separate from your own imagination. Once you tap into this space, your characters will be fully three-dimensional and not 100% in your control. Although you have created them and know them up to a point, they will still be in a position to surprise you. And is that not what storytelling and real life is about? Surprise. Once your characters start surprising you, doing things that even you did not imagine, then you are experiencing the true magic of writing.

4. Become completely immersed in the writing process and you will be rewarded for your dedication. You must be able to strongly visualize the world of your story and the characters who populate it.

Amalgamate several real people into one new character and get to know that character well enough to start off your writing, but expect your first draft to be exploratory and completely free. After some hard work, your character will start to live and breathe and surprise you by their actions.

Alex Jenson, 34.


Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Alex_Jenson

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Memoir Writing Tip - Writing Vs Trying to Write

By Denis Ledoux

Some people manage to write a lot of memoir text during the same time that others hardly produce anything. Often, those who don't write have really valid reasons: company to cook for and entertain, a bad cold, "the kids are in drama workshops and I have to taxi them around," "the computer wasn't working all week," etc.

It comes down to: they really "tried," but you know how it is, they didn't get to write a single word.

Others who are producing memoir text, however, are saying, "I want this memoir finished by [a specific date] and so I got up earlier every day to write while I had company." Or, "When I drove my son to his practice, I brought my laptop with me and I wrote while he was playing."

Are you noticing is that there is world of difference between "trying to do" something and "doing" something?

Here's a story. One time at a meeting, a woman was asked if she would bring the refreshments for the next meeting. She answered she was "going to try."

The group leader said to her, "Phyllis, I didn't ask you if you would 'try' to bring refreshments. I asked you if you would bring them or not."

I suppose you get the point! Are you a person who is trying to write your memoir or are you a person who is writing it? Your family will likely be left without your memoir if all you do is "try."


1. Commit yourself today to a writing schedule by selecting times and days when you will write--not try to write but write.

2. Honor these appointments with your writing as you would any other appointment. You don't try to keep your appointment with the dentist, do you?

3. Do not allow yourself to slip into "trying"--ever. Notice your hesitation, your reversals. What are they telling you not only about your motivation but perhaps about your subject matter and your readiness to deal with it. Sometimes trying to is a message that we are not yet ready.

4.Writing success is a choice you can make. It is a choice that is made day after day and one which is always subject to atrophy.

Denis Ledoux have been helping people write memoirs since 1988. Becoming a better writer requires knowledge, but knowledge is not enough. Know how must be reinforced with practice. Tele-classes provide knowledge backed up by week after week of practice with feedback."

You can make significant progress on your memoir as a member of a Soleil Lifestory Network tele-class--from the comfort of your own home! How easy can it get? Stop "trying to write" and WRITE!

Introductory Turning Memories Into Memoirs Tele-class


Advanced Turning Memories Into Memoirs Tele-class


For a free assessment of your writing level, call 207-353-5454

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Denis_Ledoux

5 Super Simple Ways to Clear Clutter From Your Writing

By Angelique Rewers

At a recent writing workshop, I asked students to name their biggest writing hang-ups. Not surprisingly, quite a few said their writing suffers from excessive wordiness.

When I'm editing the work of others, there are five simple things I look for that, when eliminated, make an immediate difference. Next time you write a press release, brochure, e-mail, etc., take a moment to see if you can identify and eliminate any of these issues.

1. Prepositions. Because of their linking nature - connecting nouns, pronouns and phrases to other words in a sentence - prepositions tend to bring in extra words and are also a red flag for introducing a two- or three-word phrase that includes another noun or actor. Certainly I'm not suggesting you write without using prepositions; just be sure whenever you see one, you consider whether you can make your point more succinctly. (You can find an exhaustive list of prepositions on Wikipedia.org.)

2. Going to... The expression "going to" automatically adds unnecessary words to your sentence that can be eliminated simply by replacing "going to" with the expression "will." Example: Instead of "We are going to be focusing on," or "We are going to focus on...," Try: "We will focus on..."

3. Help. Many writers insert the word "help" prior to the key active verb in their sentence, such as: "We are working to help create awareness..." or, "Our solution is helping to deliver added benefits." But by eliminating "help" you remove ambiguity and make a stronger statement. Try: "We ARE CREATING awareness." Or, "Our solution IS DELIVERING added benefits."

