Loading...

Follow Elizabeth Spann Craig on Feedspot

Continue with Google
Continue with Facebook
or

Valid
Elizabeth Spann Craig by Elizabeth Spann Craig - 1d ago

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

This is another one of those posts that comes with a proviso…as a writer, you’re in control of your book and no one else makes the rules.  The advice I’m about to give isn’t for everybody and it isn’t for every book.   It’s directed more to writers who are looking for a leg-up in their commercial fiction category and who are primarily writing to a specific audience.

It’s also a post that goes hand-in-hand with others I’ve written on how much easier it is to write in a particular genre (if you have a mind to).  That’s because there are specific reader expectations per genre.

I know a lot of traditionally-published books are rejected by agents and editors because they don’t follow genre expectations.  An agent knows that makes a story tough to pitch to an editor…who knows it’s tough to market to an audience.

I’ve also been asked to read books by some indie authors who asked why their cozy-ish book was having a tough time making it in the market.  Of course, I looked at the usual problem-area suspects first (cover, book description), but what it really boiled down to was the focus of the story.  A cozy is (again, this is broad) typically focused on the mystery.  The other aspects of the story (a romance, supporting character hijinks, the culinary/crafty/pet-related hook itself) come in second place.   When it’s the other way around, it’s typically a really amazing author who is skilled in developing an audience for his or her characters.

I don’t like to rock the boat myself, so I tend to follow the genre guidelines very, very closely. In fact, I go farther with it.  If I’ve gotten feedback from readers on anything that they find objectionable, I make a note and take a tally.  That’s why, in my books published in the last 8 years, you’ll find zero profanity.  No one was writing to compliment me on my profanity in the earlier books, but I was getting some negative feedback on something that wasn’t important to me one way or the other…and so it was eliminated.

I’ve also received emails from readers asking me to give them spoilers when I’ve had missing pets in my books.  And I’ve emailed them back to say that (as per genre guidelines) there will never be an animal killed off in my books.  People?  Most certainly.  :)   Don’t get too attached to the humans in my books.  But I know enough about my readers that I wouldn’t imperil animals or kids in my mysteries.

That’s also where it’s important to know a lot about your specific subgenre.  Mystery is a wide-ranging field.  In thrillers, you’d definitely have imperilled animals or children…in fact, the more the merrier.  In police procedurals or noir, the same.  But cozies are different.

Using cozies as an example of a subgenre with well-defined conventions, reader expectations include an amateur sleuth, little if any profanity, no gore, and a puzzle solution that’s academic and not forensics-based.

Some writers will, understandably, find this limiting…and there are ‘limits’ or parameters in every genre.   For me, though, I find the parameters more of a challenge: how can I deliver something unique with every book that still works within the confines of the genre?

Do you write for a specific genre or subgenre?  What conventions are in your chosen genre?

The Importance of Genre Conventions to Commercial-Fiction Writers:
Click To Tweet

Photo on Visualhunt

The post Genre Expectations appeared first on Elizabeth Spann Craig.

  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Elizabeth Spann Craig by Elizabeth Spann Craig - 2d ago

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

Twitterific writing links are fed into the Writer’s Knowledge Base search engine (developed by writer and software engineer Mike Fleming) which has over 50,000 free articles on writing related topics. It’s the search engine for writers.

Have you visited the WKB lately?  Check out the new redesign where you can browse by category, and sign up for free writing articles, on topics you choose, delivered to your email inbox!  Sign up for the Hiveword newsletter here.


The Top Writing Links From Last Week Are On Twitterific:
Click To Tweet

The post Twitterific Writing Links appeared first on Elizabeth Spann Craig.

  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

by Elizabeth S.. Craig, @elizabethscraig

If you’re like me, sometimes you have so much going on that it’s hard to know where to start. Your to-do lists look like bucket lists. And you work all day long and don’t feel you’ve really gotten anything accomplished.

When this happens to me, I radically change what my to-do lists look like.  The most important thing is to triage the most important tasks. Plus, feel as if I’m making some progress.

There’s a free app called 135 List, which I’ve found helpful before when life gets challenging.  With the app, you’re forced to prioritize what’s on your list.  So one big thing that you need to get accomplished (and this can be part of a big project…it’s easier to break it into manageable bits), three things of medium importance to complete, and then five smaller items.  I always made the smaller items things that I could do without a whole lot of energy or thinking: scheduling a dentist appointment, wiping down the nose prints my dog left on the glass door, etc.

Sometimes, though, even that is daunting.  Sometimes everything seems like an emergency.

