Monday, December 26, 2011

What is Real Author Success and Can You Find It?
Guest post by Deborah Riley-Magnus

Author success can mean different things to each author. Some are thrilled to have penned 50,000 words in a limited amount of time. Many imagine that signing with a literary agent or publisher is author success. And still others feel that holding a book emblazoned with their name is author success. I’m proposing that REAL AUTHOR SUCCESS is something slightly different. Real author success is what happens after the book is out there and gauged by how it’s received … because these days, making your book a sales success is all on your shoulders.

The difficulties and struggles authors face in today’s publishing industry twists and turns can sometimes feel like a crazy hurricane but there’s no need. Real author success is within every author’s reach and far simpler than you think.

Come closer, let me whisper this big secret …

  • The answers are all hidden right inside your manuscript
  • And the implementation of great marketing, promotion and publicity is as much creative fun as it was to write your book.

See, the common concept of author marketing and promotion falls under the “same-old-same-old” theory. If all the other authors are pricing their ebooks at $0.99, you do it too. If they’re giving away books, so do you. If twitter authors are posting their book videos, you need a book video so you can post it as well. And if facebook has become a place for authors to show off their marketing strategies to each other (and notice … often this showing off is to other authors and seldom to prospective book buyers), you need to hook up with those authors too because of course, you need to do those strategies too.

Please understand, I don’t think any of these things are bad. The only problem is that now everyone is doing the same thing and to me, it starts to sound like a lot of noise

I have a suggestion. If an author looks carefully into their own manuscript and discovers the unique marketing approaches right where they wrote them, no other author can copy them. What a way to stand out. It’s so hush-hush.

All right, it’s not such a big secret, but have you noticed that very few authors actually look for unique ways to market and promote? It’s not difficult at all but it does take a little time to seriously strategize marketing and promotions that are built for powerful impact. It’s easier to do what everyone else is doing.

May I ask a question? Did you write your book like everyone else does? Did you copy their characters, plots or literary voice? Of course not. So why drop the ball at the most important juncture of your career? Why forget to be creative, original and powerful with your marketing? Your book deserves at least that much.

Standing apart isn’t standing alone, it’s all about SHOUTING YOUR UNIQUE MESSAGE and it’s the most basic of all marketing techniques. Everything that makes you and your book special is inside your manuscript. If there are a thousand mystery authors out there doing free giveaways, low pricing and silly contests, and you are announcing not only a different message but to a different – more targeted - audience, it can only result in book sales. For example …

Let’s say your book takes place on the New England coast. The murder occurs in the late 1800s and the story unfolds when a lovely woman discovers the body of a long-missing sea captain in a lighthouse. You can simply shout out the title of your book to every twitter and facebook listener you can reach. You can post your book cover everywhere and make a book video and tell all your friends and followers. It’s what every other author does and yes, you should do that.

BUT … you can go a lot further. Here are a few ideas.

  • Hold speaking engagements/book signing events in lighthouses
  • Request that lighthouse gift shops all over the east and west coast carry a few copies of your book on their shelves
  • Locate historical lighthouse groups online and join … talk lighthouses and make sure your book is prominently displayed on all your emails
  • Donate a portion of your sales to lighthouse restoration organizations, and ask if they’ll permit you to post your book cover and purchase link on their website or in their newsletter
  • Blog about the things lighthouse lovers might be interested in
  • Become an expert on lighthouses and the era so you can blog or speak on the subject to anyone interested in historic mysteries
  • And finally, remember, there are LOTS of mystery lovers who aren’t members of the mystery readers book clubs you find online. Take a leap and ask nurses groups, gardening groups, needlepoint groups, even antique lovers groups if they’d be interested in having you come speak about your book at one of their meetings. Trust me, these folks are always looking for interesting subject matter to offer their members.

Okay, so there are no lighthouses or dead bodies in your book. If your book has a major event or most scenes taking place in a coffee shop or Italian restaurant or at a truck shop or on a dude ranch, there’s no reason you can’t dig as deep and find between five and ten new target book buyer groups. It’s the road less traveled and there are LOTS of prospective fans on that road.