4. That. "That" just may be the most unnecessarily used word in the English language. In The Careful Writer, Theodore M. Bernstein dedicates nearly five pages to an explanation of when "that" should or should not be used. Conversely, much to the dismay of grammarians everywhere, my advice here is simple: Read the sentence aloud without using the word "that" and if it still makes perfect sense, leave it out.

5. Forms of the verb "be." Words like am, is, are, was, were, being and been simply imply a state of existence. There's no action. There's nothing that can be seen, heard, felt, smelled or tasted in the mind's eye. Any time you see these verb forms, it's a red flag that the "actor" in your sentence is lazy. It's essentially just "sitting there." Get it up off the couch and DOING something!

BONUS TIP: One of the places wordiness likes to hide is in the front half of sentences. Be on the lookout for long introductory clauses that act like a story line building up to your main point. Readers will thank you for getting to your point quickly and then providing any background or follow-up information later.

Copyright Bon Mot Communications LLC 2009

The Corporate Communicator is a FREE e-zine that helps corporate communicators do more with less. To receive FREE how-to articles and updates on the latest communications-related news, research and best practices, visit http://www.bonmotcomms.com/newsletter.html

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Angelique_Rewers

How to Write a Fiction Book - What Type of Novel Do You Want to Write?

By Anabelle J Paisley

When first researching how to write a fiction book, the very first thing you need to do, even before plotting, characterization, etc., is to decide what type of novel this is going to be.

Will it be a mystery, suspense/thriller, romance, action, fantasy, paranormal, historical, western, horror, science fiction, or other?

The first thing to consider is, what type of books do you normally read and in what genre? A lot of people may tell you to go where the money is, i.e. if sales of vampire books are through the roof, write a vampire book. It may sound logical, but it's not the best idea for many reasons.

One reason is, I doubt very seriously that someone who never reads vampire books is going to be able to write a believable novel in that genre. Sure, you can go out and buy a bunch of books and read them, but why make the task so difficult?

Think of what section of the book store you normally head for when you go shopping for something new to read. If you avoid the romance section like the plaque, please don't consider writing romantic fiction.

Bottom line is, stick with the areas you are interested in and you'll have the easiest time writing. After all, within any genre there are many sub-genres to explore. Let's say you do happen to be a reader of romance fiction. Your novel could be historical romance, time travel, paranormal, fantasy, and yes, even vampire.

By the same token, mystery readers can delve into thriller/mystery, science fiction, and/or horror. You must simply decide what you love to read and then write a similar book.

You can write a fiction book easy and fast! Go here now: http://www.writeyourfirstnovel.com

You will not believe how quick and painless it can be to get that novel finished and ready to go to the publisher.

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Is Writer's Block Really Stopping You From Writing Your Book?

By Tom R Evans

We are all experts at creating reasons why we haven't finished (or perhaps even started our book). How do I know this? Because I have been a master at inventing more important things to do than write.

You can so easily become a 'busy fool' or, if you are like me, you put the needs of others (and your bank account) ahead of getting on with the writing of your books. There is nothing wrong or insidious about this, it's just a fact of life especially in these credit crunchy days.

Make no mistake, by writing your book there is no guarantee of instant riches and retirement. Like the lottery, you have to play and be in the written and published category to have any chance of 'winning'. You will also learn your craft and about the vagaries of the publishing industry by writing and publishing something no matter how small.

Perhaps it's a collection of poems or short stories. The literary world is full of authors who only 'made it' through tenacity and persistence. Some also only achieve fame posthumously. While this might not be of any benefit to you, just think of how you can leave a cultural legacy for the world and perhaps a financial legacy for your family.

Speaking personally, I cashed all my pensions in early before they lost even more money and I plan not only to make my writings my passive income but also to have life style that supports what is essentially a hobby.

Apart from financial considerations, you may have a full time job or a family to look after. The latter of course being a full time job in itself. Of course, you may have both. I am sure you will be able to think of many factors that will contrive against you getting on with writing.

For example, the physical space you want to write in may be messy and there's a much needed clear out to be done.

Now I am a great believer in the win-win situation as a motivator. Forgetting for a moment about the benefit of having a book published, this little exercise at the end of this article is designed to find out what will stop you from getting your book written. In the second part of the exercise you will elicit the collateral benefits in other areas in your life you will achieve by writing your book.

