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Nonfiction Writing Technique: Point of View

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Nonfiction Writing Technique: Point of View

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Point of View refers to the perspective from which a story is being told. It answers the question: Who is telling the story?

This is important because who is telling the story has a lot to do with what gets told. Let’s take a look at the three different points of view and how you might use them in your writing.  They are first-person, second-person, and third person.

First Person Point of View

This is similar to a toddler’s vocabulary – I, me, mine, me, me, me, me ME!

When you tell a story using the pronouns I or we, you’re using first-person point of view. Some think that this is the most intimate perspective and is the friendliest towards the reader. When a story is told in the first person, the reader can feel like you’re their friend and that you’re confiding in them.

That’s what we aspire to, isn’t it?

 We certainly strive for intimacy with the reader, but using first-person point-of-view can give rise to a couple of problems:

1.  You talk about yourself so much that you sound like a narcissist

2.  You fall prey to telling the reader everything instead of showing them

For example: “ I did this and then I did that, and then I went here, and then I bought that, and now it’s mine, and this was my problem… blah, blah, blah. Whopoint of view wants to hear that?

 Well, I don’t and neither do your readers. Your readers want to hear your story, but if you take that approach, you’ll lose them for sure. Your job is to deliver your audience to the purpose of your book, and if they get sick of you halfway through, you’ll never accomplish that. 

 It’s actually simple to fix that. You don’t tell the reader what happened or what you did, you show them! Write your story in scenes where the reader sees what you saw, hears what you heard, smells what you smelled, and then feels what you felt. The reader experiences your emotion and becomes bonded to you through that shared experience.

Second Person Point of View

This POV uses the pronouns you, your, and yours.

The second person point of view addresses the reader and makes direct comments to them. This point of view is rare, but when it’s used, the reader snaps to attention because the writer is speaking directly to them.

Here’s an example: “If you are planning a low-budget wedding, then use paper products at the reception.”

OR

 “If you’re like me and are tired of struggling to make ends meet, then sell everything you haven’t used in the past year and pocket the cash.”

Before you get all excited about speaking directly to your readers and capturing their attention, let me offer a word of caution. Whenever you tell someone what to do, it can sound rather preachy, like you know it all and the reader knows nothing. No one likes to be told what to do, and not many appreciate the “you should” approach.

It’s far easier to influence the reader by showing them what you did. When you tell them what to do, it can cause them to resist you and your message. Respect your readers. Every time they turn the page, they make a choice to either continue with you or to drop off the path. Lead them along the path, and they will follow. Force them and they may jump ship.

Third Person Point of View

The third person point-of-view is a he said/she said narrative, and the associated pronouns are he, she, and they. The story is still being told from the perspective of an outsider looking at the action. This point-of-view is for when the story isn’t about you.

If you’re writing a biography about Abraham Lincoln, you might write something like this:

 “When he was twelve years old, Lincoln was growing into what would eventually become his long, lanky frame.”

In third person, you would use the pronoun “he.” If you wrote the same passage in first person, it wouldn’t make any sense. In first-person, it would say “When I was twelve years old, I was growing into what would eventually become my long, lanky frame.”  That wouldn’t make sense if you were writing a biography about Lincoln.

If you’re writing your own story, it doesn’t make any sense to write it in third person. But if you’re telling a story about someone else, then third person is appropriate.

Pick and Stick

The trick is to pick a point of view and stick with it, which is challenging for many new writers. If you’re writing in first person, stick with first person, if you’re writing in second person, stick with second person, etc.

If you shift the point of view, it confuses the reader and dilutes your message, which is a common mistake that new writers make. Learn this technique and you’ll keep your readers engaged!

 

 

 

 

 

 


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August 21st—National Senior Citizen Day

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Loneliness. If you’ve lived long enough, at some point, you’re likely to have experienced loneliness. In a world driven by social media that promises to make you feel connected, it’s almost unfathomable that more people, especially our seniors, feel more alone and isolated than ever before. Recent studies show that older adults who are isolated are likely to be sicker—and die sooner—than those who feel connected. It’s safe to say that loneliness and isolation are quickly becoming another medical health crisis. 

As a book coach, mother, grandmother, and now the daughter of an aging mother, I want to take a moment to honor National Senior Citizen Day and highlight some ways that you can connect with the senior in your life. 

