Busting Freelance Writing Myths - Part 1


There are many common misconceptions people have about freelance writing.
These myths are spread mostly by self-styled gurus who make money off of you by
giving you misleading advice. We will discuss some of the most common myths over the next few posts.

Myth 1: You will make a lot of money as a freelance writer right away.

Sometimes the only way for a new freelance writer to get their first job is to do one
for practically nothing. Once you get your first positive feedback it becomes much
easier to get new clients. It’s best to bid on a short, cheap project first and do a
great job on it. This will help you establish your positive feedback rating more
quickly. As time goes on you can gradually increase your rates as your feedback
gets better and better.

If you decide to create your own website, it can take three weeks to six months for
your URL to be situated in search engines so that people can find you. For this
reason, it’s not a good idea to quit your day job the minute you decide to become
an online freelance writer.

If you get hired by a telecommuting company on the Internet (there are many of
them), you need to be aware of the fact that many of them take 60 to 90 days to get
you your first paycheck. Also, most of these companies, like workaholics.com,
won’t advance you the normal 50% that you would get for most jobs.

The reason these online companies pay you so late is that they’ve already taken
that 50% and invested it in themselves. Companies like this believe the writer
should be the last to get paid. Avoid situations like this at all costs if you can’t
afford to wait so long to be paid.

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Three Ways to Make Your Mystery Stand Out in the Crowd

Written by: Evan Marshall

The mystery novel has never been more popular than it is today. People love reading them . . . and writers love writing them. Editors are swamped with manuscripts and can afford to be extremely fussy as to what they take on. How can you make your mystery rise above the others and make an editor want to buy? Keep the following three vital points in mind.

Look for the Hook

In fiction, a hook is a way to promote a book through some aspect that has commercial appeal or provides publishers with a gimmick or “handle” that lends itself to publicity.

Your detective might have an occupation that is of high interest in the current culture, is especially timely, is interesting for its very obscurity, or is the same as that of the author. For instance, Patricia Cornwell’s series of mysteries featuring Dr. Kay Scarpetta first became popular at a time when public interest in the world of medical examiners had been heightened by such nonfiction books as Coroner by Dr. Thomas Noguchi, L.A.’s coroner to the stars, not to mention the tremendous public fascination with true crime. That’s Ms. Cornwell’s hook.

For my first mystery series, I gave my amateur sleuth my own occupation—that of literary agent. This was my hook, something I could talk about in interviews. It was also something reviewers of my books often commented upon.

Hooks in fiction give publishers, booksellers, and the authors themselves a better chance to grab the attention of browsing book buyers.

Dig Into Your Characters

Today’s readers want richly textured characters, especially in the series detective. A clever puzzle for your mystery is important but not enough. We must know all of your major characters as people, just as we would know the characters in any well-written novel. For purposes of characterization, think of your book as a novel with mystery, not a mystery novel. Tell us about your characters’ pasts, their psychologies, their faults and weaknesses, their relationships to one another. Remember, it’s your characters who will bring your readers back for more.

Devise a Clever, Stunning Plot

Don’t settle for a plot device if you can recall seeing it in another book, in a movie, or on TV. Work hard to come up with something different. Granted, there are only so many ways to kill someone, but the canny mystery writer will give one of those ways a new twist. The same goes for motive. There’s no excuse for stale clich├ęs; your plotting is truly your own and should bear your distinctive fingerprint.

Keep these three points in mind as you craft your next mystery and you’ll have a decided edge in this highly competitive marketplace.

Visit http://www.writeanovelfast.com for more writing tips and download Evan's 77-page Fiction Makeover Guide with tips and ideas on writing a great novel.


About The Author
Evan Marshall, president of The Evan Marshall Agency, is a former book editor and packager. Recently he and coauthor Martha Jewett released The Marshall Plan® Novel Writing Software, based on his bestselling The Marshall Plan® writers' guides. Evan is also the author a number of popular mystery novels; recently released are Death is Disposable and Evil Justice. Visit http://www.writeanovelfast.com and download Evan's 77-page Fiction Makeover Guide with tips and ideas on writing a great novel.

Content Creation Made Easy

Are you struggling with creating content? If you are not a professional copywriter, coming up with new content regularly can be a difficult task.