When that happens, I pick one thing that will make me feel as if I’ve really accomplished something that day.  It might be something that I’ve procrastinated for a while that really needs to be knocked out.  It might even just be starting on something that seems large and unmanageable.  The ‘one thing’ could even be making a braindump on an empty document so that I can accurately assess all the things that I need to take care of instead of getting that awful feeling in the middle of the night that there’s something about to fall through the cracks.

Whatever that one thing is, when I mark it as done I feel like I have more energy and confidence to attack the rest of the tasks, or at least put them prioritized on lists for the rest of the week.

Otherwise, I spin  my wheels doing things that don’t really help me feel less-stressed. Author assistant Mel Jolly puts it this way (emphasis hers): “…we get overwhelmed and waste all our time doing low-impact things (like answering emails) that don’t make much of a difference in our big picture.”

Another note: I do try to make my to-do list for the following day so that I’m not trying to both figure out priority tasks and knock them out on the same day.

And…if something comes up in the middle of my day (and it frequently does, usually via email), I add that to my list for the next day to keep from losing focus.

Maybe this is a side note that would be better unpacked in a later blog post, but it also really helps to know your own ‘magic hours’–the time of day when you’re most efficient and have the most energy. (More about magic hours in this Time Magazine article).

How do you push through when life is overwhelming?  Any tips?

To-Do Lists for the Overwhelmed Writer:
Click To Tweet

Photo on Visualhunt

The post A To-Do List for the Overwhelmed Writer appeared first on Elizabeth Spann Craig.

  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

I’ve used MailChimp for years, but I’m one of the many writers who is now abandoning ship as the platform experiments with new pricing and a different direction (toward customer relationship management).  For many writers, the costs won’t make sense for basic email newsletter marketing.

I have dreaded making a change since I realized I’d need to.  I changed banks in March and it was a heinous task,  taking two 8-hour days to dump a bank I’d used for the last 20 years.  It did end up being worth it, though, as I’m sure this change will be.

One reason it’s a pain is the fact that MailChimp is everywhere in regard to my stuff…on Facebook, integrated through WordPress on my site, as an email signup link for over 30 books, on my Amazon author page…the list goes on and on.  I’m not sure why I didn’t set up a landing page on my own site and then use the service’s form on it…but apparently, that’s exactly what I did.  I even had a splash page, but didn’t use it to host my newsletter signup.  I certainly won’t be taking that approach again, obviously.

If you paid for a MailChimp pay-as-you-go plan, as I did, you may have to delay leaving (not sure how or if they refund that money, so I just decided to send out one last email).  All of my final changes are taking place after my last MailChimp newsletter.  So far, I’ve set up a new account with the new service and have transferred my subscribers (the audience is still also at MailChimp for that last newsletter).

So far, the change has been easy because it’s been automated.

More Information on Why You Should Consider a Change

I’m going to direct you to the most-detailed and easiest-to-understand post, written by David Gaughran.

My Choice for a New Provider

I looked at various options and decided on MailerLite, which has an option to pull over MailChimp subscribers and is relatively inexpensive.  Other popular options that writers use are ConvertKit, Mad Mimi, and ActiveCampaign.

If You Decide on MailerLite

David Gaughran has yet another great post on how to change from MailChimp to MailerLite. 

Another helpful post is from Rachel McCollin with the ALLi group.  She also details how to switch from MailChimp to MailerLite, plus offers ideas for ‘future proofing’ mailing list sign-ups so we won’t be in the same boat if we have to switch newsletter services in the future (heaven forbid!)

I’ll update everyone later as to how the switch went from my end.  :)

What email service do you use?  Are you considering switching?

Changing Newsletter Providers: Resources:
Click To Tweet

Photo credit: Felinest on Visualhunt / CC BY

The post Changing Newsletter Services: Resources appeared first on Elizabeth Spann Craig.

  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Elizabeth Spann Craig by Elizabeth Spann Craig - 1w ago

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

Twitterific writing links are fed into the Writer’s Knowledge Base search engine (developed by writer and software engineer Mike Fleming) which has over 50,000 free articles on writing related topics. It’s the search engine for writers.

Have you visited the WKB lately?  Check out the new redesign where you can browse by category, and sign up for free writing articles, on topics you choose, delivered to your email inbox!  Sign up for the Hiveword newsletter here.

New Stuff:

C.S. Lakin of Live, Write, Thrive is running a special on her online classes (half-off for July with code JULYHALFOFF ).  The classes can be found here (note that I’m an affiliate).

The Top Writing Links From Last Week Are On Twitterific:
Click To Tweet

The post Twitterific Writing Links appeared first on Elizabeth Spann Craig.

  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Elizabeth Spann Craig by Elizabeth Spann Craig - 1w ago

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

I have always been a huge fan of libraries. Growing up, one of my favorite memories is of going to the library with my father (sometimes riding our bikes there) and hanging out for hours.

