Writing Quotes: How to Avoid Writing Blocks

Here’s one of my favorite writing quotes from poet and writing teacher William Stafford:

“I believe that the so-called ‘writing block’ is product of some kind of disproportion between your standards and your performance… One should lower his standards until there is no felt threshold to go over in writing. It’s easy to write.

“You shouldn’t have standards that inhibit you from writing… It really doesn’t make any difference if you are good or bad today. The assessment of the product is something that happens after you’ve done it.”

writing quotes: stafford

Do you save writing quotes?

I keep a collection of writing quotes for inspiration, and the above quote by William Stafford is one of my favorites. It’s helpful if you’re judgmental of your writing.

Of course you need to judge and edit your writing, but never while you’re writing. If you judge as you’re writing, you’ll choke, and you’ll think that writing is hard.

How to avoid judging your writing while you’re writing…

I’ve found these strategies useful.

  • Pre-write. Create clusters, or mind maps before you start writing;
  • Set a goal for your writing, in writing. Write about what you want to achieve in a couple of sentences. Example: “In this scene, I want to introduce the prime suspect. Our detective realizes that he’s lying about where he was on the night of the murder.”
  • Write. Accept what you’re writing. Writing is always a partnership between your subconscious and your conscious mind. Your subconscious leads, so writing is always discovery. No judging. :-)
  • Once you’ve finished writing, you can read what you’ve written, but don’t start editing immediately. Leave your writing for a few hours if you can.

I agree with Stafford that common writing blocks occur because we’re trying to hit an imaginary standard. (Blocks may also occur if we’re stressed, or unwell.)

As he suggests, lower your standards. You’ll be surprised at how much easier your writing becomes. And you’ll be even more surprised when you meet your own standards, and have fun with your writing. When I’m coaching my writing students, we do lots of exercises so that they train themselves to write easily, without judging.

Here are some writing exercises you can try. They work.

Tip: if you find you’re blocked, you may find my Easy Write Process program useful. It includes lots of exercises.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

Writing Success: How to Avoid It

Writing Success: How to Avoid It

Writing success: every writer wants it, but some actively avoid it. I work with writers every day, and here’s how the avoidance scenario plays out. A writer tells me about a new project. He’s excited. I’m excited too. We discuss it, then the writer gets to work.

A couple of weeks, or a month later, I ask the writer about the project, and he’s “thinking” about it. Uh oh. We talk about the one big secret of writing — writing, not thinking — and the writer’s enthusiastic again.

Time passes. The writer contacts me to ask me about something else. I resist the temptation to bang my forehead against my desk. No, I don’t yell at him: What about PROJECT X? I know what happened. Project X is dead, dead, dead.

If you don’t create it, it won’t succeed.

No one is guaranteed success, but you can actively avoid success if you lose heart and inspiration and don’t create.

From Beck Gives Us A Lesson In The Arc Of Content Marketing in Forbes:

Beck took a chance with the content. He didn’t focus group it. He just released it and waited to see what happened. His “research” was the world’s actual reaction. We could all stand to be this bold with our content marketing.

If the idea is great, it will be discovered.

No one can guarantee your success. Before Amazon launched the Kindle, authors got used to rejections. It wasn’t uncommon for an author to write ten books, and have each one rejected… until one was accepted. Then, over time, all her rejected books were published.

Time is always a writer’s best friend, as long as you keep writing.

These days, no author needs to fear rejection. You write a book, self publish it, and keep writing. You don’t know what will happen; you don’t need to know. That book may never be successful. It may never sell more than a few copies. But if you keep writing, you increase your chances of success.

Writing success: if your writing doesn’t succeed, keep writing.

Writers get fixated on projects. A project becomes all-important. So important, that to avoid failure, they let the project die.

Why not do as Beck did? Publish. See what happens. If you keep writing, you won’t obsess. Some years ago I had a multi-book contract with a publisher. One day I was lunching with my editor, who was worried about another book coming out on a similar topic to the one I was working on. I shrugged and said: “it’s just a book.”

