7 Reality Checks For Authors


7 Reality Checks For Authors

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 Wired.com 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,

SSpjut

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: A Multiverse of Transmedial Storytelling


 2 of 3 Part Article

In Transmedial Readership, (the first of a three-part series on Changing Landscapes in the world of publishing), I took a look at the evolutionary progress of the modern-day eBook from its 1940’s humble (HES) electronic beginnings as a means to record the work of Catholic philosopher>theologian Thomas Aquinas, to its use as a way of sharing large amounts of text within the educational community.

In wasn’t until the late 90’s, early 2000’s that we saw this PC monolith of data transfer evolving into an embryonic hand-held device which would eventually morph into a AI that responds to voice recognition and allows its user to down load @4GSpeeds books, magazines, games and movies, access the internet, read PDF files as well as import>export those last minute>out the door>I forgot to send the statistics the boss needed 30 seconds ago.

Then I took a look at the predictions of the early 2000’s in regards to the viability of these handheld book readers, and concluded that the greatest giants to be slain at this present time weren’t the consumers, but rather the twin peaks of Author and Publisher on the Mt. Olympus of Literature, where change for the sake of change doesn’t come easy. From there I concluded that with an ever-increasing readership demand for “newer>better>faster” ways in which to partner with the writer’s, producer’s and designer’s of today’s storytelling, there is now a natural impetus for author’s to relook at how they will develop story content, as well as explore what other forms of media are available in order to bring the purveyors of  sensory interaction into the best experience possible.

So What is Transmedia?  

In an interview with Neela Sakaria, SVP @Latitude magazine, transmedia creator Andrea Phillips said that a true transmedia project is one that involves audience participation, which in turn means they will have to seek out and find multiple layers or pieces of information in order to understand the entire story. 

The Producer’s Guild list its Credit Guidelines for  “transmedia” as a project which “…must consist of three or more narrative storylines existing within the same fictional universe on any given platform: film, television, short film, broadband, publishing, comics, animation, mobile, special venue, DVD>Blu-ray>CD-ROM, narrative commercial, marketing rollouts and other technologies”.

In other words, there has to be a collaborative effort of three or more forms of media being used to tell the same story within the same platform. An early example of this would be L. Frank Baum‘s 1900 novel,  The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and Mary Shelley’s 1818 classic Frankenstein,  both of which were presented to the public on multiple platforms or layers of media (book > play > movie).

So What is Storytelling? 

Wikipedia  tells us that storytelling is a means by which mankind has of conveying events through words, images and sounds, which in turn are a part of every cultures means of entertainment, education and cultural preservation, endued with the power to instill moral values.  In his interview with fastcocreat.com, Gottschall said that he believed that fiction was more effective at changing the way a person believes about something than any writing that was specifically designed for that purpose.

 WhenRobert Pratten of Transmedia Storytelling was asked why people tell stories he said, “We tell stories to entertain, to persuade and to explain. Our minds do not like random facts or objects….we naturally and often subconsciously connect the dots…in a… stimulating way we call stories. Great stories win hearts and minds.”

Jonathan Gottschall, author of “The Storytelling Animal” states, “….story is the most powerful means of communicating a message…..People are moved by emotion. And Peter Guber, Studio Chief at Columbia Pictures and author of Tell to Win, says, “The best way to emotionally connect other people to our agenda begins with “Once upon a time…”

So Why Use Transmedia in Storytelling?

In a gathering of creative individuals hosted by Electronic Arts in 2003, Henry Jenkins, a Provost Professor of  Communication, Journalism, and Cinematic Art at the   USC Annenberg School for Communication and the USC School of Cinematic Arts noted in an article he wrote for Technology Review ,  that transmedia>multi- platform or enhanced storytelling as they knew it,  was on the cusp of undergoing significant changes and that those changes would mean an entirely new way of ‘doin the tellin’.

Those present stated that they saw a future where the masses would no longer be satisfied being told stories on a one-dimensional plane such as watching a movie or reading a book, leaving the theater or turning the last page, and be satisfied that what they have just experienced was all there is and there is nothing more.

People today have evolved from hunter>gathers on open grass lands   to hunter>gather’s on the internet, and they take “great pleasure…uncovering character backgrounds… plot points…and… making connections between different texts…”  It’s no longer enough just to read or watch a story from a one-dimensional aspect. Audiences now want to have an opportunity to enter into the story and participate in both its development as well as being able to decide alternate endings.  It becomes a case of where the whole is now greater than the parts.