I still spend a lot of time there because sometimes when I get bogged down when writing at the house.  Maybe I’m not totally in the zone and anything will distract me: the dishwasher stopping,  the dryer buzzer, a table that needs dusting.  Leaving the house and going to the library is usually the perfect remedy for the problem.  I don’t need total silence to work, providing the background noise has nothing to do with me.

But I use the library for more than just a place to write when I need to escape the distractions at home.  I use it to fill my creative well, exercise my brain (which seems to help my writing), and inspiration.

Below are the ways that I use my library.  I’m in the Charlotte,  NC library system and it is a big system and fairly well-funded. Your mileage may vary with yours, but if you find a service here that sounds interesting, check to see if your library has it.  If not, see if they’ll consider offering it.

Books and Magazines

Obviously, books are what first comes to mind when most people think of the library.  I always have something on loan from the library that I’m reading.   I do still get physical books, but I also use my library’s Overdrive service to borrow ebooks.  Whenever I hear about an interesting book, I first check with my library.  If they don’t have it in their catalog, I use their online request form to request a purchase (I’ve never had them turn down a purchase for anything that I’ve suggested).

I’ve used this less, but my library also offers free magazines online (I do like to scroll through looking for recipes sometimes).  They’re offered through RB Digital and Zinio.

Education

Want to learn how to use Office products better? How to develop your own website? There are tons of opportunities to  learn different skills through Lynda, with over 3,000 free online courses.

I also recently tried to challenge my brain to relearn the French I was taught in school (a looonng time ago).  This is free through Mango. 

Entertainment 

We stream at our house (no more cable) and get our programming through Hulu, Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube TV, etc.  The library is helping supply me with some really cool films and TV through Kanopy and Hoopla.  I’m a fan of classic movies and independent films, but there are also a lot of box office hits on Kanopy and Hoopla, too.  And Hoopla helps me keep up with my favorite British television shows.

Whenever I’m feeling like my creative well needs a little filling, watching a well-made film or reading a great book is the way to do it.

Are you a library power-user, too? What kinds of services do you use there?  Do you go there to write?

How to Be a Library Power User
Click To Tweet

Photo on VisualHunt

The post Being a Library Power User appeared first on Elizabeth Spann Craig.

  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Elizabeth Spann Craig by Elizabeth Spann Craig - 2w ago

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

During my blog break, I went on a family vacation to France.   Both of my children have graduated in the last couple of months: one from college, one from high school.   The trip was a celebration of their accomplishments.  And, well, we all wanted to go to France.  :)

I was actually looking forward to doing some writing during this particular vacation.  My kids were able to go off by themselves some and I could sit at a cafe and do some work. In Paris, isn’t that some of the point, if you’re a writer?

I felt like I kept a good balance between family time and writing time.

Here are a few tips for writing during vacation:

First off, before  you leave, plan how much you want to write. Do you have time to just take that vacation completely off?  Or, do you have a deadline (either a personal deadline or an editor’s deadline) that means taking time completely off impossible?  Is the vacation short enough that you won’t be rusty or have a hard time jumping back into your story when you get home?

Be flexible.  I’ve long said that being flexible with my writing (writing times and locations) has really helped me be more productive.  Can you write before everyone you’re traveling with gets up?  Can you slip out of a hotel room and write in the lobby (I’ve done this plenty of times)? Can you write after everyone has already turned in? Can you write while waiting for the rest of your party to show up at a restaurant?

Expand your definition of ‘working on your book.’  Sometimes when I’m traveling, all sorts of story ideas are sparked. These may either be ideas for the current WiP, or ideas for future books. I make sure that I either have a small notebook with me, or that I can jot ideas onto an app like Google Keep.  Emailing ideas to myself has worked well in the past, too.  I think the main thing is just to be open to having ideas and at unusual times.

Be cognizant that you’re ‘refilling the well’ as well as spending time with people who are important to you.  This is just a small reminder that the purpose of the vacation probably has little to do with your writing.  Are you there to spend time with family? To celebrate a wedding? To relax?  All of those things are important, too.  Plus…speaking from experience, I’ve found that when I don’t take time to refill the creative well, I’ve been burned out.  And coping with burnout (bad writing, slow writing) can take longer than either taking time off or dialing back writing goals.

Do you often write on vacation?  What tips do you have?

Tips for Writing on Vacation:
Click To Tweet

The post Writing During Vacations appeared first on Elizabeth Spann Craig.

  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Elizabeth Spann Craig by Elizabeth Spann Craig - 2w ago

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

Twitterific writing links are fed into the Writer’s Knowledge Base search engine (developed by writer and software engineer Mike Fleming) which has over 50,000 free articles on writing related topics. It’s the search engine for writers.

