5 Tips for Evaluating Writing Feedback and Advice

Writing feedback is great–but only if you know what to do with it. A healthy sense of your own Push, a clear mind, and a system for managing feedback will keep you on track with your vision and give you fresh insight and motivation.

I’m headed to the Realm Makers 2017 speculative fiction conference this weekend. I’ll be taking pitches for Uncommon Universes Press and mentoring authors on every stage of the journey.

And one thing I’ll make sure each author know is that they should evaluate every piece of advice and judgment they receive. Including mine.

Naturally, I think I’m fantastic at giving advice and feedback. Comes from being a teacher, coach, editor, and a kind-hearted know-it-all who really loves to fix problems and help people succeed.

But I’ve also been on the other side. I’ve gotten great advice from well-meaning people. I’ve gotten horrible advice from well-meaning people. I’ve gotten great advice from people who could be technically, scientifically classified as “meanies,” and I’ve gotten bad advice from meanies too.

The fact is, nobody’s perfect. The “meanie” person giving you feedback could be giving you good advice, but is just very blunt and/or hasn’t had their coffee that day. Or they could just be spiteful (because those people exist too). The kind and sweet person could be giving you bad advice, but doesn’t want to hurt your feelings or is just an indirect communicator. Or they could be really inexperienced (those people exist too).

And we’re all human. So even your perceptive of the individual could be suspect, colored by any preexisting relationships, personality clashes, emotional attachment (or lack thereof) to the manuscript, or even whether or not you’ve had coffee.

A healthy vetting process is vital to receiving, understanding, and processing writing feedback. Make sure you’re prepared with these five tips.

5 Tips for Evaluating Writing Feedback and Advice

1.) Take notes. Write everything down. Always save the notes they emailed to you, even if you don’t like them. You might think you’re a fast processor, but it is vital to give yourself time to process and glean whatever you can from their advice after thoughts, prayers, and consideration. If you really figure out later that it’s not useful, then you can delete/erase/burninate the feedback.

2.) Give yourself time. Don’t immediately try to understand everything, especially if it’s critique that points out flaws. Go through it in stages when you’re in a healthy, balanced state of mind. For some people, this might be half an hour. For others, it might be half a month. If you’re getting online help, take a step back and exercise or cook or do something else to clear your head. If you’re at a writing conference or workshop, step back and put the notes away. Have a glass of wine, go out to a coffee shop, watch a movie, or do whatever else you need to give yourself vital distance from your work.

3.) Remember your Push. Return to your notes, your motivation and vision statements, your direction for this manuscript, and the purposes behind its creation. Get clear and solid in your worldview and mindset, not so that you can cling to it excessively, but so you can understand your own biases and preferences. Those biases and preferences aren’t bad, but the purpose of feedback is to be challenged as well as encouraged.

4.) Get a variety of feedback. Publishers. Agents. Editors. Fellow authors. Readers. Feedback from all of these individuals can give you a solid sense of what you have, what you need, and where you’re going. Try to go for people who read and are familiar with you’re writing and trying to achieve. Also, always be gracious to the person giving you feedback, even if you don’t like it or agree with it. Grace is a professional and personal quality that never goes out of style.

5.) Evaluate the person you’re getting feedback from. Hopefully you’re getting feedback from people familiar with your genre and field, but sometimes that beta read gets sent to a broader audience, or you wanted to test out your project with an agent who is curious about your romance, but does more with action-adventure (and they had a free appointment at the conference).  It is fine to step outside of your comfort zone, but be aware that their feedback might not be normative. However, if you’re finding that your work is connecting more with the non-normative readers, then that might be a clue that you’re really in a different genre and don’t know it.

You may not fit into any genre boxes or conventions at all. You may just have to build your own box, tweaking your story’s exterior and setting a little to reach your readers (sadly, online websites and bookstores don’t have a special “steampunk + crime novel + middle grade + pseudo-memoir” section) while still keeping your core Push and stories as strong and as vibrant as you are. Never give up on your book just because it doesn’t fit in. Get out your writing tools and get to work!

Need advice? Sign up for a free 1:1 with me. I specialize in figuring out that sweet spot in drafting and marketing so you can Write Inside Out with freedom, clarity, and purpose.

Above all, keep seeking feedback. Whether easy or difficult, getting critiques is vital to the writing process and improvement in the craft. And your book is worth it.

Greetings Authors! Please share any other tips, thoughts, or feedback in the comments. I love talking with you!