My book came out, and sold well for a few years. I didn’t pay much attention, because I was working on other books.

Are you avoiding writing success by not finishing projects? Ask yourself this question…

What will happen if you succeed?

Your life won’t change with success. You’ll still write every day. If you focus on the process — writing — rather than success or failure, you’ll increase your chances of success. So keep writing. :-)

If you’re avoiding writing success, check out the Easy Write Process.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

Content Marketing With Ebooks: Leads From Freebies

Content Marketing With Ebooks: Leads From Freebies

A couple of years ago, you could blog, and get traffic. Then everyone caught on that blogs can give you an amazing return on the time and energy you invest. Today, almost four MILLION blog posts are published each day. Why not consider content marketing with ebooks, either in addition to your blog, or instead of regular blogging?

You’ll have less competition… for now, anyway. :-)

Content marketing with ebooks has been around for years of course. You create a PDF, and offer it as a free download, usually in exchange for a sign-up to a list.

Here’s a new wrinkle on that strategy. Consider converting your ebooks to MOBI (Kindle) or EPUB formula, so that your prospects can read on their ereader device, or ereader apps on their phone or tablet.

I’ve been creating MOBI ebooks for clients, and they report that subscriptions and conversions have increased.

How to Create a MOBI or EPUB Ebook From a Document.

Do you use Scrivener? In Scrivener, you simply compile the Scrivener document in MOBI format in a couple of seconds. EPUB format is just as quick.

Whatever document format you start with however, cloudconvert will convert it into MOBI and EPUB. cloudconvert is currently in beta, and promises to convert anything to anything: it supports 199 formats.

Content Marketing With Ebooks: 3 Tips.

Here are some tips which will help you to get the most from your ebooks.

1. Keep It Simple for MOBI and EPUB.

Yes, you can add loads of tables, graphics and other material, however your conversions will need to be done manually to get the best results. If you’re using a document converter, keep it simple. If you have tables you MUST include, do a trial conversion, and edit it carefully.

2. Give Your Website Visitors a Choice, Offer PDF Too.

PDF is still the de facto ebook standard for many people, and others prefer to read on their computer, so offer PDF as well as MOBI and EPUB.

3. Give “How to Read” Instructions.

Instructions are essential to help your downloaders to get your marketing material onto their device.

Amazon’s Send to Kindle is the easiest way to get many different kinds of documents onto any device.

It’s easy to get EPUB documents into iBooks on an iPhone or iPad:

First of all, open up your email client on the Mac. You can do this with any app or webmail program. Address an email to yourself, and attach the epub file you want to open on your iPad or iPhone. Send yourself the attachment, and then go grab your iOS device.

Now, open your preferred email program on your iPad or iPhone, and open up the email you just sent yourself. Tap the attachment icon to download it to your device, and you’ll see the icon turn into an iBooks one. Tap and hold on the file and an “Open in iBooks” will pop up. Tap that, and your iPad or iPhone will open iBooks and then open the epub file you just sent.

If you haven’t considered content marketing with ebooks, give it a try. Your customers will appreciate being able to read your ebooks when and where they choose.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

Pinterest Traffic: Start Pinning

Pinterest Traffic: Start Pinning

Are you missing out on Pinterest traffic? Chances are that you are.  One of my clients was curious about a sudden flow of traffic from Pinterest, and called me. I’d been encouraging him to try Pinterest for at least a year, but he’d taken a look at the site, and had decided it wasn’t for him.

Then he got traffic from kind people who pinned his products, and he’s now decided that Pinterest should be part of his social media marketing endeavors.

Pinterest Traffic: Get images, and a Pinterest account

Here’s what I love about Pinterest: your pins are long-lasting. Unlike Twitter or Facebook, your pins don’t have a shelf-life which is measured in minutes. You can get traffic from stuff you pinned months ago.

If you’d like to get started with Pinterest, start by looking at the images on your offerings. If you don’t have images, create some.