All of this can be fun, it’s definitely creative, and above all, not crowded with a million other authors trying to get your book buyer’s attention. And the best part … it’s completely unique to the book you wrote.

How’s that for Real Author Success! To help get you started, I’d like to offer you a FREE 10 Tools for Author Success PDF handbook. Just go to and click on the downloadable link.

I’m also offering a free ebook copy of my book, Finding Author Success – the winner will be drawn from those who comment on this blog.

Finding Author Success: Discovering and Uncovering the Marketing Power Within Your Manuscript.  

Even the odds for authors with this one-of-a-kind guide to marketing success! Deborah Riley-Magnus takes tried and true marketing, publicity and promotional strategies and tailors them for the unique needs of today’s author. Every element is outlined and explained for easy implementation. You will learn:

  • How to develop a functional and strong book business plan
  • The power of developing effective, targeted platforms
  • The basics of publicity, marketing and promotion
  • How cross marketing works and why it’s magic for an author
  • How to personalize it all to your book

Finding Author Success will take away the mystery about gaining sales and increasing exposure for your book and you as a professional author.

A portion of “Finding Author Success” sales is donated to the American Literacy Council. The American Literacy Council’s main purpose is to convey information on new solutions, innovative technologies, and tools for engaging more boldly in the battle for literacy.

Deborah Riley-Magnus is an author and an Author Success Coach. She has a twenty-seven year professional background in marketing, advertising and public relations as a writer for print, television and radio. As an Author Success Coach she focuses exclusively on publicity, marketing and promotional solutions for authors.

Deborah produces several pieces weekly for various blogs and websites including her author website and Unruly Guides, and an author industry blog, Deborah Riley-Magnus,Writaholic. She teaches online and live workshops as an Author Success Coach. In January of 2012, she will be launching a new online publication called the Whispers of the Muse Literary Magazine.

A native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, she has lived on both the east and west coast of the United States and has traveled the country widely.

Finding Author Success: Discovering and Uncovering the Marketing Power
Within Your Manuscript

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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Publishing a Poetry Collection

The great America poet Emily Dickinson is known as one of the country’s most unique, and prolific poets. A famous recluse, Dickinson spent countless hours outdoors observing and playing in nature and countless hours inside documenting what she observed in the form of poetry. She wrote hundreds such poems.

But, she was never considered a poet, and in fact her work lay collected in a box for many years after her death until it was discovered and published into a book. Today, an anthology of her work can be found in paperback with a spine that is three inches thick.

Most poetry books, of course, are considerably smaller. But the point is that while poems are meant to be read and understood and appreciated as stand-alone “stories,” they can very successfully be published into book form.

How that is accomplished is matter of the writer and editor’s preferences; however, books of poetry are often published around thematic similarities that run through the individual poems. The themes can be actually embedded in the poems themselves. They can, for example, all address the topic of love, or greed, or the autumn or ocean tides. Or they can share a theme that has to do with how or where they were created- for example, in prison, while waking in the woods, at a seaside bungalow.

Arranging poems around a theme is an art form all its own. Ultimately, when done well, the arrangement of the poems tell a separate (though sometimes related) story all their own. For example within a book of poems on the theme of love, the poems could be arranged chronologically and tell a story of love desired, pursued, won, deteriorated, lost, grieved over, and forgotten.

Poems are meant to be unpacked to reveal the nested story or stories within; this is part of the delight they offer. Collecting poems into a book opens up even greater opportunity to extend a poetic metaphor over the course of several poems.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Writing Exercises for Overcoming Writer's Block

The bad news about writing is that it often comes with creativity blocks. The good news is that because writer’s block is such a common and frustrating experience, people have developed no shortage of ways to address and overcome it.

Some simple creative writing exercises include:

Three Famous People and a Baby: Imagine three famous people stuck in a room, or on a plane, or somewhere they cannot leave. Make the people as different as possible, either by virtue of their places in time, their religious affiliations, and their beliefs. And then put an abandoned infant in the room with them, and write about how they react. Do not worry about figuring out all the ways in which something like this could be possible. The idea is to get your mind to start finding the connections between seemingly disparate subjects.

