How to Write a Book or Blog (The 6 Danger Stages You Need To Overcome)

picture of woman holding danger sign You’ve probably had the experience of starting a novel or blog with great intentions…

…only to find that, a few months later, you’ve barely made any progress.

Maybe you started strong but lost momentum.

Maybe you jumped ahead when you should’ve paused.

Or maybe you got discouraged and gave up.

And you wonder: how to write a book (or blog).

I’ve coached many writers in workshop groups over the past few years, and I’ve noticed that there are six key stages when projects often stall or go wrong.

Here’s what to watch out for.

 

Danger Stage #1: Once You’ve Got a Great Idea

 

Let’s say you’ve got a new idea you’re excited about. Perhaps it’s a great premise for a novel, a topic for a blog, or a prompt you want to work on for a short story.

Writers tend to make one of two mistakes here:

  • They jump straight in, full of enthusiasm, without planning. They make a great start, and might get a few chapters into the novel or a few posts into a blog … but then they get stuck.
  • They wait – and wait – until the “perfect moment” to begin actually writing. They put off starting until they’ve got past family commitments and a busy spell at work … or they read about their chosen field of writing without getting any words down on paper.

 

Move Forward

Once you’ve got a great idea, invest some time in planning.

You don’t necessarily need a chapter-by-chapter outline of your novel, but you’ll at least want a clear idea of who your characters are, what kicks the story off, what key scenes take place, and how it’s all going to end.

If you’re writing a blog, plan out your next month of posts. Having an editorial calendar makes it much easier to get a great balance of content and to keep yourself on track and motivated.

 

Danger Stage #2: When You’re a Few Chapters In

 

Many writers end up abandoning their books about five chapters in.

At this stage, your initial burst of enthusiasm has waned, and it feels like you have a really long way to go until “The End.”

Some writers are serial abandoners, with many just-begun novels, or several attempts at starting a memoir or non-fiction book. If you fall into this pattern, it’s easy to get defeatist, and tell yourself “I never finish anything.”

 

Move Forward

Develop a consistent, regular writing routine and stick to it, whether that means writing daily first thing in the morning, writing during your lunch break, or having a couple of evening sessions each week.

If you write one chapter of 1500 words per week (that’s about 215 words per day), in six months, you’ll have close to 40,000 words, which is easily half a full-length novel.

You might like to read Darren Hardy’s The Compound Effect for an encouraging look at how small, regular efforts add up.

 

Danger Stage #3: When You Hit a Roadblock in Your Writing

 

I can’t think of a single writing project I’ve taken on where everything went smoothly from start to end.

If you’re writing anything longer than a blog post, chances are, you’re going to get stuck at some point. Maybe you need to do more research, or you’ve discovered a huge hole in your plot.

When you get stuck, it’s easy to put your work aside for a few days while you figure things out. The problem is, “a few days” quickly turns into a few weeks, then a few months.

 

Move Forward

Don’t plow on blindly when you realize there’s a problem – there’s no point writing chapter after chapter if you’re going to have to eventually cut them.

Instead, grab your notebook, and start figuring out what you need to do to solve the problem. Asking yourself “What’s the next action?” is vital to David Allen’s process and book Getting Things Done.

 

 

Danger Stage #4: The End of Your First Draft

 

You’ve finished the first draft of your book.

Congratulations! Break out the champagne, share the news with your Facebook friends, and celebrate how far you’ve come. Even if your project is a short story or mini-ebook, you’ve done really well to complete the first draft.

Don’t make the mistake of thinking you’re done, though. No first draft is perfect, and most aren’t anywhere close to publishable (mine definitely aren’t).

However keen you are to be done with your project, don’t rush it out before it’s ready.

 

Move Forward

Set your book / blog post / short story aside for awhile. Ideally a week or more for a book, and a whole day for a blog post or short story.

Then read through the whole thing, and note any “big picture” changes you need to make such as cutting entire chapters, rejigging the relationship between characters, or adding new material. For more on the editing process, see Eight Simple Tips for Editing Your Own Work.

If you can, get other people to help you edit. You’ll want to do a full edit yourself, then send your work to them for feedback. Knowing that you have readers waiting can help you focus on doing a great job of getting your project shipshape.

 

Danger Stage #5: Your First Rejection

 

Whatever you write, and however good you are, there’s one difficult moment you’re certain to face at some point in your career, and that’s your first rejection.

