Book Your Research

[found on dailyfinance.com; by J.T. Ellison]

“If you’re planning to embark on a career as a writer, there’s something you need to know: When it comes to research, you’ll be paying your own way. Authors are faced with many economic challenges, but one of the hardest is that they often have to use their own cash to get the wheels spinning.

  • Go to the library: This is an obvious solution, but one that we sometimes overlook, especially since we can go online and find the answers we need. But a good library, and librarian, can help you find little details you would have missed otherwise. I like to read old newspapers to get a sense of what’s happening in my character’s past, and microfiche is the best way to do that. Plus, libraries often have experts in for talks.
  • Meet your fellow writers: Almost every professional writer’s association has an online listserve full of scribes who are experts in their own fields. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve reached out to a doctor, a lawyer, a weapons expert or former police officer through these groups. And almost all the organizations accept associate members. International Thriller Writers, Romance Writers of America, Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime are all excellent groups that even have “writer’s universities,” in which they offer classes on writing and various research methods. Best of all, you get to rub elbows with your favorite writers!
  • Go online. . .but be careful: You can find out anything online, but be sure you double- and triple-source your information. Just because it’s on Wikipedia doesn’t mean it’s accurate. When I started doing research on Scotland, the first thing I did was add Scotland’s major newspapers to my RSS feeds. It allowed me a snapshot of the country, and the political undercurrents soon made their way into my story. You can become an expert pretty quickly by putting in the effort.
  • Go back to school: Through a writer’s organization or your own diligence, you can find tons of online classes that are relatively inexpensive and will give you a fuller understanding of your topic. From writing to guns to romance, anything and everything is offered.
  • Talk to the experts: Regardless of what you’re writing about, there’s nothing better than finding someone who’s lived it. Weapons experts, cops, FBI agents, SWAT team members, doctors and lawyers all have one thing in common: They want you to get it right. Just don’t forget to say thank you in the acknowledgments.
  • Reach out to readers: Blogs are a great way to get information, with the caveat that you need to double-source, just like with Wikipedia and Google. Most blogs are subjective, so you can’t use them as gospel. While you’re getting to know private experts, don’t forget to talk to people at your local bookstore. Most folks who work in bookstores do so because they love to read. Which means they’ll be a font of information for you to mine. Check your local independent bookstores as well as the chains to find people who are fascinated by your topic and can point you to the best books to use for research.
  • Explore local resources: There are innumerable ways to do research in person in your city. Big and small towns have access to the FBI Citizens’ Academy, your local Citizens’ Police Academy and multitudes of other offerings. Don’t forget to attend author signings as well — your favorite author might have a tip or two for you to find the perfect research tool.
  • Meet some strangers. . .and some old friends: Even though many groups have moved online, there are still plenty who meet and mingle in person. The members tell stories. Lots of stories. They have professional speakers. They have archives. And they want to share this information with you. For that matter, don’t discount the ones around you when you’re looking to do research. I always check with my parents when I have a question. Send up a flare within your intimate circle, and see who knows what. This is especially good for places, because if you’re anything like me, your friends and family live or have traveled all over the world.”

To read more tips from DailyFinance, click here.

[found on http://www.dailyfinance.com/2011/01/17/eight-ways-to-do-book-research-without-breaking-the-bank]

Schedule…or Never Make It

[found on authormedia.com]

“How to Make a Writing Schedule That Works For You

Pull out one of those giant calendars from Office Depot (or use a Google Calendar to sync with your smartphone). Start putting your deadlines in red on the calendar and then place the calendar somewhere next to your writing zone. Consider these deadlines sacred; the world will stop if you don’t make them.

If you don’t have a deadline, get one. Writers wither without deadlines….

Once all the deadlines are on the calendar page, see if there are any recurring themes within the articles. If there are, consider making that your theme for the month. This will not work in every scenario, but if a theme appears, take advantage of it. Think of it as the foundation of the platform you are developing that month.

Creating an editorial calendar may take a few hours, but it will save you time in the end.”

For more great tips on writing from AuthorMedia, click HERE.

[found on http://www.authormedia.com/how-to-creat-a-writing-schedule-that-works-for-you]

Colloquialism, Euphemism, and Slang-lish—Oh my!!!

There are many different ways to write. You write to inform, or entertain. You write to display, or narrate. You write to tell a story, or to remove doubt. You write. You are the writer. The real question is—do you want to have readers? If a writer pens a word in a forest of paper, yet no one reads it—does it make an impact?
 
The pen is yours to rule upon your written words, or for us tech-gens, the keystrokes are your story’s destiny. Dumbing down your writing, does not a reader bring. As writers, what should we be on guard against when it comes to the trifecta of unfortunate authoring? Colloquialisms. Euphemisms. Slang. There is a place for them, but knowing when and where will be the difference between knowing victory and defeat.
 

What is a colloquialism?