Most people get writer’s block or their brains freeze up while staring at a blank screen. However, to be a successful Internet marketer, you must come up with fresh and interesting content regularly. Otherwise, your traffic will dry up and hard-earned subscribers will lose interest.

How do you overcome this challenge?

Content creation doesn’t have to be hard. Just follow my 5Rs of content creation and things will start to flow a lot more smoothly.

1. RESEARCH

Even before I open up my trusty word processor, I head over to Google’s Keyword Tool. I use it to research key words/phrases that people are using to search for answers to their particular problem.

I start with something related to a subject that I’m interested in writing about and get ideas from there.


For example, “content creation.” That led me to other popular search terms like blog content creation, content creation help, online content creation etc.

Without first researching your ideas, you’ll find yourself running out of ideas to write about and/or guessing what your readers would be interested in learning. You’d be surprised how many different ideas and variations you can get from your initial thought after doing your research.

Google is not the only source of content ideas. Visit popular forums and read what questions people are posting there, things that are related to your topic. You can also try Yahoo! Answers.

Bottom line – better content comes from better research.

2. REARRANGE

Creating an outline first is how I always start my content creation. It helps me to get my thoughts organized, rearrange ideas until I feel good about the flow of my content.

Then I expand the bullet points into complete paragraphs. An outline also creates a roadmap as I progress from chapter to chapter until I finish my report or eBook.

Head over to my blog if you want to see a screen shot of one my outlines.

3. REVEAL

Adding some personal experiences helps to humanize your content. No one likes to read text that sounds like a sermon.

Share stories or provide examples like I have done above to make it more interesting and help your readers connect with their own situation.

Revealing a bit of your personal side or personality is very important especially if you are writing about a technical topic. A picture is worth a thousand words and can quickly simplify a complex concept that otherwise would take you many words to explain. Studies have shown that people retain information quicker and longer when you engage their visual senses.

4. READ

If you are going to edit your own content which is not a good idea, then read your text aloud. I print my copy and then read it back to myself. This forces me to read every word rather than allowing my mind to autosuggest words that are not there.

Don’t just rely on the automatic spelling and grammar checker. For example, no software in the world can flag the error between their and there. Here are some more common mistakes; lose and loose, it's for its and further vs. farther.

I use a professional copyediting service to proof read my final manuscript before I publish it into an eBook. Believe me, it is well worth the expense.

If you can’t afford the cost, have a friend who has never seen your copy read it and allow them to critique your content freely. You don’t have to accept all their suggestions but at least you’ll have the benefit of another pair of eyes having reviewed your content.

5. REVISE

Our brains have two parts – the left side is analytical and the right side is visual and tends to see the whole picture. Use both sides of your brain when writing content but one side at a time.

Let the right half of your brain start writing as the creative juices flow. Don’t interrupt it by stopping to correct errors (other than obvious typos).

Once you have your first draft completed, allow the left side of your brain to take over and start being critical and analytical as you go over your copy.

Rearrange words, paragraphs and may be entire chapters until you feel comfortable how each paragraph and chapter flows into the next respectively. This is where you need to wear your editor’s hat rather than be the creative writer.

Don’t be afraid to tear apart your initial outline if you think it will improve the product. Just be careful that perfectionism doesn’t stop you from launching your masterpiece altogether.

I realize the above 5Rs may seem a bit daunting at first. Let me assure you that with some practice, all this will become very natural and you’ll be creating content like a professional copywriter in no time at all.

Is content killing your online sales? Let me show you how to achieve long-term success with content marketing. Get my FREE special report — Content Marketing Revealed at http://bit.ly/11Gp0K.



About The Author

Achinta "Archie" Mitra is the founder of Do It Yourself Marketing Coach. He created this site to be your trusted, one-stop source for practical, actionable ideas and expert marketing advice for making your online business more profitable. Visit his site at http://www.diymarketingcoach.com.

The author invites you to visit:
http://www.diymarketingcoach.com

Top Tips on How to Promote and Market Your Book

Marketing is often not an author's area of expertise, but it does not mean an author is incapable of learning how to successfully market a book. Too many authors drop the ball when it comes to marketing for they are unsure on how to proceed with the marketing process or they are intimidated with the idea of it. But who better to endorse your book than you? Here are a few easy tips on how to promote and market your book in today's competitive environment. It will give you an extra edge over the rest.

1.Find credible book reviewers.