It could be a rejection letter from an agent or editor, your first negative review, or the first critical comment on your blog.

Some writers get so upset by rejection that they let it stop them entirely. They’d rather give up than face negative feedback.

 

Move Forward

Every author gets rejected. It’s no reflection on the value of your work (or of you as a person).

Some editors simply won’t “click” with your style, some blog readers will be having a terrible day when they leave that snarky comment, and so on.

Do the best you can with your writing, but don’t be afraid to put it out in the world. If you do get a rejection, give yourself a limited amount of time (maybe 24 hours) to feel sorry for yourself, then get straight back to writing.

 

Danger Stage #6: After Your Work is Published

 

Your blog post is up on your site, your book is on Amazon, or your short story collection is available for free online.

Whatever form publication takes, your work is out there for the world to see. (If you get stuck just before publication, read Carol Tice’s post Scared of Publishing? 2 Proven Ways to Write With Confidence.)

Many writers don’t realise how crucial promotion is. Unless you’re writing purely for personal enjoyment (a diary or memoir), you’ll want as many people as possible to read your work. How can they do that if they’ve never heard of it?

Even if you have a publishing deal, there’s a limit to what your publisher will (and can) do for you. Most authors have to arrange their own book launches, do their own social media, and so on.

 

Move Forward

Get to grips with the idea of promotion – it doesn’t mean becoming a scammy marketer. Instead, it means getting the word out about your book.

For bloggers, one of the best ways to promote your work is to build relationships with other bloggers. This could mean getting to know them on Twitter, or pitching them a guest post for their blog, which will give you access to their audience.

 

Is your writing project currently at one of these danger stages?

Now you know what to do to navigate it successfully.

But maybe you have other strategies that work for you. If so, tell us in the comments below. And if I’ve missed any danger stages, share those too.

 

About the author: 

Ali Luke’s course “On Track” is a free, seven-week program designed to get your project moving again. If you’re feeling stuck, in need of inspiration, or just want a bit of guidance through the different stages of your project, click here to find out more. You’ll get a bonus ebook, Seven Pillars of Great Writing, as soon as you join.

Image: Danger courtesy of Bigstockphoto

Is Your Book Cover Design Stopping You From Being On The Bestseller List?

picture of books on a shelf Would you like to see your book on the bestseller list?

Who wouldn’t enjoy seeing the words “A New York Times Bestselling Author” gracing the cover of their next work?

While it is simply not possible for every author to gain “bestseller” status, even new authors’ books can carry the same quality and professionalism as those of established names in the business.

 

Bestselling Books Usually Have the Best Designs

 

As you walk through your local bookstore, you’ll see covers ranging from the bold type of John Grisham’s latest thriller to the frilly embellishments of Beverly Lewis’ newest Amish Romance.

fiction-bookshelf-466x350

Each carries a level of quality that you immediately equate with professionalism in the content.

It is the combination of the author’s reputation, and the thought and craftsmanship used in the design that persuade you that “this book is for you.”

Let’s face it – if you saw the average, self-designed book sitting next to Karen Kingsbury’s latest, it would stand out, though not for the right reasons.

Self-designed books rarely assure book buyers that they are anything other than, well, self-designed.

 

In an uncertain book market, getting a potential reader to buy is harder than ever.

The book cover is the first impression, so it has to do the job of convincing the potential buyer that the message inside is worth their time.

If the cover portrays even a hint of “my nephew designed this for his school project,” nine times out of ten, the book will not receive a second glance.

While it is true that a well-designed book cover alone isn’t enough, I can tell you from experience, it certainly helps.

 

How to Compete with Bestsellers

 

It is possible to compete with the bestsellers.

What gives big name authors their edge (aside from the quite massive typographical name placement) is the fact that they alone do not decide how the book looks.

Any writer who has signed with a leading publisher knows this.

Authors are asked for their input, but in most cases, it is the publisher who has the final word on the cover design. This is because the publisher knows what makes a book’s design successful.

Again, this is not to minimize the importance of the book’s content, but the design (inside and out) must convince readers that their purchase is worth every cent spent.

 

Hire a Pro

 

If you are one of the fortunate few to have sold a book to an established publisher, it’s likely that you’ll end up with a top-class book cover, because your publisher will hire a qualified, experienced, book cover designer to handle the project.

