Annette Young is an author and editor and founder of Creative1 Publishing. She has written 16-books in her name and has ghost-written numerous books for clients worldwide. Passionate about the written word, Annette has helped numerous authors to polish their words and to improve their sales potential.
People think that writing short stories is an easy option but this is not necessarily true. Before you even put pen to paper, it pays to consider your idea from all angles. Who are you writing for? What is your target audience? Do you have a limited word count? A little planning goes a long way and will enhance your creativity rather than stifle it.
If you are entering a writing competition or submitting a story for a magazine, there will be guidelines or rules to follow. Ignore them at your peril.
Your opening paragraph must be strong. If you fail to start at the right point, you will simply lead the readers on a merry journey and one that suddenly fizzles out. With a limited word count, you must be careful as to the number of characters that you introduce. Focus on one or two characters but make them appealing and believable. A short story should provide escapism and yet, entertain. It is not just a case of getting an idea and running with it. There are essential considerations and if you abide by them, your story has a chance of getting published.
With this in mind, here are some top tips for writing professional-level short stories.
Consider who you are writing for. Check and re-check any guidelines.
Create the outline of your story. Write it down. Is it strong? Will it captivate readers?
Define your beginning, middle and ending. It helps if you write a brief summary for each stage. This will keep you on track.
Develop your opening paragraph. Start at the right place. You need to hook readers immediately.
Know your characters. Highlight their necessary traits. Try to visualise the characters in your mind’s eye. Don’t take time building up the characters, you can reveal much through conversation or through the setting. Focus on developing the characters in a way that does not use too much of your precious word count.
Don’t run away with the first idea that comes to mind. Often, a little more thinking power can extend, deepen and improve that idea and once cultivated, it can take on a life of its own. You may find you alter your idea considerably as stronger ideas take shape and form. Importantly, with a little thought, you write with greater conviction.
Work on that ending. Readers need to be satisfied. You need to build a steady pace leading up to the ending and readers must feel that sense of closure. Don’t cheat the readers. Make the ending have impact. Once you have finished writing, set aside your story for a few days and then, read it aloud as if reading to an audience.
Dialogue must progress the story. Make conversation count.
Edit, edit and edit again. Making little tweaks can make a big difference to the finished product.
So there you have it. 9 top tips to bring your short story to life. Utilise these tips as a checklist next time you are writing fiction and you will write with greater confidence and your story will be enriched.
Want to enter our First Paragraph writing competition? CLICK here.
Take a moment to consider your deeply desired ambitions – of the creative kind at least. Is there a book formulating inside of you? Do you feel the need to commit those words to paper and to breathe life into your idea? If yes, let those words start to generate. When it comes to writing a book, it’s important to understand the process. This is important because it is not just about creativity and how to capture it. The aim is to keep one step ahead of the checklist and to streamline your approach.
Writing a book? Create a website
You may be wondering why creating a website would help if the writing process is taking over, but your website is really important. It becomes a marketing tool. It also helps to brand you as an author too. You can start to connect with your potential readers even while you are writing. Create a blog and detail your journey from the starting point all the way through to the published product. Others will be interested to see how you get on and before you know it, you have developed a following. You can also create and send out newsletter updates. It’s easy to forge the foundations of writing success. Creating a dedicated following is vital for your success. Add snippets from your book to your newsletter so that it incites interest from those who might buy your book.
Share your journey
Writing a book is like capturing a little piece of yourself. Yes, it is true. This is whether fiction or non-fiction. You write from the heart, from your experiences and with passion. You spend hours or days researching, fact-checking or, you sit mulling over ideas so to expand your book’s potential. Sharing that process, that journey of creativity with others is a great way to develop a connection with those who are likely to share your goals or who just love to read.
Your website is a part of you. Develop it, expand it and share it to family and friends and on social media. Do so with integrity and drive. Map your journey and learn by any mistakes. There’s no doubt about it, your own personal author page can start you on the stepping stones to success.
I get it. You love the whole creative writing process but when it comes to book promotion, you feel it’s a lengthy and uninspiring chore. However, you owe it to yourself to promote your book and to commit fully to the process because otherwise, your book is likely to sink without a trace. Even the best books need nurturing. If you consider that you have sweated blood and tears when writing your fiction or non-fiction book, why would you limit its progress and not do all you can to get the word out there so people can read it?