A good book review generates more publicity than you are able to produce on your own. With today's technology, one book review posted online has the potential to be seen by millions of people. So why wouldn't you use book reviewers to promote your own book? Book reviews are a significant factor in boosting book sales. Therefore, they are a necessity in today's market. But how do you find book reviewers? Online there are thousands of sites where book reviews are posted and read on a daily basis. Check out some of the book review sites. Read through the postings and narrow your choice to specific book reviewers that grab your attention. Contact these specific reviewers online and ask if anyone is interested in reviewing your book today.

2.Connect with local newspapers.

This simple task is a spark launching an entire successful marketing campaign. It is a necessary step creating a foundation for your overall marketing efforts. First, research your local newspapers and find out who are the writers composing book reviews. Most newspapers have contact information for writers readily available to the public on company websites. Once you find out who the reviewers are, read their guidelines posted on the website, and if there are no guidelines, send a query first. Include a one page synopsis, contact information and, if available, a list of your prior publications. The public response to local newspapers is massive, and you'll see the popularity of your book grow instantly.

3.Contact local bookstores.

Meet with your local bookstores and find out if they are interested in partnering for a "Meet and Greet with the Author" aka you. Present it with a clever marketing tie-in that the bookstore cannot refuse. For instance, if you have a children's book, then create an appropriate event around kids. Make it fun, interactive, and hand out kid-friendly take home items for the event. You will find that after the kid leaves your event, he or she will share with friends, family and school teachers the fun they experienced via your take home item. Word about your book will spread like wildfire.

4.Create a blog.

A blog is a powerful tool skilled in reaching current and future fans without wasting effort of physically being in different locations at once. As mentioned above, the internet is used by millions of people a day; thus, you need to tap into that source and use it for marketing. Write a daily blog and encourage readers to contribute comments. Engage in 2-way dialogue with blog visitors for it shall be perceived as a positive effort stemming from you. This ensures visitors tell others about your blog. Before you know it, your blog visitors and reader base will increase before your eyes.

So if you keep in mind these tips on how to market your book, then you will separate yourself from the rest of the book writers out on the market today. For more information about where to market your book or book reviews check out Review the Book today.

Five Simple Ways To Boost Your Article Writing Confidence

By: Sarah E. White

Whether you're building a career as a freelance writer or simply writing articles to promote your website or products, having confidence in your writing ability is a key to being successful. But what if you don't see yourself as a great writer or don't feel like people should want to listen to what you have to say?

It's easy to build your confidence in your writing ability if you're consistent as both a writer and promoter of your articles.

1. Write every day. This seems pretty obvious, but a lot of writers or people who want to use articles as part of their marketing efforts don't take the time to write something every day. You don't have to finish a complete article every day, but taking even just a few minutes to write day in and day our will make you feel much more confident in your ability to write articles.

2. Don't try for perfection. It's easy to feel like every word you put out into the world has to be perfect, that every article must be beautifully formed, no matter how long it takes. But the truth is, just getting articles out in the world, even if they're not perfect, is a great way to boost your confidence because just getting your words out into the world will make you feel better. You'll also start getting feedback right away, which helps you improve your writing based on what other people are saying about your articles.

3. Keep putting yourself out there. When your articles or ideas are rejected by readers, it hurts. But you have to keep submitting articles or article ideas if you're looking to boost your freelance writing career. If you're an article marketer, you have to keep putting out articles to keep driving traffic to your website. Do your best to let go the ones that don't get a great response, and redouble your efforts to write good content in the future.

4. You are the expert. Remember that you are an authority on whatever subject it is you are writing about. You're sharing your expertise with people who are hungry for the information you have to share. Those people don't care if your articles are flawless (though it certainly helps if they're as clean and concise as possible); they just want the information your articles provide. Remember that whenever you sit down to write.

5. See what else is out there. Reading other articles, books and blogs in your area of expertise gives you a great idea what other people are talking about in your niche, as well as areas where people might have questions or worries. If you can answer those questions or set aside those fears in your articles, you're sure to make voracious fans who'll read everything you put out. There' no bigger confidence boost than that.



About The Author

Sarah E. White, the Freelance Coach, helps freelance writers and those who would like to become freelance writers with writing and business tips, coaching and information products. Visit her website, http://www.freelance-coach.com for a free report, “The Writer’s Dozen: Quick Tips for Freelancers’ Most Pressing Problems.”