If you have an older adult in your life, take the time to connect with them today. The wisdom, support, and guidance that our seniors offer are priceless, and I wouldn’t be the person I am today without the advice of elderly mentors in my life. If you’re unsure how to celebrate  the senior in your life today, try some of these ideas:

Spend Time At a Nursing Home
One of the kindest and most rewarding things one can do is visit a nursing home. Sit and chat with residents. Play games and participate in activities. You can make a difference in someone’s day, week, or even his or her life, and trust me, you’ll find the experience fun and rewarding too.

Reach out to a senior family member
Do you have a senior family member? Perhaps it’s a parent, grandparent, aunt, or uncle. Visit them and spend some time together. If you can’t see them in person, give them a call and let them know how much you appreciate them.

Have fun!
Are you a senior citizen yourself? Well, today is all about you! Live it up! Treat yourself. Spend time with your favorite people, go shopping, do whatever you want to do! Maybe it could be the day you finally try that one thing you’ve been thinking about or perhaps it’s a day for relaxing at home. Whatever makes you happy, go for it because it’s a day dedicated to you! (Source)

For more information on how to care for the senior in your life, please visit Age Safe America at www.agesafeamerica.com 


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Back to School: You Can Keep Writing

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Whether you’re heading back to classes yourself or shipping your kids back to theirs, your schedule is probably about to change if it hasn’t already. When schedules change, it can be hard to juggle everything and settle into a new routine. All too often, things fall through the cracks, and your personal writing time might get lost in the shuffle. There is room in your schedule for a writing routine, you just have to make sure to prioritize the time in your schedule!

Don’t be flexible about your writing time

As you work in school pick-ups and drop-offs, extra-curricular activities, work meetings, and other responsibilities, it can be easy to sacrifice your writing time. Whenever you feel the need to put your writing on the back burner, remember this advice from J.K. Rowling:

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Many writers love to wake up at dawn and write during the quiet hours of the morning. Others work late into the night while everyone is asleep. Some writers are militant about using their lunch break to write furiously in the break room. These routines are very different, but the result is all the same; these writers write.

How can I find the right writing routine?

The truth is, your writing routine will be different from another writer’s. Every author is motivated or distracted by different things, and your daily responsibilities differ from other author’s. For example, Barbara Kinsgsolver, who started working on her first book the day she had her first child, said, “I used to say that the school bus is my muse. When it pulled out of the driveway and left me without anyone to take care of, that was the moment my writing day began, and it ended when the school bus came back. “ (Source)

Agatha Christie, on the other hand, used chore time to brainstorm.

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Make your writing routine a priority

Wake up every morning and tell yourself, “My writing is a priority.” Say it out loud and really mean it. No one is going to force you to sit down and work on your book, so you have to be the one to set aside the time to put words on the pages. Take a look at your schedule and decide when you can truly dedicate yourself to your book. Be realistic about it. If you absolutely dread mornings, don’t set yourself up for failure by scheduling 4 am wake-up calls. If you know that your Saturdays will be filled with soccer games, make that your day off.

Wake up every morning and tell yourself, “My writing is a priority.”

Your writing time is important. It is not leisure time spent in front of the TV. It is not a hobby. You are telling your story, and your story matters! Make sure you schedule time to write, even if you have to break it up into smaller increments. It’s ok if you can’t dedicate several hours to your book every day, but figure out how much time you need to work on it each week and then stick to that schedule.

You can write your book in one year, but you have to dedicate time to a writing routine! As you settle back into your school or work routines, make sure you schedule plenty of time to work on your book.


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When There’s A Will, There’s a Way: Establish a Routine and Strengthen Your Will

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There’s an old saying that goes: when there’s a will, there’s a way. And after having some life experience on planet Earth, I can attest that it’s true. As a nonfiction book coach and writing professional with over 25 years of experience, I’ve helped many people share their truth by writing a book. But I didn’t get to where I am in my career today because it was easy. The truth is, it was hard, so hard at times that I wasn’t sure whether my dreams would come true. But I was fortunate to learn my purpose in life to provide hope and help to this world and with hard work, determination, and willpower. I’m humbled that many of my dreams, both personally and professionally, have come to fruition.