By combing multiple layers of media in the development and publication of EBooks, authors can now take a story which began as an arrow through time and folded it back upon itself in complex layers impregnated with texture, depth, emotion and visualization. No longer do our characters move from point A to point B solely dependent upon their creator’s narrative abilities as the primary means by which the reader enters into and experiences the story.  By apply multiple sensory applications the story now becomes a collaborative partnership between the author, the characters, the reader and everyone else who has contributed in creating an experience that moves everyone beyond the land of cardboard cutouts and into the realm of interactive>inter-dimensional> transmedial adventures.

In the third and final part of this three-part series I want to zoom in on what transmedia storytelling is doing for EBooks and how Amanda Havard, first time author of the Urban fiction “Survivors“ and entrepreneurial genius behind Chafie Creations and the development of Immersedition, is taking the world of literary experiencialism to a whole new level.

From the laptop of an uncensored dreamer

SSpjut

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 Eduventures.com 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

SSpjut

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.

Blog Site-ing for Dummies | How Often | How Long


How Often|How Long: Determining Your Posting Commitments

“In at least one way we are atypical bloggers. That’s because we just keep on posting. The typical blogger, like most people who go on diets and budgets, quits after a few months, weeks, or in many cases, days.” (Stephen J. Dubner)

So far in the journey of deciding whether to start up a blog or not, my displaced journalist friend and I have talked about some of the reasons why he would  want to start a one, and once started, what hosting sites are going to best fit his needs  and abilities.  The next stop  to make on our journey is deciding how often he’ll need to post, as well as how long each post should be.

As with any successful writing endeavor, understanding the amount of time and energy you are willing to commit to it is going to be an important factor in whether you’ll be able to achieve your end goal or not. For example, if you’ve chosen to create a blog site as a means of sharing your life, values, or thoughts in general or specific, then posting only five or six times a month would be ok. But on the other hand, if  your goal is to establish an online platform by which you are able to show off your wares then you’ll need to up the ante a little more; say two to three times a week.

Its import that beginning (and not so beginning) bloggers deal with any commitment issues they might have at the start of their endeavor  if they want to establish a following and keep it. When readers take the time to add your site to their RSS feed, or follow by email, they’ve done so because they value what you have to say and are looking forward to hearing more. Now they may be forgiving if you have the occasional moments when life just gets away from you and you missed a post, but if, for whatever reason, you begin to hit and miss with the frequency of your posting, you might find yourself un-followed in a not so distant future. I’ve seen it happen; I’ve done it myself.

So get the issue of how often your willing to commit yourself to writing-posting on your blog out of the way from the get go. See my post, Faithfully Yours | Blogging With Consistency, for ideas on how to develop a posting or editorial schedule.

The next item my friend and I talked about was how long the post should be.

Now I’ve read posts that were short and to the point, and I’ve read others that were longer, and in my non-humble opinion, should have been considered a novella rather than a post.  Did the author really need that many words? Yet be that as it may, the real issue isn’t how long the post is, but rather, how many words is it going to take to say what it is you want to say (keeping in mind that the average reader doesn’t have a lot of time to spend on just one post).

A good way to view this is, if your post were a writing prompt, and you were restricted to 500 words or less, you would need to find a way to write the story or essay within the guidelines of that word count.  And even though the creative artist within you demands to be heard at all costs, the truth is, less is often better than more.

C. Hope Clark has a great article on taking what you have to say, and paring it down to 700 Words.

So now that my journalist friend has determined what he’d like to say, found the right blog site to host it on and determined the frequency and length of content he can commit to, we’ll motor on over to the next item on our list; Putting On the Ritz

Blog Site-ing for Dummies | Why?


4 Reasons Why You Want to Blog

Anyone who has ever ventured out onto the Social  Highway of BS (Blog Site-ing) for the first time,  knows that within moments of Googling ‘blogs’,  you can become totally overwhelmed by all the possibilities. And if your anything like me, the moment details start rolling by like credits on a movie screen, your eyeballs do an immediate retreat to the back of your head;  leaving you with  no other option but to close the lid to the laptop (yes,  I still use such a dinosaur),  and go get another cup of really, really strong coffee.

Recently a writer friend of mine lost a long-held position writing a column for a local newspaper.  Now, many months later and still unable to find anything life defining,  he’s faced with the daunting decision of whether to jump on this ever-widening Hwy of BS; and if so, how to do it without getting lost in the process.

As several of us ‘bloggers’ jumped into the fray of discussion, I was not surprised to find that many of the issues he brought up,  were similar to those I had a year ago.  Let’s face it, when you’ve been doing the same job for over twenty-five years,  and you suddenly find yourself facing  a three hundred fifty foot drop to parts unknown, the whole process of first time blogging, social media, and Personal Branding can be a little frightening.

