As A Writer in Today’s World, What Do You Need?

I was tooling through some of our older posts here at Writers Helping Writers, and I found a  “how are we doing?” one from The Bookshelf Muse era. This is where we would do a check in with you guys and make sure we’re not totally screwing this whole blogging thing up.  🙂

Seeing it reminded me that it’s been a long time since I checked in, so that’s what I’m doing today. But this time, I’m not just asking how we’re doing, and if we’re meeting your needs, but also asking…

What Do You Need?

Strategy

Being a writer is so much more than pounding out a book, isn’t it?

As writers, we need a lot of things to succeed…support. Time to write.  Knowledge, gosh…SO MUCH knowledge. Oceans of it, about everything–writing, marketing, publishing and so much more.

(And hey, a bit of luck would be nice too.)

Unfortunately with Becca and I being on this side of the computer, and you guys on that side, we can’t come do that pile of laundry that’s eating the top of your washing machine, or watch your kids so you can write (and frankly, I don’t know that you want me looking after your kids, mwah-ha-ha), but…we do have ears. We’re listening.

And while Becca and I have still so much to learn, in the last few years, we’ve also acquired some potentially useful experience. Maybe some of it can help you.

  • We’ve written and self-published five books that have gone on to sell nearly 200,000 copies combined (English only). Now we didn’t do this through ads, or by using Kindle Unlimited, or offering free downloads or using services like BookBub, so we don’t have experience with those things. But, we’re happy to talk about what we did do, and what worked/what didn’t.
  • We’ve negotiated foreign right deals via agents and sub agents for all our books, print and digital, so we understand that process. And we can share what we looked for in a foreign rights agent, and what a typical FR deal might look like.
  • Knowing exactly zero about blogging, we started a blog. It’s now past 4 million hits, believe it or not (and thanks for that, cause that’s all you!) So our trial-by-fire knowledge is yours for the taking.
WHW_400

Writers Helping Writers™ is who we are, so why not make it official?

  • We’ve started several businesses in this time, and so have worked with lawyers to hammer out operation agreements and set up banking and accounting for each. We’ve re-branded ourselves and then trademarked that brand. We’ve created non-book products and copyrighted those products.
  • We’ve dealt with copyright infringement and had books removed from Amazon as a result. And, one thing that comes with having an original idea as we did is the rise of fast followers (copycats). Struggling to stay ahead of those is very hard, but part of the business. I know this stuff  isn’t the sexy side of writing, but it is necessary to understand it if you want this as a career. Becca and I also have the added challenge of being co-authors in different countries. We’re happy to shed light on any part of the business end of being an author.
business plan 2016

This is our life now, LOL

  • To help with the last point, we learned how to create and follow a business plan to help us prioritize better and and manage our time, without which we would never be able to manage all the spinning plates. Becca and I have only met twice in real life, so learning how to work with someone remotely, divvy up work and respect one’s another’s expertise really plays into what we do. And now of course we have One Stop For Writers and another partner, Lee Powell, which means more teamwork and honing that skill set.
  • We’ve had to figure out how to market ourselves in a world that hates promotion, and use social media the right way (when like most writers, we didn’t quite get social media at first!) But, we’ve discovered how to do it and stay true to who we are, building relationships and creating a true community spirit among our readers.
Logo-OneStop-For-Writers-medium

The effort that went into this logo…holy cow. We learned that so many of the things that seem like they aren’t a lot of work…are.

  • Speaking of Lee, Becca and I can also add web-based software to the list of strange things we now have experience in. Building and then running a site is no easy task and has a learning curve, but again, happy to talk about this if branching away from books is something you guys are considering for yourself.  One Stop also made it necessary for me to start an online platform from scratch, and so I’ve learned a lot about social media all over again as someone “new” to it, as One Stop is only 5 months old.

yes no

  • Assessing opportunities is another thing Becca and I have gotten better at, simply because as you network and your career grows, more opportunities come your way. And like publishing contracts, or visibility opportunities, some of what comes may be great, but other things are not.  Sometimes an opportunity will come along that is completely off-beat, taking your in a different direction, and so you really have to decide if the time and energy it will take is worth deviating from your current plan. There’s only one of you, and so you have to make good decisions about where your time goes.  Learning how to sort good opportunities from flat ones is a necessary skill set for all authors.