“Willpower is the key to success. Successful people strive no matter what they feel by applying their will to overcome apathy, doubt, or fear.”

-Dan Millman

Strengthen Your Willpower and Increase Your Chances for Success

With school just around the corner, many families are settling back into their daily routine. But in many homes during the summer, the regular structure that a routine provides is often pushed to the back burner. Don’t get me wrong! If you have kids, it’s fun to do spontaneous things and give them a little less structured time. But it’s also a relief to have a daily schedule in place that provides structure and accountability.

Establishing a routine is not only necessary on the homefront but in business and life. And if you’re looking to have a more successful career and life, it’s time to look at your will power routine. It’s been suggested that willpower is the single most important keystone habit for individual success.” And according to recent studies, it not only predicts academic performance more robustly than IQ, but it reassures individuals with healthy doses of self-esteem and self-confidence. It allows people to design and achieve their best life and become their best version (Source). 

Not sure how to strengthen your will power? Try these early morning routines that other highly successful people use to increase their willpower:

  • Set your alarm clock every day at the same time (this includes weekends and days off). Not only does getting up at the same time every day strengthen your circadian rhythm and reduce your dependence on caffeine while sharpening your mind, but it’s also the best way to start your day with the conscious choice of exercising and strengthening your willpower. Overcoming the temptation to stay in your warm bed is one of the biggest, but little, battles that will ensure that your willpower is fully operational and alert.

 

  • Start the day with a couple of minutes of meditation. There are many physical and psychological benefits of meditation. Devoting your firsts thoughts of the day to understand the world as it is, accepting what you can not change, fighting for what should be improved, and bringing your life into a well-oriented perspective will strengthen your willpower. 

 

  • Establish a morning workout routine. It doesn’t matter if you’re a top business professional or a stay-at-home mom, starting your day with a simple workout will improve your willpower. 

 

  • Devote some time for self-learning. There’s always room for a book in your work bag. Lifelong learning is critical for personal development. Exercise your will to keep learning!

 

  • Say good morning to people on your way to work. It takes effort to choose others before ourselves. Successful people know that there’s more to life than just money, fame, or power. Reach out and make an effort to greet others each morning. 

 

  •  Start your workday by writing a to-do list. Prioritize your day based on the importance of your priorities regardless of whether you want to do these things or not. Exercise your willpower in getting the most important things done, not simply the urgent. 

In the words of Maya Angelou: “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” Now that you know a better way to increase your willpower, what will you do about it? 

 


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Nonfiction Writing Technique: Psychological Distance

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There’s a concept in writing called psychological distance, and good writers know how to use it.  For those of you who studied psychology, you may remember the construal level theory in social psychology, which classifies your thoughts as either abstract or concrete.

It’s a bit of a slippery concept and not that easy to define. It’s like trying to describe the word “intimacy.” Hard to pin down, but you know it when you feel it, don’t you?  Or better yet, you know it when you DON’T feel it.

If something feels very close to you, you tend to think about it in concrete terms. If something feels far, you usually think about it in a more abstract way. And that’s what we’re talking about here – whether something or someone in your writing feels close or far away.

Your readers must feel close enough to trust you. So how do you bring your readers close, how do you decrease the psychological distance between you and them? You simply make sure that your readers see the person or object in concrete terms.

Take strawberries, for example. If you had a bowl of fresh strawberries in front of you, you’d see their color, size and texture. You’d notice their ruby red flesh psychological distanceimprinted with tiny golden seeds, their bright green crown, and perhaps a stem. You might smell the sweetness of the ripe fruit and start salivating at the thought of eating one.

These are all concrete observations.

On the other hand, if you thought about strawberries in an abstract manner, you might picture a tiny part of the produce section of a massive grocery store, stacked with a few rows of something red in cardboard containers.   

To decrease psychological distance, you pull your reader in, you zoom in on your scene like a photographer would when staging a close-up shot.

Here are some tools you can use to decrease psychological distance:

  • Sensory language – use more than one sense in describing a scene
  • Use common language that doesn’t call attention to itself, mainly short, everyday words, and uncomplicated sentences
  • Showing the viewpoint character’s feelings (SHOW don’t tell)
  • Show the character react in a less-than-perfect, human way
    (eg s/he can get annoyed, feel cranky, act selfish… s/he’s not always a Hero, any more than real heroes are)
  • Use quick paced dialog. Dialog makes you feel part of the conversation and lets you get close enough to participate in the action

 

When you pull the reader in close and let them see the details, you have closed that psychological distance and will hold the reader’s rapt attention. In turn, they will want to keep reading!