 

Revise It! Recruiting and Using Reader Feedback

Beta Readers

Reader response can be one of your most important resources in the revision process–or it can derail everything and leave you confused and insecure in a corner, wondering why you even bother writing. Here are several steps to making your reader recruitment process smooth, easy, and effective.

Notice I didn’t say painless.  You’re asking for reader response, after all. You want to know what’s working and what isn’t now so you can process and fix it before you go onto the editor step. So a little(ish) pain is part of the deal.  😉

Before you go into the reader feedback stage, go back and make sure you’ve evaluated your reasons for revision. Get solid on your vision so that you know what questions to ask your readers, and you can evaluate their input effectively.

Readers can come a couple of flavors:

  • Cheerleaders – These are readers who read along as you’re drafting your manuscript. Their main job is to keep you accountable to goals and encourage you to keep going. Some writers don’t use cheerleaders, preferring to create free and solo, away from anyone else’s critique. Others (like me) swear by them. While I’ll do short works without cheerleaders, for me writing is an inherently social endeavor, so I need the constant feedback of my circle of readers to keep going.
  • Alpha Readers – Also called first readers. One or two people who read your manuscript just for the joy of it. Alpha readers only comment when they’re really jarred of the narrative or confused by something. I don’t necessarily use these because my cheerleaders tend to give me quick readers summaries after I finish a manuscript.
  • Beta Readers – After the alpha reader(s), the beta readers are your major source of reader feedback. Whereas alpha readers give unprompted reader-response, beta readers often get a list of questions or concepts to skim for and check. They’ll give your manuscript a more detailed look-over according to your specifications, often in exchange for an advance look at your epic story or as part of a beta read swap.
  • Gamma Readers – Readers who go over the manuscript in later stages and offer specific feedback. Can also be brought in at the end for endorsement purposes and final feedback about genre/audience for your work.
  • Specialty Readers – these can come along anywhere in the process, but they’re singled out for specific purposes. They might include sensitivity readers if you’re dealing with a particular area that you aren’t familiar with in terms of life experience, race, sexuality, disability, culture, religion, etc. They might also include readers with specific technical knowledge or expertise who can give feedback on whether or not your content sounds plausible.

Guidelines for Using Reader Feedback

  • Evaluate your reasons for revision. Again. Evaluate your reasons for revision. Clarity of purpose is one of the most valuable tools you have as a writer.
  • Decide what kind of readers you want to use. You don’t have to use all of the ones listed, and you may have some super-specific extra-special top-secret psi readers that you use for the ultimate in feedback.
  • Choose readers who actually enjoy your genre. They will inherently understand the tropes and expectations. Plus, if they like the story, they might sign up for ARCs and be able to give endorsements or reviews!
  • Use multiple readers. I would recommend three beta readers at minimum to give yourself a good variety of feedback. Using more than three is fine, but it can be overwhelming to process. Using less means you won’t have the varied perspectives. Also, if you can, try to have readers from different backgrounds or skill sets.
  • Compose a list of questions. Give them to beta readers so they have specific areas to look for. This can ensure higher quality feedback and be really helpful for your readers.
  • Compare feedback to your purposes. Make sure you hold strong in your vision, but also be open to getting new perspectives on your writing. That is the purpose of feedback, after all!
  • Be gracious to your readers. These are individuals who have given their time and energy to read your work and help you out. Gratitude is a great and classy response. Some authors list significant readers in their acknowledgements, while others offer free ARCs or do beta read swaps.

Note: at this point I’d love to make a huge shout-out to my awesome cheerleader readers and beta readers, who are incredibly supportive and picky at the same time. Y’all are amazing!

Greetings Authors! What kinds of readers do you use? Got any other tips for using reader feedback? Wanna acknowledge some awesome readers in your life? Give a shout-out in the comments!

Revise It! Evaluating Your Story Revision Goals

Why are you revising this manuscript?

Writing inside out means always coming back to the goals, motivation, and heart of your story. It means owning your deepest truths and convictions and then infusing them in every aspect of the writing process.

It’s owning your Push.

Good revising takes good planning, and good planning starts with knowing what your goals and mission and Push are for your story. Even if you’re revising this story on a ‘have-to’ basis because you’ve been blessed with a contract, returning to your own motivations will enable you to tap into more enthusiasm, energy, and productivity when you’re in the depths of “where the crap did THAT sentence come from?” or its sibling, “who wrote this? A five-year-old? Oh wait, no. I did. Whoops!” or their cousin, “holy infodump, Batman!”