Well, that’s pretty much a snapshot of our last four years. 🙂  Becca and I are still learning so much each day, and we’re stretching ourselves daily to do better. To reach the next step. And like anyone, as we grow, we pick up tidbits of knowledge. So if something we have dealt with is something can now help you, let us know!

Being a writer means taking steps, one after the other, to get closer to our goals. Can we help you get to the next one?

Feel free to use the comments to tell us what is on your mind, what is weighing you down, what you are struggling with. Tell us what is making you feel like you can’t get ahead. And then please, tell us what you need. We’re by no means experts, but if we can, we’ll try to help. We know a lot of good places to go for information, and can maybe point you in the right direction for certain things.

And while we’re at it, let us know what you’d like to see blogged about. Or what new Thesaurus Collections you’d like us to explore, or even what book you would like to see us write next. We’re always interested in your ideas!

 

Image 1: Public Domain Pictures @ Pixabay
Image 5: Peggy_Marco @ Pixabay

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About ANGELA ACKERMAN

Angela is an international speaker and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also enjoys dreaming up new tools and resources for One Stop For Writers, a library built to help writers elevate their storytelling.

This entry was posted in About Us, Agents, Blogging Tip, Business Plan, Emotion Thesaurus Guide, Focus, Foreign Rights, Marketing, One Stop For Writers, Platform, Positive & Negative Thesaurus Guides, Promotion, Publishing and Self Publishing, Sales Numbers & Helpful Data, Social Networking, The Business of Writing, Time Management, Uncategorized, Websites. Bookmark the permalink.

35 Responses to As A Writer in Today’s World, What Do You Need?

  1. Aimee says:

    I would love to see a similie thesaurus that includes related objects for adjectives. Not sure what you’d call it. For example, a search for the word ‘heavy’ would bring up things like, boulders, bricks, etc.

    • I have something like this, but it isn’t quite ready–working on it though!

    • Karen says:

      I love this idea, Aimee! I can’t wait for it, Angela! 🙂 I received my first thesaurus (emotion) over a month ago. I’ve used it like crazy, working on edits for “my publisher.” Yep! I got one of those a few weeks ago FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER! Yippee! 🙂 A simile thesaurus would be invaluable. I’ll be second in line after you, Aimee! Looking forward to it, Angela!

  2. patty ostrem says:

    You overwhelm me with comfort in each email. Your books (paperback) adorn my reading table.

    I’m unpublished, working on first (adult) novel. Won two prestigious contests (Children’s and magazine article). Cash prizes.

    My head is in a dither wondering how to create a Social Media sites that rock. How can I start a blog without any published works? I’ve heard continually that 50% of my time should be spent gathering fans. I’m way too introverted to self-promote? Please advise how this is possible and where to get the best info.

    Thanks for your awesome help.

    Patty

    • Hi, Patty. I read somewhere that on the Briggs-Meyers personality scale, writers and promoters are on opposite ends of the spectrum, so it’s no wonder that marketing kind of goes against the grain for writers (Angela being the exception, since she ROCKS at the marketing stuff).

      One thing I would say is that you do need to spend a fair amount of time building a fan base. But Angela and I have found that the hard-core BUY MY BOOK! form of marketing doesn’t work. Instead, we focus on reaching out to people, making friends, supporting them, and promoting their work. This sounds disingenuous, but if you’re genuine in approaching others and truly are willing and excited to promote them, you not only end up with people promoting your work, you end up with new friends, too.

      I would say that first you need to figure out what kind of social networking you’re going to do. The most important thing is the find the networks that you do like using, the ones that don’t feel like work. I like Facebook. Other people are great on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, and other sites. Figure out which ones will work best for you, then use them to begin building a fan base.

      Kristen Lamb is kind of a guru when it comes to social networking in the current age. I’d recommend her book, We Are Not Alone—The Writer’s Guide to Social Media. In it, she goes through the best approach to winning fans through genuine personal contact rather than in-your-face marketing techniques. Like you, I’m an extreme introvert, so this method makes marketing much more doable and less overwhelming. I hope this helps!

      • Patty Ostrem says:

        Hi Becca,

        Thanks for your encouraging reply regarding Social Media. Please forgive my delayed appreciation. No wordy explanations!

        In the 1990s, I did sales and marketing for a college English professor who held writing training seminars for C-Level managers. Loved the seminars; not the marketing.

