How to Write a Synopsis—Without Turning Homicidal

Having a great synopsis is so important because that is usually what will turn a prospective reader into a purchaser.  And I beg you please, have a one or two sentence summary that can be used to effectively advertise your book!

How to Write a Synopsis—Without Turning Homicidal

by Sarah (Sally) Hamer @SarahSallyHamer

Part One

One of the big questions I hear in my classes is, “How do I write a synopsis?”

Good question. Here’s the best answer I can give you:

Buy Gracie O’Neil’s book, How to Write a Synopsis—WithoutTurning Homicidal.

Gracie is one of our ‘down under’ folks, living in New Zealand down the road from the Hobbits. She’s funny, gracious, and brilliant, all at the same time. And, her book on synopses not only helps my students, it helps me to explain how story structure works.

She says “The first key to a killer synopsis is to find your story’s centre. Its soul. Its beating heart.”


Tell your story in 50 words or less.

I can hear the groans from here!

It’s really not that hard. Really.

Read the full post at The Write Conversation!

Is Writing Being Devalued by Giveaways and Cheap Ebooks?

This is something I have been thinking about a lot lately. I LOVE to read. And while I don’t have as much reading time as I wish, I do read fast and manage to do my part. I still can’t get through my to-be-read pile. Because of one of my day jobs I am constantly being exposed to a lot of titles. Some I end up deleting after a chapter or even a paragraph because there are so many good stories out there, why waste time on stories that are not going to thrill me. But having this large amount of decent content means I never get to authors I love and would have to pay more for their titles. On the flip side, I am currently reading a series that I got the first story for free in one of those anthologies and the story was so good, I had to buy the whole series right there because I was going to die if I didn’t know what happened next! What are your thoughts?

Is Writing Being Devalued by Giveaways and Cheap Ebooks?

by Jane Friedman

Increasingly, at writing conferences and in the mainstream media, I observe growing unrest surrounding the proliferation of free and cheap literature, particularly ebooks. The reasons for sharp discounts and giveaways are legion (and some reasons are better than others), but regardless of the reason, I see greater peer pressure on and shaming of those who are seen to “devalue” literature in our culture.

Whole books have been written on this topic, as it’s an anxiety affecting creators in diverse fields. Some describe the phenomenon from a neutral and even historical perspective (“how have we ended up here?”), some are more activist in their approach (“fight and resist”), and still others are pragmatic (“here’s how to play with the hand you’ve been dealt”).

Read the full story on Jane Friedman!

Quick Link: Carolyn Howard-Johnson Says, Promote Your Own Way

Quick links, bringing you great articles on writing from all over the web.

I admit it. I am sharing today’s post because not only is it a good one by Carolyn Howard-Johnson at Insecure Writers Support Group, but also because I now have the earworm “Go Your Own Way” by Fleetwood Mac running through my head and I thought I would share. You are welcome. Also how cool is it that her last name is “Howard Johnson” like the old restaurant chain? This much kismet and awesomeness from the universe must be shared! “You can Promote your own waaaaay. You can make it a promote daaaaay.”

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Carolyn Howard-Johnson Says, Promote Your Own Way

Today we’re excited to have Carolyn Howard-Johnson as our guest. She has provided us with a dynamite post about promotion, something writers must do, but sometimes dread or simply don’t know where to start doing. Carolyn’s a savvy, successful promoter who shares her expertise as she has here, but also in her multi-award winning books. More about those below!
A Promote-Your-Own-Way Case Study
Saturday Night Live Writer Uses
Article/Essay Route for Marketing
By Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of the multi award-winning
 HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers
In the second edition of the flagship book in my multi-award-winning series of books for writers, The Frugal Book Promoter, I suggest writing articles and selling them (or giving them away free). It is an especially good way to get exposure for authors who are shy or think they’ll hate marketing but admit they love writing. So I was pleased to see an op-ed piece in the LA Times written by Patricia Marx, former Saturday Night Live writer and a staff writer for The New Yorker.

Read the full post on Insecure Writers Support Group

Quick Link: How To Write An ‘About’ Page That Works

Quick links, bringing you great articles on writing from all over the web.

When is the last time you checked your “about” page? Don’t worry I can’t say anything, it is on my very long list of updates I want to do to this site. Sigh. Sometimes it is very difficult to find time to do the things you want to do. But you seriously owe it to yourself to check out this post by Amanda Patterson over at Writers Write to make sure your “about” page is up to snuff!

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How To Write An ‘About’ Page That Works

by Amanda Patterson

How do you write an ‘About’ page that works? Ask yourself what people want to know when they click on your ‘About’ link.

People who visit your website want to know who you are, what you do, why they should believe you, how they can contact you, where you are, and when they need to show up.