 


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Did You Water the Garden This Summer?

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With the summer winding down and the school year around the corner, I always like to take a moment to reflect on my summer before preparing for the Fall. From vacations to the Grand Canyon to just being outside with nature and enjoying its presence, I’ve made fond memories with my family, and I hope you have too. But one thing I didn’t do this summer is go kerplunk. Let me explain. While it’s tempting during the summer to put off doing things that you know will make you successful in life and business, I’ve always advised against this. This summer we’ve talked a lot about enjoying your time off with family, but not ignoring the activities you know need to get done and to make sure you water the garden! Whether your a business leader, coach, speaker, or are working on your book, your business and livelihood depend on your work habits and more importantly, planning.

Get Your Plan For The Fall

As a book coach and public speaker, I know the importance of planning. If I don’t take the time to properly plan the content for my online writing courses, review editing projects, and prepare for my author’s upcoming publishing deadlines, I can assure you not only will these projects turn out sub-par, but I run the risk of hurting my credibility as a professional writing coach. And that is something I will not risk.

You were born to win, but to be a winner, you must plan to win, prepare to win, and expect to win. 

-Zig Ziglar

If you’re not sure yet, how to plan for the Fall, check out a few suggestions by author and speaker Brian Tracy from his book Million Dollar Habits

  • Decide exactly what you want in a certain area, and write it down clear­ly, in detail. Make the goal measurable and specific.
  • Set a deadline for achieving the goal. If it’s a large goal, break it down into smaller parts and set sub-deadlines.
  • Make a list of everything you’ll have to do to achieve this goal. As you think of new items, add them to your list until it’s complete.
  • Organize your list of action steps into a plan. A plan is a list of activities organized on the basis of two elements, priority and sequence.

And my personal favorite: 

  • Do at least one thing every day that moves you toward your most important goal. Make a habit of getting up each morning, planning your day and then doing something, anything, that moves you at least one step closer to what’s most important to you. (Source)

If you take these suggestions into your Fall planning session and make time to plan, I’d love to hear about your success! If you or someone you know is ready to prepare for your future by taking the next step to enhance your career by writing a book, I’d be honored to help. Contact us today and we can show you how!


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Learn How to Write a Nonfiction Book-Tell the Truth

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“I really want to learn how to write a nonfiction book,” he told me over the phone, “but I think I have to write it as fiction because people will know who I’m talking about.”

“What do you mean?” I asked. “What’s the secret?”

Family secrets. Truths not told. Sensitive feelings. Things swept under the rug. These can be big barriers when deciding how to write a nonfiction book.  Big risks.

Some of us have stories that we’ve had to bury out of respect—or fear—of others. All our lives, we’ve pretended that things are okay, and we’ve hidden truths that have hurt us in order to protect someone else. We’ve lived under the shadow of other people’s choices, and we want to finally be set free. Except we’re afraid. Really afraid.

Perhaps you’ve been a victim of sexual abuse, or you grew up in a violent family, or you suffered under the lash of a parent’s alcoholism or other addiction. Maybe your husband is a closet homosexual or your child is struggling desperately with his or her gender identity. You know your story can literally save or change someone else’s life, but you’re afraid to tell the truth because it could hurt other people. Some of our stories are built from shame. I understand. But you can overcome this fear-keep reading to learn how.

Keep the End in Mind

It might be best to stop obsessing over the people you might hurt and instead to focus on the people you can help. The problem with dirty little secrets is that they get stashed away, and when you find yourself in the middle of one of them, you’re convinced that you’re completely alone because people don’t talk about this stuff.

This doesn’t happen to people like us. Nice people don’t have problems like this.

Don’t talk, don’t see, just pretend.

When you were smack in the middle of your pain, chances are you felt totally alone. There was no one to talk to and no one who understood. This type of isolation is deadly. You have to bury the pain, and you eventually have to split off from yourself to survive. You maintain a public façade that you protect with all your energy, and in doing so, you lose touch with yourself because you’re living a lie.

