Top Ten Writing Mistakes Editors See Every Day

Since I am in the final editing stages of “Mark of Shamash” as well as “The Gathering: Bk 1 of The Remnant: A Dystopian Paranormal Story”, I thought this post rather apropos. Enjoy

Confessions of a Creative Writing Teacher

Goya -The sleep of reason produces monsters (c1799) recut

In addition to writing and teaching, one of the things I do for a living is to evaluate manuscripts for their suitability for publication. I read fiction (and non-fiction) across several genres, and write comprehensive reports on the books. I try always to guide the author towards knocking his or her project into a shape that could be credibly presented to literary agents, publishers and general readers. You know how Newman and Mittelmark introduce How Not to Write a Novel by saying, ‘We are merely telling you the things that editors are too busy rejecting your novel to tell you themselves, pointing out the mistakes they recognize instantly because they see them again and again in novels they do not buy,’ well they’re right; I am one of those editors.

However good the idea behind a novel, when the author is still learning the craft of writing – like any…

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Reality Check For Authors #14: Unplugged or Undone

imagesPaying Homage to the National Day of Unplugging.

As authors we love to write, we write to love and we write for well, darn near any and all reasons – discovered and undiscovered. In other words, we are OCD writing fanatics and god help the person who tries to get between us and our words.

But there are times, maybe days, even weeks (we pray not months and years) when, for our own sanity, we must unplug from the laptop, iPad or whatever gadget we’re currently pecking away on.

Some of us rejuvenate our brain cells by spending time with family and friends, dig in our gardens, cook, paint, work out at the gym – whatever it is that floats our writing boat. For the more dedicated cave dwellers, it might prove invigorating to binge on an entire Season 4 of Downton Abbey (- not saying this is how I spent my break for sanity day.) or Veronica Roth’s ‘Divergent Trilogy’. (- another suggestion I’m not saying I’ve personally engaged in.)

Reality Check For Authors #14: It is essential to the sanity of your well-being (and quite possibly that of your families) that you schedule, force, browbeat or bribe yourself into taking time away from the writing addiction of your choice and unplug. If you need to soothe the savage beast of perfectionism in order to justify such ungrateful behavior, then call it research (Yes, 8 hours of Downton Abbey can be considered research – learning to juggle multiple plot lines, development of characters, making antagonists like the nasty Thomas Barrow, hateful and interesting all at the same time.). Zen, mind yoga or your own special version of luminosity – whatever it takes to ease your conscious and lift the heavy burden of a writer’s version of guilt, shame and condemnation.

Changing Landscapes: Transmedial Immersedition

Transmedial Immersedition:

3 of 3 Part Article

“There is an increasing amount of interest and attention around the idea of ‘transmedia storytelling’ these days because of our increased awareness of converging and permeable media technology boundaries, but humans have always been transmedia storytellers.” Dr. Pamela Rutledge, PhD, MBA 

According to writer>digital transmedia strategist Jenka Gurfinkel, our lives are actually a series of Transmedial Experiences, and Transmedial Storytelling is just one of the ways we partner with other to share in the ‘tellin’.

From scratching in the dirt with a stick to shielding our e-book screens against the distorting rays of an afternoon sun, humans have been searching for ways with which to record and share the thoughts, events and imaginations in their lives through a media that would draw the listener and reader into the experience with them.

In the beginning our media was limited to cave walls, large rocks and tree bark. But as the wheel of time rolled forward and our imaginations and experience’s changed, we found ourselves chiseling on stone, scribbling on papyrus and pressing ink soaked blocks of wood on to sheets of paper.  Often in an effort to engage as many of the five senses of the reader as possible, these recordings were augmented by beautifully etched pictures, pressed flowers and wax – sealed impressions.

Like oil and chalk, words were used to paint images, recall childhood memories or draw forth the secret longing within the reader’s heart to be that hero, slay that villain or save that damsel in distress.

Through the use of layered media, a reader was invited to go beyond the written word and join the author in a partnership of the mind and senses. For a moment following the last word spoken or the final page turned, the audience was able to feel as though the possibility of living another life was but a word or thought away. The power of storytelling (be it verbal or written) offered even the lowest peasant a chance to be someone other than who they were for however long they could hold onto the imagined experience.