There is nothing as soul-destroying as seeing your book sliding down the Amazon sales chart. You may not have written your book with the intent of being a bestselling author but it would be nice if someone read it, right? We all want to know that our words are powerful. That they resonate with others and that the creative project that was once just a faint idea has now taken shape and is a viable, published entity. That’s powerful and amazing.
Promote your book regularly
It’s true if you want to promote your book, do so regularly. This means keeping one finger on the pulse of book marketing and promotion. It’s about learning and identifying what works and what does not. To promote your book, consider which marketing sites will do justice to your book, and this will, of course, be dependent on your marketing budget. You must also consider how much time you have although our add to sites service may be just what you are looking for.
If you want to promote your book successfully, create a plan of action. Start today. When you see your book being downloaded regularly, all the hard work will be worth it.
If you don’t know where to start, just ask us. We are happy to guide you. If you want us to take the strain out of your book marketing endeavours, we can do this too. We have numerous ways to help you and we go above and beyond many book marketing services.
Book marketing – for many authors is a necessary evil. Yet, it needn’t be a drama. One tip is to start the marketing process before you have even written the book. Create a checklist and refer to it often. Consider what you can do to give your book a lift and tick off each task as you complete it. By doing so, it enables proactive steps to the book promotion process. If you have already written your book, don’t worry, you can still incorporate book marketing into daily life, just do a little at a time. Plan ahead. Here’s how.
Book Marketing Tricks
The following are easy to implement book marketing tricks. Try some or all of them. You choose.
1. Set up a Twitter account and build up a following. Take time to engage with other writers or readers in your genre. You could soon be talking to writers and readers all around the globe. Get ideas, join creative forces, gain inspiration. These contacts can help you with book promotion by liking and sharing your tweets. Don’t forget to use the relevant hashtags so your book can be found.
2. Create a Facebook page other than your personal one and start to develop a following on there. Gradually, people will start to see your posts but here’s a word of warning, Facebook will restrict the times that your posts are seen unless you boost posts and run ads. It is still worth having a dedicated page. You should also consider setting up Facebook ads as they can be seen by the people who love your type of book.
3. Plan your book reviews now. Take a look at Amazon’s top 100 reviewers and narrow it down to your niche. This can be a bit time-consuming but it is worth doing as some quality reviews can really give your book a head start. Amazon does not support reviews for books on preorder but it is possible to get some great reviewers prepared – which in turn will help you to further your book promotion tasks.
4. If you are not a member of Goodreads yet, sign up now. You can organise a giveaway for your book to over 65 million members. Unlike Amazon, Goodreads will allow you to gain reviews during the preorder stage.
5. Consider a press release. If your book is newsworthy i.e. you have written it to coincide with a specific event or if it is topical, then, the media might be keen to interview you. Not sure how to get a press release, click here.
6. Share snippets of your book across all social media channels. Choose the snippets that incite interest and interaction. This is a great way for your book to be seen. Don’t forget the more followers you have, the more those snippets will be shared. If you are writing a book now, create some compelling snippets as you go. Strengthen those words. You can also create visual posts and these will stand out from any text promotions.
7. Use Amazon’s book promotion tools to help escalate your book up the Amazon rankings. It can take a lot of time to prepare for book promotion and to find sites that promote your book (free and paid) during the event. If the budget allows and if time is restricted, we can help you out. Why stress when you can have the work done for you?
So, that’s it. Some easy ways to approach the book marketing process. But don’t think you have to go it alone or that it is too difficult. It is a simple fact that authors have to go the extra mile to get their books noticed. Build it into your writing and publishing checklist and do a little at a time. You will get real results.
Annette J Beveridge is the author of 16 books in her own name and has ghost-written numerous books for clients worldwide. She is also the editor of Creative1 Publishing.
We all know that finding time to write can be a mammoth task. Most days, you have to juggle everyday chores along with a rising workload. But what about now? What about this period of enforced lockdown? Unless you are a key worker, you will have more time on your hands than you ever imagined. If you enjoy creative writing, doesn’t it make sense to make the most of your writing time while you can?