Exercise: Identifying Blocks
List the things that you think are currently preventing you from getting started with a book. Here are some examples:

  • Full time job

  • Family commitments

  • Untidy office

  • No computer at home

  • Needing to do some research first

  • Confidence in writing

  • Lack of self esteem

  • Fear of ridicule, failure or success
Now list things in your life you would like to change, perhaps some bad habits:

  • Not getting enough exercise

  • Watching too much television

  • Issues at work

  • Family or relationship problems

  • Playing computer games
Finally, write down how you would feel if you managed to not only write and publish a book but also deal with these issues in your life.

You can find out about the numerous ways to banish writers block in my new book BLOCKS!

Tom Evans is an Author and Business Mentor who helps authors and aspiring authors to write and publish their own books. Tom specializes in helping writers to overcome the dreaded writer's block and has just released his new book BLOCKS covering the numerous and innovative ways to overcome writers block.

Tom offers a range of services including writer's workshops, home study courses, 1:1 mentoring and ePublishing support.

Write your book the easy way with the BookWright's innovative Home-study

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Writing About When You Came Back

By Marjorie J McDonald

If you have ever been through a situation when you were not sure you would make it through you have an amazing story to share with others when you do come through. Regardless of what type of situation that was for you, getting through life adventures and how you did it is always of interest to others.

That can be getting through school, an illness or injury in your life or a family members, a move across country or across town or whatever else was something you were not sure that you would get through.

Gather your different experiences, what you did, how you used what you had and what happened to move you over the tipping point to success. How you felt as you were in the situation and after the situation.

What could you share with others in the same place so they could move through it with more ease and faster. Think back about the things others shared with you that helped you.

We have an amazing opportunity to help others. Often things we experience we never consider that those situations and how we used our problem solving ability to get through it might ever help someone else.
As part of everyday occurrences in our lives we just get through things somehow.

That is what I would like to encourage you to look at and think about how you did it. Write down the steps as a review. Then you could use that experience to get through the next situation that you have come up for you with more confidence in yourself. We can be cheerleaders for ourselves and for others in these new situations,

These stories are also great for fiction and can be told as is or have situations added to them for more drama, comedy or again whatever direction you would like to go. It is time to give ourselves more credit for getting through life.

And now I invite you to join me for a series of writing exercises to help you discover your areas of interest in writing as well as increasing your creativity. You may access these exercises by visiting http://www.freecreativewritingstrategies.com

You also may enjoy visiting my blog at http://www.creativewritingmadeeasy.com

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Marjorie_J_McDonald

Writing Tips - Ten Stock Characters to Avoid

By William Meikle

Through television and film some people have become stock characters. That means that everybody knows them and will recognise them.

Unfortunately that also makes them almost unusable in written fiction unless you're being post-modern and ironic. Here, with tongue occasionally in cheek, are some to avoid.

- The square-jawed man of action with stone-chips for eyes
Think Doc Savage, Superman or Tarzan. This one was very popular in times gone by, but modern readers look for a bit of depth and vulnerability in their heroes. If you're going to introduce a strong, silent type, try to give him a weakness, like fainting at the sight of blood, or a hobby that emphasises his feminine side, like needlework.

- The bespectacled, unkempt scientist in the white coat
This fellow is more common in the movies, the best recent example being Brent Spinner in Independence Day. But they sometimes show up in fiction, either as a madman bent on world domination, or a nerd spouting gibberish. The main reason people create stereotypical scientists is because they know next to nothing about science. or what scientists do. Take some time to learn about science. Meet some scientists. Then you can write about a bespectacled, unkempt person in a white coat and know that you're writing about a real person.

- The tart-with-a-heart
A role once monopolised by Shirley McLaine, and very popular in pulp detective stories. They still turn up in Hollywood, but less so in print. These days if you write in a prostitute, it generally means there's some heavy sex on the way, or some extreme violence. If you can't deliver anything beyond the stereotype, the editor won't be interested. Take some time to learn about prostitution. Meet some......on second thoughts, it might not be wise to take your research too far in this case.

- The struggling writer
Long beloved of writers themselves, the "portrait of the struggling artist" is a perennial favourite. Writers are good in that they don't go to work like normal folks, so you can get them out of the house and into action quickly. But if you have them agonising over their work and developing drink/drugs/mental problems, then all you're showing is your own angst. Don't bore an editor with your psychological hang-ups.

- The University lecturer who sleeps with his students
Not surprisingly, very popular with university lecturers and students. This character has a long pedigree, but most of the plots involving him have been played out. Once upon a time he appeared in books that won literary prizes. Now he's more likely to be a murder suspect in a lazy crime novel based on a beer-drinking Chief Inspector in Oxford.