        Influenced by a bouncing-off-the-wall-extrovert older sister who coddled me as a child, I learned to be chatty in social settings. Some individuals mistake me for an Extrovert, maybe Ambivert; but inside I’m an Introvert. My husband marvels that I am content staying inside the home for up to seven days in the winter without caring to drive somewhere. I’d rather write! Employers have commented on my “lost in a word world” projects.

        After pondering your comments, I feel Twitter will be my specialty once I’ve mastered the “craft” of helpful presentations instead of babbling philosophies.

        My heartthrob is encouraging others, so promoting people has been a common thread throughout life. Since I’m already known for “being an Encourager,” it is easy. Just don’t want to be accused of complimenting others for personal gain.

        I will definitely order Kristen Lamb’s book. The goal is to adjust to current marketing. Must get comfortable presenting myself. My friends and family know I
        1. Don’t like surprises,
        2. Don’t like people looking at me (even for positive appreciation, and
        3. Detest spending time shopping.

        I’ll adjust to the “looking at me” part.

        Blessings to you for rescuing writers!

    • Karen says:

      Hi, Patty: I struggled with that very thing (but that doesn’t make me special! 🙂 Most of us do!) After sending out a round of queries, an agent emailed me, liked my premise but not my lack of platform. She said, “Don’t tell me you’re going to start a website. Start your website now.” I did…the next day…and knew NOTHING. And how do I create an effective website when I have nothing publishing yet? I decided to start a blog instead…but I didn’t focus it on writing. Instead, I thought about my audience. I write women’s fiction, so I decided to target my audience and build relationships through our common life experiences…being wives and moms. My blog is The MOM Journey…and Confessions Along the Way. It is four months old. I have almost 300 followers, and each post averages about 1,000 views (thanks to me sharing–and my followers sharing–posts on Facebook). So when I got to announce on my post last week that I have a book deal (which I have never mentioned on my blog), my followers went kinda crazy! <3 That post got over 1,400 views in one day! I also announced my new author website that day (yes, I have one of those now). My website has had almost 1,000 views in the first five days, and I have 150 followers. Now, I know those numbers are not impressive compared to many, many other people. But for me…a nobody who started from scratch with NO IDEA how to do make a website…the numbers make me pretty happy. I say all this to say…it worked for me…maybe it will work for you or others…to target your audience in a way that you can build relationships with them…meet a need…and then, like my awesome peeps…they'll be ready to celebrate with you when you announce your first book deal! I don't claim to be anything but a ROOKIE, so I hope nothing I've said here sounds like I think I'm a know-it-all or have it all figured out. I've just been extremely blessed as I've walked this social media path in total darkness! I hope you are, too!

  3. Sherry says:

    One thing I am having a hard time with is knowing how to write for different age groups. I wrote a book that would probably be for teens, and now I am trying to write short stories for kids. Since I am a teenager myself, it was easy to write for my own age group. I learned how to express character emotion (your Emotion Thesaurus helped me with that!), and things like that. But for kids, it seems different. The characters are younger, and the readers are younger. I have the basic plot, but as far as character emotion and such… would it be different? I know that the characters would feel emotion differently, but would I have to write it differently? How else are children’s stories different?

    • There are a few basic differences which you would expect: language choice, book length, age-appropriate content. But one big difference you will see in writing for the different age groups are what they are focused on. Romantic connection aside, teens are more interested in discovering who they are, and where their place is in the world, whereas middle graders are still very much entrenched in the importance of family and friends. This means topics explored on a middle grade book will feature the importance of these types of relationships in some way, and the need to fit in.

      Here is a really good link to help you with this: http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/the-key-differences-between-middle-grade-vs-young-adult
      And if you don’t yet visit this site, I highly recommend it as they also have terrific content: http://goteenwriters.blogspot.ca/2013/06/how-to-know-if-your-books-is-middle.html

      Above all that, read your age group and genre. Really get a feel for the voice and style of middle grade. Try to seat yourself in the head of the protagonists, image you are feeling what they are. This will help you write these types of characters yourself. 🙂

      Hope this helps! keep writing, Sherry!

  4. Jan says:

    This might be a silly question. What are the process in acquiring a copyright for a manuscript or book that a person desires to get published?

  5. Just popping in to say, I love reading your posts. So much to take in. You do a wonderful job
    at helping authors. Have a pleasant week.

  6. You two are simply amazing and such an inspiration! Thank you for everything you do 🙂 Marketing is always a tough row to hoe, but it has become a necessary evil. Anything you publish on that topic will be very welcomed.