Then suddenly mankind is thrust into the twentieth century where we find ourselves viewing yet another tale or event from a variety of angles, textures and stimuli. What began on the pages of a book moved to the fabric of a theater screen, and from there we were handed tools which allowed us to delve even deeper into the characters we’d just watched through ARG’s like Warcraft,  RPG’s  such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and in some cases,  like Neal Stephenson’s multimedia metaver  novel  “The Mongoliad”,  made a partner  in creating alternate story>plot line and endings.

Now instead of voyeuristically imagining ourselves as part of the story from a flat, one dimensional plane of readership, we have been given the opportunity to become engaged in a partnership whereby the tellin’ is a collaboration of transmedial immersion which will bring you and I into a 360˚ storytelling experience.  An alternate reality where it is no long one person’s imagination controlling our own.

Even as recent as eight months ago,  these experiences were still ( in this literary purist’s mind,) gaudy attempts to try and get people like me to leave our celestial peaks of antiquity and come down amongst the rabble rousers of technology. And without an object shiny enough to rouse my curiosity, I remained immune to their best marketing persuasions.

That is until I came across an article in about a young first time novelist named Amanda Havard and her visionary concept Immersedition.  The flight out of my mountainous domain was rather faster than I was prepared for and even now I am still applying dressing to my skinned ego and cold compresses to my bruised imagination.

Ms. Havard’s  bio reads like most YA author’s who have grown up living with one foot in flat land and the other in the multi dimensional world of their own imaginations. Writing and telling stories from the time she was a little girl growing up in Dallas Texas, Amanda, like so many who have gone before, followed the natural literary progression from budding elementary school author to Vanderbilt University,  where she received her MA in childhood education.

In an interview with Sally Schoss (freelance writer for  Nashville Arts Magazine), Ms. Havard said that it was while she was on her way to attend a wedding in Tupelo, Mississippi that the idea for her The Survivor’s (a first novel in a five part series) and its immersive transmedial storytelling potential was first conceived.

But in 2008, while pitching to agents  her vision of publishing The Survivor’s in a transmedial format that would retain all the appearance of a book, while still allowing Ms. Havard and other collaborator’s  to produce a story that would offer the reader an immersive 360˚ experience, she told  reporter Angela Watercut  that what those agents basically said was,  ‘That’s a really cool story you have here and it sounds like a really marketable product, if you could just stop talking about all that other stuff, let it go and realize that you’re not going to have that, sit down, shut up and listen to what they tell you, then you’re going to be fine.’

But according to Ana Maria Allessi, vice president and publisher of Harper Media, due to the speed at which Ebook technology is changing, what Amanda Havard encountered was not a surprise. “That kind of reluctance to adapt and adopt new ideas in e-books is unfortunate, but it’s somewhat understandable. Tablet devices evolve at the speed of light compared to the book industry, in which a single title can take well over a year to produce. Heretofore publishers have been dependent on device makers to support any new ideas they want to execute…. One of the biggest hurdles…is creating something that will work across all devices and platforms. Currently, each enhanced e-book her company wants to put out must be altered to adhere to the specs of the Kindle Fire, the Nook Tablet and the iPad. (Nearly all tablets, however, support the stripped-down “.epub” files used in basic e-books.)

Undaunted in her vision, Ms. Havard, along with her father L.C. Havard (a former executive in the health insurance industry) created Chafie Press, a publishing company whose mission is ‘to reinvent storytelling’ by bringing several collaborators under the same roof. By bringing together a full media studio, Chafie Press book publishing, FPR music recording label, Point of Origin Music Publishing as well as a score of other in house videographers and designers, she was able to bring her dream to fruition.

Add Demibooks (who designed the Immersedition app for iPad, iPhone application) and you now have a revolutionary concept for storytelling that combines an undesecrated screen with immerseive watermarks, that when touched,  take the reader to more than 300 pages of history, backstory, character profile as well as ‘written>produced for music>video, fashion, iGoogle maps  and interative real time Twitter and Facebook accounts.

In this transmedial evolving reader’s mind, Amanda Havard and Chafie Creative have given a whole new meaning  to what it is to ‘do the tellin’ and pass on to yet another generation the ability to give greater depth and dimension to the world around us, and the ones we’ve yet to encounter.