What if you’d had a book to be your friend? What if you’d connected with a fellow sufferer, the book’s author, and felt the compassion of someone who’d been through the same thing but was now on the other side of it? Would you want to know how things got better for that individual—to see a path out of darkness for yourself?

What if you could be that author?

Human beings are resilient, but there are two things we can’t live without: hope and help. When you tell your story—what you’ve been through, what you’ve endured, and what you’ve overcome—you can be the lifeline for someone who is sinking. You can be that voice of hope and help.

You Don’t Need Permission

If you’ve ever been in a codependent relationship, it’s likely that you don’t want to step on any toes and that you’re overly concerned about others. Guess what? You can forget about other people right now and do what you know is right.

You don’t need anyone’s permission to learn how to write a nonfiction book.  You don’t need to worry about pleasing or displeasing anyone because your focus will be on your audience and offering them hope and help. You’ll be radar-locked on helping those who need you, and everyone else can fall by the wayside. What they think about what you’re doing isn’t your concern. What you know as truth is what matters.

The truth is, there’s a lot of pain in life for most of us, and it usually involves other people. You can be both courageous and discreet when you write your book. Sometimes all you need is the courage and a helping hand to take the first step and I’d be honored to help.

If you or someone you know is ready to learn how to write a nonfiction book and share your story,  please contact us today and we can help you take the next step!

 


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My Lessons Learned as a Femalepreneur

I’ve worked with many women business owners over the years, and it makes me reflect on my own journey as a femalepreneur. It’s true. As women, we work hard, work smart, and we get it done. But we also juggle home and family responsibilities and face obstacles that men don’t always encounter. Reduced financing. Lack of support. Exclusion from the “boys club.” Scant resources.

But anything worth having takes hard work, doesn’t it? When I look at my life, the things that give me the greatest joy–from being a mother, wife, grandmother, and business owner–didn’t come without a few tears and hard work. But boy, am I glad I stayed on the journey to reap the fruits of my labor.

Lesson 1: Just Go For It

When you have an idea for a way that you can help others or improve their lives, then go for it. Use the full force of your gifts and talents to bring something new and fresh and useful to the world. It’s hard to get started when you have a great idea but no customers, but keep doing the next right thing to build your product in the most excellent way, and step by step you will achieve the small things that lead to the greater opportunities.

Lesson 2: Surround Yourself with Positive Thinkers

Negative thinking stinks. I can’t stand to be around people who can only see a problem but never offer a solution. Or people that constantly have something bad tosuccess say about your dreams and try to pass their fear-based thinking onto you. My advice is to get around positive people that will support you emotionally. Optimism ROCKS, and you will need that support as you begin your journey.

When I was starting The Book Professor, someone asked me, “Is there really a market for that? How many people actually want to write a book?” I was discouraged by his remarks because my idea was only on paper at that point, but then an answer rose up in me and I said, “I don’t know, but I’m going to find out.” If I hadn’t surrounded myself with people that helped lift me up and pour out words of encouragement during the early days, I might have sat in that pit of discouragement instead of staying on my path.

Lesson 3: Stay on the Course and Watch Your Passion Grow

When you consider the people that are considered a success, you usually don’t hear about all the bumps they endured to get to where they are. From elite athletes to billionaire business owners, it’s tempting to think that getting there was easy. I assure you it wasn’t, and the road certainly had periods of self-doubt. Questions like: “Am I supposed to be doing this?” and “Is this my life’s purpose?”  I didn’t know that my dream was to help people who aren’t writers to become authors until I started down the path. With every step I took, my passion grew until I knew that I couldn’t do anything else.  Whatever your dream is, keep taking the next right step and watch your passion carry you right into your life’s purpose!

What about you? Are you an aspiring femalepreneur ready to expand your credibility and increase your following by writing a book? Contact me today. I’d be honored to help.


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If You Want to Write a Good Book-Make Time To Read

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Writing is so much more than putting words on paper or typing them onto a screen. If you want to be a truly great writer, you’ll need to work at improving your craft through practice, research, and, of course, reading. You might think an online writing coach would only assign writing exercises as homework, but reading a book could just as easily be a worthwhile assignment.