  • Words or phrases that are not literary or  formal
  • Words or phrases that are from everyday language
    • Off the hook
    • Totally hot
    • Ripped my heart out
    • Tickled me to death

What is a euphemism?

  • Words or phrases that are chosen for their ability to make a harsh concept, milder
    • Pass away (instead of to die)
    • Turn a trick (instead of prostitution)
    • Fall off the wagon (instead of using/drinking again)
    • On the streets (instead of homeless)
    • Take out the trash (instead of murder)

What is slang?

  • Words or phrases that are more commonly used in speech, rather than in writing
  • Words or phrases that are considered very informal
    • Supersize
    • Frenemy
    • Bromance
    • Ride (referring to a vehicle)
    • My bad
When we write, and we desire to use any of the trifecta, there are a few questions that must be answered.
  • Does the colloquialism, euphemism, or slang make the writing stronger or weaker?
  • Is the wording chosen, unique to a small portion of the world, or country?
    • An example of this, is in the amazingly successful series, Harry Potter, by J.K. Rowling. Her wording was understood implicitly by her audience in Britain, but when her audience in America read that Snape had done a bunk—we had to figure out the meaning by either taking in the surrounding information, and assume we had the answer, or we jumped on Google, and figured out it meant to escape, or flee.
  • How much effort are you wanting your reader to go through, in order to read your writing?
    • A pillow is nice and soft, and has its place to elicit relaxation, but a dump truck dropping three thousand pillows on you—not exactly the same result.
    • Words or phrases placed appropriately, will engage your readers.
    • Words or phrases overused, or a story under-told because of the fluffy fillers, has a negative, and potentially lasting reaction to your readers.

“Three types of commonly used casual language include slang, colloquialisms, and euphemisms. Slang is an informal nonstandard vocabulary, usually made up of arbitrarily changed words. A colloquialism is a local or regional informal dialect or expression. A euphemism substitutes an agreeable or inoffensive expression for one that may offend or suggest something unpleasant. When our language is too casual, audiences might not be able to follow the main ideas of the speech, or they become confused or uncomfortable.”
(Cindy L. Griffin, Invitation to Public Speaking, 3rd ed. Wadsworth, Cengage, 2009) [found on grammar.about.com]

“If you use a colloquialism or a slang word or phrase, simply use it; do not draw attention to it by enclosing it in quotation marks. To do so is to put on airs, as though you were inviting the reader to join you in a select society of those who know better.”(William Strunk, Jr., and E.B. White, The Elements of Style, 4th ed. Longman, 1999) [found on grammar.about.com]

 

How best to save your writing

We have all been in the place where we realize we didn’t save. In today’s day of technology, it’s more difficult—but it can still happen. So how do you become the King or Queen of Backups and save your writing? Also, how do you protect your writing?

Here’s how: vigilantly save. Save online, save on drives, save in email, save…save…SAVE.

SAVE AS YOU WORK:

  • COMPUTER
    • Shortcut for a quick-save: press CNTRL+S (at the same time)
      • Practice a quick-save every few minutes, it will become natural, and you are less likely to lose information.
  • EMAIL
    • Send your work to yourself via email
      • As an attachment
      • In the body of the text
    • This not only saves your work, but automatically gives yourself copyright protection for the future (referred to as the poor man’s copyright)

BACKUP YOUR WORK:

EXTERNAL DRIVES:

ONLINE BACKUP:

    • THE CLOUD
      • Depending on your computer and/or smart phone choice, there is a version of the Cloud for both
    • DROPBOX
      • Allows you to create file folders, and save your files
      • These files are then accessible to you anywhere, from any computer
      • 5 GB is free, and you can pay for larger amounts of storage
      • Ability to share with anyone  you want!
    • APPS
      • Apps for sharing from smart phones to computers
    • GOOGLE+
    • BLOGS
      • If you have sensitive writing, you can create a blog that is not public, and have all of your writing not only saved, but also unsearchable by Search Engines.

Social Media How To for Writers/Authors

[found on pbs.org/mediashift]

“Wrap your mind around this: One of the most important factors that traditional publishers use to decide whether to acquire a book is the marketing platform of its author. You’d think that the main reason for approaching a traditional publisher is to reap the benefits of the publisher’s marketing, and you wouldn’t have to bring your own.

Life is full of mysteries, and whether you’re working with a traditional publisher or you are an artisanal publisher (a.k.a., “self-publisher”), the potency of your marketing platform can determine your success.

There is no scenario under which thousands of social-media followers is not a good thing, so here are 10 social-media tips for authors of any kind.

1. START YESTERDAY

You must make progress along two fronts at the same time: writing your book and building your marketing platform. You cannot wait until you’re done writing, because a platform takes nine months to a year to build. Ideally, you started building your platform before you even began to write your book.