But what if no publisher has yet shown interest in your work?

Your book will still need the professional look if it is to compete successfully with other titles in the market.

The solution, then, is for you to do the same. Ask around, search online resources, and track down a designer who specializes in book cover design.

 

Book Cover Design on a Budget

 

At this point, you’re probably wondering how expensive it will be to hire a professional book cover designer.

Because a book cover is arguably the most important part of your marketing effort for your book, paying a book jacket designer who knows the industry or niche you’re writing in is a worthwhile investment.

But there’s also hope for those on a serious shoestring budget.

Thanks to services like Elance and oDesk, it is easier than ever to find a talented, knowledgeable designer at a budget that suits you.

Services like these allow you to list your project and your budget, while designers from around the world place bids or “proposals”  describe their experience, portfolio, price, and approach to the job.

I cannot emphasize it enough: as far as possible, trade “general” graphic designers for a professional book cover designer who is aware of current trends in the publishing industry. It will mean spending more time, but the results will be well worth the extra effort you make.

 

Don’t Hijack Your Project

 

Let’s say you’ve found the perfect designer for your book.

Despite having successfully accomplished step one, you are still not guaranteed a winning book cover design.

Many professional designers, editors and marketers work with authors every day and end up with a finished product they are not proud to call their own.

How can this happen after hiring a pro?

This happens when a project gets “hijacked.”

self-published-book-sample-233x350

For example, an author may insist the designer change the font of the book’s title to “Comic Sans,” rather than working with the designer to understand the reasoning behind their typographical choice.

Or, the author may capitalize a word despite The Chicago Manual of Style suggesting otherwise.

Or, the author may ask for a cover that will sell well through Facebook ads, before even knowing whether they will find an audience on Facebook.

More often than not, “hijacked” projects render mediocre, at best.

What you need to do is partner with your designer. After all, how often do customers tell their mechanics how they want their brakes fixed?

 

You can have a book worthy of the time and care you’ve lavished to craft the finished manuscript.

 

All you need is to find a pro book designer conversant with book design trends in your genre, and work with them to have a book cover that’ll put your work on the same shelf as the bestsellers.

Have you tried to come up with the perfect cover design for your book? Share your tips and experience in the comments!

 

About the author

Thomas McGee has enjoyed working with publishers and authors on hundreds of book cover design projects. It is his joy to bring an author’s painstakingly-crafted works into market-targeted, stunning designs. Check out some of his work at Writely Designed and say hello on Twitter.

Image: Books on a shelf courtesy of Bigstockphoto

Are You Using This Simple Way To Get More Shares On Social Media? 9 Tools To Help You

get social shares easily They’re all over Pinterest.

They’ve taken over Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
They’re inspiring. They’re silly. They’re sad and they’re happy.

Yes, you guessed right – I’m talking about Image Quotes.

 

Have you seen photographs of inspiring landscapes with a quote neatly overlaid? Or quotes in cool typography over a solid color background?

Those are image quotes.

 

Why Image Quotes Get More Shares on Social Media

 

1. People love quotes!

2. They help you connect with your readers because your audience can get to know you better by the types of quotes you share.

3. When people like a quote you’ve shared, they’re more likely to pin it to their Pinterest boards and share it on their Facebook, Twitter or Instagram feeds. This produces more backlinks, increasing traffic to your blog and social media profiles.

So you can see how using image quotes is a simple way to get more shares on social media. Here’s how to do it.

 

How to Use Image Quotes in Your Blog

 

Find inspirational quotes that pertain to your niche. Think inspirational quotes are cheesy? Try a humorous quote.

Do you use block quotes in your blog posts? If you use an image quote instead, you’ll have something on your post that’s ‘pinnable’ to Pinterest.

Image quote on block quotes

 

Another idea is to share stats over an image. Select a powerful image as a background, and you now have an incredible way to get your message across!

image quote on fairtrade

 

Image quotes are also good for turning your blog post titles into images that can be pinned or shared. Add a catchy headline to a memorable image and you have a recipe for clicks and shares.

 

How To Create an Image Quote

 

Luckily for you, there are tons of websites that help you create image quotes quickly and easily. I’ll walk you through an example so you can see just how easy it is.

  1. Go to Quozio.com. Paste in a quote and author (if there is one).
  2. Choose a pre-designed template.
  3. Share your creation. Click on one of the little social media buttons directly below the image or click “Keep” to download it and then add it to a blog post.
  4. Note that Quozio adds a small attribution at the bottom of your image.