So,  being the information junkie that I am, I decided to treat this post as if my friend and I were sitting in Starbucks, drinking a fine cup of Kenya, and I was trying to help him navigate his way through least one lane change without getting run over.

Which meant we needed to start where all life defining questions begin;  Why?

Why do you want to start a blog? It may sound kind of childish, but didn’t God say that out of the mouth of babies… so before my friend can even begin  thinking about details like;  how to set up a blog, or what to right on it; he needs to start at the beginning.

So after cursing the net to find out what  bloggers thoughts on the matter,  I took a survey and narrowed it down to these:

4 Reasons to Start a Blog.

  • Sharing the Journey

One of the amazing things about having,  and posting on a blog,  is the ability to share whatever journey your own with others across the world.   A great example of this would be of my personal favorite Vanessa Katsoolis; a Kiwi from down-under, whose blog   Onethousandsingledays.com   journals her efforts to stay single (no boyfriend, no sex, no handholding, no dating etc.) for a thousand days,  while she finishes school and re-prioritizes her life.

  • Business Tool

As every business,  info peddling Blog site like Blogging Tips  will tell you; writing blogs | articles about your product or services,   is a must if you want to successfully drive customers to your web site.  By  submitting articles with good, knowledgeable, content on social sites like; Stumble Upon, Tumblr, Squidoo,  Technorate, Delicious and Linkedin,  you are putting your company’s name out on the internet where others can see and connect to it.

  • Personal Branding

This is one of my personal favorites.

In earlier posts on Personal Branding@ 3.0,  I covered five reasons why developing an online presence is absolutely necessary for writers, artists and anyone else who makes a living connecting with the human race. With the percentage of people competing in every area of society  greater than the national debt,  creating PB can make the difference between obscurity and visibility.

  • Creative Outlet

More and more people are using the www.com as the place to express their creativity and individuality. Several sites that immediately come to mind are: Coca J. Ginger ‘s blog for creative prose; Lynne Spreen  an author who shares about the joy of being over fifty, and Christine Friesenhahn , whose blog site,  Texana’s Kitchen  fattens us up on Texas style food,  while entertaining us with the secret lives of adolescent boys.

Starting a blog site is a lot like raising children. If you’re not willing to continually invest in its life, you’re better off visiting someone else’s and spend your energy elsewhere.  Next week my friend and I will take a look at Moving Into The Neighborhood: where and how to start your first blog site.

Writing Content | Adding Value


Four Keys For Creating Great Posts

Getting chosen to be on the first two or three pages of anyone of the Big Three SE’s , is becoming a lot like trying to make it onto one of the Olympic teams; you may look good  with all your fancy theme’s, widgets, share buttons and Twitter feeds;  but if you’re not posting quality content on a regular basis, you might as well pack up your gym bag and go home.

It wasn’t that long ago that all it took to find our posts on the first one or two pages of Google’s infamous SEO,  was stuffing it with mystical codes, popular tags and cleverly placed  hyperlinks.  Given enough fairy dust , elf runes and magical wands, even the worst blogger could make themselves appear on the first page of at least one of the Big Three.

But those days of technical wizardry  and sleight of hand are pretty much over. According to guest author, Rich Gorman  in his article,  “How to Write Online Content that Appeals to (Almost) Everybody“,  Google  has now made it nearly impossible for posers to get away with luring unsuspecting readers to their sites by using misleading information.

Now, with the help of nano-sized spiders, programs like Panda and Penguin are able to crawl over our web sites, read our mail, digest  our content and return  to their masters loaded down with all the information needed  for the powers on high to determine where  our sites and their posts get ranked.

So what is it that the Big Three are looking for? How do the powers that be determine which sites get chosen and which  get left in outfield? And even more important, what can you and I do to give ourselves a fighting chance so that we’re consistently  hit home runs?

“…write as if you’re sitting in the same room as those who read you, keep them entertained, 

and don’t lose sight of the fact that it’s you they’ve drop by to see.”

In reality, search engines are looking for the same things as readers; quality content, consistency in posting and eye catching presentation. In Heidi Cohen’s post on creating compelling content, she gives a lists of some of the key ingredients that can help us do that;  strong headlines,  strategically structured paragraphs, and well placed bold font.

But what are some of the things that will attract new readership as well as keep the ones we already have?  What will peak their attention, bully their thoughts and provoke their interest time and time again?

I started thinking about what it was that drew me to add someone to my own reader board. What was it about their content that made them interesting enough for me to copy that URL and drop it into my Google Reader board?

Here are the four keys I use to judge content.