2. SEGMENT THE SERVICES

There are five social-media services to choose from. You need not use them all, but each serves a different purpose. I call this the five Ps of social media: Facebook is for people — people who you went to high school or college with and your family. Twitter is for perceptions — perceptions such as “I feel an earthquake and I’m in Chile.” Google+ is for passions — passions such as photography that you cannot share with your Facebook people. Pinterest is for pinning — pinning pictures with little interaction. LinkedIn is for pimping — as in making business connections or finding a job. You can use each of these to build a platform, but your relationships on them are apt to differ.

i-1583ce05bfe80ac17f7d7c7e14df0b3a-PegProfile-thumb-350x270-6207.jpg

3. MAKE A GREAT PROFILE

Your profile page is an ad. Its purpose is to convince people to circle, follow, subscribe, or like you. It should communicate that you are a likeable, trustworthy, and competent person. Two details: First, ensure that your profile has a high-quality picture of your face (and only your face, not your spouse, dog, kids, and car). Second, use the text areas to simply and humbly describe who you are and tell your personal story. For example, Peggy Fitzpatrick has a great Google+ profile. (See image above.)

4. CURATE, DON’T CREATE

It’s hard enough to write a book, much less create content for social-media sites at the same time. So give yourself a break and focus on curating the content of others while you are writing. Link to articles, pictures, and videos that are relevant to your genre in order to establish your expertise. Power tip: Go to Alltop.com, a site I co-founded, to find content on more than 1,000 topics. For example, the followers of a science-fiction writer would find “How to Deflect Killer Asteroids With Spray Paint“ interesting (found via Science.Alltop.com).

5. ACT LIKE NPR

NPR provides great content 365 days a year. A few days a year it runs pledge drives. No one I know likes the pledge drives, but we tolerate them — and some of us even give money. Why? Because NPR has earned the right to promote its pledge drives by providing such great content. This is a good model for authors too: Provide such great content that you can promote your book when it’s done. If you do this very well, people may want to reciprocate for the value you’ve added to their lives by buying your book. So just imagine you are the producer of “Fresh Air” or “All Things Considered” and look for interesting content.

6. RESTRAIN YOURSELF

NPR provides another excellent example for book marketing: It doesn’t run pledge drives very often. Less than 10 percent of your social-media posts should promote your book or other commercial endeavors. It’s OK to pour it on when your book launches, but back off on the promotion after the first four weeks and do educational things like free webinars and Hangouts on Air. You need to make a transition from salesman to teacher.

i-02360ef8915924a62ff344f12c73a685-EyeCandy-thumb-300x351-6209.jpg

7. CANDY-FY

Social-media sites are busy places, so people don’t notice all-text posts or posts with small pictures. Every post should include a picture that’s at least 400 to 500 pixels wide or an embedded video from YouTube or Vimeo. Eye candy counts in the constant contest for attention — if you’re old enough to remember, it’s like the difference between a Yellow Pages ad and a Yellow Pages listing. Check my posts on Google+ to see what I mean. (See image at right.)

8. RESPOND

Social media is a conversation, not a one-way broadcast. Every time you share a post, respond to the comments that it generates. (If it generates no comments, you’re doing something wrong.) A big mistake that most authors make is that they think they are delivering a sermon when a conversation is what’s appropriate.

9. STAY POSITIVE OR STAY SILENT

Even if the topic is an issue that perturbs the core of your soul such as gun control, women’s rights, or ObamaCare, don’t show anger. On a practical level, if you only want to sell books to people who agree with your sensibilities, you should prepare for a life of poverty. If people attack you, ignore them. If they attack you twice, block them from seeing your posts. And don’t look back.

10. REPEAT

Social-media “experts” disagree with me on this, but I’m telling you it works: Repeat your posts. I repeat my tweets four times every eight hours — you don’t get 1,240,000 Twitter followers by not taking risks. This is pushing the edge, but the assumption that everyone who is interested in your posts will see it the first time is naïve. CNN doesn’t run a story once and hope that everyone has seen it or recorded it to see later. At least try sharing a post when your audience is awake, then 12 hours later, and see what happens.

One last tip: Do, don’t plan. Social-media experts will tell you that the first step is to develop a plan that includes highfalutin elements such as goals, strategies, and tactics. Let me simplify the process of building a platform. The goal is to get 5,000 followers by the time your book comes out. End. Of. Discussion. There is little “right” and “wrong” in social media — even what I say here! There is only what works for you and what doesn’t, so jump in and get going. You’ll figure it out along the way.

Guy Kawasaki has 3,821,000 million Google+ followers, 286,000 Facebook subscribers, and 1,240,000 Twitter followers. He is the co-author of APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur-How to Publish a Book, which explains self-publishing, and has written eleven other books, including the New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller Enchantment. Previously, he was the chief evangelist of Apple. Kawasaki has a BA from Stanford University, an MBA from UCLA, and an honorary doctorate from Babson College.”

[found on http://www.pbs.org/mediashift/2013/02/guy-kawasakis-10-social-media-tips-for-authors045]