Your writing time is precious
In the first few days of being at home, you may have considered setting time aside to write. But when? Do you write early in the morning or late in the day? When home, it is all too easy to be distracted. You have the Television on and spend more time watching it than writing. It distracts you. Perhaps, if alone, you are not used to the silence. For some reason, the words will just not come. Or you live with family members and you are all forced into this slightly surreal existence.
There is no doubt that it takes time to settle into a routine of sorts. You will have your inner frustrations to deal with. If like many, you will resent that your freedom has been restricted even if you understand why. You may have to help others through their frustrations too. This is a situation in which no one is prepared. Another thing to consider is that change is not always good for anyone with a creative flair. The uncertainty is unsettling. Lockdown may stifle the creative process.
Where to start
If you want to make the most of your writing time – clear your mind. Take a deep breath and come to terms with your situation. It isn’t easy but the best way to deal with any situation is to accept it. Imagine space between your thoughts. If you are good at visualising, imagine walking in the corridors of your mind. Let go of all other thoughts. Meditation works really well and can be used to increase the sense of peace that you feel within. That’s really important at this time. Release any frustrations too – meditation and yoga together work beautifully and help to still the mind and relax the body.
This may not be the usual route to writing success but it works.
Tap into your reality
The one thing you may not wish to do while living this situation is to think more deeply about it. However, it can actually be a starting point for your writing. If you write about the things you know and have experienced, it breathes renewed intent into those words. Although we are all sharing these strange times, no one will know your situation as you do. When you write about it, others will be able to empathise when they read your words. You don’t have to write about the virus but use it as a springboard to other creative writing ideas.
Think about using keywords such as escape and freedom to spark the creative process. Create a mind map allowing the thoughts to flow from one idea to the next. Most people would agree that the thought of freedom right now is high on their list of needs. If you close your eyes, you may transport yourself to a sunny beach scene, to a walk along the river or transport yourself away on a city break. Your idea of freedom may be very different from someone else’s. We all share the knowledge that everything we have ever taken for granted in life is highlighted at this moment. Our health is under attack, the prospect of going on holiday is over and even, a long walk may be subjected to public criticism. Life has changed in ways we could not predict.
Take the concept of freedom and consider what it means to you. Take the battle for health and wellbeing and how this lockdown has turned your thoughts inwards so you worry about yourself and others. These are very real emotions. Weave these elements into stories that show the human response to situations that test each and every one of us. Create a story that grips and compels readers to continue. There are literally hundreds or, thousands of ideas that could be created as a result of these initial starting points. When you write, do so with the readers in mind.
Creating characters that reach out to readers
Once you have your idea, you also need to create well-defined characters. Place them in your melting pot of a story and let the frustrations of that plot create uncharacteristic actions. To do this, spend time getting to know your characters. To make the most of your allotted writing time, create character profiles and have fun with them. Consider the following:
Who are these characters?
Why do they think and feel in specific ways?
What has happened to them up to this point?
The more detail added to your profiles will strengthen these creations. It will aid the belief of those who read the story. You will also be able to write with greater conviction. Writing affords an escape into the untapped potential of your mind. It also gives you some control. In a way, you play God with your characters and can take the story in any direction you like.
No one could predict the extent of this pandemic or how it would affect us all on a global basis. But it makes sense to use this time wisely. Creative writing is so therapeutic. Even if you are not planning to let others read your story, just enjoy the whole process. It is fun.
Let your creativity run riot. It is liberating.
Once the risk of catching Coronavirus has reduced, life will gradually go back to some sort of normality. There may be much less time at your disposal so, tap into a little creativity today. You can make it a family event – even if you are not all locked in together. Make use of Skype or Zoom. There are so many apps that can bring you closer together. Even if you want to have some alone time, use lockdown to relish the creative process.
Any author will tell you that writing a book is seriously a labour of love. It tugs at your emotions, it sends you to the depths of despair when the words do not come and, you have to dig deep to harden your resolve to finish your book. But then, once you have typed that final word, elation like no other washes over you. WOW. You’ve done it. You have achieved your goal. But, then, the cold reality seeps in. Who is going to see it? How can you attract the right readers? This is a problem that affects most authors.