  • Write posts that add value: If people are following our posts, then we owe it to them to write about things that gives our niche readership something  that add to who they are, and can be tucked away in a folder for their own articles or future posts.
  • Speak the language: Every niche has a language all its own. Techno geeks speak Techneez; journalists speak Journaleez and emerging authors ….well we’re still trying to learn how to speak Authoreez. Don’t waste the reader’s time speaking a language that has nothing to do with them. Whatever your niche audience is, write to that.
  • Know what’s hot and what’s not: Look for topics that are either filling Twitter feeds and Face Book, or ones that are just now breaking on the scene. Several months ago I came across a little blurb on the horizon about Amanda Havard and a new Ebook technology called  Immersedition.  At the time of my original posting, little to nothing was being said about the author, her book or the company her father founded.  Now she’s getting ready to publish her third book in the Survivor’s Series and she’s headline news.
  • Write for your audience: With all the information available at the click of a mouse or the push of a finger, it’ s totally unrealistic for any of us to try to write for everyone. So write as if you’re sitting in the same room as those who read you, keep them entertained,  and don’t lose sight of the fact that it’s you they’ve drop by to see.

Faithfully Yours | Blogging With Consistency


Five Reasons to Blog Consistently

Keeping up with the Jones’s of authorship and platform building can be an exhausting, and on some days, seemingly unprofitable way to spend a writers time. What with getting the initial story down, working through the  labyrinth of editing, plus all the SM  we need to  stay in  the loop, we all wish we had more time in  a day than God allotted for.

But since we don’t, how do emerging writers like you and I find a way to juggle our writing time, stay connected, pump out a stream of  intelligent blog posts, go on the occasional date and still remain sane?

Well the good news is that while researching for my post, Personal Branding | Creating Author Visibility, I came across  Five Reasons.

  • Time

Blogging on a consistent schedule actually frees up more of our time, rather  than posting sporadically or on impulse.   By intentionally setting aside time to research, write and link our blog posts,  not only are we managing our time better, but we are,  in fact, giving ourselves an opportunity to develop  better content, communicate it more succinctly, and potentially  appear  more brilliant than we truly are.

  • Discipline

By committing to regularly posting we are learning  how to produce  quality content under deadline, whether we feel inspired to or not.  It’s one way of  forcing ourselves to push past that first creative stall,  and dig down deeper. Author of Lowcountry Bribe,  C. Hope Clark  said during her podcast interview with Austin Moss, that learning to write under deadline is one of the major tools that helped her become a better writer,  by teaching her how to say more,  with less.

  • Personal Branding

I’ve already covered this in my post on Personal Branding | Creating Author Visibility. But let me just add,  that not only is  blogging an invaluable tool to building an author’s platform, but it adds worth to the community he or she has moved into.

  • SEO Rating

Part of  our SEO rating has to do with content and consistency.  According to Corey Eridon of  blog.hubspot.comblogging on a regular schedule is critical to the continued success of SEO’s. Without it  Google may no longer put us on page ranking that is higher than that found in the outer Siberia of Internet-land.

  • Value

When we’re posting quality content on a consistent basis, we add value to our site by assuring those that follow us,  that when they stop by for a visit, there is an excellent chance that they’ll find exactly what they’re looking for.

So what kinds of tools can we use to help us do a better job of blogging consistently? Here are two I discovered and began implementing in order to improve my own attempts.

  • Blogging Template

Using blogging templates for creating content aid you and I in keeping our ideas, resources and content flow more organized. The blog template works as a guideline by helping us stay within the perimeters of where we started  and where we need to end.  In his post “Six Blog Post Templates That Highly Effective Bloggers Use“, Don McAllister shares where he gets  his own inspiration for blogging templates from.

  • Editorial Calendar

Another tool that helps is called an Editorial Calendar. Michelle Linn, Content Developing Director for Content Marketing details this in her post, How to Put Together and Editorial Calendar for Content Marketing”.

Because of my need tactical visibility, I use Office Suite’s “Notebook” (a program that lets me create notebooks, build files, store source material, embed media and drop-drag whatever I’ve written or copied), Free Mind as well as good old fashion sticky notes.

So when should you and I start attempting to organize and schedule our posts, now.

If you’ve been neglectful and suffer from sporadic-posting-disorder; repent,  go and grab your favorite creative legal stimulant and get going. If on the other hand you’ve been a good writer and have tried and tried, but just haven’t gotten the swing of it yet; repent, go and grab your favorite legal stimulant and try it again.

Now for other A-Type personalities such as myself, a little humor along the way.

What are the things that inspire you to blog more consistently? What kind of tools have you discovered that have helped? Go ahead, start the conversation.