- The bored housewife who runs off with the handsome stranger
Or Shirley Valentine as she is better known. She turns up in romantic ficion all the time. Good escapism for other bored housewifes, but unless you can bring a unique twist to the plot, you'll never sell the story, even to a woman's magazine. And why are there no bored husbands running off with beautiful strangers? The answer is probably that it happens too often in real life for it to work in fiction.

- The man of God who's lost his faith
He's a staple of both soap operas and horror movies. Either he finds his faith again just in time to avoid commiting adultery, commits adultery, or gets chomped by the monster. A similar character is the man of God blinded by his faith, a fine example of which gets zapped by the invading aliens in George Pal's 1955 Sci-Fi classic the War of the Worlds.

- The intelligent kid who gets bullied.
Or, if you're being post-modern and ironic, the geeky Stephen King kid. They are most often used in revenge plots, or in boy-gets-girl-in-the-end teenage fantasies. Either way they tend to say more about the writer's own childhood desires than anything else, and an editor will see hundreds of them in a year.

- The overworked doctor
This one turns up all over the place - in medical dramas where he makes a fatal mistake in a dosage, in war stories struggling against mounting casualties and in murder cases telling policeman that they can't speak to the sedated figure on the bed. With the popularity of hospital dramas, and ER in particular, he'll be around for a long time yet. But do try to give him something more to say than "The next few hours will be crucial."

- The world-weary crime-fighter
Why is it that all cops are cynical, smoke or drink too much, and have continual relationship problems? Recently the search has been on for different police departments to use, resulting in a slew of pathologists, crime scene investigators and psychiatrists. The obvious outcome of all this was Denzel Washington's paraplegic crime scene investigator in "The Bone Collector". And yes, he was cynical, overbearing, and had continual relationship problems.

So there you have it. Ten people who turn up time after time in fiction, just with different names. Use them at your peril.

And finally, I'll let you into a secret. Seven of them have appeared at some time in my fiction, so I don't always practice what I preach.

William Meikle is a Scottish writer, with nine novels published in the States. He is available for all freelance writing work. Contact him and read some free fiction at his web site http://www.williammeikle.com

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Writing For Young Children - 10 Basic Rules

By Karen Cioffi

I write for young children and I also write marketing and health articles. Writing in both genres, I can tell you that writing for children can be much more challenging. When writing for children, there are guidelines to keep in mind to help your story avoid the editor's trash pile. Here is a list of 10 rules to refer to when writing for young children:

1. This is probably the most important item: be sure that your story does not suggest dangerous or inappropriate behavior.

Example: The protagonist (main character) sneaks out of the house while his parents are still sleeping.

This is a no-no!

2. Make sure your story has age appropriate words, dialogue and action.

3. The protagonist should have an age appropriate problem or dilemma to solve at the beginning of the story, in the first paragraph if possible. Let the action/conflict rise. Then have the protagonist, through thought process and problem solving skills, solve it on his/her own. If an adult is involved, keep the input and help at a bare minimal.

Kid's love action and problem solving!

4. The story should have a single point of view (POV). To write with a single point of view means that if your protagonist can't see, hear, touch or feel it, it doesn't exist.

Example: "Mary crossed her eyes behind Joe's back." If Joe is the protagonist this can't happen because Joe wouldn't be able to see it.

5. Sentence structure: Keep sentences short and as with all writing, keep adjectives and adverbs to a minimum. And, watch your punctuation and grammar.

6. Write your story by showing through action and dialogue rather than telling.

If you can't seem to get the right words to show a scene, try using dialogue instead; it's an easy alternative.

7. You also need to keep your writing tight. This means don't say something with 10 words if you can do it with 5. Get rid of unnecessary words.

8. Watch the time frame for the story. Try to keep it within several hours or one day.

9. Along with the protagonist's solution to the conflict, he/she should grow in some way as a result.

10. Use a thesaurus and book of similes. Finding just the right word or simile can make the difference between a good story and a great story.

Using these techniques will help you create effective children's stories. Another important tool to use in your writing tool belt is joining a children's writing critique group. No matter how long you've been writing, you can always use another set of eyes. It you're a beginning writer and unpublished, you should join a group that has published and unpublished members. Having published and experienced writers in the group will help you hone your craft.