Hidden Gems: Find the smallest thing you can, and write as much as you can about it. The classic example of this exercise is to write as much as you can about a piece of bubblegum found stuck underneath a seat in a movie theatre.

Reduction Method: This exercise is roughly the opposite of the previous one. It involves taking something or someone that looms very large, and trying to capture as much of their essence as possible with just a couple of words that are as contextually unique as possible (in other words, the word “big” would not be a contextually unique way of describing The Sears Tower in Chicago).

The Barbara Walters: Barbara Walters is famous for her interviews of famous people, and infamous for sometimes asking them the “tree” question (If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be). Choose people you know, make them trees and then craft a story about how they react to deforestation, or a wild fire, or encroaching development.

Some of these ideas might sound a little crazy, but then Animal Farm probably sounded a little odd before it was written.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Discovering Your Writing Ability

There are numerous theories on how to prime the mind so that it is ready to write creatively, and many of them are very effective.

The first of these might seem counterintuitive, but it is effective for many people: do anything but write. Writing is not just about putting words on a page, or crafting a story, it is also about inspiration, and inspiration can come from anywhere. You can be inspired, or gain a new insight, by standing next to a woman in grocery store and watching as she touches every lemon in the bin before she finds the right one. You can find inspiration by simply sitting and watching how your cat observes the world around him. You can find inspiration by walking in the woods.

For those times when you want or need to be sitting in front of the page, there are other creative writing prompts. One is to take a very familiar story, say, the Red Riding-Hood story, and playing with it in a new way.

Another of the many creative writing prompts you can consider is to think about a famous person, a politician for example, and writing a brief story about how he behaves when stuck in an airport, away from his staff and family, during a snow storm without a cell phone.

The emphasis with any exercise that aims to get your mind working creatively is simply to get your mind working, thinking, searching for connections, insights, ironies and the other things that surround us in everyday life and serve as the basis of metaphor and storytelling in our writing.

There are not really any ‘wrong’ ways to go about gaining access to the creative corners of your mind, but there are some ways of thinking about that process that are not always helpful. The mind does not typically work like a machine; meaning it does not always behave in a predictable and compliant fashion. But then, unpredictability is at the core of creativity.

Need help with writing, editing, design, or marketing? thepublishingguru (at)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

How to Get Endorsements for Your Book

Like it or not, we care about what others think about us. And we care about their opinions on other things as well, including the books they read. As someone who is looking to get your work published, it is often very helpful to obtain the endorsements of others. Endorsements have long been a staple of book promotion in the publishing industry.

When getting testimonials for your book, think about the most high profile names you can get who have some relation to the book you have written. For example, former President George W. Bush is pretty high profile, but he’s probably not considered much of an authority on macramé, and if your book is about macramé, his endorsement, while interesting, will not carry as much weight as you might like.

The interesting irony is people are often more willing to help out in this way than you might think. It is worth it to take the time to try. If you have written a novel, make a list of authors who have won major literary awards and write them and ask them to read and comment on your book. You might be surprised. If you have written a non-fiction book, make a list of authors who have been successful in a non-competitive yet related field and do the same.

Once you have some people lined up to read and comment on the book, offer to craft a comment for their approval. While you might be concerned this offer would be misconstrued as attempt to shape their comment, most people will appreciate the effort to save them time. Just make sure you are explicit you understand they are free to say whatever they want about the book.

Also, make sure they are clear you will use their comments in the promotion of your book. Generally, this is understood, but it pays to cover the bases just in case.

Editing - Design - Book Marketing: thepublishingguru (at)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Developing a Writing Style

Image by Rupert Ganzer
When writers are first starting out, they often emulate the style of other authors whose work they admire. But in the course of most writing lives, at some point, a unique style is developed. Sometimes that style evolves over many years of writing, other times it essentially erupts from the writer. But in any case, it happens both by intent, and typically without a lot of conscious prodding by the writers themselves.