The author invites you to visit:
http://www.freelance-coach.com


Are Writing Exercises Effective?

It was reported that the great American author Sinclair Lewis was once asked to give a lecture on writing to a group of college students: "Looking out at this gathering," he said to the assembled students, "makes me want to know how many of you really and truly wish to become writers?" Every hand in the room went up. Lewis looked at them for a moment and then folded his notes and put them away. "If that's true," he said, "then the best advice I can give you is to go home and start writing." He then turned and left the room.

If the first secret of writing is to write and if you've set up some sort of writing schedule, the next step is to figure out what to write.

Opening a brand new file and looking at a blank screen often results in a kind of brain-freeze; we feel as idea-less as the empty screen we're staring at. Writing exercises can help us thaw our idea bank. The goal of a writing exercise is to open your mind and allow you to hone your skills and experiment. The joy of such an exercise is it's not 'for real.' That is, there's no thought of pleasing an editor or finding a publisher or meeting a deadline or getting paid. You're just writing, with your internal editor turned off.

Some freelancers find writing exercises so effective and freeing they actually begin every writing session with a 10 or 15-minute exercise. Others use them more sporadically. But however you do it, writing exercises will help you with your writing. Use writing exercises in your writing schedule, as a natural part of your writing discipline; use the exercises often and watch your writing improve.

Ideally, a writing exercise is short, requiring you to spend no more than 10 or 15 minutes writing, thinking and feeling about something that's unrelated to the rest of your writing work. In a way, they are like mini-meditations and mini-vacations because they clear out the cobwebs and give you a new view.

It's that new view, that different way of seeing, of expressing, that's the key to a good writing exercise. Naturally, not every exercise blows your mind every time. Sometimes you are just not ready for the challenge presented, but even then, the seed is planted. Sometimes you are simply not up for doing a writing exercise, which is okay too. Again, simply reading can set some new thoughts in motion.


Lana Hampton makes it easy to improve your writing skills. Visit her Writing [http://www.yowswriting.com] website today for the latest writing tips and information.

A Quick Start to Grammar Basics

by Kristy Taylor 2008

Grammar is a part of writing that can intimidate many people, but becoming familiar with a few simple grammar rules can help tremendously as you learn to become a better writer. Here is a quick start to a few grammar basics.

Who, Which and That
Usually, the word who is used for mentioning people (or animals, if they have names.) The words that and which are normally used when mentioning things. For example, you could write, “I need the frying pan that I bought yesterday.” Or, you could write, “I need the frying pan, which I bought yesterday.” If you choose to use the word which, make sure there is always a comma before it. (This does not apply if you are using the word which to make a distinction between two things, such as “which sweater should I wear?”)

This
Whenever you use the word this, make sure there is a noun after it to describe what you are writing about. (A noun is a person, place, thing or idea: like mother, St. Louis, table or love.) For instance, instead of writing, “This is an outrage,” you should write, “This mistreatment is an outrage.” Always describe the thing to which this is referring.

Than or As with Me and I
When comparing two things that end with a pronoun (such as me, I, she, her, etc.) it can be tricky to know which word to use. For instance, in the sentence, “Sarah likes Becky more than me,” is it correct to use the word me, or should the word I be used? There is a very easy solution to this problem. When you are writing sentences like these, complete the sentences in your head. “Sarah likes Becky more than I do.” Therefore, in this case, the word to use would be I. In the sentence, Sarah likes Becky more than me,” you could complete the sentence in your head by saying, “Sarah likes Becky more than she likes me.” Therefore, in this case, the correct word to use would be me.

We and Us
Often the usage of the words we and us can be confusing. Usually this happens when the words we or us come before a noun in a sentence, like this: “We girls are going to beat you boys.” Many people are unsure if the words we girls or us girls should be used. If you would like to take a shortcut with the more complicated grammar rules, there is a very easy way to remember which word should be used. Simply remove the noun and think about what the sentence should sound like. For instance, saying “Us are going to beat you boys” sounds wrong to most people (and it is incorrect.) Therefore the correct word to use in that particular sentence is we.

Proper use of the English language can be complicated at times. However, getting a quick head start with your grammar skills will take your writing a long way.