This doesn’t need to be a major investment. One of my client has a B2B website offering services. He’d never considered images. We developed some templates with placeholder images  with the help of a designer. He can take photos himself, then drag them into the templates, save, and upload them in a couple of minutes.

Once you’ve created some images, get a Pinterest business account. Create a couple of boards for your business. Make one board business-related, and the other fun – Pinterest is a social media network. Some ideas:

Create Pinterest boards with specific questions your website’s visitors have, or around a specific theme. For example, if you have an online business selling accessories, create boards for each kind of accessory, and for your designers too. Check out what major brands are doing. Keep your boards light-hearted.

Give Pinterest a try. You may be surprised at how effective it can be as an additional source of traffic to your website.
, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, and on YouTube, too.

Book Marketing: Easy Images For Non-Designers (Free)

Book Marketing: Easy Images For Non-Designers

I’ve been helping several clients with book marketing over the past couple of months, and because they’re writers, they  think they “can’t do” images. Of course you can… The shining highlight of my artistic career was finger painting in kindergarten, with a notable mention going to wire-jewelry creation in high school (wire-wrapped gemstones, very pretty), so if I can do images, anyone can do them.

Why create images? Because you need them for social media, and advertising. Yes, you can hire a designer to create some wonderful images, and you should, if you can afford it. However, most marketing these days is done on the fly. You’re not going to hire a designer to create graphics for every blog post you write, or for every social media update.

Let’s look at some easy image creation tools for non-designers… they’re all FREE.

1. Easy: create images with presentation software

You’ve got presentation software lurking on your hard drive, admit it. Look for PowerPoint, or Keynote, if you’re a Mac user. I created the above image in about two minutes using Keynote; it’s for the Marketing Your Book in 5 Minutes a Day video series which is part of my new Nonfiction Ebook Superstar: Write and Sell In 24 Hours Or Less program.

If you don’t have an Office suite, download Open Office, it’s free. It includes the Impress app, which allows you to create fancy images and diagrams.

Consider using your presentation app to create: CTA (calls to action) images; advertising images; and images for social media.

2. Elegant: use Canva to create covers and ads

book cover templates

Canva.com comes with a slew of templates. To create a cover for an ebook, just click on the Kindle Cover template, and you’re good to go. Of course you can create images in custom sizes too.

The big benefit of Canva is that it’s HARD to create dud images. Your images may not make a design student or artist weep tears of envy, but they’re eye-catching, and that’s all you need. You want to pique your potential readers’ curiosity, and Canva helps you to do that, elegantly.

Consider using Canva to create: book covers in various sizes, as well as advertising collateral, and info graphics,  if you’re writing nonfiction.

3. Fast: anyone can get creative with PicMonkey

Create fast with PicMonkey

You can create images super-fast with PicMonkey.com. (You can even use your own fonts now.) It’s the easiest, and the fastest way not only to create simple text images, but also to add pizazz to your own photos. Just drag them in, and turn them into artistic wonders.

I use PicMoney whenever I want to create text images, or create a blog image in a minute or two.

Consider using PicMoney when you have NO TIME to market your book. Just drag an image into PicMonkey, jazz it up (or not), and share it at a click. You can see the many possible ways of sharing your image below; Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and more.

Share an image

So, there you have it. Three ways to create book marketing images easily, completely for free, even if you’re not a designer.

Increase Your Income: Write and Sell Nonfiction

 Nonfiction Ebook Superstar: Write and Sell In 24 Hours Or Less

Every writer today is in a powerful position. You’ve got the power of Amazon, and the power of the Web. ALL of the tools you need to write and sell are FREE. However, few writers make use of that power. Can you spare just 24 hours to create an ebook that will sell for ten years?

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Social Media Sharing: Your Own, or Others’ Content?

Social Media Sharing: Your Own, or Others' Content?

Social media sharing can be a challenge, especially the ratios of the various kinds of content. Should you blast out your own material, or should you minimize your own input, and focus on sharing others’ content which you hope your audience will find valuable?

A couple of authors asked about social sharing ratios in reference to the article on book marketing in 30 minutes a week.