Karen Cioffi is a freelance writer and co-author of the bedtime picture book, Day's End Lullaby. She is part of the team at DKV Writing 4 U and is the creator and moderator of the yahoo group VBT - Writers on the Move. This group consists of authors and writers who help promote one another through virtual book tours and other useful strategies. Karen is also the co-moderator of a Yahoo children's writing critique group. For helpful tips about writing, marketing, self-publishing and much more please visit: http://karenandrobyn.blogspot.com

If you'd like to learn more about the many affordable writing and website services offered at DKV Writing 4 u please visit:

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Writing and Speaking Go Hand in Hand

By Lance Winslow

Many will say they are really good speakers and yet, they feel they are very poor writers. Many extremely good writers exhibit very poor speaking skills. For instance, if you watch C-SPAN book review you will see some of the best writers you could ever imagine are not very good speakers all. And yet sometimes you see a very good storytellers on the book review channel, which has written a very good book.

Before I started doing a lot of writing, I was a very good speaker and having dabbled in politics I've given quite a few speeches in my life to audiences of all sizes up to about 1000 people. And I've done many TV interviews, one of which was seen by 60 million people. I always considered myself a very good speaker for some reason, perhaps all the practice I got in my own business, but never really considered myself a very good writer.

One day I realized that writing and speaking are very similar and if you write as if you are talking to a group of people or an audience you're writing takes on a whole different shape and meaning. And believe it or not it is even also better received. For some reason people like to be talked to or converse with the writer. If you write as if you're having a conversation with them they are more apt to read what you're writing.

This is why writing and speaking go hand-in-hand, even if you often observe people that are good at one or the other, but not both. A very good writer can become a very good speaker or a very good speaker can become a very good writer. This is because the skills involved are methods of communication and our language. I hope you will understand this and think about it on a philosophical basis because I guarantee you it will either improve your writing or your speaking, or both at the same time.

Lance Winslow - Lance Winslow's Bio. Lance Winslow is also Founder of the Car Wash Guys, a cool little Franchise Company; http://www.carwashguys.com/history/founder.html/.

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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Is Your Author Photo a Turn-Off?

By Lynne Klippel

Several years ago, I got some blunt feedback. A woman was brave enough to tell me that the photo on my book cover and website made me look old and boring. That stung!

However, she was right. I got some new photos done and noted a much more positive result. I love the photo I use on my website now and get positive comments on it all the time. I'm still the same person; the only change was in the skill of the photographer.

I saw a photo yesterday of a lovely professional woman in a feathery drape, sans blouse. It was a sexy photo and did not convey a message of, 'I'm a professional who can help you.' It would have been a more appropriate photo for a spouse or boyfriend instead of on her business website.

So, what constitutes a good professional author photo?

First, consider your ideal client or ideal reader. Then select clothing that you would wear to a meeting with that person. If you write for corporate executives, formal business attire is a must. On the other hand, if you write for teens or work at home Moms, a blouse or open collar shirt will communicate that you are approachable and accepting.

Ask a couple of trusted friends which colors are most flattering on you. If you have a strong color in your marketing materials, say a red logo, be sure to select clothing in a color that will compliment that color, not clash with it or be lost next to it.

Next, go to a professional photographer and get high quality photos. Sure, it may be tempting to have your friend take shots of you with a digital camera, but a professional photograph needs special lighting to bring out your best features.

When you get the proofs from your photographer, pay special attention to your eyes. Your eyes should look warm and have a sparkle. The real you should shine out from your eyes- compassionate, interested, and engaging.

If you notice a fearful or dull look, don't use that proof. The last thing you want people to think that you are afraid of the camera or stuffy. If they think you look blasé, how likely will they be to buy your book?

Outdoor shots can work well if they are professionally done and appropriate to your ideal reader.

Be cautious about using pets, funny hats, or costumes unless those props are closely tied to the message of your book. It's great to have a sense of humor, but your photo needs to represent your competence as well as your approachability. Anything that looks like a marketing gimmick will probably backfire.

If you have a current photo, plan to update it every three to five years to ensure that it matches your current appearance. The last thing you want to hear is "Oh, you are a lot older than you look on your website."

A better comment is "When I saw your website, I just knew I'd love your book!"

Want to create a successful book? Discover 8 book marketing blunders that you can avoid. Grab your free ecourse at http://www.BookMarketingBlitz.com. Lynne Klippel is a publisher, author and book shepherd who specializes in helping authors write business building books.

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When You Can't Write - Tips For Authors Who Feel Stuck

By Lynne Klippel

Many authors bog down somewhere in the middle of their books. They feel tired, bored, and disenchanted. The idea of becoming an author, so exciting at first, now seems like an impossible dream.