Yes, those are quotes from my own self-revision process, lest you think that editors and coaches are somehow superheroes who can crank out perfect manuscripts with breathless ease. While expertise can make story-crafting easier, every writer still has to travel the same journey in revisions and self-editing.

Evaluating the revision process makes ultimately your life easier and gives you quantifiable goals that can work within your revision schedule.

Evaluating Your Story Revision Goals

Why do I need to revise this story right now?

If you’re under a deadline, this is easy to answer. You committed to producing the product, and now you’ve gotta buckle down and do it. The next step is just to figure out how to fuel your brain and creativity to get the job done.

If you’re not under an imposed, necessary deadline, consider carefully what would serve you and the story best. Setting aside your manuscript and allowing it to breathe is a part of the writing process and allows your brain to rest–and this doesn’t just mean novel manuscripts.

A romantic spoof short story I recently released, Hearts Ablaze, was written three years ago in a flurry of satirical creativity. Then I set it aside and worked on other things. When I returned to the story this past March and realized it was actually good, I was evaluating the story with three additional years of experience, not just wishful thinking.

Three years is an extreme example, but always consider the possibility that setting work aside could be part of your process.

What are three reasons I wrote this story? 

These don’t have to be deep, complex reasons. They could be a message on your heart, a desire to have fun, or an excuse to entertain yourself. One reason could easily be “because the owner of the magazine asked me” or “because I want to enter this contest” (although in both of those cases: why that magazine or that contest?). The important thing is that you know those reasons and that you write them down (or at least keep them in mind). Your three story reasons are your focus and your encouragement as you revise.

What are my publishing plans for this story?

Your plans may already be decided by the publisher or the contest. Otherwise, what do you plan to do with this piece? Are you writing a short story to tease out a future release? A quick novella to experiment with a concept? Are you working on a series of books? How do you plan on publishing them? Once a year? In quick succession over a year? If you’re looking to query a series for traditional publication, I strongly recommend outlining as much as possible ahead of time to show the house, and if possible, have more than one book written.

Or maybe you wrote this story for fun and don’t have any future plans. That’s fine too! That was a main reason why I wrote Hearts Ablaze. Just tuck the story away for later or keep it as a fun brain-game–but always stay open to possible publishing urges!

What does my ideal reader look like for this story–and what would I want them to say about it?

Picture your ideal reader. What do they look like? What do they wear? What kind of activities do they enjoy? What do you want that reader to notice about your story? Picture your ideal book review from that reader. Other than “I just bought a hundred copies” 😉 what would you want that review to say? Sure, you can’t actually choose what reviewers say, but you can revise your content to meet reader and genre needs (while still honoring your vision). This is a really helpful exercise when submitting to magazines and contests, because in those cases you already have the readership in line, which makes them easier to target.

Who can I share this story with?

You know your story best, and your excitement for that story is contagious! Part of writing inside out is knowing your motivations and passions and sharing those naturally with potential readers so they catch the fire. However, this passion can get stalled if there is anything in your work that you’re not comfortable owning.

Consider now the reactions of friends, family, and your present/future fan base. If there would be disapproval or concern over you authoring your story, that doesn’t mean you can’t go ahead. It does mean you should evaluate how much you want to invest in the story, whether you want to adjust anything during revisions, and how you want to present it to others. If you’re in a job that mandates a certain degree of self-censorship, consider using a pen name. Otherwise, this question at least forces you to understand the core of your story and identify your audience so that you own whatever controversial subject matter you’re working with.

Why do I like this story?

Always come back to this. Your feelings towards the story will always come through. Yes, an editor can help filter those things out, but why force yourself through something you aren’t enjoying? Especially if you have to write this for a deadline, make a list of things you like just to remind yourself of why you’re at this. Invest in your delight of your story and ‘bank it’ in different ways so that you can pull from that passion when you’re in the depths of seemingly endless detailed rewrites and revision. Make Pinterest boards. Collect articles or objects that inspire your work. Make playlists. Sketch. As a bonus, all of this passion can make marketing easier when you get to that stage!

Your story is worth your investment of time, passion, and purpose. And if after all of this, you’re feeling flaccid and indifferent, I ask again:

Why are you revising this manuscript?