If by the simple touch of a finger, the flick of a wrist and the push of imagination we can now extend ourselves beyond the confines of our known world, how much longer will it be before movies like Total Recall, Twilight Zone, Star Trek and Star Wars have become our past and no longer our future?

From the laptop of an uncensored dreamer,


If you’re an emerging author, established one or just like to read interesting content, feel free to share your thoughts on what you think transmedial storytelling is and how you see it affecting you and the future of ‘Doin the Tellin’

Changing Landscapes:Transmedial Readership

Transmedial Readership

Part 1 of 3 Part Article   

What began as a technological search for better and faster ways to record and share information in an educational format that would be equitable for as many users as possible, has now become a multi-billion dollar, multi-media frenzy of looking for newer>better>faster ways in which to engage and entertain a readership that is evolving almost, if not faster, than the technology that spawned it.

The basic DNA of e-books began as an electronic index and concordance to record the works of the Catholic philosopher>theologian Thomas Aquinas. But as with all things technical (or otherwise) the early progenitor of digital formatting began its natural evolution by growing legs, developing gills and eventually finding its way onto the landscape of the late 1990’s – early 2000’s,  where it emerged as the first recognizable sub-species of our current day Ebook.

And as with all things which evolve by way of ‘survival of the fittest’, the emerging technology for knowledge and entertainment is being viewed, culled and gone over much like the livestock my father choose to purchase for the farm I grew up on. Only those devises which hold the best possible traits for future economic advancement will be kept. All others will either be passed on to less competitive merchandisers or left in the 50% off reader’s bins to be recycled in whatever way the seller sees fit.

Within a matter of just under seventy years, the progression from pre-historic HES (Hypertext Electronic System) to Apple’s iPad>Amazon’s Kindle Fire has meant not only a significant change in the way reader’s have begun to pursue their intellectual entertainment, but how that entertainment is going to be presented as well.

On January 01, 2001 Wired magazine published an article by Kendra Mayfield on the future of e-books in which she interviewed Roland Laplant, chief marketing officer for Xlibris (a self-publishing>print on demand company). His prophetic comment about the then approaching future of e-books was, “Ultimately e-books will eclipse paper books. It’s just not convenient now…. There needs to be a lot of change in actual consumer behavior for that shift to occur.”

In that same article senior analyst E. Yegin Chen, of was quoted as having this to say about the consumer’s of the gradual evolving technology of digital reading, “The retail consumer market is not quite ready for e-books yet…E-book vendors need to improve the reading experience to obtain significant adoption rates.”

While O’Brien from Forrester Research had this to say; “….With limited content, inadequate reading screen resolution and differing formats, e-book devices will fail to find a mass audience.”

As predictive as all three of these gentlemen were about the need for change, what they failed to either foresee or comment on, was that ultimately it wouldn’t be consumer’s who would need to change their behavior, but rather, the battle for change would come from the Mt. Olympus of literature its self; the peaks of Author and Publisher. Two of  the biggest giants in the land who (in my opinion) are not only those most affected by this juggernaut of technological driven consumerism, but who are also the two most resistant to change for the sake of change.

All change, be it literary, social or political requires an ability to let go of the familiar and embrace, by faith, a new way of thinking and doing that is neither predictable nor safe. It means embracing ideas and concepts, that for many us who grew up during the Baby Boomer era, threaten our belief in the traditions of our ancestors that held onto: “if it ain’t broke, then don’t fix it”. And I’m afraid there are still many authors and publishers that don’t want to fix, what in their point of view, isn’t yet broken.

Every since people like Martin Luther stood up and challenged the way in which the written  word was produced and made available, mankind has been forging a pathway towards creative expression that will in inevitably rise up and confront that which tries to hold onto and control the reins of the printed (and now digital) word. There will always be those individuals who will want to challenge the status quo, engage the Goliaths  of the land and topple them with the stones of; creativity, individualism, expressionism, consumerism and just plain chutzpa.