Developing your creative writing style is a lot like developing your personal sense of style in fashion; in other words, it should be reflective of who you are and what you intend to project. The specific style choices change over time, as people and artists change, but when they are most successful, they more closely align to the core of the writer.

This does not mean that the style has to be completely different than that of any other writers. It simply means it must ring true for you, the writer. As is the case with fashion, it is ok to experiment, and it is ok to “buy that dress you never wear.” The point is to make sure that what you wear – or write – fits you.

Writing style is expressed in numerous ways. Story topics or themes reveal style, as do types of characters, or particular settings. Genre also contributes to style. But there is also the style that is employed in the actual structure of the story. Some writers prefer to write first person in linear time. Other writers prefer to work with multiple perspectives or voices and move back and forth in time. Humor is another style characteristic that many writers like to work with, whether the humor is in irony with which the story is told, or resident in the nature of the characters within the story.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Dealing with Writer's Block

Photo by Charles Jeffrey Danoff

Nearly every story writer has confronted a block when sitting down to start a story. While daunting, “writer’s block” can be overcome by using a few story starter tips.

First, understand that the block itself doesn’t mean anything. Writers who have the most difficulty overcoming the initial steps in getting a story down often think of the block as being indicative of either a problem with the story idea, or with them as a writer. Neither is the case. Creativity is work, and finding a solution to the block is just the first task in completing that work.

Next, know that there are some practical steps you can take to get the juices flowing. For example, if you have a story idea in mind that deals with a particular character, start out the story by focusing in as narrowly as you possibly can about that character. It could be her hairstyle, clothing, fingernails. The idea is simply to train your attention on something very specific, block out everything else, and write about that one thing. Write as much as you can about it; remember, the point is to get something started.

Another tactic that some writers use is to think about something that is not the story they have in mind, and write about that. They free themselves to write about whatever comes to mind, as opposed to what they are trying to bring to mind, and this allows them to move past the initial inertia of story writing. Every so often, these “throw away” stories actually become part of the original story, and they are often useful as a way to engage the creative mind, so it is rarely wasted time.

There are numbers of story starter tips that have been used successfully by writers for many years. The point of all of them is simply to find the thing that helps you get started. It doesn’t even have to be writing. Some writers are able to sit down and start their stories after listening to music, riding a bike, or walking the dog.

Need help with writing, editing, design, or marketing? thepublishingguru(at)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Writing for Young Adults

The young adult market is a strong one, and it is easier to break into this area of the industry for many writers. Young adult fiction is quite similar to adult fiction, but there are a few things you must remember when creating a story for these readers.

Create a theme for your book. Young adult books typically center on themes applying to every day life. For example, the struggle to fit in, the need for acceptance, and sometimes a way to escape the daily grind of life. Put yourself in your reader's shoes – what were you worried about or interested in when you were a young adult? This is your clue to capturing their mind with a compelling story.

Don't go too deep. If you have selected a difficult subject, it is important to remember the young adult processes information in different ways than an older adult. Your character's motivations should not be overly complex. They need to mirror the age group of your audience and be believable.

Don't talk down to the reader. One of the biggest mistakes an author can make is not giving their reader enough credit. The best young adult books speak to the reader as a peer, not a plebian. Reading should be fun, especially for this age group.

Inspire your readers. The best young adult books make the reader feel good about self. They are able to learn something important, be inspired, or even just get away from the stress of being a young adult for a few hours. Remember this when you are writing your story and you will have a secret to success.

The best way to get a handle on writing for this genre is to read a variety of young adult books. Go to your local library and spend some time in this section. Look at the books other readers are checking out and see what your market is most interested in.

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Monday, August 29, 2011

Writing Your First Book

Writing your first book is one of the most important, creative accomplishments a writer will experience. The entire process from idea to manuscript is a very personal creation. In fact, many writers relate the experience to that of having a child. Your book will take on many different dynamics throughout the process, and so will you as a writer.

It doesn’t matter, what your subject matter is. It doesn’t even matter whether you’re writing fiction or nonfiction. The focus, determination, and creativity involved in writing a book, is an enormous undertaking which should be applauded.