    I believe one area I’m exploring are the types of personalities and types of love relationships. In trying to understand my character’s core personalities for the positive and negative traits, I was able to learn more about what they would truly do or say and not break character and do something that would make the reader throw the book across the room.

    I think an amazing thesaurus would be the types of personalities and how they would react to certain situations and other types of people. https://www.16personalities.com/personality-types

    Thanks again for checking in and always being such a marvelous resource! XOXO

    • We are happy to help–thanks for the kind words!

      For marketing, I recommend checking out the links I posted above in an earlier question about marketing–this will start you in the right direction. There’s also a Marketing tag in the sidebar that might lead you to some more information. I do enjoy this aspect of business, so more posts will come, I am sure!

      Thanks for that link, and for the idea–I will have to have a look! Happy writing, Killion 🙂

  7. Jennifer McBride says:

    How do I choose which idea I will write? I have several, and just can’t seem to settle down to one .

    • Great question…and a hard one to answer. Honestly if it were me, I would take 1/2 hour with each, and write down as much detail you can about each idea. Do this on paper as it’s more tactile. Characters, the circumstances, the world, whatever comes to mind. Then, after you’ve done this, get out your recycling bin and put all three sets of notes in there.

      Shut the lid. Tell yourself they are gone, never to be.

      Then ask yourself…which one hurts the most to give up?

      That’s the one you need to write.

      We should always try and write the stories we feel the most passionate about. If you don’t want to do something so dramatic, then spend your 30 minutes with each story, brainstorming it, and then look through your notes for each. Are they all about the same length, or is one more developed, more words, more ideas? Which one has the most vivid characters as you re-read what you wrote? Again, this might be a good indication that one story is emerging in your mind as the one that’s caught your heart the most. 🙂

      • Jennifer McBride says:

        Thank you, Angela! I am definitely going to give that a try. And your comment about writing the story I feel the most passionate about has really resonated with me. I can see now the benefit of choosing the most emotionally charged one, and not necessarily the one I have done the most work on. Thank you again.

  8. Lisanne Harrington says:

    Oh my. ::scratches head:: Where do I begin?? Things I THINK I know: How to write a good story. Um… um… Moving along… Things I KNOW I don’t know and need HELP with: How to develop a brand; How to devise a marketing plan; How to launch a website; How to blog and what to blog ABOUT; A Step-by-step guide to the publishing process (I know you guys are indies. I have a publisher); How to raise visibility and gain a readership.

    So, in other words, EVERYTHING!!

    And on a more personal note: I look at all you two have accomplished and feel such joy for you both. Y’all do so much for the writing community and I want you to know how much we appreciate it and I personally feel you deserve only good things. Thanks for all you do! 🙂

    • Hi Lisanne,

      Branding is figuring out what part of YOU is in your books. As I mentioned in another comment, readers should see a book of yours and think, “Awesome, this will be X.” What are you passionate about? What are your beliefs, ones that become a common thread in your books: dysfunctional family dynamics? Moving past loss? The power of Sacrifice?

      Maybe you write thrillers, but what sort of thrillers? What do YOU care about so much you find yourself writing about it over and over? Is it a theme, a belief, an idea you feel strongly about? A thriller writer could consistently write about the psychological impact of characters placed in gritty, impossible situations where their beliefs are challenged (Stephen King), or maybe that technology is dangerous (Daniel Suarez).

      My brand is clear: writers helping writers. It is reinforced in what I do, what I say online, my books, my workshops, my blog posts. I don’t half-ass it…everything I do, I think about what value I can bring. That’s how I reinforce my brand. You hopefully see my face online or my name and think “that Angela’s all about helping writers.” If you see I have a book out, even without knowing what the topic is, you should know it’s for writers and it’s helpful in some way and you might need it. 😉

      So Lisanne, what do you want people to think when they see your face or your book covers? How do you want to be known? What part of the authentic YOU is infused in your books so readers know what sort of experience they are going to get by reading your book, before they even read the back? Whatever this “brand” is, reinforce it in all you do–the content you blog about, the colors of your website, your interactions online, your book covers. Everything should reinforce that core brand message.

      here are some links: https://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/2015/09/28/the-secret-to-a-powerful-author-brand/ and http://www.thebookdesigner.com/2014/07/6-branding-tips-for-writers-and-authors/ and this: http://www.thecreativepenn.com/2012/03/20/branding-author-platform/

      Marketing: read the response to Melissa on marketing –that info and the links will help you as well.