In an article for the Washington Post in December of 2009, staff writer Marion Maneker wrote a piece entitled “E-books spark battle inside the publishing industry” in which she made this observation; “Publishers can no longer be vast containers of intellectual property distributed in paper form to bookstores, supermarkets and warehouse clubs. But they don’t have to be: They can become highly selective distributors to bookstores, supermarkets and price clubs. That’s the lesson of the television, music and movie businesses.”

I think the same argument can be used for authors as well; the time for viewing the written word as a sacred shrine of literary prose that will strike down all those who try and approach its oracles with anything other than our four hundred and fifty years of printing tradition, is over.

Not only is the e-book technology biting at the heels of the publishing world, but in many ways it has taken hold of the pant seat of authors too. In today’s ever emerging readership, it is no longer enough just to spin a good yarn or weave an ‘edge of your seat’ thriller that allows the reader to engage their imagination as part of the journey. Today’s technology is fast becoming the impetus for the way in which a writer develops their story content as well as the media  they want to use in order to bring their reader’s into the best possible experience of that story.

In the future (if not already), authors will need to decide whether to stay with text>alone storytelling or to step off the map of their literary forefather’s and begin sculpting complex ideas that require a more transmedia approach. Will the story they want to tell be interactive or will it require nothing more from the reader than a rapid eye and finger movement as they go from one textual page to the next? Or will it be created in such a way that the journey from page one to page two hundred and seventy five be given multiple scenarios and alternate endings? Or will it lend itself to embedded sound tracks, multi-verse formatting and off world overlays?

In my recent blog The Flux Capacitor I talked about the possible dangers of moving away from the written word and embracing a lifestyle where what we read and see can be neither touched nor put on a bookshelf to admire, and as a result we flirt with the possibilities of one day losing the resources and abilities to pass on to future generations the history of who we are. Interesting that in the process of writing that blog I discovered an idea that made me go back and rethink my previous viewpoint.

Next blog: Who’s ‘Doin the Tellin’ Now? > Part 2 of 3 Changing Landscapes

From the laptop of an uncensored dreamer


Changing Landscapes: A Multiverse of Transmedial Storytelling

Changing Landscapes: A Multiverse of Transmedial Storytelling.

Kurt Vonnegut’s Eight Rules for Writing a Short Story

A friend of mine sent me this post over the weekend and since I thought it brilliant I figured, why not share the brilliance with others. Like Miahi, I agree that ultimately, it is the characters that tell their own story, but just like children, they still need enough structure to keep the landscape within sight, yet not lose their creativity. Enjoy.

Niche|Nesting|Or Simply Living Out Loud

If you’re like me,  and  happen to fall into the ninety-nine point nine, nine, nine  percent of all emerging authors, at some point or another,  you’ve  had to have found yourself with a fresh cup of coffee,  staring at the blinking cursor on your laptop  thinking,  “What’s my writing niche?”

As emerging authors, we all wrestle with what area or genre  we want to work in.  Some may have been intuitively born with this mystical ‘knowing’, while others found it by sticking their toes in more than one watering hole.  But how do you and I go about finding where our place is on this highly populated Mountain of Authorship? And once found, just what in the heck are we supposed to do with it?

Since the starting point for most of my own life is always asking questions and finding answers, I decided to start digging this one out by asking the obvious:

What is an author’s niche?

According to online Urban Dictionary:   Niche  1. A position or activity that particularly suits somebody’s talents and personality or that somebody can make his or her own.

Oxford Online Dictionary says the origin  of the word niche is: early 17th century: from French, literally ‘recess’, from nicher ‘make a nest’, based on Latin nidus ‘nest’

For some authors like E. E. Orme and Anita Diamant, this nesting  flows out of their the passion to tell someone else’s story. For others such as James A Levine, Alexandria Szeman and Kimberly Rae, it’s the need to bring attention to the social elephants standing within our communities and homes.  And then there are those like Jane Freidman who find their nesting niche helping you and I write about ours.

In NRichford‘ s post “Top Five Ways to Find Your Writing Niche” for List My 5,  the author shares that it’s our passion that determines one’s niche, “If you can’t put your heart into it, you probably aren’t passionate enough to write about it.”

In part I’d have to agree. It is possible to write about a lot of things, but to write them in such a way that our words are capable of immersing the reader into a voyeuristic experience of the characters or experiences we’re writing about…that can only be transmitted through passion; coupled of course with a tremendous amount of experience and skill.