Online writing coach recommends reading to improve writing

Make time to read

We are all busy and finding time to write can be difficult enough, but that doesn’t mean you should let your reading pile stack up. When you are feeling stressed and crunched for time, reading can actually be the key to re-centering yourself. Studies show that just thirty minutes of dedicated reading time will do more to reduce stress levels than more traditional methods such as going for a walk or having a calming cup of tea. Any online writing coach will tell you that writing while stressed rarely results in quality content. If your writing is starting to feel forced or you find yourself with a bad case of writer’s block, pick up a book and unwind a little.
Set aside 30 minutes of each day to read a good book. It can be during your lunch break, right before bed, or even first thing in the morning. It may seem impossible to squeeze 30 minutes of reading into your busy schedule, but if you want to improve as a writer, you need to make the time to read.

Active readers have more diverse styles and vocabularies

Who needs a thesaurus when you have a good book? When you read a book you are exposed to new words that you either comprehend through context or will perhaps be compelled to investigate further. Whether you make the conscious choice to absorb the words, chances are you will eventually incorporate them into your speech or writing.

Great writers read to see what works and what doesn’t work. A good online writing coach will stress the importance of exposing yourself to different voices and a variety of writing styles. Avid readers are constantly exposed to fresh voices and interesting subject matter that can open their minds up to new ideas which can be implemented in their own writing. A great book can influence your writing style, inspire you to try new things, and kick start your desire to write. If you do not continue to read new material, you will have a hard time improving your own writing skills.

Read outside of your genre

While it’s useful to read books within your own genre to get a sense of what other writers are doing, you should also diversify your reading list. Nonfiction writers do not have to stick to nonfiction books! In fact, reading novels can help cultivate creativity and even stir up memories of personal experiences. It’s very important to read books both for work and for pleasure. In fact, this Stanford study shows that a different area of the brain is activated when you read for leisure than when you read as if studying for an exam.

If you hire me as your online writing coach, I can guarantee you that I will recommend adding designated reading time into your daily schedule. Good readers make great writers, and I’m in the business of helping people become excellent writers!


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I’m An Author…Do I Need a Blog?

This article originally appeared on bookbaby.com

Some say authors should blog for the simple reason that it helps you write more consistently. Blogs build connections and experience. They also take time away from your other activities — like writing your next book. So… do you need a blog?

“Do I need a blog?” It’s a question on the mind of new authors everywhere.

The answer is a resounding, “Probably.”

Blog to book

Blogs have been around since 1994. By 2006, there were more than 50 million blogs online, including major hubs of international interest like Gizmodo, Gawker, and The Huffington Post. And while it’s true that the prominence of blogs has decreased somewhat — due to things like the rise of social media, podcasts, and platforms like YouTube, which ushered in the age of “vlogging” — blog are still hugely influential for anyone attempting to build an online platform. This is especially true for authors.

Consider, for example, the work of Nina Amir, a friend of BookBaby. Nina wrote the bestselling How To Blog A Book and runs and maintains four different blogs herself. She exemplifies how, beyond even building a platform, maintaining a blog is a great way to embark on the daunting task of writing and publishing book.

Amir details how, if you do it right and blog consistently about a cohesive set of topics, you can stitch together a book of original content. Plus, as you publish content, you’re inevitably building an author platform, which itself can attract the attention of publishers and potentially even land you a book deal.

What she posits is true, but I believe there are simple, practical reasons why authors should consider starting personal/professional blogs.

Blogging establishes writing discipline

If you blog everyday, you’re practicing your craft  and developing your writing style. That means you’re improving, and what could be more important for new authors than polishing your writing chops?

All authors should blog for the simple reason that it helps you write more consistently. Sticking to a regular publishing schedule forces you to center yourself and focus on making your writing engaging.

Blogging enables feedback

A key component of improving your writing is receiving — and implementing — feedback. Blogs provide a great venue for feedback, not just from well-meaning family members who might hold back, but from real-life readers who will respond critically to the different styles and strokes you play with. That’s an opportunity new authors can’t afford to pass up.

Blogging can establish expertise and credibility

The longer you blog, the more valuable the content you produce and the larger you can make your following — all of which contributes to your credibility.

This is critical for nonfiction authors, especially. Readers need to view you as an expert in your field. You want them to think of you as the go-to person on your chosen topic when they are ready to buy your books and products.

