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Writer’s Life.org is the go to place for writers and authors across the planet and of all genres. Our mission is to give you the resources, tools and information needed to take your writing to the next level.
Questions To Ask Yourself To See If Self-Publishing Is Right For You
In 2007 Amazon launched it’s self- publishing platform, Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), and changed the world of publishing dramatically.
Now writers were able to bypass the lengthy process of sending their manuscripts to publisher after publisher and save themselves the agony and disappointment of rejection after rejection. They could simply upload their document, publish it, and voila! It was ready for the world to see.
Since then other self-publishing platforms such as Smashwords and Draft2Digital have also launched their versions meaning that writers can see their words in print, as digital downloads, audiobooks and so on.
However, just because it is easy doesn’t make it the best option.
Many writers now bypass the whole traditional publishing process and opt straight for self-publishing, for the reasons described above and many more. But doing so without careful thought and consideration may result in regret later down the line. So before you commit, it’s good to ask yourself the following.
When are you planning to release your book?
If you want to try and get your book traditionally published you are going to have to be patient. Regardless of how long it takes to write and edit a book, you can expect to wait on average around six months for a publisher to get back to you with an answer, and that answer might very well be ‘thanks but no thanks.’ Even if you do get a positive response, it will typically take another year before you see it on the bookshelves.
Alternatively, if you want to self-publish you can do this pretty much immediately. While this is much more appealing to those who have finished their book and want to see it ‘out there’ as quickly as possible, it also may be more tempting to publish before your book is ready.
Are you hoping to sell lots of copies?
If you want millions of people to buy your book and to make good money from it, the toss-up between traditional and self-publishing is extremely tricky. On self-publishing platforms, the competition is extraordinarily fierce. Trying to get your book into a prominent position is almost impossible unless you already have a strong fanbase and high-profile platform from which to promote it.
However many publishers also demand this of you these days. Though they have huge marketing departments and teams of people who can conjure clever ways to promote your book, if you can prove you have an audience already, they are going to give your manuscript more serious consideration. Taking on a new book from an unknown author is a risk, however good it is – so without being sure they can sell a significant number of copies, they’ll be tough to convince.
However, traditional publishing is much more likely to enable authors to sell more copies of their books, both physically and digitally and so if selling copies is our number one goal, securing a contract with a publisher is your best route to success.
Do you want to be in control of the book?
Authors who can’t bear the idea of anyone else meddling with their book should always self-publish. A traditional publisher will want to change things, and details such as the book cover will be their decision. While being in charge of every aspect of your book is a tremendous amount of work, you still have ultimate creative control and can present it to the world exactly as you intended. A traditional publisher may ask you to change parts of the story that you love, and once you have signed on the dotted line will take the reins from you, and you have to be OK with that.
These three questions can help you decide what your ultimate goal is when it comes to publishing your book. Answer them as honestly and in as much detail as possible and you’ll have a clear idea of whether self or traditional publishing is the right route for you.
How To Identify Your Target Audience
Every writer, no matter what kind of writing they are doing or what their subject matter might be, should know their target audience.
Without this knowledge, it is challenging to tailor your writing to anyone in particular, and with all the competition out there this makes it very easy for it to get lost in the ether.
So whether you are writing an article or a novel, how can you identify your target audience and ensure that your work is speaking to them?
Using the themes of your book, consider the groups of people it might interest. It may be evident if your book is about something more factual, niche or specialist. However many writers may need to take more time to consider this. It might be that your novel could appeal to many different groups depending on what it’s about, so really work at pinpointing the various aspects of your plot and characters and thinking who might relate to them.
Do your research
Are there any other books out there that have similarities to yours? If so have a look at how they are marketed and who they are packaged for and use that as inspiration for your own marketing plans. It can be beneficial to see what other pieces of writing in your niche are doing to find new fans and the strategies they use to appeal to their target audience directly.
Figure out your USP
Thought USPs were just for businesses? Well, you thought wrong! Pinpointing what makes your book unique can help you become more clear on who it might appeal to. Your hook is the reason someone might buy your book, and you need a sentence at most to describe what that is. The more clarity you have around this, the easier it will be to decipher what kind of person might be interested in the story you are telling.
Create an ideal reader
Thinking about who you wrote the book for is very important. Create a new character in your mind – The Ideal Reader. Give them a name, give them a personality, give them likes and dislikes and habits and quirks. The more you know about your ideal reader, the better you’ll be at communicating with them and listening to what they want as well.