The easiest way to cover the basics on this page is to use the five Ws and the one H. We cover this in detail in: Why You Need The Inverted Pyramid When You Write

So, let’s begin.


Read the full post on Writers Write!

Quick Link: Book Marketing: How to Skyrocket Sales of Your Book

Quick links, bringing you great articles on writing from all over the web.

I write because I love stories and find the act of writing to be very satisfying. It is not, unfortunitly, how I pay the bills and I doubt will ever be. I am ok with that. But if you are looking to make any money from your writing, you need to be able to market effectively.  (what a totally cool name!), at Self-Publishing School has a great overview of book marketing!

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Book Marketing: How to Skyrocket Sales of Your Book


Just because you wrote a new book doesn’t mean that your book is guaranteed to sell. Even if it’s the next Great American Novel, it won’t be a success if it doesn’t get into the collective conscious of the public. This is why your book needs good marketing tactics to back it up.

Marketing takes planning, organization, and consistent action; it’s hard work. But the good news is that marketing is also about fostering connections and relationships, which can be rewarding to you and your fan base. And since you’re the one who knows your book from cover to cover, your backstory, your reasons for writing it, and who your ideal reader is, it’s your duty to put a plan in place to best connect with your intended audience and share your story.

We know, we know…you’ve put a ton of effort into writing, editing, and getting your book ready for publication that the thought of adding another layer of “work” is not the most appealing idea.

But realize that if you launch your book without a marketing plan, FAR fewer people will read it. It will hamper the success of the book you’re working on now, as well as others you plan on publishing in the future. So if you dream of becoming a New York Times bestselling author, or if you want your book to help you reach other lifestyle goals, a book marketing strategy is your essential key to success.

Read the full post on Self-Publishing School!

Quick Link: To Pseudonym or Not to Pseudonym

Quick links, bringing you great articles on writing from all over the web.

I didn’t think pseudonyms were still a thing these days. There is no privacy on the web and it is pretty easy to find out information on people if you want. So unless you are doing a “Lemony Snicket” type book and a pseydonym is a marketing strategy, honesty is the best policy.  At BookBaby, Carolyn Howard-Johnson shares the pros and cons of using a pseudonym. What do you think?

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To Pseudonym or Not to Pseudonym

by Carolyn Howard-Johnson

There can be benefits to using a pen name, but I believe there are many more downsides to using a pseudonym than upsides.

Nora Roberts, the author of more than 150 romance novels, was asked why she writes romantic suspense novels under a pseudonym. Her answer: “It’s marketing.”

She says that writing quickly makes it difficult for her publisher to publish all of her work with an appropriate amount of time between each release, so she writes works which are “edgier” than her romance novels under the pseudonym J. D. Robb. She says, “Putting it under a pseudonym helps brand it for the reader.” Children’s writers often separate their real names or their “other” writing names from their children’s work to keep work intended for children untainted.

All these reasons are absolutely valid, and there are many more. But I believe there are many more downsides to using a pseudonym than upsides, especially from marketing and organizational perspectives.

Read the full post on BookBaby

Quick Link: Five Shots At Your Own Sales

Quick links, bringing you great articles on writing from all over the web.

Are you your own worst enemy and unconsciously sabotaging your sales? Find out in this great post from Dean Wesley Smith!

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Five Shots At Your Own Sales

by Dean Wesley Smith

This Was a Fun Post in Late 2011…

Still all true going into 2018. Sadly.

I actually did two posts on this topic because I had to shoot off all ten toes of indie writers. But for a bring forward, this one is the fun one.

See if this almost completely holds up after six years. I think it does and I find that amazing.


I started noticing how indie writers shoot themselves in the foot as far as sales. And not just once, but often so many times that it guaranteed that no sane reader (past family and friends) would pick up their book.

And they did it all purposefully. And were often very proud of the fact that they did what they did, having no idea what their decisions were doing to their sales.

I call that “Shooting Yourself in the Foot.”

You hold the gun, you aim at your own foot, you pull the trigger. You have no one to blame but yourself when you indie publish.

So, let me detail out a few of the “shots” I have seen indie writers take at their own feet lately.

Read the full post on Dean Wesley Smith!

Quick Link: Why The Elevator Pitch Will Always Be Effective In Business Writing

Quick links, bringing you great articles on writing from all over the web.

While this is slanted towards business writing I put to you that all writers need to have an effective short pitch for their projects. Why? Because you are always trying to market your story and people don’t have a lot of time. In fact, your elevator pitch should be the first thing on your Amazon page or where ever you are placing your book.  Readers are rushed and often will look at the first paragraph to decided whether to read further.  During one of my jobs, it is my duty to help authors craft an effective and quick view of their title. I always try to put the author and story in the best light. Having an already great first paragraph that describes the story allows you to stay in control of your narrative and allows others to effectively help you to market your title. Check out the post at Writer’s Write!