Your blog can build connections

Finally, through blogging, you make yourself available to a swath of potential connections — not just with readers and customers, but also with other authors, business owners, bloggers, and service providers.

Bloggers need each other to share content, guest post, and offer support. Within your online community, you can find potential speaking opportunities, co-authors, media and marketing opportunities, and business connections. This is a way to supercharge your online platform and presence in a way that will prove very attractive to publishers.

Of course, it is true that authors don’t technically need blogs. In fact, a growing number of authors are coming to believe that blogging is neither a requirement nor the best marketing and promotion tool for their writing. Here are a few of their reasons.

  • Blogging takes time away from your REAL writing. Each day consists of 1,440 minutes, or 86,400 seconds. Time is precious, and any activity that takes away from book-writing is a negative.
  • Blogging exposes your less-than-best work. Remember the point above about feedback? It can be a double-edged sword. As soon as you press “publish,” your article is live for the world to see, free for people to react and respond to. This is exciting — addictive even — especially when people affirm your writing. But because blogging allows you the potential of almost instant gratification, it’s tempting to hit publish prematurely or rush the creative process. Maybe you’re experimenting with new styles and ideas that aren’t fully baked. The ease of blogging and sharing can subvert the process of sharing your best content.
  • It’s hard to build a quality audience. Authors complain about the number of books in the marketplace, but those numbers pale compared to the growth of blogs. Some stats indicate there are over 700 million blogs published. Blogs are still important to those invested in their specific subjects, but maybe not to a general audience more likely to turn to Twitter or Facebook for a quick news fix.
  • Blogs aren’t money makers. Many authors devote time to blogging for reasons beyond just perfecting their craft. While I admire how some use their sites to build a platform, establish a brand, and increase an audience, many writers are lured into pursuing pure traffic numbers, affiliate marketing, and ad sales. Chasing those kinds of numbers can be a huge distraction from your literary goals. And with the amount of competition online, it’s a challenge to gain any kind of profitable traction.

At the end of the day, if you’re deciding whether or not to start a blog, consider the following:

  1. What is your experience level? If you’re a new or inexperienced author, a blog can be an excellent place for you to hone your skills, express yourself, and gain experience. But if you already have a strong following or have scant time to devote to additional writing, you might say no to blogging.
  2. What’s your genre or subject matter? If you write nonfiction, a blog is recommended. This is where you can really demonstrate your subject matter expertise. Your posts will amplify anything you publish. A romance writer, on the other hand? Are you going to be tempted to leak out some of your plot twists or interesting character developments? Maybe you should keep these private.
  3. What’s your motivation for blogging? Are you looking to gain revenue from your online writing? That’s a long-shot. If you’re blogging to cultivate readers, give people a chance to get to know you, and establish a tribe, then a blog might be a great use of your time.

Blogging has always been a great vehicle for discussing complex ideas and sharing them with like-minded people. As an author, blogs allow you to interact with readers who have the kind of attention spans needed to consume and appreciate your work. That is, and always will be, valuable.

 


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Create a crystallized message 2

Nonfiction Writing Technique: Crystallize

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writing-bookWhen writing nonfiction, there are three steps that come before you actually sit down to write that will strengthen and clarify your message.

1. What’s the Purpose?

An article is not the same as a blog, is not the same as a web page. Each end product has its own purpose, and before you begin writing, you need to know the purpose of the piece.

You probably have a general idea of what you want to write, and I challenge you to distill it down to a Purpose Statement before you start. Your Purpose Statement should say, “The purpose of this (blog/article/book/web copy/marketing message) is to ___________________.

Complete that sentence. Bear in mind that it’s one sentence, not a paragraph.

Example: The purpose of this article is to inspire others to create a larger legacy through their writing.

2. Who’s the Audience?

If you don’t know your audience, it’s like playing spin-the-bottle in the dark. Don’t you want to know who you’re going kiss before you pucker up? Likewise, you need to envision your audience. What you write isn’t for everyone; it’s for a specific slice of readers.

Picture your perfect reader. What are they looking for? What’s their age, demographic, marital status? Are they male or female, conservative or liberal? How do they identify themselves? Complete this sentence: The audience for this piece is ___________________.

Example: The audience for this article is entrepreneurs who want to create a larger legacy.