About the author:
Kristy Taylor is a syndicated journalist with articles and fiction strewn across all forms of media. She has written and published numerous books, and is the executive editor of Paramount Publishing, which encompasses several web sites, including http://www.ShortStoryCompetitions.com

Taking Yourself Seriously As a Writer

When I first became a full-time writer, I got so upset with people who belittled me or my position. Since I worked from home, many people had it in their mind that I didn't have a job therefore I was available to do other things. For a while, this bothered me greatly. Finally, I discovered that others were not taking me seriously as a writer because I was not taking myself seriously. I treated writing as more of a hobby than a business. No wonder I wasn't getting any respect.

Below you'll find a few tips for treating your writing as a business:

1. Set up an office.
If you're going to work from home, you need a dedicated place for your writing. I understand that one of the greatest parts about being a freelance writer is that you can work from anywhere, and that's true. But you need a home base. You need a place where you can store your files, notes, and books. It doesn't have to be a large space, but find an area of your home and "rope it off" as your office. Whether you work from there or not is up to you, but you'll always know where to find your materials if you keep them in a specified place.

2. Set up a schedule.
Working from home offers a lot of benefits, one of which is freedom in your schedule. The problem occurs when you give yourself too much freedom. It's amazing how many things "come up" during the course of the day that will hinder you from your writing. Even though your schedule is flexible, it's still important to have one. Not all people are the same, so not all schedules are the same. You may be the type of person who loves a detailed minute-by-minute plan. If so, that's great as long as it works for you. For others, it works well to schedule a certain amount of time for writing or a certain number of pages to be written each day. Find what works for you and stick with it to the best of your ability.

3. Know what you do.
Another problem I faced when I told people I was a writer was that I couldn't answer their specific questions about my work. Many would ask, "What do you write?" In response, I would start rambling on about the different projects I had done in the past and what I planned to work on in the future. I had a lot of ideas, but everything was scattered and unclear. I couldn't answer their questions about my writing because I didn't know the answers. Take time to figure out what kind of writing you want to do. What does it mean to you to be a writer? Why did you choose writing as a profession? Find the answer to these questions so that you can relay them to others.

4. Hold yourself accountable.
It's easy to let things slip a little when you work for yourself. After all, there's no boss, so there's no one to answer to, right? Wrong! You have to answer to yourself. Make yourself accountable. If you didn't do any writing today, ask yourself why, and then determine if the answer is acceptable. If you don't hold yourself accountable for the work you're supposed to be doing, the work won't get done. I love to write, but there are days where I find myself doing everything but writing. During these times, I have to give myself a "kick in the pants" to get myself going again.

Being a full-time writer has so many benefits, but it also has its drawbacks. The biggest drawback of all is when you allow the many benefits to warp your view of your writing profession. If you're going to write as a hobby, that's fine. But if you want to write for a living, some major discipline and a change in mindset will be necessary. You can't expect others to take you seriously if you don't take yourself seriously.



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Writing is a Life-Long Sentence

There's really only one duty a writer owes to
themselves and their readers - and that is to
constantly strive to improve.

Ask any seasoned writer and they'll tell you
that getting better at the craft is probably
the most fulfilling aspect of writing.

Because you are effectively getting better at
communicating your ideas - and placing your
world view into the minds of others. To me
this is an almost magical concept.

So - constant improvement - how does one
achieve it? Here are nine short tips:

1. Read Like it's Going Out of Fashion

You've heard it a million times before.
You can't love writing without first loving
to read. Read a lot. Read everything. Analyze
writing and writers. Study what works, what
doesn't, wonder why and learn from it.

Realize too that the published writing
you see has probably been worked and
reworked over and over to appear effortless.
Don't assume professional writers get it
down perfect every time. They don't. Their
work too has been analyzed, edited and
beaten into shape by themselves and other
editors.

2. Study Your Own Writing

Study every word, every sentence, every
phrase. Are you maximizing the effect of
your words? Could you say the same thing
a different way?

Don't just blindly accept your words as
perfect. Professionals know there is
always another way of stating something,
setting a scene, explaining an emotion.
Too many novice writers fall in love with
their words, refusing to accept there
might be a better way to get to what is
true.

3. Learn to Love Criticism

When we start out, criticism hurts - big
time. We've bared our soul. We've agonized
over our words and are proud of what we've
said. Off-hand comments about our work
can feel like a body slam, even an
attack on our capabilities, our character,
our integrity.