Kevan Lee of Buffer posted “6 popular ratios for sharing content on social media”, and you can certainly follow others’ formulas. However, it all comes down to your audience, your time, and the social media network.

To be honest, I don’t think about it too much. Of course, I don’t consider myself a social media expert. Apropos of social media experts, B.L. Ochman’s funny post: Twitter bios show epic growth – to 297,897 – of self-proclaimed social media gurus will make you smile. “Social media whores”? Who knew? :-)

As regards sharing, I’m with Buffer. Kevan Lee said:

Our social media updates are 90 percent our own content and 10 percent from others, and many days those numbers are even more lopsided.

Here’s why my sharing’s 90/10 too, pretty much. Two reasons:

  • It’s easier to target your audience with your own material – you know the audience you want to reach; and
  • Your audience isn’t served well if you consistently repost others’ material which they’ve already seen in their social stream many times before.

Consider that it’s YOUR social media account. This is why you need to…

Be Yourself When You Share.

Social media is social, but I’m not comfortable posting images of my lunch or my coffee shop snacks to social media, nor do I do post that sort of material for clients. Other people are comfortable with that, and that’s perfect for them. Be yourself. If people don’t like what you’re sharing, they’ll stop following you, as they should.

Curate Content on Social Media, if That’s Your “Added Value.”

I’ve been on Twitter since 2007, and a few years ago, my entire @angee Twitter account was others’ content, which I curated. That seemed to work well at the time. However, the Web’s constantly changing. It wouldn’t work for my audience today, because too many others are doing that. Your account becomes just another “me too”, in that case.

However, if curating content on a social media account is your value-add to your audience, and ten other people aren’t doing it, go for it. You can devote a social media account purely to curated content, with just a smattering of your own content. It all depends on your audience, and on YOU.

So, in summary, do whatever you feel will work for your audience. Adjust as needed, and as the Web changes. Most importantly of all, have fun with it. Your social media accounts are yours, and as long as you’re creating and adding value, and entertaining, you’re doing it right.

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Blog Power: 2 More Essential Content Tips

Blog Power: 2 More Essential Content Tips

Everyone’s blogging today; if you don’t have a blog, you feel guilty. However, blogging isn’t for everyone. It takes time. Your time may well be better spent. On the other hand, if you feel that a blog would benefit your business: create one. A blog can be immensely valuable for your business, in ways you’d never expect.

Well over a year ago, I created My Top 10 Content Tips; I’ve just updated the post. Its accompanying slide deck has had over 3,600 views on SlideShare. Reading over the post, and considering the amount of content that’s produced daily, here are two more essential content tips.

1. Keep It On Your Blog!

Many companies decide that rather than blogging, they’ll devote all their resources to their Facebook or Google+ page, and send out streams of tweets. Blogging just seems too time intensive, and demanding.

That’s true. However, your blog is media that you own. Content you post on other sites is at another company’s mercy. Not to mention, it’s hard to find again. Put your content onto your blog first, then tweak it for use elsewhere.

2.  Automate Sharing, But Don’t Turn Into a Robot.

Apps like Buffer make it easy to schedule your blog post reshares, and social media messages, but don’t schedule everything. Show up on social media websites, and get social.

You’ll find many useful content tips on social media. For example, I’d never considered “plussing” my own posts and comments on Google+, but Mike Allton advises that you do:

First, within Google+, you’ll need to understand that there are three possible “Social Signals” on every post: a +1, a Comment and a Share. Every Google+ user can take any of those actions on a single post, including the original post owner. Creating the post itself does not count. But as each social signal is effected, the +1 count on any one single link included in the post goes up. To a maximum of 3 +1′s from any one unique user.

You don’t need to spend hours on social media websites, but after you automate, pop in every day or two and plus your shares, and those of others. And of course, interact. Social media networking is called that for a reason.

If you missed the previous article, read the first of the top ten blog content tips here.

 

, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, too.