3. Why the Message?

Writers not only want to be read, they want to be remembered. If your content goes in their mind but doesn’t elicit a response, then you’ve wasted your time. It will be forgotten as quickly as it was read.

You must create some type of change in the reader. How will they be different as a result of what you wrote? What change, as slight as it may be, do you want to invoke in the reader? Do you want to move them to action? Give them hope? Make them smile? Consider the end result and write down how you want your readers to be affected.

Example: This article will inspire entrepreneurs to first crystallize and then expand their message.

Now pull the three components together into a single statement.

Example: The purpose of this article is to inspire entrepreneurs to first crystallize and then expand their message, so they can create a larger legacy.

Ready, set, write.

Now that you know your audience, you can write from their perspective, not yours. What do they want to know? What information are they seeking? What new message or perspective can you deliver? Compelling content always meets the need, and your job is to deliver what the audience is seeking.

To crystallize your message, include specific content that achieves the stated purpose, nothing else. Readers absorb focused content, and everything you write should drive toward that message, that audience, that purpose, and that result.

Go BIGGER!

If you want a bigger audience, you need a bigger platform. With a little tweaking, you can extend your message and deliver it through multiple venues, like writing a book or delivering workshops, speaking engagements, and online courses. This isn’t simply an opportunity for you; it’s a service to others. When you share what you’ve learned, what you’ve developed, and what you’ve overcome, you can change the life or direction of someone else. Someone is looking for what’s hidden inside you. Whether your message is about your business, lessons you’ve learned, or about how to connect on a soul-level with your dog, if you have a passionate solution, someone else needs it!

Your legacy is about the lives you touch and the change you create. When you share what you know, what you’ve learned, and what you’ve overcome, you can make a lasting impact that extends far beyond yourself.

What about you? Are you ready to take the next step and learn how to crystallize your message in your book? Contact us today and we can help you take the next step!


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Take Notes From a Writing Coach Online: Don’t Be An Anonymous Writer

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As a writing coach online, I never get tired of hearing people’s stories. But for some, the choice to remain anonymous or to share their real identity in their book can be crippling. Why? Because not all stories are created equal. Some pains and traumas are hard to put on paper, let alone tell the world that these injustices happened to you. Old feelings like shame, fear, anger, abandonment, or embarrassment can reappear, and the writer feels emotionally paralyzed at the thought of baring their soul to the world.

I understand. I know what that feels like because I had to work through it myself as an author. The truth is, there’s a lot of pain in life, and it usually involves other people. But you can be both courageous and discreet when you write your book. Sometimes all you need is the courage and a helping hand to take the first step. And I’d be honored to help.

Write it Raw, Then Edit

It may be tempting to remain anonymous when you publish your book, but if you do, you can’t offer anyone hope or help. Your readers won’t trust a face in the shadows. They’ve seen enough of those. They need to know that you’re real.

So how do you do it? The answer is to write the first draft of your book raw. Get down all the details and record all the indignities, as long as they’re driven by your Purpose Statement. Purge yourself of what you’ve been holding in and get everything down. Don’t be afraid to name names.  

This is where you start. Write a raw draft that holds nothing back. Your first draft won’t be anything like your final draft, so don’t be afraid to get it all down. 

After you finish your first draft, you can address the sensitive issues and the people you feel you need to protect. Maybe you don’t need to name names. Many of your characters can likely be defined by their relationship to you: my sister, my mother, my neighbor, her teacher. You get the point.

The extra benefit of identifying people by their relationship rather than their name is that it strengthens your writing. If you have too many names in your book, it confuses the reader and causes fatigue because they’re constantly juggling names and trying to remember who’s who.

Don’t feel like you need to tell the reader where you live either, unless your city or town is an important part of your story. As a writing coach online, I advise my students to concentrate on the message and leave the identifying details out.

Finally, after you’ve written it raw please remember that what you write must be the truth. Your book isn’t the place to smear someone else and risk a libel charge. If you want to write a “gotcha” book, I have nothing to offer you. Your book can be a powerful tool to change lives, save lives, and transform society, but there’s no room for vindictiveness. Write your story, but write it right.

What about you? Are you ready to write it raw then edit? If you or someone you know is ready to share their story, I’d be honored to be your writing coach online and help you take the first step. Contact us today!  


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