Greetings, authorsmiths! I’d love to hear your answers for any/all of the questions above in the comments–and if you’re in drafting mode, I’d love to hear what your WIP is about, and what makes it so awesome!

 

How to Beat the Blank Page and Write

We’ve all been there.

You sit down after a long day. You’re tired, but you made it. Your kids are at a sitter, or your dishes are getting ignored in the sink, or you’ve finally gotten off social media. You’re ready to write.

And then: nothing. Absolutely nothing. All of those brilliant ideas for your manuscript, blog post, article, or what-have-you are gone.

The screen is blank.

You glance at the clock. You’re down to fifty minutes of precious writing time before you have to get on to the next task, because you write in the margins. You don’t have the luxury of trying to wait for the muse. You have to get content onto paper NOW.

All of those thoughts only make you freeze up more. You decide to go on a walk. All you feel is relief that you’re away from your computer. Divine inspiration? Not there.

What about online writing gurus and experts? Surely they have an idea? You hop online just for a second, just to scroll through a few blogs and websites of successful writing experts and authors.

Man, these people look way more put-together than you. Look at those shiny websites! Even their posts look awesome. And who did those book covers? Yikes! How are they that famous that quickly? Is this normal? What are you even doing?

Maybe you’re not cut out for this. The doubts churn in your stomach.

Thirty minutes gone. What? No. How did time go so fast? This is not fair. Okay, focus. Gotta get this done. Otherwise, you won’t have any time until tomorrow. Professionals work best under deadlines, right? And you’re a professional. You’re making time. You’re doing things the right way.

The blank screen still looms large. You have nothing.

Maybe you are nothing. What’s the point? Clearly, others are doing this all the time. Let them do it. You can binge watch TV or scroll Pinterest.

What does it matter anyway?

I’ve been there. As one of those crazy writing-in-the-margins types, I know what it feels like to scrape away at that time, while wondering if it’s worth it. To fight for those hours and minutes and hope they add up to something meaningful to put out there to readers.

Good news: they do!
Bad news: only if you get actual words on the page.

And we’re back to that grand question of: HOW?

 

how to beat the blank page and write

 

1.) Remember your push
Write down the reasons Why YOU write, why your words matter, where you came from, what’s your story. Have these reason sticky-noted on your computer desktop. Get some writing partners who are there just to encourage you to keep going. Much is made of critique partners, but I’m a personal fan of the writing cheerleaders for the drafting process. Sometimes you don’t need feedback. You just need someone who believes in you, no matter what.

2.) Allow yourself to relax
Put on some music. Give yourself a little time to scroll your favorite Pinterest boards or research some new concepts. It isn’t wasting time, especially if that research is fueling your thoughts. Better fifteen minutes of solid writing than an hour of trying to stare at the screen without inspiration.

3.) Let your mind wander
Daydreaming is underrated. Humans are not, in fact, content machines. Eventually, we all give out. Take a bit of time to pray. Meditate. Breathe deeply. Do whatever you need to center yourself and clear out any issues from the day. If you’re having to write at a public place, put in earbuds to make your own inner space.

4.) Chase some plot bunnies
Got an idea you just GOTTA explore, but it isn’t on topic, but you just can’t stop thinking about it? Take 5-10 minutes and write it out to clear your brain. This isn’t wasting time. This is helping you to focus. Enjoy. Let yourself have fun and expand your creativity!

5.) Manage your environment
Earbuds are your friend. So is your favorite beverage or treat. Do whatever you need to get yourself in the mood, even if it feels weird or people don’t ‘get it.’ I tend to get bored with one location, so in college I was the Migratory Studier. I used to study one subject in the library, another subject in a friend’s dorm room, and a third subject in the girl’s bathroom in the student center (they had the comfiest couch there). Yeah, it was odd, but it worked for me, and it wasn’t making anyone else’s life difficult (actually got into some fun conversations in the bathroom).

6.) Accept that your process is different from everyone else’s
Process-development is discussed more in the visual arts field, but we writers need it just as much to free us from the pressure of perfection. You will never write exactly like your favorite writing expert. And you don’t have to. Even if it seems like they are succeeding out the wazoo, and if you just listen to their every thought and follow their every step, your life will get better. Learn what works for you, develop it more, take bits and pieces from others, and never be afraid to say “you know what, that method might have made you write five best-sellers, but it doesn’t work for me. And that’s okay, because we’re different people who have different brains and lifestyles. I will keep trying until I figure out me and make it work.”