Book Marketing: Get Results in 30 Minutes a Week

Book Marketing: Get Results in 30 Minutes a Week

Book marketing can be amazingly simple, but nevertheless effective. Even if you hate marketing, you can get great results in just 30 minutes a week. Schedule it once a week, or split it up, into three ten-minute sessions. Even if you hate the idea of promotions, you can do it.

My students ask questions like:

* “HOW do I market?”

* “Is this enough?”

* “What should I do now?”

You’ll find some easy marketing ideas below. Essentially it doesn’t matter WHAT you do, as long as you do some promotion.

A digression: hate marketing? Many hardcore writers do. (Me included, oddly enough, I’d rather write… :-)) If you hate, hate, hate the idea of promotion, forget about it. Write another book. End of digression.

1. Set Up Your Social Media Profiles – Choose One or Two Social Media Websites.

We’re not counting this activity in your 30 minutes a week. Setting up your social media profiles may take you 45 minutes or so, but you only need to do it once. Review your profile every couple of months, as you book marketing activities change, and tweak as necessary.

Before you start, develop some creative material – images. Your creatives can be book covers in various sizes, some CTAs (Calls to Action: advertising images), images of yourself, image quotes from your book, or anything else you choose. Your creatives grab people’s attention. Use canva.com to create FAST images, completely for free.

Now set up profiles on two social media websites. You can choose any two you like. Book marketers get results on Facebook, Twitter and Google+, however your mileage may vary. Choose the two with which you’re most comfortable, and set up your profile pages on these sites.

Here’s my Twitter profile page.

Angela Booth on Twitter

Essential: use your book’s cover as a profile background image: people need to associate you with your book. If you’re promoting several books, create a collage of your book covers, and add the link to your Amazon Author Page on your profile.

2. Create Types of Social Media Shares.

Your types can include:

Shares of Others’ Material.

Let’s say you’ve written a nonfiction ebook about online dating. You an reshare the content of influencers in that niche, or of anyone in the niche, as long as you feel it’s useful and important to your followers. If you’re writing suspense fiction, your can reshare other suspense writers tweets and posts – readers are always looking for great new books.

Thoughts and Questions.

What are you reading? You can post your current reading using the hashtag #amreading. Alternatively, what are you writing? Post using the hashtag #amwriting.

I’m currently on a Georgette Heyer kick, so I’m posting #amreading, as you can see in the Google+ post below.



You can also ask questions of your audience. What are they reading? Who’s their favorite character?

Book Announcements, and Promotional Material.

You were wondering when we were going to get around to promotions, weren’t you – here we go. :-) Promote away. Use your ebook’s covers, quote images, and anything else you’d like. Tweet and post snippets from your book.

VITAL… include your Amazon link, please, so people can buy your book.

It’s easy to forget to do this. I often read something about a book in which I’m interested, and when I search for the retailer link, there isn’t one. I need to copy and paste the book’s title into Amazon… and sometimes I think – “later.” Make it as easy as possible for people to click through to your ebook on Amazon or wherever you’re selling.

Reshares of Your Own Blog Posts.

If you’re running a blog, don’t be shy – reshare your blog posts. Over time, you’ll develop a lot of content. I have around 4,000 posts on one blog, and 2,000 on another. You’ll develop masses of content too: use that content to promote your books.

3. Create Draft Content for Social Media Posts.

I create a week or two’s worth of draft content in a spreadsheet on Sunday evenings. It’s become automatic now, and takes me around 15 minutes. It may take you a little longer when you start out.

4. Schedule Your Content: Use Buffer.

Buffer makes it simple to line up your content for sharing. You can schedule for specific times, or use the Settings scheduler, and so that your posts go out at regular times. Buffer is free for a basic account, and it’s all you need for book marketing.

So, there you go. Once you’re set up with the types of material you’re sharing, you can create and schedule your book marketing in just 30 minutes a week. See? Marketing can be easy. Dip into your social media accounts for a couple of minutes occasionally during the week, to respond to people.

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, and on Twitter: @angee.

You can find Angela on Pinterest, too.