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Why The Elevator Pitch Will Always Be Effective In Business Writing

Many readers do not have the time to read everything. The world moves quickly and people have short attention spans. People become bored at a frightening rate.

As Cecil Beaton said, ‘Perhaps the world’s second worst crime is boredom. The worst is being a bore.’

  1. How do we grab their attention?
  2. How do we make them trust us?
  3. How do we change their minds?

In a busy world, the elevator pitch is a powerful tool for business writers. Measured in the time span of an elevator ride, it should take no more than 20 seconds to read. When written, it should not be longer than 100 words.

Cover these points in your elevator pitch:


Read the full post on Writer’s Write!

Quick Link: How Book Bloggers Boost Sales for Indie Authors

Quick links, bringing you great articles on writing from all over the web.

What is an indie author on a budget to do to get reviews and sales? Shayla Raquel, expert editor, seasoned writer, and author-centric marketer has some great tips on how to reach out to book bloggers, including some helpful templates on what to say.

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How Book Bloggers Boost Sales for Indie Authors

I ain’t got no money, honey.

by Shayla Raquel

Got a $0 book marketing budget? No fear! Book bloggers can help you reach your audience without breaking the bank.

What is a book blogger?

A book blogger is someone who will read your book (in ebook or print form) and write an honest review on their blog and/or social media.

Most book bloggers do this for free because they love reading. However, when some book bloggers have accumulated thousands and thousands of followers, they’ll usually charge a fee. And that’s okay and well deserved (getting just one photo of your book on an bookstagrammer’s account can be huge). However, you can focus on the book bloggers who do not charge when you first get started.

Why should I pitch my book to them?

Read the full post on Shayla Raquel!

Quick Link: SPS 028: Getting Your First 10,000 Readers with Nick Stephenson

Quick links, bringing you great articles on writing from all over the web.

Who doesn’t want more readers! They are the gift that keeps on giving!  Here is a great podcast from Self-Publishing School to help you find more readers!

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Today, I am talking with Nick Stephenson. Nick is a bestselling author of fiction and nonfiction. Plus, he teaches new authors how to find their first 10,000 readers. Nick is a good friend of mine, and when we talk we geek out on things like marketing and audience building. We are always on Skype sharing our best stuff with each other. So I thought I should have him on the show to share these things that he does so well.

Nick tells the story of how he never intended to be writer, but he knew he wanted to do something creative on his own terms. When Kindle books and self-publishing came along he thought it was a great opportunity to write a book. Even though his first book didn’t start out selling a lot, he was so encouraged that he wrote more books and even started teaching others to do the same. Nick says that if he can do it anyone can, and he shares a lot of amazing information today.

Read the full post on Self-Publishing School!

Quick Link: THIS Is The Difference Between Amateur And Pro Writers

Quick links, bringing you great articles on writing from all over the web.

As Lucy V Hay at Bang2Write states, it is what makes your story different as an author that makes you stand out from the crowd. A really good read!

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THIS Is The Difference Between Amateur And Pro Writers

So, every now and again I will be on Twitter or Facebook and a writer will post about their work in progress, asking for feedback for their story/concept. It might be a novel or a screenplay and it might even be a half-decent pitch in terms of actual layout, language and The 3 Cs – clarity, conflict & characters.

Probably because of this, my heart will sink even further for them. Why?

Because the concept will be exactly like everything I’ve heard before.

Samey Samey-ness

You know the type: we’re talking the USUAL – vampires and werewolves; X Men-type super beings; a teen girl standing up to the system like Katniss in The Hunger Games or Triss in Divergent; time-travelling guys and their companions like Dr Who; duos investigating the paranormal like Mulder & Scully; Ken Loach-style teens destroying their lives; a disparate bunch going on a road trip like in Little Miss Sunshine to learn what’s important.

In other words, at pitch level it merely comes across as a REHASH of what we’ve seen before. Nooooooo!

Read the full post on Bang2Write

Quick Link: Adjusting your Vision: Linking Author Identity and Author Brand

Quick links, bringing you great articles on writing from all over the web.

Clay Gilbert posting at Writers And Authors has some great thoughts on how to improve your brand. This is especially good reading for new authors trying to get established, although more experienced authors will find some good information they just might have missed.

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Adjusting your Vision: Linking Author Identity and Author Brand

by Clay Gilbert

When my first novel was published in 2013, all I knew was that I wanted to tell stories for a living.  I’d grown up seeing Stephen King, Ray Bradbury and Anne Rice do it, and, having gotten paid $25 for the publication of a short story in Scholastic magazine when I was still in middle school, I’d had a little taste of doing it myself.  But I had the idea that what my readers were most interested in was the story I was telling, and that they didn’t really care about ‘the man behind the curtain.’