Here’s an example:

image quote via quozio

Wasn’t that easy? Let’s take a look at a few more image quote tools…

 

Quick and Dirty: Beginner Tools

 

Here are a few more websites that are as easy to use as Quozio.

The nice thing about these tools is that you can create an image quote in under three minutes. Because they use templates, you don’t have to fiddle with typography, colors or backgrounds. These websites are free and do not require you to create an account.

 

ReciteThis

ReciteThis has the best looking templates, but they do leave a rather noticeable watermark at the bottom of each image.

The site includes a catalogue of quotes that are organized by category, making this a one-stop shop. Post directly to Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr or StumbleUpon. There is also a download button.

image quote on stopping writing

 

PinWords

PinWords has a few nice templates. Choose from a selection of patterned backgrounds or upload your own background image. Select one of six typographic themes, then paste in your quote.

You can change the text color and move it around, but that’s about all the customization you get. Again, it is  super simple. Pin it, Like it, Tweet it, post to Tumblr or email it to yourself.

image quote on writers

 

Pinstamatic

Pinstamatic has basic templates, and only allows you to share to Pinterest from its website.

But you can download the image by right clicking it, then uploading it to your blog or other social media account. Pinstamatic does not add attribution to images.

image quote on writers being read

 

ProQuoter

ProQuoter has simple templates that work well for block quotes. Pin, Tweet, Like or share on Google+. Right click to download the image.

image quote on critics

 

Getting Fancy: Intermediate Tools

 

Beginner tools not cutting it for you?

The following tools still allow you to create quick image quotes, but they come with additional options to customize the results to your liking.

All intermediate tools can be used for free without creating an account.

 

BeHappy.me

This poster, t-shirt, mug printing shop allows you to create your own quote images and save them. I really like the results from BeHappy.me.

At the top, click on “Create Your Own,” then enter in your quote. Choose an icon if you wish, a font and a color combination and you’re set to go!

To save your image without a watermark, click “Create,” then click on one of the preview options. On the next page, you’ll see your quote image in several presentation variations with no watermark.

image quote on expressing oneself

 

QuotesCover.com

Paste in your own quote or choose a quote from QuoteCover’s large selection, which is searchable via keyword.

Then choose whether you want to create a Facebook or Google+ cover graphic, or a Facebook or Twitter timeline graphic.

You can upload your own background image and add a few effects to it or simply use a solid color background.

The tool is a little clunky but it provides you with different font and color combinations to choose from. Publish directly to Facebook or download the image.

image quote on writing time

 

I Need More: Advanced Tools

 

You designer, you, I like your style! ;)

These free tools require a bit more time, but the flexibility of design you get far outweighs the effort spent.

 

Canva

Canva is a relatively new image editing tool with amazing offerings. Choose from various sized layouts: blog image, social media image, Facebook cover, etc. then choose a themed template or collage.

You can use the template as it is or you have the option to choose a different patterned background, upload your own images, or use one of the thousands of available stock images for $1 each.

There are hundreds of text and shape overlays to choose from and each one is completely customizable.

image quote on something incredible

Image credit: Canva

 

PicMonkey

PicMonkey is the most flexible of the tools mentioned here.

It has too many features to list, but highlights are: upload your own image backgrounds or use their small selection of images and patterned backgrounds. Apply filters to your photos. Add text and choose from a good selection of fonts, change the size or color and rotate it. Add overlays in various shapes and themes.

The possibilities are almost endless.

image quote on journal writing

Image credit: Unsplash

 

Wait, You Need Two More Things!

 

You’re now armed and ready to start creating some image quotes but you may need two more things: Quotes and Images!

 

Where to Find Quotes

 

Drawing a blank on a quote to use? These websites have thousands of quotes searchable by category:

 

Finding Free and Amazing Images is Easy if You Know Where to Look

 

My favorite stock image site, hands-down, is Unsplash. Many of these utterly beautiful photographs are perfect for quotes. In fact some of the images used above are from Unsplash.

If Unsplash doesn’t have what you want, you might want to check out my Big 3-Part Guide to Free Stock Photography.

 

Connecting with Your Audience has Never Been Easier

 

According to Forbes, image-centric content rules in 2014 and I don’t doubt it. Images are the most shared type of post on social media.