The idea portion of the journey usually comes first. As a writer, you have a fantastic idea for a book. Or you may have a specific story that you want to tell. Either of these is a great place to begin your writing process. It’s not going to be extremely productive worrying about the finished product of your book, before you even start.

Getting started for some, will be the most difficult part. There are two basic ways to begin the preliminary work for your book. Although there are many different approaches, these are some of the most popular. The first of these is done through note taking. You can do this manually or electronically, the choice is up to you.

When you get a wave of inspiration about your book topic, write it down. Don’t let good ideas or specific details about your subject matter simply pass you by. Some of the brilliant nuggets that pop into your head can be of great use when you are putting the whole book together. These are useful when you actually begin to write.

Another preliminary approach to practice before you write is research. Research is important to writing nonfiction, and fiction as well. When you are writing someone’s story, even if it is yours you need the facts. The facts told in your book will be decided by you. But they will need to be specific and flow well as you write. Proper research can help you tell a story through writing in the best possible way.

Research is also quite important to fictional writing, too. For instance, you may be writing about a character visiting a specific location. It doesn’t matter whether this is a city, state, or country. Your reader will want to find details that are very descriptive. Researching the area you’re writing about, can be crucial to adding not only ambiance to a story, but also depth.

Once you’ve culminated notes, ideas, and research you are really ready to write. Some writers prefer to write via their computer. Others like to write by hand and then type later on. This is obviously a matter of individual taste. The important thing is to get started in the process. Most often when writers begin writing, it is very difficult to stop. This is why beginning is important, and not allowing anything to deter you.

Everyone has busy schedules these days. Setting aside time to write daily, or even weekly, can be helpful. This will be a productive way to work and to allow your focus to be only on your book and making progress.

Need a writing coach? thepublishingguru (at)

Monday, August 22, 2011

10 Facebook Tools for Authors

  1. SocialOomph - The upgraded version of SocialOomph allows you to update your Facebook page automatically.  It is best to do the one-week free trial first and see if it will suit your needs before committing.  While it allows you to update your personal page, it does not allow you to update pages that you admin, so if you have a group page for yourself or your new book, you will not be able to automate.

  1. Animoto - People are more likely to look at pictures than status updates.  They’re even more likely to look at videos than pictures.  Animoto lets you upload pictures from your computer or Facebook photo galleries and set them to music from your computer or external hard drive to create professional looking slideshows.  For free, you get thirty seconds and basic backgrounds with their name plastered all over it.  For a subscription fee of $375 per year or a pay-by-the-month plan, you can create unbranded video content with unique URLs and a wide variety of themes with extended video time.

  1. Fan Pages - You can create a fan page for yourself as an author, separate from your personal page, or a page for your book or blog.  This is especially useful if you are trying to promote yourself as a brand or are quickly approaching your maximum number of friends.  If you are approaching your maximum number of friends, post this as a status update or send out a message, inviting everyone to join on your fan page, as you will be reaching your maximum.  You can then begin to delete people who are fans and not friends or people who do not frequently interact with you to make room for more real friends or interactive friends on your personal page.

  1. Groups - Facebook groups allow you to create a group of which you control the size or viewership, something between a personal page and a fan page.

  1. Invitations - Use invitations to invite people to your book signing or an event at which you are speaking.

  1. Profile Linking -  Profile linking is possible for the time-pressed; however, it should be used with caution.  A Twitter update does not translate well to your Facebook friends if it has hashtags and at-mentions; if they wanted to follow you on Twitter, they would.  If you link your Facebook to Twitter, its reach is fairly limited, as you are not taking advantage of at-mentions and hashtags.

  1. The “human” touch - People like to think that they’re really friends with all of their Facebook friends.  If you have always posted on a purely professional level, you don’t feel like much of a friend.  Go ahead, post some pictures of your kids being silly, comment on the latest episode of Burn Notice, comment on the shockingly bad fashion faux pas at the DMV, be funny, be clever… let your personality shine through at least 25% of the time.  And don’t be afraid to show off.  People on Facebook are your friends; they’re happy for you when you achieve something new, whether you’ve successfully been a vegan for a month or just had a baby.  It’s just not that serious all the time.  If they wanted your “professional” image, they could follow you on Twitter or just go to your website.