7.) Accept that your work won’t be perfect
Stay away from books or blog posts or articles that make you insecure about your own writing. The authors wrote those books, blog posts, and articles, edited them, and proofread them. Trying to compare your drafting to their finished, polished work is comparing a mixing bowl of brownie batter to a fully-baked pan of brownies.
And give yourself some credit. Call in cheerleaders to point out where your drafting is excelling. Because brownie batter can taste darn delicious by itself.

8.) Give yourself a day off. Yes, I mean it.
Consistency is celebrated in the writing and content-creation community. But seriously. People get sick. Life happens. Yes, if you have a deadline, you gotta buckle down and meet it. But days of rest are necessary for health and wellness. Better you take some time off, recharge, and deal with life than continue forcing yourself to try and create when It. Isn’t. Working. The world will not end. The internet won’t go anywhere (unless the zombie apocalypse happens, and then you have other problems to deal with). And you will be far more refreshed and ready to go. Concerned you won’t go back to writing? Call on your cheerleaders to hold you accountable and remember your Push.

Beating the blank page and writing can be a daily battle (or an every-other-day battle, or a weekend battle–call it a “whenever-you-have-time” battle!). But winning that battle is 100% worth it, because you are getting words out, having fun, and moving forward. And every step is worth it!

I love learning more about you! What’s an important part of your writing process? Got any other recommendations for solving Blank Screen Syndrome? Share in the comments!

Why You Should Write Unrealistic Fiction

One of the perennial questions on the internet is “how do I write for the opposite gender?” After that, you usually get the whole argument about who can (and can’t) capture the true essence and mystique of a specific gender. Then, the whole argument of “realism” is brought up.

Therein lies the core issue. Realism.

Writing fiction has nothing to do with being realistic. Authors are creators carefully crafting characters and scenes and stories to reach their readership. You don’t have to justify or impress anyone else other than yourself and your target audience.

why you should write unrealistic fiction

Realism doesn’t matter in writing – but here’s what does: author convictions, story plausibility, reader expectations, and genre conventions.

Author Convictions

You are writing this story. It is your story. You gotta live with it and at the end of the day, you’re selling it, either to an agent, a publishing company, or directly to readers. Ultimately, you have to be satisfied with how it turns out. Know your Push, your essential motivation, and use it to keep going.

Story Plausibility

This is where story structure and writing craft come in. Get your problem and solution sorted out, make sure your story follows an outline (either by plotting, or by self-editing after you finish pantsing), strengthen your characterization, and go over your whole manuscript multiple times. Bring in beta readers (preferably at least three for varied opinions), use a critique group, hire an editor, and try to fill in every plot hole and issue you can. Master those fundamentals of fiction as much as you can.

Genre Conventions

Now the concepts of realism and ‘proper story technique’ are turned upside down. You see, genre conventions are the general structures and expectations of specific genres. Is it realistic for people in novels to be incredibly attractive? Nope, but in certain kinds of genre romance, they both better be knockouts. Is it realistic for all of those urban fantasy men to be devil-may-care, gritty masters of snark or all of those urban fantasy females to wear tight leather and love swords? Nope, but it often goes with the territory.

You can of course thwart genre conventions, but depending on which ones you choose to overturn, beware that it could turn off readers, no matter how good your writing craft. Also, ‘telling’? That’s a bonus in some genres (and some authors are really good at it). What about the dreaded ‘purple prose’? Well, some high fantasy goes over the moon for all the lush over-descriptions, whereas some fast-paced adventure novels drop bits of description as if they are precious, rare diamonds. The key is to know the conventions of your genre and have confidence in how to keep them (or break them smartly).

Reader Expectations

Reader expectations are often tied into genre conventions. This is a good thing, because you’ll know how to deliver what your readers want, be it thrilling cliffhanger endings for suspense or happy ever afters for romance. To know reader expectations, haunt book reviews, book blogs, and book club discussion areas. Also, grab a second round of beta readers to give purely reader-response.

The good thing is that readers often expect different things than authors. They want to be entertained, pleased, surprised, comforted, thrilled, mesmerized, shocked, and/or anything else that is considered part of the deal. Depending on the market area, they may overlook typos, spelling, or grammar errors, but they can be far less forgiving if you fail one of the expectations (couple doesn’t get together, plot twists don’t twist, etc).