Once you have done all of the above you need to start working out ways to communicate with your target audience and let them know you, and your writing, exist. Find out where they hang out, either physically or virtually and make your presence known there. Look at their buying habits and use that information to catch them when they are most likely to part with their cash, use your knowledge of them to create brilliant pieces of marketing that they just won’t be able to resist.
Discovering your target audience can help you write with a clear purpose in mind and will make it so much easier to find ways to get your writing noticed by the people who it will appeal to the most!
How To Prepare Yourself For Writing A Novel
We all know that setting out to write a novel is a massive challenge, regardless of the type of book you are trying to write. So many would-be authors never manage to realize their dream of finishing a novel because they underestimate just how much time and energy it takes to complete one.
However, if you take the time to prepare and plan for writing your novel, you have a much better chance of getting to the finish line. A little bit of organization and a clear strategy on how to approach the novel writing process can make all the difference.
So how can you prepare yourself for writing a novel?
Focus on the materials you need and where you’ll write
Whether you prefer writing using pen and paper or you work straight on a computer, you need to make sure you have the right materials to get writing. Working out where you can write is also helpful. You need a space that keeps you focused and motivated, that minimizes distractions and where you won’t get interrupted. The ideal writing space is very different for individual writers. Some like to work in complete silence in a de-cluttered room. Others prefer being surrounded by notebooks stuffed with thoughts and ideas and want to write in the hustle and bustle where sounds, smells and sights all help to inspire them.
Create a writing routine
Every writer knows that it is essential to have a good writing routine. Doing so will mean that writing becomes part of your everyday life and is as natural as brushing your teeth or eating lunch. A writing routine makes writing become a habit so try to write at the same sort of time every day and set aside a chunk of dedicated writing time so you can feel as though you are making progress. Make your work schedule easy to stick to but ambitious at the same time.
Set goals and deadlines
To progress you need to decide when you want to finish your novel. Be realistic but think about the end game. Once you’ve decided on this, you can work backward and create practical, time-bound goals to help you get there. Goal setting for writers is so important and keeps them motivated and on track to succeed.
Be clear on the purpose of your book
Before you start writing your story, it is essential to understand your reasons for doing so. Find some time to write down the reasons you are doing this, make sure you are as clear and precise as possible. Having clearly defined reasons to look back to will help you stay determined to get to the end.
Do your research and create an outline
Preparing for writing a novel is all about proper research. Starting to do any research before you write gives you lots of great material and also makes sure that the story you write is factually correct. Writing an outline helps you realize the vision for your book, and also to flesh out the details of what is going to happen and when. A good framework will leave you feeling confident and prepared that your story has legs and is compelling and engaging enough to be told.
By following the steps above you will feel as prepared as you can be for the vast undertaking that is creating a novel, all you’ve got to do now is, well, write it!
How To Turn Your Ideas Into Stories
There is nothing more gratifying to a writer than when a brilliant idea for a new story suddenly gallops up and bursts into our imaginations. That first spark of inspiration where you think ‘I’m really onto something here,’ and your heart starts racing and your fingers start itching to put pen to paper to make sure you don’t lose it, is somewhat magical indeed.
It is probably one of the most exciting parts of the writing process overall.
That’s not to say it’s all downhill from here, but it is essential to recognize how to translate these brilliant ideas into stories that will work, and perhaps even more crucial, to identify when that brilliant idea you had just isn’t going to work and have the ability to let it go.
So how do you kickstart the writing process and turn ideas into stories?
Here are some useful tips.
In the initial stages, it is crucial to have an ‘anything goes’ attitude. Don’t be too hard on yourself from the outset or you might never feel able to flesh out your ideas well enough to make a start.
Brainstorming is a fantastic way to start exploring your idea, to delve in a little deeper and begin to take shape as a story. The more you can write about it, and the more aspects you can get down, the more options you have. Remember, it’s important not to hold back, you might go off on a few weird and wonderful tangents, but they could lead to something brilliant.
Proper research is essential for any novel, no matter what you are writing about. So whatever kind of idea you have there will always be something you can do to investigate it further. Research can be incredibly useful because not only are you learning more about the topics you intend to bring into your book (and will, therefore, be better at writing about them) you also might unearth further nuggets of inspiration to motivate you even more.
Clarify and pin down your theme and the central idea
Once you have finished brainstorming and doing some initial research, you should now be able to sit down and pinpoint what the ideas and themes that are going to hold your novel together are. The more precisely you can define this the more sturdy your idea will be. Without this, it’s easy to lose focus and with it the point of your novel, so doing this in the early stages can be very helpful.