  1. Photo Galleries -  See number seven.  People want you to be personal, know what you look like, and about your life.  Instead of just posting your book jacket picture or a picture of your book, post pictures of you holding your book, at a book signing, and even some fun pictures.  Sometimes self-promoting is just that.  Having people to like you as you makes them more interested in you as an author.

  1. Being a good Facebook friend - Facebook is still a personal place.  Unlike Twitter, people usually like to keep Facebook to people that they know or who contribute positively to their Facebook experience.  Many people will “purge” Facebook friends who they never hear from.  People want you to “like” their quotes, tell them how great their dresses are, congratulate them for getting into a toe stand in their yoga classes, commiserate about the weather in Minnesota, and tell them how adorable their children and Pomeranian are.  It might not seem like it matters, but the more you interact with people and the more that you contribute positively and compliment them, the more they will interact on your page.  It is very reciprocal.  Don’t expect people to interact with you if you don’t interact with them.  If you want them to “like” the release of your new book, comment on what you are doing, or look at your blog posts, you need to look at what they’re doing.  There is no “I” in Facebook.  If you have noticed the same people in your status feed, try clicking “Most Recent” to see all of the people you haven’t heard from recently and get new people interacting with you.

  1. A social media professional - Facebook takes time, patience, and energy.  That’s why modern marketing made the social media professional. (Me!)
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Monday, August 15, 2011

How Does a Book Tour Work?

A book tour actually involves various book publicity events scheduled for an author. These events may include book signings, conferences, and interviews with media. They can be local, statewide, national, or international. All of this depends upon the travel budget available to the author.

The purpose of a book tour is very diverse. On one hand it is focused on selling books. On the other hand this type of tour publicizes the author. Overall book tours are all about marketing and advertising.

Having a publicist’s involvement can be helpful with a book tour.

When an author has a publicist assist with arranging a book tour, things are much simpler. The publicist sets up book signing events, media connections, and company appearances. The book signings are typically through major bookstore chains or independent stores. These are opportunities for an author to be seen by the public. They are also lucrative avenues to sell books.

There are publicists who work to make media connections for authors. This may materialize in the form of a television interview or a radio interview. These most often are local outlets used to notify the community the author is in about the book release. This is one of the big ways authors stir up publicity for their work.

Every publicist has their own connections. Because of this, authors are able to travel quite a bit to advertise their work. Regarding the travel budget, the expense would fall to the author. If this is not possible, the book tour would be severely limited.

Publishers that pay authors advances often expect the author to use these funds to promote the book. They expect the advance to be used for travel and book tours. I personally have a problem with this. If you are going to pay for the marketing, why do you need a traditional publisher?

Authors without a specific budget or assistance will have to establish their own tours.

These tours will be limited to local venues and events. These tours also must be arranged by the author directly, instead of by the publicist. Although these are limited, they still can be quite successful. This is especially true when the author lives in or near a major metropolitan area. There are many local bookstores and conferences to attend. Using these locations can be productive ways to market your book.

Taking advantage of specific local and statewide events can be strategic marketing.

Every city and state has some events that take place annually. Many of these events are perfect venues for book marketing. Authors should make a point of participating in as many of these as possible. Some may require small fees to participate, but it will be worthwhile to gain publicity for your work. Small events can be quite productive when it comes to book sales. Authors usually have to supply their own copies in these instances.

If you need assistance with marketing your book, call us for a free consultation. We will help you market your book even if you published it with someone else’s assistance.

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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Developing a Fictional Character

Writers who prefer working in fiction often struggle with character development. The process itself can sound quite easy. But, in reality it takes a lot of work and consideration. It doesn’t matter which genre of fiction writing you’re doing. Developing quality characters who are memorable can be difficult.

Research and background work are crucial elements to developing fictional characters. Before you embark on either of these elements you will need to decide on the right form of fiction. For instance, you will need to determine if your story is a romance, or is it suspense. This is important information to begin with. Not only will it help to classify your book later on, but it will also assist you as you’re structuring your story line.