Have you visited the WKB lately?  Check out the new redesign where you can browse by category, and sign up for free writing articles, on topics you choose, delivered to your email inbox!  Sign up for the Hiveword newsletter here.

Hope you’ve had a good last couple of weeks! It’s nice to be back.  :)

  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 
Elizabeth Spann Craig by Elizabeth Spann Craig - 1M ago

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

Twitterific writing links are fed into the Writer’s Knowledge Base search engine (developed by writer and software engineer Mike Fleming) which has over 50,000 free articles on writing related topics. It’s the search engine for writers.

Have you visited the WKB lately?  Check out the new redesign where you can browse by category, and sign up for free writing articles, on topics you choose, delivered to your email inbox!  Sign up for the Hiveword newsletter here.

I’ll be taking a summer blog break starting tomorrow and ending with another Twitterific on Sunday, July 7.  Hope you have a good next couple of weeks! 

The Top Writing Links From Last Week Are On Twitterific:
Click To Tweet

The post Twitterific Writing Links appeared first on Elizabeth Spann Craig.

  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

by L. Diane Wolfe, @DancingLemurPre

Online media provides us few opportunities to express ourselves in our entirety. Text gives us a voice, but what about the other senses? We can’t taste, touch, or smell. But we can see.

Studies have shown that online all text is boring and difficult to read. Most news articles contain one or more images to ground the reader. Unless it’s reading an actual book, readers don’t want all text.

Images break it up. A long line of text leave readers almost gasping for breath. Unlike traditional book readers, people do not want a tome of information online. They want the important details and they want it quick. Adding a few graphics gives their experience more meaning.

Items with images are more likely to be shared. Look at your most shared blog posts, Facebook posts, Tweets, etc. Those with images were shared far more often. A line of text doesn’t convey enough. But add a graphic or a video and it gains new depth.

Consider adding images to your:

Blog posts – Mix images in with the text. Break up the monotony. Give readers a visual to connect to.

Twitter – Include an image where possible when you Tweet. Don’t just send out a link – send out a corresponding image. It’s ten times more likely to be retweeted. And be sure your pinned Tweet has an image. People don’t always trust just a link, but a link and an image will win them over.

Facebook – Add an image or two when you post on Facebook. People take notice of image posts sooner. Plus they are more likely to be shared. And if we are posting book information, we really want it to be shared.

Pinterest – Pin book covers and graphics with excerpts. Most important – don’t forget the link. You are allowed one link (make it to your book’s website) and a description. Take advantage of those. Marketing superstar John Kremer says Pinterest is the most lasting of all social media because while other media shares are buried within hours, a Pinterest post is not. It will be discovered for years to come and re-pinned.

So start adding images to your online media today. Jazz it up! And prepare to be jazzed.

Diane Wolfe
Owner of Dancing Lemur Press LLC, Speaker & Author
Known as “Spunk On A Stick,” Wolfe is a member of the National Speakers Association. She conducts seminars on book publishing, promoting, leadership, and goal-setting, and she offers book formatting and author consultation. Wolfe is the senior editor at Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C. and contributes to the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.

http://www.dancinglemurpressllc.com/ – Dancing Lemur Press, L.L.C

http://www.spunkonastick.net/ – Spunk On A Stick

http://www.circleoffriendsbooks.blogspot.com – Spunk On A Stick’s Tips

http://www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com/ – Insecure Writer’s Support Group

HOW TO PUBLISH AND PROMOTE YOUR BOOK NOW!

By L. Diane Wolfe

SECOND EDITION

Publishing and promoting made simple!

Have you dreamed of publishing a book but didn’t know where to begin? This book guides you through identifying markets, budgeting, building an online presence, and generating publicity. Get the current scoop on:

  • Traditional publishing & self-publishing
  • Print and e-book setup, formatting, and distribution
  • Finding your target audience
  • Generating reviews and media interest
  • Networking and developing an online presence
  • Promotional materials and appearances

Uncover your ideal publishing path and various marketing options before you begin. Writing is your dream. Give it the best chance for success!

Publishing/Marketing, 206 pages

$14.95 Trade paperback ISBN 9780982713952

$2.99 Ebook ISBN 9780982713990

Barnes and Noble

Amazon

iTunes

Nook

Kobo –

Books-A-Million

Publisher L. Diane Wolfe of @DancingLemurPre On the Importance of Social Media Images:
Click To Tweet

The post The Importance of Images in Social Media appeared first on Elizabeth Spann Craig.

Read for later

Articles marked as Favorite are saved for later viewing.
close
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Separate tags by commas
To access this feature, please upgrade your account.
Start your free month
Free Preview