      Step By Step: Luckily I got my friend Martina Boone to post about this, and it is insightful. here’s the Editorial steps you can expect: http://writershelpingwriters.net/2015/01/10-editorial-steps-agent-call-published-book/ regarding the promotional and marketing end, I am guessing this varies from publisher to publisher, so I would reach out to other authors with that house to see what to expect.

      With blogging/visibility/readership, start by figuring who your audience is. (read the Ideal Audience link above, and my handouts on the writing tool page) Then think about what they will find interesting, unique, entertaining, useful. Blog about these things, and find others who do too. Connect with these people. Build relationships and communities.

      For starting a website, go talk to Jami Gold. http://jamigold.com/for-writers/workshops/ She’s super knowledgeable, helpful and has an affordable On Demand course that will make the whole thing painless. If you need a host service, Jay Donovan https://techsurgeons.com/ is your guy. He does our site and Jami’s and is always on hand when I have questions.

      It seems like a lot to juggle, but you have time–your book isn’t out yet, and you are asking all the right questions. 🙂 Put on your business hat and you’ll do awesome. 🙂

      And THANK YOU for the kind words. Many hugs!

  9. That’s a busy four years! Congratulations.

    A topic that’s on my mind lately relates to short stories. Writing sites generally focus on novel writing, which I appreciate, but I’m also interested in marketing short stories (usually fantasy). Also, I’ve run into sites wanting to pay for serials. Any opinions on these or the concept in general?

    The online writing world, as you point out, seems to change daily. The number of editors, cover creators, marketers, and other writing related sellers I encounter each day is an exponential line. Some are legit, but just as many, if not more, are slimy.

    As for my questions, your opinions are welcome, but so too are links or future posts on the topics. Thanks for everything!

  10. liz n. says:

    “As a writer in today’s world, what do you need?”

    I need you to finish this chapter for me because I.just.can’t.even.

    See, I don’t ask for much!

    😉

  11. As always, an amazing post from you guys. Thanks for sharing so much of yourselves with us. This is a tough business and I find myself having to “dig deep” when it comes to marketing. I love writing too much to give up and so I press on, trying to learn what I can and experiment with new things.
    I’m always reading…always trying to learn more about this business.
    I often wish I could just write though 😉
    It’s encouraging to see others doing so well. It motivates me to think that one day I’m going to reach those goals I’m working so hard for 🙂

    • Marketing is tough, isn’t it? I think the hardest part for me is that to do it well, you really have to dedicate time to understanding what it is (making our products discoverable by the right people), what it isn’t (hard core buy-my-book promo), what we’re really trying to accomplish (authentic connection & ongoing relationships, not one-time sales) and then make the time to do it (build relationships). It is almost a full time job in itself to do it really well, but as writers, we can’t let it become a full time job. I think this is why so many writers try to shortcut things and pay someone to tweet for them, or throw promotion everywhere in hopes of being discovered.

      Taking the time to really define who our readers are, not just those who love a genre, but who will be most likely to love specific elements in OUR book, that’s they key that makes everything easier. We can tailor marketing to a specific type of person, trying to reach and connect with them, and define who the other influencers are with this exact group.

      Just like we all have to learn writing craft, we have to learn about marketing so that we’re making the best use of our time when we’re doing it. I don’t know if it will help, but here are a few links to check out on marketing:

      6 Smart Ways Authors Can Collaborate When Marketing: http://indierecon.org/6-smart-ways-authors-can-collaborate-when-marketing-by-angela-ackerman/
      Finding Your Ideal Audience: https://janefriedman.com/how-authors-can-find-readers/
      A Book Marketing Truth Few Experts Will Admit: http://writershelpingwriters.net/2015/02/book-marketing-truths-few-experts-will-admit/
      Marketing Handouts (scroll down): http://writershelpingwriters.net/writing-tools/

      Hugs Melissa! If you have any specific questions about marketing, please ask and we’ll get some dialogue going about it. 🙂

  12. You guys never cease to amaze me!!! Just thinking of what you’ve done and accomplished makes me dizzy! <3

    • Awww, thanks, Stina! I’m the first to admit that I never could have done this by myself. The day God brought Angela and I together was a game changer, for sure. 🙂

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