Start to work on your characters
A great story only works with fantastic characters that are exciting and engaging from the outset. Before you start to write your novel you need to understand the main characters goals and motivations, how they might develop throughout the story and what conflicts and obstacles are going to get in their way.
Start to incorporate subplots
Now try to build upon your central theme and plot and start to weave in smaller side stories or other ideas that complement them. Your idea needs to have legs – it needs to be workable as a novel, and that means it needs to take a certain amount of time to unravel. By starting to work in sub-plots and other ideas you’ll feel more confident that this idea is going to work when you come to start writing.
While it is essential to make sure your idea has got what it takes to turn it into an exciting story, don’t delay the writing process too much. Stories often reveal themselves to the writer as they write them, and there is only so much research and planning you can do before you have to trust in your imagination, creativity, and talent and just get going.
Turning your ideas into fully fleshed out stories takes time and effort, but by giving yourself a moment in the beginning to do so, you can start writing feeling more confident and assured that this idea is really going somewhere.
How To Set Your Freelance Writing Goals
Becoming a freelance writer can be a lucrative and rewarding way to earn a living. Many writers who want to free up more time to work on their novels decide to write non-fiction articles, blogs, web content and much more for clients as freelance writers to allow them to manage their time better and earn money doing what they love.
However, to become successful as a freelance writer, it’s important to set some goals to keep improving not only the quality of your work but the kind of work you undertake as well. Goals give you motivation, direction and allow you to focus on what’s most important to you too.
So how do you set goals for yourself as a freelance writer?
Think about what you hope to achieve
Goal setting is all about giving yourself targets and to that you need to think about what you hope you achieve in your freelance writing career. Start by thinking about where you’d like to end up and be clear and specific. This can be both a financial target (how much you’d want to be earning), but also around job satisfaction. Would you like to specialize in a particular area for example? Start big, then try to work out the step by step actions you need to take to achieve get there.
Organize your goals in order of priority
Working out what you want to achieve the most, or what is most important to realize first is essential. Some goals might not be possible to achieve without first doing something else, so by prioritizing your goals you’ll start to see a timeline emerge showing you what you need to do in what order.
Make sure your goals are SMART
Any goal you set for yourself should adhere to the SMART theory. Smart means they should be, specific, measureable, attainable, relevant and time sensitive.
Thinking about your goals in this way will mean that you are very clear about what you need to do to move forward. You also create deadlines for yourself and make sure that every goal you set for yourself is related to your work and important to you, but not so impossible that you end up getting exasperated with the process and feeling demotivated.
Be prepared to be flexible, but hold yourself accountable
Sometimes goals have to be rethought, and goalposts need to be shifted, and that’s OK. Just make sure that you can be flexible enough to do this and not beat yourself up about it too much if this is what has to happen. At the same time, it is important to hold yourself accountable for your goals and track and review them progress as time goes on.
Becoming a highly paid and successful freelance writer won’t happen overnight. By setting goals for yourself, however, you can pave the way for yourself and see how to get there. So set goals, work hard to achieve them and don’t forget to celebrate your success as you do!
Avoidable Writing Mistakes
When it comes to writing, we know it pays to be professional. Whether we’re fiction writers or freelance writers, making sure we thoroughly check our work and weed out any errors is crucial.
It might be impossible to create every piece of writing perfectly every single time. However, some writing mistakes seem to crop up time and time again and, if we take a little more care and are a bit more aware of them, they could perhaps be easily avoided.
So what are some of the most common writing mistakes?
Choosing the incorrect word
Many words in the English language have double meanings or similar spellings or pronunciations but don’t mean the same thing. Sea and see, for example, or your and you’re, there and their or then and than. A spell-checker won’t flag these up as they are not incorrect words. If misused, however, they’ll leave your work looking unprofessional, so remain eagle-eyed for these when proofreading your work.
Errors in sentence construction
It’s very easy to make mistakes when constructing sentences. Often people start a comparison in a sentence and then fail to complete it, or write a fragment of a sentence instead of a whole one because a verb or subject must be included to correct it. An incorrectly placed comma can also make sentences clunky or, in the worst cases, cause them to have a different meaning altogether.
Mistakes around pronouns
Using pronouns as the subject or the object in a sentence also cause mistakes to be made. It is the person or thing performing an action within a sentence that is its subject, and the object is the person or thing who is being acted upon.