If your book promotion budget is limited, you have to be a little imaginative and be prepared to put in some ground work.
There’s no avoiding it. A solid book campaign is vital if you want to make your book rise to the lofty top 10 in any category and you can’t give up then and think those sales will continue to come, you must keep driving sales so to keep your book afloat. After all, other authors are going to do the same to promote their books. If you don’t go the extra mile, your book is likely to plummet like a stone. After all your hard work, that’s going to hurt.
So, here are a few great ways to boost your own book promotion campaign:
This is one of our great new book promotional tools and you can have your book promoted for FREE while we tell the world about it. The concept is simple, you must tell us why readers would love it so, get your creative head on. This is only free for a while SO DON’T MISS OUT.
This is our Facebook page with over 13,000 book enthusiasts and we are happy to promote your book for free. We are always looking for short author interviews so message us here.
If you don’t mind being in the spotlight, do a Facebook video and time it with your book launch or book news.
YouTube – create your own YouTube channel and promote your book to a whole new audience. Have fun with it. Don’t just record yourself saying I have a great book, be a little quirky and develop your YouTube persona. Go dark, go extreme, be a little off the wall.
Want to keep readers enthused about your writing prior to the book launch? Use this great tool and gain real time support and enthusiastic readers.
Do you have your own website yet? If not, get one set up quickly. This is your author platform. It is the place that people will come to so to review your books or to find out more about upcoming books. Create downloadable PDF samples of your book and use it to get people to opt in for your author newsletter. You can also create a tweetable elevator pitch so that fans can share it. Not sure how? Use the Click to Tweet plugin for WordPress. You can also use quotes and blog posts to entice book enthusiasts.
Create your own postcards, posters, book markers or even design a t-shirt and boldly promote your book on your chest. No doubt people will start to ask questions. Try to come up with eye-catching ways to make the book title or an image speak volumes about your book.
So there you are, some quirky book promotion tips that really work. But, remember, as time-consuming as it may be, you need to keep on top of your book promotion schedule otherwise your book placement will slip. If you don’t have time, we can help.
It’s easy for books to become swallowed up in the void that is the publishing industry. After all, there are millions of books published and some genres are incredibly popular. Idea generation and the writing of your book plays a significant but small part of the whole process. If you want to make your books visible to the world, you must put in the time and effort.
Here are 5 top tips as a starting point.
Plan ahead. Research other books that are in your chosen niche. What have they done to make their books so popular? Check out book covers and descriptive blurb too. Review the top 20 books on Amazon and learn from their examples.
Write a detailed marketing plan. What makes your book stand out from the rest and why should readers choose your book compared to others? Set a marketing budget and plan which websites will be best to market your book.
Create a plan for a series of books in your niche and then, title them accordingly. Book one, book two and so on.
Get a website so to build a platform on which to engage with and promote your books. Create a Facebook author page and a Twitter account and link the two.
Think outside the box. Brand yourself after all, you have attached your name to your book and you are proud of it. Let others know that you are an author and that you love the written word. Live the dream.
With many authors getting paid less and less for their hard work, it does make you wonder why authors still dedicate so much time to their pursuit of the written word. For me, the answer is simple. It’s as much about the creative process as it is for the money. We don’t just want to write, we have to. There’s a creative flame inside and once it ignites, it’s hard to stop. Having said that, every author, certainly those who have written a good book deserve to be paid decently for their hard work.
The publishing industry is constantly evolving. When I first began to get my work published, it was prior to Amazon’s role in the industry and at the time, opportunities for publication were hard to gain. Once Amazon entered the marketplace, so many changes occurred and they created huge opportunities for writers. It also shook up the whole industry dramatically and created millionaires out of little known writers.
Gradually, this settled into a reasonable income for authors and then the slide began where authors had to constantly market themselves to fight for their place in such an over-populated marketplace. Traditional publishing methods were under fire and big advances, marketing investments and royalties were all under threat. Many authors jumped on the Amazon band wagon as did those large publishers as a way to promote their authors.
But now that the industry has settled once more, it seems that publishers are doing quite well but, authors are not.