How do I find my niche?

In my guest post Writing Your Passion, I said that finding our  niche is no more difficult than paying attention to …”Whatever it is that makes us want to fight back, stand up and scream “Hell yeah! “, or simply be the buffer for someone else, is a clue to what it is that has given birth to your passion.

According to author, professor, and copy editor, Sharon K. Owen finding one’s niche or genre “… is always the hardest for the writer but basically effects all the others.”

But what if we enjoy reading a variety of subjects and not just anyone in particular? That in and of itself, might make settling on just one in particular, a bit of a challenge.  And another thought; what if, like myself, you realize that to read just one genre becomes rather incestuous, and limits the resources you have to draw upon.

NRichord believes that another way for emerging authors to identify their niche is“…If your writing excites you and gets you motivated for the day, you can be pretty sure its (sic) one of your real interests. But, if you wake up thinking about what you “need” to write today, there’s a good chance you haven’t identified your real interests. Find something that energizes you and you will energize your readers, too.”

Unlike a pet, friend, or relative, our niche isn’t’ something we can simply jump in the car and get away from. It will influence everything we see, think, and often, dream about. It’s the thing that moves us, keeps us awake at night and causes everyone you know (except for other writers) to think your nuts.

What do you do with your niche?

So now that we’ve finally located what it is that drives our souls, how do take that and begin to apply it to writing? The obvious answer would be, use it to write what you know.

But is that really the right answer?

Maybe a better application would be to use it to experiment with a variety of genre, prose or mediums. Why limit ourselves to just one thing like romance, horror, mystery or social injustice.  What if we took this impetus out for a number of test drives, applying it in a variety of ways, until we find the creative cog that fits our wheel?

“If you would not be forgotten, as soon as you are dead and rotten,  either write things worth reading, or do things worth the writing.”- Benjamin Franklin

This writer is passionate about God, but I don’t believe limiting myself to just that one topic does either the passion or the subject much justice. I’d hate to think that someone who is unlimited in own His ability to think and create, would want to limit any of us in ours.

So instead of listing all the ways you and I can use our niche, what if we released ourselves to try out as many watering holes as we can find. Maybe spend some time doing freelance articles (C. Hope Clark maintains that learning to write on a deadline is excellent training for learning to write a book), writing poetry, entering various contests (in a variety of genre of course) or writing both a novel and a non-fiction.

Another really challenging exercise, and one this writer is always stretched by, is doing ghost blogging for someone else. Just the discipline of writing in someone else’s voice, style and mission helps hone  writing skills for my own stuff.

I think becoming a writer is more than just finding a niche,  putting words up on a white screen, or in a high school composition book. It’s more than the novels we read or the movies we watch. I believe that finding our niche is more about finding whatever it is that holds our universe together, and then discovering the media(s) that simply lets us live that life-giving expression,  out loud.

Personal Branding @3.0|Grass Roots 1.04

Marketing You

The 1950’s television show “What’s My Line“, was a game show that featured a panel of four people whose sole job was to guess the identity of a mystery guest.  Like any emerging author, the identity of the shows guest was unknown, and could only be discovered by someone on the panel asking a question such as: where they came from, what was their niche or line of work, what or where had they performed before, etc.

In other words, by asking the right questions, it was possible for anyone on the panel to discover who the mystery person was. But unless this person had done something to set themselves apart, or had created a unique niche, the participant often remained unknown, simply because they hadn’t really done anything that set them apart from everyone else.

An author’s ability to successfully market themselves is a lot like being that ‘mystery guest’. When you first emerge out onto the landscape of readership and publishing, no one (except for your friends and family, agent and editor) really knows who you are.  You may have even been around on the social network scene for a while, but without being intentionally engaged in the community you surf in, and establishing yourself as someone worth investing time and money in, you too will go undiscovered.

So how do we take everything we’ve been working on: building community, honing our craft, developing credibility and becoming socially visible, and roll it into a marketing strategy that will take us to that all important goal of getting our work in the hands of readers, agents and publishers?

How do we market ourselves from obscurity to financial viability?