Marketing tip – make sure your book cover, blurb, and overall presentation hit the targets for your genre and reader expectations. Otherwise, you could be attracting the wrong kinds of readers and that does not lead to good reviews (consider how frustrated suspense readers would be to get a sappy romance, or how annoyed high fantasy fans would be to get a stripped-down action-suspense plot). Granted, you could still get negative reviews for other reasons, but don’t let off-target marketing be one of them!

So go ahead–write unrealistic fiction! Make your characters strong, potent, memorable. Make your stories incredible. Improbably probable. Weave your plots well and reach into the hearts of your readers. Revise, tweak, resubmit, refresh to get things just right.

And enjoy every minute of it.

What are your favorite genres? What are some genre conventions? Do you keep them or turn them upside down?

6 Tips for a Memorable Author Tagline

A tagline gives more information about you and about your purpose in a short, bite-size phrase that can easily sink into your reader’s minds.

Like you, I’m busy. I usually give a website maybe five to ten seconds to prove its worth before I move on. It’s nothing personal, but life’s short .

Taglines are a great way to hook the interest of busy readers and web-surfers–as long as that tagline is purposeful, snappy, and connects with your core message.

There are plenty of helpful articles with examples of taglines, but I’m going to pull out my English language know-how to clue you into one secret about taglines and then break it down.

It’s all about poetry.

What? Yeah, poetry. That stuff you had to learn in high school (or didn’t learn, because you were zoning out). Love it or hate it, poetry focuses on the rhythms, beats, and patterns of language, and that makes it an asset when it comes turning out a good phrase.

The best taglines are poetry. Here are some examples of how to put this into practice.

6 Tips for a Memorable Author Tagline

1.) Alliteration – Start each word (or at least a significant amount of words) with the same letter. My tagline for fiction? Monsters, Misfits, and Mushy Stuff. Ronie Kendig’s tagline? Rapid-Fire Fiction. Pam Halter has a great one with Fairies, Fantasy, and Faith. Alliteration sticks in the brain and creates a great starting point for your brand.

2.) Rhyming – Look at Katie Morford’s Create. Explore. Illuminate. She uses the One Word. method, but also sneaks in a rhyme between her first and third words. The second “buffer” word and the fact that all three of her words directly relate to her mission statement makes this tagline a home run.

3.) Syllables – Let’s go back to Monsters, Misfits, and Mushy Stuff. The first three primary words all start with “m”, all have two syllables, and all have the same stress pattern: MONsters, MISfits, MUSHy Stuff. This is getting a little more technical, but makes for a satisfying mouthful.

4.) Repetition – Repeating the same stress pattern, syllable pattern, or beginning word is a key aspect in many effective taglines. Just don’t do it too much or it can get sing-songy in a bad way.

5.) Short and PunchyWrite Inside Out used to be Building Stories From the Inside Out. I slimmed it down because it was too long to get through. Although I’ll never say a long tagline is out of the question, in general shorter is better.

6.) One Word. or Two Words. or even Three Words. – For my press, Uncommon Universes Press (note the alliteration?) our tagline is Be New. Be Bold. Be Uncommon. This encapsulates UUP’s emphasis on speculative fiction that is unorthodox, creative, and owns its unique vision on the world.

Ultimately, you can have all of the above and still not have a great tagline. Why? Because taglines are more than just clever poetry tricks. You know you have a good tagline when you can explain how it directly relates to your fiction and only your fiction.

Anyone can just throw together a few epic sounding creative words: Dream. Live. Believe. or Soft Words for Strong Matters (see there? Contrasting elements between soft and strong). But if that clever little phrase doesn’t really encapsulate what makes you, your mission, and your Push (motivation/angle) unique, then it might as well not be there. Better a less-clever tagline that resonates with your writing than a word gem that doesn’t really mean anything.

However, if you can nail down a great tagline, then you have one more expression of your authentic self and vision to reach readers and allow them to see into your world. And that is priceless.

A good tagline invites your reader into your passion, your purpose, and your perspective as an author.

My tagline is Write Inside Out, because I honestly believe inside every person is a great writer–and I want to coach and equip you every step of the way. Taglines are one of my favorite things to problem-solve, and I would love to help coach you through yours. We figure out your Push, your audience, your genre needs, and go from there on an exciting journey to awesomeness! Tagline coaching is $15/half hour or $30/hour over video chat, and you get a follow-up email with session notes, suggestions, and encouragement.

Show-off time! What’s your tagline? Respond in the comments!