But that's not what is going on. People
love to criticize - it's human nature.
Even the best writers are criticized.
The point is to learn from criticism
and rise above it. Listen to what is
being said, make changes if necessary
but do it for you. You are the final
arbiter - but don't be blind or sulky
about it. Take it on board.

4. Read Aloud to Others

Reading out loud can highlight the
strengths and weaknesses within your
writing. Especially in the areas of
rhythm, wordiness and dialogue. It's
a great test.

Read to friends and family, yes, but
also read to other writers. Let them
make comments. Enjoy the process.

Try this. Read a short piece to a
group of friends/writers. Make note
of how your writing sounds to them.
Listen to suggestions. Make changes,
read it aloud again. Keep doing this
until everyone involved thinks the
writing - every word, every phrase -
is perfect.

5. Try Different Styles

It's too easy to get stuck in one area
of expertise. If you're a fiction buff,
try writing magazine articles or
screenplays. If you're a journalist,
try free-form fiction. If you're a
literary type, try writing advertising
copy. Don't limit yourself. All types
of writing are good in their own way
and experimenting with them can teach
you little tricks that help you become
a more mature, fully rounded writer.

Novice writers tend to think they
shouldn't experiment, that somehow it
might taint their art. Nothing could
be further from the truth.

6. Take Courses, Read More Books on
Writing

The process of being taught, of
exposing yourself to the ideas of
others, cannot be underestimated. Even
if you disagree with what is being said,
it all helps stretch you and give you
a deeper understanding of what is good
and right for your writing.

When you take lessons in writing, study
hard, do the exercises, listen to the
feedback, act on it and write some more.
Your writing will improve the more you
do it. Don't sit and fret over your
writing. Just do it.

7. Seek Out Good Advice

I quite often hear novice writers
complain that they're learning nothing
new about writing from the various
authorities they consult. They sound
disillusioned, as if there's more pertinent
information out there, if only they could
find it.

Odd, considering I've never met a seasoned
writer didn't love to debate the absolute
basics of word-play, grammar, sentence
structure and all the other little things
that novices seem to grow weary of hearing.

Remember. You can never hear good advice
too many times.

8. Give Back

Share your knowledge. Teach what you have
learned about writing to others. Too often
novice writers can feel there's some sort
of clique of professionals who don't want
to talk to them or associate with them.

We writers, whatever our abilities, must
learn to see ourselves as a community
with similar aims - to actively enhance
all our writing - to raise the bar and
to act for the betterment of all writers.

9. Constantly Want More From Yourself

Stretch yourself continuously. Find new
ways of expressing yourself.

Writing is sometimes a strange past-time.
A writing project that begins like an
adventure can quickly become an obsession
that ends up feeling like some self
inflicted curse!

But all writing experience is good,
whether it's fun or not. Not all of
your writing is going to be fun and
fulfilling. Some of it may be a hard
slog or a nuisance. This is okay.

If you want to succeed in writing,
it should become your life, your
passion, even your reason to be. It's
a fine and noble way of life.

If you want it, embrace it, and your
writing will benefit enormously. Go for it!

Best of luck and - whatever you do - keep writing.


Rob Parnell Best Selling Author of: The Easy Way to Write a Novel http://easywaytowrite.com/novel.html

Small Reports is the Way to Go


I don't know about you, but, for me, the thought of creating an entire e-book is just overwhelming.

You have to choose a topic, write 50-100 pages, make a sales letter, find a shopping cart, and figure out how to sell the darned thing -- even before you make a dime.

What if that process was not only made simple and straightforward, but also significantly easier?

That's what I found when I reviewed the course from Jimmy D. Brown.

First of all, Jimmy is known for his reputation -- in a good way. ;) He's been building a business online since 1999 and is talked about in Internet Marketing circles as the "nicest guy in Internet Marketing".

So what does that prove? It shows two things:

1. Jimmy is well respected. (He's not selling junk.)
2. He's been around for awhile and knows his stuff. (Not some fly-by-night "guru-wannabee".)

However -

When he released his course on creating e-books, I thought, "What in the world could he possibly have to say that's new?"

As I listened to the course, I felt like I was reading a book with unexpected twists and turns. It wasn't the same old recycled junk I see out there, for sure.