Does this sound familiar to you? If so, you are in the 'Book Doldrums'.

Actually, it is normal to feel your energy and passion ebb when you get into the middle of your writing project. Almost every successful author has days when he or she doesn't feel like writing.

So what can you do to get back on track with your project?

Try these simple techniques:

  1. Reconnect with your vision and purpose for your book. You are writing this book with a goal in mind. You want to share your unique message with the world. You want to help readers solve a problem or improve their lives. When you remember your passion for your book, you will feel your creative juices start to flow again.

  2. Make sure you are working with a plan. If you are writing your book without a fully developed, detailed plan, it is very easy to lose your way. Many authors are tempted to just sit down at the computer and let their book flow out of them. That method works well for a few people. However, most writers need to know exactly what topics will be in their book and where they will be located in order to feel comfortable during the writing process. Chaos is frightening. No one likes to feel out of control. When you take the time to plan your book's content thoroughly, you will feel safe and in charge of the process. Order your content and at the same time you will reduce your stress and fear.

  3. Talk to people about your book.. If you love people, writing can seem like a solitary activity. Your writing doldrums may stem from isolation. Get out of your office and talk to people who are your target readers. You can find them in networking groups, community events, or even at the gym. Spend some time face to face with people, mention that you are writing a book, and enjoy answering their questions about your book. When you see their smiling faces and interested eyes, you will remember that you are writing for people who are interested in what you have to say.

  4. Increase your self-care. Writing takes concentration and mental acuity. To keep your brain sharp, take good care of yourself. Get frequent exercise, eat well, and get enough sleep. This sounds like trite information. However, if you are tired and sluggish in your body, your brain will feel tired and sluggish two. Most full time authors, like Julia Cameron, Stephen King, and Nora Roberts, suggest a daily walk, gardening, yoga, or other activity to keep your mind primed and ready to write.

  5. Get support. If you've tried the first four activities and still feel stuck, you need some support. Find a writer's group, hire a coach, or make a pact with a fellow writer so that you can get on-going support and encouragement.

Try these tips and you'll soon find yourself back on track and enjoying the process of writing your book...

Want to create a successful book? Discover 8 book marketing blunders that you can avoid. Grab your free ecourse at http://www.BookMarketingBlitz.com. Lynne Klippel is a publisher, author and book shepherd who specializes in helping authors write business building books.

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The Book That Went Back to Amazon

By Lynne Klippel

I love books, even when they are not perfect. However, I had to break down and return a book to Amazon this week.

Let this article be a cautionary tale of what NOT to do with your book.

The book I purchased for $19.95 received glowing reviews on Amazon. The topic was excellent and the title catchy. It promised the solution to a thorny business problem I had so I ordered it with great anticipation.

When the book arrived, I was a little worried. The cover didn't look very impressive and the book was tiny-just 101 pages.

Yet, I was eager to read it because I wanted the information it promised.

I cracked open the first page and found five pages of glowing testimonials, which made me feel better about my purchase.

The book layout was well done and easy to read, another positive impression. There was a glowing foreword by someone with an impressive title.

Then, I started to read the book and was under-whelmed by the content.

The material was confusing. There were terms used that were unfamiliar but they were not defined so I felt stupid. No reader likes that!

I kept turning the page, waiting to get to the good stuff, only to find I'd reached the end of the book. I never learned the answer to my problem and felt ripped off by the end of the book.

The basic problem with this book was that it did not keep its promise. There was not enough information presented to make it a worthwhile purchase. I felt like I'd been invited to a banquet and only given a lettuce leaf.

The publisher tried to disguise the lack of information with numerous graphics, testimonials at the end of every chapter, and many extra pages at the back with 'additional resources'.

I wasn't fooled.

What's the moral of this story?

There are several extremely useful ones:

  • Give your readers your best information.

  • Ensure that you fulfill the promises you've made on your back cover and in your advertising materials.

  • Avoid teasing readers with a partial answer to their problem and an offer for a coaching group to get the rest of the story.

  • Create enough material so that readers feel like they got a great return on their buying investment. If you don't have enough material yet, write some more and wait to publish.

Your book is creates your reputation in the world. When you work hard to write the best book you possibly can, your efforts will be well worth it.

Want to create a successful book? Discover 8 book marketing blunders that you can avoid. Grab your free ecourse at http://www.BookMarketingBlitz.com. Lynne Klippel is a publisher, author and book shepherd who specializes in helping authors write business building books.

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