As well as spelling and grammar mistakes, people often leave punctuation errors in their texts that can make them seem a little sloppy. For example, adding unnecessary semicolons is a common mistake and adding commas for no reason is another. A semicolon should be used when two independent clauses are joined in the absence of a conjunction. A comma, however, is only necessary between independent clauses when you also use a conjunction such as and or but.
Of course, there are always instances, mainly when writing creatively that the standard grammar rules may be broken, even purposefully to create a particular effect. This might be acceptable but depends on the specific piece and its intended audience. At the end of the day, no writer is perfect, however by avoiding these common writing mistakes you can neaten up your prose and make your writing more professional and easier to read too.
Is Going Freelance Worth The Risk?
There are lots of reasons why someone might think it is a great idea to become a freelance writer, but at the same time, they must accept that in doing so they are taking on a certain amount of risk. But is it worth it? Let’s weigh up the pros and cons.
Feast and Famine
Ah, the old feast and famine cycle of being a freelancer! Sometimes you are inundated with work, at other times you are twiddling your thumbs. With lots of work comes the pressure of juggling different assignments and meeting deadlines. Without it, you worry that you can’t pay your bills! It can be tough but making sure you try to plan as much as possible and make provisions to see you through the more sparse times will help you manage these much better.
Stress and Deadlines
As much as you might be able to try and plan your work, there are always going to be times where you are up against it and feeling the pressure. There is also the possibility of having your work returned for amendments which can lead to suddenly having less time than you thought.
Managing Your Finances
As well as good time management it is also essential to be good with money and numbers if you want to be a successful freelancer. Without being willing to do the ‘boring’ stuff as well, you could soon find yourself in trouble. Managing finances, filling out tax returns and contingency planning are all part of the job.
Building a Client Base
Without a solid client base, you’ll end up going from job to job never feeling any security and continually worrying about work drying up. Building up a good client base and a solid reputation is so important. However, this takes time – so successful freelance writers need to be willing to put the work in.
No Holiday, Sick Pay, or Pension
Remember if you are ill you won’t get paid, and probably won’t get a lot of sympathy from clients if you miss deadlines due to sickness either. You don’t get paid holiday or a pension or any of the comfortable perks of working a ‘normal’ job. These are all things to take into consideration before going freelance full time.
So there you have it, being a freelance writer can bring you fantastic benefits and freedom and can be a great way to make a living as well. But in doing so, you must be prepared of highs and lows and times where it might feel like you’ve made a mistake. At the end of the day if you stay organized, plan for all eventualities and keep persevering it can be everything you want it to be and an extremely rewarding career too!
How To Choose A Name For Your Website
Every author has been told time and time again that having a great website is essential. A site can be a useful platform to promote your work, to test your writing, to gain new readers and loyal fans and to sell your books from too.
In short, having a website is imperative.
One of the most important decisions you can make when building your website is what you are going to call it. A strong domain name speaks volumes – and if you chose badly you are stuck with it forever, or will have to start from scratch once more.
So what do you need to consider when choosing a domain name?
Simplicity and memorability
One thing that’s very important to consider is how to make your website name one that’s easy to remember. Anything too complicated or convoluted and people will forget it, get it confused with something else or just spell it wrong and never be able to find it. So choose with care and try to keep it simple and straightforward if you can.
Choosing your own name
Many writers choose their name as their website name, and this is usually a safe option. It makes sense, it is self-promotional and will make it easy for fans of your work to find you. Of course, it is possible that your name will already be taken in which case you may have to add a number or a word onto it to make it unique. Choosing your name also gives you freedom to make your website about anything you want. You can adapt and change it depending on your interests in the future, so if your writing changes direction, then you won’t have to change your website just because of that.
A name that explains what it is
You might like to choose a domain name that reveals more about what kind of writer you are. For example, if you are a copywriter you could pick something like ‘www.copywritingexpert.com,’ or if you only write gothic novels, you could pick something like ‘www.thegothicwriter.com.’ This can be helpful regarding your website coming up in search results more readily. However, being this specific will make it difficult if, for example, you decided to start writing romance novels in the future.
A name that says something about you
You could also try to incorporate a bit of personality into your website name. Use a nickname or a play on words, or even a different language if applicable. This can be a way of creating a unique name that shows you are smart and witty. However, these kinds of domain names may be more difficult to remember.
Finding the perfect domain name for your website is well worth taking some time over. Do some research to see what your competitors have used, take time to see what popular sites your target audience might find interesting and then go from there. You can call your website absolutely anything, but once you’ve decided you’re stuck with it, so make sure it’s a good one!