Once you have decided on a type of fiction, then you can proceed to work on your characters. Every author has a format to this process. Some choose their characters for specific reasons, or to represent real life people. No matter which of these is the case, working on good character development is paramount in fiction. The characters are, in essence, the instruments you will use to allow your book to take on personality.

Beginning this process with your story idea is a common way to develop fictional characters. If your idea involves an occurrence, even an actual one, using this will help you form characters. Authors often use events or relationships to provide the people in their novels. Names are typically changed as a part of the creative process, but the story can be representative of something which really took place.

This type of fictional character development is often easier than other processes. It can require nothing more than coming up with names for your characters. Other writers develop characters by first choosing a specific setting. These characters will be central to this locale. They are individuals who can be simply developed because of their origin.

An example of this would be if the characters are from the South. Depending on the city or state, you will be able to incorporate their surroundings into the characters. Your characters will not only tell your story, but answer questions about life in that place. Accents and customs of locations can really add a lot of depth to the overall story.

Many authors choose their characters because of preliminary research they have done. This is a scenario where the author has researched his or her idea. They have chosen a location and researched it, as well. Taking all of this information, the author then is able to develop the characters in their book.

Most authors will confess that a lot of their inspiration for fictional character development comes from real-life experiences. They take bits and pieces of people they’ve met and places they’ve visited, to assist in the process. Using this type of inspiration often results in some of the greatest fictional characters, because they are simpler to envision. These characters are also easy to write about.

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Wednesday, August 3, 2011

10 Tools for the Author on Twitter

Photo by Stitch

  1. SocialOomph: There are not enough wonderful things to say about SocialOomph.  If you are managing multiple pages like a personal page, an author page, and a page for each of your novels, SocialOomph allows you to manage several accounts from one place.  It also helps you to remember to tweet, as you should tweet at least once a day to remind people that you are out there.  If you simply can’t remember to do so, you can set all of your tweets for the week or the month in one sitting, setting specific times and dates at which they will be posted to your account.

  1. Automated DM: Social Oomph is a free service; however, for a small fee, you can set an automated Direct Message to be sent to any new followers, thanking them for following you, inviting them to join you on Facebook, or directing them to your website.

  1. TwitLonger: You just can’t say it all in 140 characters?  Use TwitLonger, which allows you to post a long tweet; however, don’t allow yourself to get lazy and overuse it.  Make sure that the first words are compelling enough for people to click the link and read the full tweet, or its effectiveness is lost.

  1. Qwitter: Qwitter allows you to find out who has “unfollowed” you on Twitter.  It is important to maintain a strong base of followers, so this may help you to evaluate the effectiveness or relevance of your tweets and re-strategize your Twitter presence.

  1. @Mentions: Hitch your wagon to a star.  Whether they are a real celebrity, or just a Twitter celebrity, finding someone with a huge Twitter following, someone considered an authority in the literary world, or someone who is just plain famous and mentioning them on Twitter can be effective.  Don’t expect results, but it does happen once in awhile.  Scan through their Twitter feeds and see who is good about responding to or re-tweeting their fans.  Or find someone popular but not so popular that it is impossible for them to respond to everything that they receive.  Ex: Kim Kardashian is not likely to re-tweet you or respond, but Camille Grammer stays very on top of her Twitter mentions.  If you get re-tweeted or mentioned by someone with 10,000 or 100,000 followers, chances are, someone out of all of those people will follow you back.

  1. Account Linking: You can link your Twitter account to automatically update your Facebook and vice versa; however, you should use caution in doing so.  A status update with hashtags and at-mentions is likely to annoy your Facebook friends and a Facebook status update will not do much to expand your reach on Twitter, as it is free of hashtags and at at-mentions.

  1. The Twitter Updater: When you make changes to your blog, The Twitter Updater will automatically publish your Twitter account.

  1. Twilert: Sends you an e-mail alert whenever someone tweets about your name, product, book, or a particular keyword.

  1. Humor, Creativity, and Common Sense Tweeting something funny, clever, or eye-catching is a lot more likely to increase your re-tweeted tweets and get people to follow you, click your links, etc.  Don’t forget, people can use applications like Muuter to technically follow you but not actually have to hear from you, so make sure that you are a valuable part of their social media experience.