In today’s literary world, that kind of thinking is wrong.

Readers today are inundated with choices and competition for their attention, and for their money.  If you’re a new author today, taking your first steps into the publishing marketplace, you’re competing not only with thousands of already-established authors, many of whom have best-selling reputations, but also with word-of-mouth and Internet buzz about other new writers as well.

Read the full post on Writers And Authors!

Quick Link: 5 Things Indie Authors Need to Consider Before Giving Up

Quick links, bringing you great articles on writing from all over the web.

You did it, you wrote your book and have it out there for people to buy. But it isn’t selling quite as well as you thought it would. What do you do? The people behind Author Marketing Experts know. Check out their post and let us know if you have any great marketing tips!

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5 Things Indie Authors Need to Consider Before Giving Up

“My book isn’t selling.” It’s something I hear from indie authors all the time.

If you’ve felt this way, know you’re not alone. But also remember that sitting around assuming you’ve failed isn’t going to help anything.

I’ve constructed a short list of 5 things indie authors really need to take a hard look at before they decide the market just isn’t interested in their book.

Are you doing enough?

Sure, maybe you feel like you’re always marketing your book and getting nowhere, but it’s not about doing everything.

It’s about doing everything that matters.

Read the full post on  Author Marketing Experts!

Quick Link: 5 steps To Building A Successful Author Platform Before you Publish: Donna Galanti

Quick links, bringing you great articles on writing from all over the web.

When is the best time to start marketing your book and looking for an audience? Before you even start writing it! Head on over to the Self Publishing Advice Center of ALLI and find great ideas for building your author platform or improving the one you got! I am taking notes!

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5 steps To Building A Successful Author Platform Before you Publish: Donna Galanti

This post is part of Frankfurt Book Fair Indie Author Fringe, an online author conference that showcases the best self-publishing advice and education for authors across the world — harnessing the global reach of the Alliance of Independent Authors’ network. Our self-publishing conference features well-known indie authors and advisors, for 24 sessions over 24-hours, in a one-day extravaganza of self-publishing expertise straight to your email inbox.

We hope you enjoy this session. Let us know if you have any questions or input on this self-publishing topic. Visit our Hot Seat and join in the conversation there, or leave your questions and feedback in the comments section below.

Read the full post on Self Publishing Advice Center

Throwback Thursday! Blogs: 10 reasons authors should have one

Throwback Thursday – sharing some of our great older posts that still are important today!

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Blogs are a few years old in the tech industries, but now they are a must-have for authors who want to get the word out. If you don’t have a blog yet, here’s why you need to get blogging!

1. People can find you and your books on the internet.

Google loves blogs and regular content updates. Blog software allows you to update your blog whenever you like, creating extra pages for your website. These are indexed and over time you can build up a great internet presence so people can find you when searching.

2.Connect with like-minded people.

Being a blogger opens up a new world of networking. You can connect with other authors who blog, or literary agents, publishers and communities all over the world.

3.Two way interaction and feedback.

You can allow comments on your blog so people can connect with you directly by leaving a message. You can also comment on other blogs. This allows an interaction that cannot be achieved by a static website or email.

4.Marketing you as an author.

You can add all sorts of information about yourself at your blog, including photos, videos and examples of your work. You can list your publishing credits, your ebooks, articles, media appearances and anything else you want to use to market yourself as an author.

5.Book promotion.

Have a special page for your book where you can add photos, your book trailer, downloads of chapters and any other information on your book. You can do special blog posts, for example, an interview with you talking about your book, or a giveaway.

6.Online sales channel.

You can use your blog as a place to sell your books and services. If you integrate with a shopping cart or use a service like Smashwords or Clickbank, you can add links for these Buy Now pages.

7.Writing practice.

Blogging is a very dynamic way of writing. Sometimes you will get an idea and want to blog on it immediately. You will do some research, try to write something catchy or useful, and then post it all very quickly. Sometimes you might spend a lot longer on one piece, but generally you write between 500-800 words and get it out there. If you get “bloggers block”, then chances are you are not interested enough in the material to sustain a blog on it, so move on!

8.Blog your book.

You can use your book as the key material for your blog. Take excerpts and use them as posts, and then spin off from those posts into new things. This will get you traffic related to your topic/book subject so make sure you have a sales page that allows people to buy your book.

9.Build an audience.

People can subscribe to your blog through an RSS feed which means you can build a following who read your work. You can build relationships with these people and get direct feedback through comments and seeing how people respond to your posts.

10.Build your platform.

Publishers these days want a “platform” meaning that you have a following, people who will buy your books. If you are self-published, this is even more important as you will need to sell it yourself. Blogging enables you to build this platform in terms of a body of work, an online presence, knowledge of the industry and marketing as well as hopefully some people who are interested in what you have to say.