5 Basics of Authentic Book Marketing

Marketing. Love it or hate it, it’s how your work gets into the hands of more readers. There are a lot of great marketing books, blog posts, articles, webinars, Facebook groups, and email newsletters to help you sell books and reach readers. I’m not one to reinvent the wheel, but I am a college-educated people-nerd (communications, intercultural studies, ESL), experienced teacher, and a pragmatist who loves doing things better in less time.

So here are some basics to authentic book marketing for encouragement, edification, and enlightenment (alliteration rocks).

5 Basics 0f Book Marketing

1.) Know Your Push.

Your Push is what motivates you to write–what pushes you along, no matter how you’re feeling or what’s going on in your life. You have to be confident of your motivation and your goals before you launch. Does authentic book marketing mean you put everything out there all the time? Nope. But it’s still helpful for you to know it so you can make wise decisions.

Years ago, I had a publisher request a manuscript for a contemporary romance. During final edits before submissions, I started having issues because I couldn’t picture myself selling a contemporary romance. I rarely even read contemporary romance, except out of occasional curiosity (nothing personal, just lacking in dragons or vampires). I’m a speculative fiction, dyed-hair, monsters-and-misfits kinda gal. While the story had misfit characters, that lack of speculative element was a deal-breaker for me in terms of putting the book out there.

When you’re considering your writing goals, have fun imagining where you’d like to see it published and marketed, and who you’d like to be reading your work. Make sure that lines up with your own Push and that you can see yourself going into those areas.

2.) Play to Your Strengths.

Some people do better in text. Some people do better in podcasts. Some people shine in videos. Some can do more than one thing–which is great if you have the time! The goal is to find out where you shine and focusing on that area.

Love pics? Instagram might be your thing. Master of the witty one-liner–or just too succinct for your own good? Twitter might be your spot. Enjoy connecting across a broad array of people and hopping in and out of groups? Try Facebook. LOVE talking? Try podcasts or YouTube videos.

While I think everyone should give a shot at in-person sales and appearances (because nothing connects better than actually meeting with others) and email newsletters appear to be with us forever (and for good reason, if only to allow you step outside of Twitter and Facebook algorithms), everything else is up for grabs. Research, find out where your readers are, and go for it. See what works for you–and don’t be afraid to try something new!

3.) Get Your Name Out There.

As much as possible, put your name out there–or at least the name you write under. Make the Amazon Author Central page, make the Goodreads author page, make an author website (even if it’s just a basic landing page and some links to other places), etc. Anywhere that you can make a static, leave-it-and-forget-it author page, do it. Yes, ideally you’ll want to be active in these places, but even if you can’t be, put your name out there with links to where people can find you. Be available online and on Google if people type in your name (or pen name).

4.) Do What You Can. 

Preferably, focus on a few areas and invest in them. If you’re an indie, you’re a one-person creative machine, so chances are, there will be days when you can’t get on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram to post. That’s fine. The worse thing you can do is beat yourself up over it. Just be as consistent as you can and relax about the rest.

Now thankfully you can set up posts in advance using Buffer or Hootsuite, but if you’re crazy busy, those time-savers still require you to sit down and spend precious minutes and/or hours organizing the posts–plus, you’ll want to get online sometime to engage with others and maybe put up something spontaneous in response to a current event or new development in your writing.

Authentic book marketing means acknowledging that you can’t be everywhere or everything all the time. And that’s okay.

5.) Make Your Product Good (Enough).  

Whether you’re indie publishing, going through a small press, signing with one of the large traditional presses, or something in-between, it’s important to have a good story, solid editing, and a good book cover that meets the conventions of your genre and readership.

But it won’t be perfect. Your ebook or print copy might have typos, because even at publishing houses, people aren’t perfect. Your cover may not look the way you imagined it (because you’re on a budget, because of poor communication, or because it’s literally impossible to transfer the most glorious image from your head onto a cover image–yet).

Authentic book marketing isn’t about perfection. It’s about doing the best you can, where you are, with the tools you have and the passion inside you, and always seeking to improve.

I’m always looking to level up as well, so post in the comments with your favorite marketing books, gurus, and articles!

And if you’re looking for free, personalized, one-on-one feedback on your book marketing ventures, sign up for a free 30 minute video coaching session! Lots of getting to know how your brain works, what pushes you, and fresh ideas on your future, plus notes and encouragement to give you a jumpstart.