Word art on photographs is so hot right now that dozens of new smart phone apps are being created to help novice photographers spice up their images.

Beef up your Instagram feed with quotes and word art.

Lure visitors back to your content by pinning an attractive quote to Pinterest from your blog post.

Increase your EdgeRank on Facebook by sharing an inspiring image quote that your readers will love to like and share.

Or draw attention by adding an image quote to a tweet via Twitter’s new ability to add inline images.

 

Are you currently using image quotes in your posts or social media strategy? If so, I’d love to hear how they’re working for you. If not, what prevents you from giving it a try?

Let us know in the comments below!

 

About the Author:

Marianne Manthey is one of 7 Cool Bloggers to Watch in 2014 and the founder of DesignYourOwnBlog.com where she helps bloggers beautify their blogs on a budget. You can download her free eBook, 3 Ways to ROCK Your Blog Design Now! which has helped over a thousand bloggers improve their blog designs.

Title Image: Excited business woman courtesy of Crestock. Other image credits:  http://www.edgeofember.com/,  Unsplash.

What Are YOU Writing?

picture of woman writing What are you working on right now?

A novel? Your best article ever? A poem? A film script?

Maybe you’ve just finished something you’re really proud of? Or you just can’t tell whether it should get a Pulitzer or be thrown into the trash?

Here’s your chance to share and discuss with each other what you are writing about.

Whet our appetite with the opening paragraph of your future bestseller or give us a link to your best article. Tell us: what are you writing at the moment?

Who knows, your piece might even attract the notice of a major publishing house!

Here are some guidelines:

 

Writers:

 

State what aspect you’re working on. For example, you might want to say, “Here’s a link to my article “Whatever.” I’m currently working on eliminating superfluous words.”

 

Commenters:

 

* When commenting, first list everything you really like about a piece.
* Only then offer careful suggestions.
* Treat each other with respect, friendliness, caring, and honesty.
* Remember that we are all still learning.

 

Now it’s over to you. Take a deep breath. Then jump into the comment section and bring out your treasures!

 

Note from Mary Jaksch, Editor-in-Chief

Dr. John Yeoman, founder of Writers’ Village, is offering readers of WritetoDone an amazing opportunity: FREE ACCESS to the first four weeks in his story coaching program, Writers’ Village Academy. If you write fiction (or even non-fiction), this intensive free training is an opportunity you won’t want to miss! Click here for details.

 

About the author: 

Mary Jaksch is Editor-in-Chief at WritetoDone.com and Creator of A-List Blogging. After creating two super-successful blogs of her own, Mary has dedicated herself to teaching students to grow profitable blogs that attract attention. Take her fun quiz to see how much you know about what makes a blog successful.

Image: Woman writing courtesy of Bigstockphoto

 

How to Write Better: Jeff Walker Shares Secrets

Imagine you’re a stay-at-home parent.

Your corporate career ended in failure.

One day, your spouse begs you in tears to earn some money to support your family…

What to do?

You consider making money on the Net – but you just can’t think of anything you would be good at.

That’s how Jeff Walker’s online journey started.

Doesn’t sound promising, does it?

Watch the video below to find out what happened next, and how Jeff became one of the most successful Internet entrepreneurs ever.

In the video interview, Jeff also talks about his new book:

LAUNCH: An Internet Millionaire’s Secret Formula To Sell Almost Anything Online, Build A Business You Love, And Live The Life Of Your Dreams

Jeff offers rare tips on how to write better – and shares which mistakes you must avoid when writing a book.

For the next couple of days, our readers should be able to get the paperback edition of Jeff’s book for free! This will change as soon as the launch gets into full swing. So I can’t promise you’ll still be able to get it, but I hope you do.

Click here to see if you can still get the book for free.

Need inspiration? Want to smile? Watch the interview with Jeff below… (25 mins)

 

Jeff Walker’s a lovely guy, isn’t he?

What was your favorite moment in the video? Please share in the comments.

Oh, and don’t forget to grab Jeff’s book for free! Click here to get it.

Mary Jaksch is Editor-in-Chief at WritetoDone.com and Creator of A-List Blogging. After creating two super-successful blogs of her own, Mary has dedicated herself to teaching students to grow profitable blogs that attract attention. Take her fun quiz to see how much you know about what makes a blog successful.