Make More Money As A Freelance Writer
Let’s face it; no freelance writer is going to say no to the opportunity to earn more money. Sometimes it can be tough to find well-paid gigs and to get enough work to keep your head above water.
So what are the things freelancers can do to make more money? Follow these helpful tips.
Understand your income
When it comes to managing your money, you’ve got to be savvy. What salary are you already bringing in? Which gigs are ongoing and stable? Which are one-offs?
It’s also important to evaluate your clients, be clear about which ones are more valuable to you. Which give you regular work, which provide you assignments you enjoy and can complete more efficiently? What is the word count to pay ratio like?
Once you have more clarity about which clients are your biggest earners and which aren’t, you can start to make room for better clients that will earn you more.
Understand your time
It’s important to be realistic about how much time you have to work on each project and to understand how long it takes you to write. Remember it’s not just the word count you need to pay attention to. Some pieces will require more research or referencing or simply take more brain power because you are not familiar with the subject matter. Work out how much time you have and then you can figure out which projects to take on.
Set financial goals
Once you know how much you aspire to earn you can set goals to work towards that figure. Having an amount in mind will keep you clear and focused, and as you start to earn more and more you’ll feel more inspired to keep going and begin to realize your own worth.
Raise your rates
Of course, you can’t earn more money unless you raise your rates. It’s important to be able to assess your own skill set and experience and don’t undercut yourself. If you sell yourself short you are not only doing yourself a disservice but also clients will be suspicious of those offering their services for very low amounts and you may actually lose jobs because you seem too cheap!
Build your reputation
Remember, good feedback and testimonials are invaluable. So make sure you always ask happy clients for reviews that you can use on your website or profile. Building up a reputation as a skilled writer who meets deadlines, is communicative and easy to work with will help you win bigger and better clients.
Stop taking on low paid projects
At the end of the day, there are always going to be businesses out there that think they can take advantage of freelance writers and offer them a pittance for the work they do. By avoiding these low-paid jobs we can all force businesses to offer a decent wage in return for work, and earn more money in the process too.
If you want to make more money as a freelance writer you need to get organized and put the work in. Breaking down your goals into clear, actionable steps will help you clarify what you need to do to achieve them. Remember, this doesn’t happen overnight. Be patient, work hard, believe in yourself and you will make the money you deserve.
What Do Writers Really Want?
When people think of writers, they may imagine lonely, gruff shadows of men who sit in dark corners until the wee small hours grafting away at their secret masterpieces. Or perhaps they think of them as fools and daydreamers who clutch onto impossible goals with very little hope of achieving them. Or maybe they think of seekers of fortune, of fame-hungry egomaniacs who are chasing immortality.
However, for the most part, these ideas are far-fetched and far from reality too. Writers may be inspired to write for a myriad of different reasons, but when it comes to the core of it, most of us want the same things. Not necessarily to write bestsellers, not necessarily to get rich from writing, but instead, just what any professional wants. Unfortunately, in the writing game it’s often harder to get it.
So what do writer’s really want?
To be appreciated.
Writers work extremely hard; whether they fit their writing in around their day job or write full time, it’s a high-pressure, high-risk job that demands concentration and energy. Writers want to be appreciated for the work they do and the effort they put into their writing. Putting one’s heart and soul into something only to be slated or ignored a pretty tough response, and rarely happens in other lines of work.
To be successful in their own right.
All writers want to be successful. Of course they do! But writing success is so personal. For one person it might be selling a thousand copies of their novel, for another, it might be selling just one. Writers should be able to define their personal success and celebrate it just as joyfully when they reach their goals – whatever they may be.
To be treated with respect.
Isn’t it time writers were treated with a little more respect? The writing game is an extremely tough one, and not only are we scoffed at when we reveal what we do, but also ignored by agents and publishers, and sometimes given unfair, downright cruel reviews. That’s not me being bitter; it’s just a fact!
To feel they have contributed.
Writers want to feel as though their work is worth something, that they have added value to the world through their writing. Without feeling as though we are contributing, it’s hard to feel satisfied or valued as a writer at all.
To learn and grow creatively.
We all want to get better and want our efforts to be rewarded. In other professions, it’s through promotions and pay rises. For writers, knowing that we have grown as artists, that we are learning and improving all the time – that’s exceptionally motivating indeed.
To love what they do.
Lastly, writers want to love what they do. Writing should ultimately be a positive experience, no matter what we are writing about, and if we don’t love what we do, even though it’s tiring, emotionally challenging and harsh at times, then we must ask ourselves whether what we really want is to write at all.
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Thanks for reading and have a great day!