  1. A social media professional. Twitter can be fun, rewarding, and a great tool to build your presence and customer base; however, it can also be confusing, time-consuming, and frustrating.  If you just don’t have the time or the skills, find a social media professional, Twitter jockey, or internet marketing company to take the guesswork out of Twitter.

Need help with writing, editing, publishing, or book marketing? thepublishingguru (at)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

How Authors Can Get More than 500 Friends in 30 Days

If you don’t have friends added to your friends list, being a part of a social networking site is rather pointless. On Facebook, you can be average or you can be a superstar. Obviously, since you are using Facebook for promoting yourself as an author, you want to be a superstar. You can achieve that status in as little as 30 days, but it does take a time commitment on your part.

First you should note that if you have fewer than 200 friends on Facebook, this isn’t a bad thing. In fact, it’s an average thing. However, you want superstar status. So, this won’t do for you.

Once you have 500 friends, you are considered popular. People will gravitate to you. When you have between 800 and 1000 friends, you’re essentially a Facebook celebrity. Eventually, that’s what you should be working toward. For now, let’s concentrate on becoming popular, with 500 friends.

Do not use automated software that adds friends to your Facebook friends list. This defeats the purpose of social networking. Instead, do it the ‘hard way’. You will come to realize that the hard way really isn’t hard at all.

The first thing to do is to join all of the groups that you can find related to your subject or genre. There are plenty of them out there. Each time you join a group, send a friend request to all members of that group.

Not all members will accept the request, but the majority of them will. This can be a little time consuming, but it is well worth the effort in the end. This should easily net you 200 to 300 friends. Try to add no more than 20 new friends each day, for the full 30 days. Anymore than this might raise spammer flags with Facebook.

Once you’ve exhausted the groups, find other groups that are related to your subject or genre. For example, if you are in a mystery novel group, find mystery game groups, and start adding members as friends.

Use your existing website to get more friends, as well as your blog. Post your Facebook badge on your website and blog. Make a blog post and invite your readers to add you as a friend on Facebook. If you twitter, tell your followers to add you on Facebook. If you have a mailing list, send out a note and invite them to join you on Facebook.

Again, it does take a concentrated effort on your part, but it is well worth it in the end, and if you are dedicated, you absolutely will have more than 500 friends in less than 30 days, and if you want that superstar celebrity status at Facebook, you can continue to add new friends for an additional 30 days to reach that goal.

Need help with writing, publishing, or book marketing? thepublishingguru (at)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

How to Break Your Book into Chapters

The act of telling a story, though initiated and performed by the story teller, is actually a collaborative act between the teller of the story and the audience. The implications of the collaborative nature of storytelling is seen in many ways, and one of them is in the way story content is broken up into chapters.

For starters, the human attention span does have limits, and so chapter breaks are handy ways to allow the reader to pause if he wants to step away from the story with a temporary sense of completion. While it might seem inconsequential, it is actually vitally important for maintaining reader interest over the long haul of a novel. So there is a practical element to having chapter breaks.

How you organize the elements of the story into those breaks is actually a creative decision. Some stories are told with chapter breaks every couple of pages (or even more frequently). This constantly repeating use of breaks actually contributes (or detracts if mishandled) from the overarching story or message of the book itself. Frequent chapter breaks can connote a sense of panic, or lack of attention, or any number of things.

Conversely, long chapters with infrequent breaks can connote a sense of slowness or preference for the methodical, and this will be successful if it makes sense within the context of the story being told.

Many times, chapter breaks occur naturally around known life events, such as the end of a wedding party, or at a graveyard after the casket is lowered, or in the hospital after a baby is handed to her mother. Other times chapter breaks are intentionally inserted in the middle of the action, and lead to other chapters that are picking up after an abrupt ending.

Again, breaking your content into chapters should be done on the basis of alignment with the overall tone of the story and used as a pacing mechanism.

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