I decided to start with “Books & Such”   Blogger, Janet Kobobel Grant.  In Janet’s 2 part post, “What Do Your Readers Really Want From You?”, she  uses Jessica Beinecke , (digital story-teller who teaches  Mandarin Chinese youth,  American slang via her online program ,OMG! 美语, ) successful YouTube video feeds  to highlight the power of engaging our community in unique ways,  that also allow us to be ourselves, build friendships and connect with our audience at a deeper level.

“Your mission in connecting with your readers online goes beyond getting them to buy your books, says Janet. If that’s your goal, then you’ll end up offering potential readers ads. But if your desire is to make an inherently deeper connection, then you’ll be more self-revelatory and, well, someone the reader feels as if he or she knows. That engenders loyalty that goes way beyond selling a copy of your latest work.”

My next stop was The Creative Penn where Joanna Penn doles out some much needed advice on different things that have worked to make her blog site voted the  Top 10 Blog Site two years in a row.

In order to stand out, you need to have an online presence with quality content that people want to consume either for information or entertainment. Each piece of content you put out there is another way for people to find you. By spreading your content across different media, you will be able to target a variety of audiences.”

Some of her recommendations are:

  1. Blogging (of course) for ourselves as well as others.  Joanna says that once we’ve gotten the hang of writing a blog on a consistent basis, we need to start looking for guest blogs on other sites as well as inviting other’s in our community and niche to guest blog on our own.

(A great collective blogging site I recently discovered is, My Blog Guest. This is a free guest blog site where authors can submit and access quality articles on a variety of topics, thus enlarging their sphere of influence, garnering new friends as well as marketing their PB.)

2.     Using online video and audio s such as YouTube, iTunes and webinars. One my favorite ‘go to gals’ for all things author>writing is C. Hope Clark. The other day she posted  her podcast interview on What The Glass Contains with  Austin Moss on SoundCloud, a free site that lets you record and upload sound and connect to SM like Twitter, FB and Tumblr.

3.     Joanna also recommended uploading drawings (such as sketches or maps of your book), doodles or pictures that can help to engage your audience with more of who you are and what you’re doing. You could use this to tell about your hobbies, vacations, friends and family.

4.     And of course there is the standard; SM of Twitter, FB etc. I love to Share other bloggers, authors work on-line at places like Digg, Stumble Upon, Tumblr and Linkedin.  It’s a good way to build community as well as let other people know what my likes and dislikes are. I’ve had several people stop by my site simply because of what I posted on SM.

5.     Developing a schedule for blogging, writing, networking and marketing. Her list entails everything from daily Tweets, to using links in post, to audio>video, to how many books to write per year.  I have started using a program called Free Mind, that lets ne visually map out my blog post for the next year. I’ve also used it for my ghost blogging as well as a way to strategize plot and chapter outlines.

And of course no article would be complete without going over to C. Hope Clark’s site and taking a look at what her favorite marketing tools, which are writing articles and using postcards. As an author (Low Country Bribe) and free-lance writer, Hope understands the power behind authors getting their work out where editors, publisher’s and other writers can see it (She attributes much of her success as an author to learning how write content in 700 words or less under deadline). And using bright, shiny well designed postcards as a means of giving away something for free that customers and followers are less likely to put down and lose.

While researching this post I came across an article by Robert Lee Brewer, (site owner of My Name is Not Bob) entitled How to Brand Yourself (And Take Over the World). In it he makes an astute comment about writers and authors in general,

“First off, I know that personal branding is a topic that will probably turn many writers off. For one thing, many writers (including myself) like to think of themselves as unique creative talents. For another thing, isn’t branding reserved for businesses (not writers)? Shocker: If you’re a writer who’s interested in getting published and making an income (whether supplemental or full) from your writing, then you’re in the business of writing…”

Whether we write because it’s an addiction we don’t’ want to be rescued from, or we write because  we have a BA in Journalism and believe its compulsory, the brutal fact is,  the responsibility for marketing ourselves is serious business.  From the moment we start taking ourselves as writers and authors seriously until the last breath leaves our bodies, the PB and marketing of ourselves will never stop. Be it guest blogging for one of our peers, submitting a first draft to our online writers group for critiquing,   to announcing the launch of our first book the process of marketing ourselves will never stop.