An article in the Guardian earlier this year stated that a full-time writer only earns about £5.73 an hour. I suspect many earn less than this. Median earnings have plummeted by a whopping 42% making an annual income of less than £10,000. You can read more about that here.
So, for those who signed up with Amazon and with royalties up to 70% per book sale, why are authors still struggling? The problem appears to be a lack of visibility. Unless you have stumbled upon or, hopefully, researched a small niche area for yourself, you are likely to be fighting against mainstream and well-known authors or, fighting against those who have the money and the time in which to run marketing campaigns. Competitiveness is expected but, it does reduce the potential to make the same monthly revenue.
At the time of writing this, I believe there is money to be made when writing books but you have to be extremely savvy if you want to carve out your own niche and to earn rewards for your creative endeavours. Write smart, plan ahead, work out a marketing action plan, without it, you may find that your book sinks without trace and this does not reflect on the quality of your work.
Authors are known to be indulgent about the creative process, after all, that’s why they love the written word and, it’s easy to become totally immersed within the writing process. If you haven’t given much thought as to sales strategies, you may want to add that to your to-do list. These days you have to juggle all aspects of writing and publishing and this includes promoting yourself. Of course, when you first start the creative process and have literally just typed the words…Chapter One…you don’t really care much about all the tedious stuff to come. It’s exciting and you just want to watch those characters develop. However, it’s a good idea to have this in mind before you even start tapping away at the keyboard.
Consider sales strategies that work.
Authors the world over make simple mistakes, they don’t formulate plans of action. Who wants to buy your book and why? What age range are you writing for? Have you checked if this book has a specific niche and if you are considering self-publishing, then, consider relevant keywords for marketing and, for use on self-publishing sites such as Amazon.
You should also:
Consider local radio
Build up a social media following
Take up any guest speaking opportunities
Write articles that promote you as an expert
Radio- become a guest on your local radio station
Sometimes, you have to think outside of the box and what sales strategies might work for you? This is likely to depend upon the nature of the book. What can you do to get your name known – in the right ways of course? Ultimately, writing a book will naturally lead to a desire for book sales and nothing is more heart-breaking than sweating tears over the keyboard only to find no-one is interested. Start early. In fact, start now.
We’ve all been there. The writing is finished, you’ve spent a fortune on an editing service and now, you just want the book to be published. Sound familiar? But, it’s vital that you don’t rush the publicity process because your book needs it. As an author, there is much you can do to promote your own book and to start gaining interest from potential readers but, to do it properly, you will need a professional book publicity service.
Why have a professional book publicity campaign?
A professional publicist or company who specialises in this service will help the whole world to know about your book. A professional will look at it differently than you will, after all, it’s your baby and you have sweated blood and tears over it. But, from a professional viewpoint, your book will have unique aspects that you may not have even considered. A good publicist will be able to detect this and discuss its potential with you in media terms.
Most of the books that you see listed as best-sellers would have a publicity campaign. Yes, there are always exceptions to the rule but, if you want your book to have a fighting chance in a highly-competitive marketplace, it makes sense to do so.
Publishing – as a business
It’s perhaps a sad truth that publishing is all about the business aspect of selling books. It’s not about a book that deserves to be published anymore. So, as an author and no doubt, creative being, you must adopt a business approach too. This can be hard for many to do. Most authors live and breathe the creative process and balk at the marketing processes that must follow however, if you want a successful book, you’ll do what is necessary.
Publicity and peace of mind
Hire a good book publicist and you’ll have peace of mind that your book is in good hands. Any publicist is going to tell you that it’s not just about the sales. It’s about you as a brand and it’s about, inciting continued interest in books you write thereafter. Ideally, you should approach a publicist prior to the book being . However, it is true that there are tricks of the trade that can spotlight a book with flagging sales.
If you are in the middle of writing a book now, and still have some months before the book is even ready, this is the ultimate time to speak to a publicist. They will guide you through the process. The costs vary and so, it’s customary to send a quick email to explain what your book is about and when it is likely to be finished and they will clarify what they can do. It’s certainly worth opening up the lines of communication if you wish to accelerate the sales on your book. Want more information? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org please mark the subject line with book publicity