By building a strong foundation of community, credibility, content and visibility, we as writers will develop a PB that is not only marketable, but sellable. Who better to help promote ‘You’ than the people and communities you and I have taken the time to share, comment and interact with?  Sure there a lots of other ways, in which we might reach the public without having to extend ourselves beyond laptops, book signings and occasional Twitter or Facebook posts. But when things get tight and money is held close to the chest, people tend to spend where loyalty has been earned.

In my next and final post in this series on Personal Branding, I’ll take a look at how you and I can celebrate and share the glory of success with those who are as much a part of it as we are.

So what have you been doing to market yourself and your book? What tricks of the trade have you found that work, and which have your found that didn’t? Feel free to drop the ball and get the conversation going.

From the laptop of an uncensored dreamer,


Personal Branding @3.0|Grass Roots 1.02

Branding | In-Credible You Credibility> the quality or power of inspiring belief.

“I don’t care about motivation. I care about credibility.” Eliot Spitzer

In my last post on Personal Branding, I talked about the need for authors to lay their foundation of PB by building an intentional community of relationships through; writer groups, forums, online critiques and conversations.

Just as the external structure of a house (paint, window decor and strategically placed landscaping) is not what gives a home it’s true value, so an author’s glossy photo, pretty cover art and eye-catching story title are not what will give them the power of credibility for the long haul.

Light years ago while attending a conference on marketing,  I heard a speaker say that it takes the average person seeing or hearing the same thing a minimum of seven times before it becomes a point of recognition for them.

As an example they used KFC’s franchise agreement which stated (at that time) that there must be a minimum of seven Colonial Sander pictures visible to the customer at all times. The reason, they were using the earned credibility of the Colonel’s face as a guarantee that you and I would not regret investing our time, money and gastrointestinal organs to KFC’s care.

In other words just seeing that snowy white head, Santa like smile and twinkly eyes were enough to assure us, that as soon as we slapped down $3.99, we were guaranteed twenty minutes of culinary delight.

So how was the KFC franchise able to convince customer’s that the face of a cherubic elderly gentleman was all that was needed to assure them that their investment was well spent? By capitalizing on the credibility that Harland David “Colonial” Sanders spent over twenty years developing.

Long before Personal Branding became a marketing cliché’ the man behind KFC understood that in order for him to become successful he would need two things; a product that would set him apart from his competitor’s and a visual marker for the buying public to link too.

Now you and I may not be selling chicken or bleaching our hair white and putting on white suites, but we are trying to establish ourselves as authors worth the investment of others.

So how do we go about doing that? How do we build credibility with our fellow writers, agents, publishers and life-sustaining readers that assure them that we are a good investment of their time and money?

We start by adjusting the lenses of our perception to include not only the immediate, but the future as well. Instead of looking for instant gratification and award-winning results the first time we finish a piece, we accept the reality that it takes more than one book or manuscript to develop our voice, style and worth.

Next we choose to see each rejected short story, magazine article and peer-review as iron sharpening iron.  After that we write, write and re-write the same paragraph, chapter and story until we are utterly convinced that it can’t ever get better (six months later we review and start re-writing it again).

An editor friend of mine once said that every paragraph should be re-written until you truly believe you can’t write it any better. Then put it aside for a while. When you’ve all but forgotten about it, take it out and you’ll probably find that you can.

In her article 4 Reasons to Write Several Books, literary agent Rachelle Gardner says, “Nearly all successfully published authors will have written two or more books before they get their first contract offer.” Here are her four reasons why.

  1. Practice: it takes a few tries to write a viable book.
  2. Repeatability: you need to finish more than one novel to get a feel for whether you can do it again.
  3. Timing: It takes writing multiple books to know who long it takes to write one.
  4. Confidence: Writing multiple books give you the confidence to know you’re a writer.

Taking the time to establish an In-Credible You is both an investment in the future as well as the framework for outlasting those who don’t.

Bottom line, if you want to become an author who is known for producing work that sets them apart from the crowd and whose credibility gives their followers a sense of trust and expectation, then take the time to establish the kind of authorship and PB platform that will go the distance now.

Next time we’ll examine the strategy behind Creating Author Visibility.

From the laptop of an uncensored dreamer