However, even with the twists and turns, Jimmy kept the steps simple. He didn't leave any gaps at all. In fact, I tried to come up with one negative thing to tell you about this course, so you wouldn't think I was just pitching it blindly ... and I can't.

The case studies he provides at his site show the potential here -

* Over eighteen-thousand dollars in monthly residuals.
* Over thirty-thousand dollars in one day profit.
* Over one million dollars in total profit.

All from writing short reports.

That means, if right now you have no list, no web site, no ideas ... nothing ... you can still actually make money from this system in just 1 week.

(Of course, if you have some of those things, you can see results even quicker!)

I mean, it's all broken down into easy-to-do steps!

In other words, there's a "small fortune" to be made with these "small reports"!

If you order today, you can *LITERALLY* be taking orders for you first small report in less than 1 week from NOW.

So, head over to his site and grab your copy today!


P.S. - If you're not ready to buy the full course, but would like to learn more about Small Reports, here's a free report Jimmy penned entitled "Five Steps to a Big-Profit, S.M.A.L.L. Reports Business."

Five Ways to Start Strong

A good story or article is only as strong as its beginning. Let's face it, what are the chances that someone will continue reading your work if the beginning is long, dry, and boring? Not good.

The beginning of your story is the most important part. It is the factor that helps your reader determine whether he will keep reading or whether he will close the book and put it back on the shelf.

Below you will find five ways to strengthen your story beginning.

1. You must have a slant.
One mistake many writers make is that they try to write everything about their subject. Not only is that impossible, but it also gives the story or article no original slant. There are probably hundreds of articles on the same subject as yours. Why should the reader pick yours? Narrow your subject down to one main aspect. Don't write an article about Christmas. Write an article on the story behind the Christmas wreath. The tighter your focus, the better your story will be.

2. You must have a lead.
A lead is a sentence, paragraph, or number of paragraphs that hook your reader, ensuring that he will continue reading. The length of your lead depends on the length of your article or story. In shorter pieces, you don't have the time or space to waste words. Hook your reader, and then carry on with the story. One of the best ways to hook your reader is to start in the middle of your story. This evokes curiosity in the reader. However you choose to work your lead, make it strong and emotional. Convince your reader to care.

3. You must deliver.
In your lead, you promised your readers answers to certain questions or guided them along a particular train of thought. Follow through with what you started. Don't cheat the reader by attracting them to your piece with exaggerations or false claims. Finish what you start and be sure to answer any questions that you raised in your lead.

4. You must keep a consistent tone.
Every article or story will carry its own tone or emotion. Some are funny and lighthearted. Some are heavy and dark. Some are evil and mysterious. It is up to you, as the writer, to determine the mood of your piece and stick with it. Sure, there will be shifts in the character's moods, but the overall tone of the story must remain the same.

5. You must begin at the beginning.
Too many writers feel the necessity to fill in every detail about their characters, their setting, and their backstory in the first few chapters of their work. Be careful to avoid that mistake. Start your story in the middle of the action. You can fill in details along the way.

By following these tips, you'll greatly improve your story or article. While each of these points mainly refers to the beginning of your work, several of them can be followed throughout the writing process, making your entire manuscript a literary masterpiece.

Dana Rongione
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What Makes a Good Magazine Query

Jennifer Carsen

Any successful magazine writer will tell you that query letters are the key to breaking in to the business.

In a query letter (these are increasingly emails rather than hard-copy letters), you pitch your fantastic story idea to an editor and request the opportunity to write the story for them. Over time, as you get more established, editors will get to know you and will increasingly assign stories to you directly. But when you're just starting out, queries are a must.

It's vitally important to develop a thick skin, especially in the beginning - you're going to get a whole lot of rejections, no matter how good your ideas or writing are. But here are some ways you can increase your odds of getting a yes:

1. Know who you're pitching to. There's a ton of turnover in the magazine business, especially these days. The editor whose name is on the masthead of the current issue may have actually left weeks or months ago. It's always a good idea to call and confirm before you send your query out. And don't try to cop out by writing "Dear Editor" - it's lazy, and editors hate that (they will think, fairly or not, that if you can't even be bothered to find out their name, you're probably not much of a reporter).

2. Know the pub you're pitching to. If you're not a regular reader of the magazine you're pitching to, it's a good idea to go to the library and check out a few recent issues. Look for:

--Which articles are written by freelancers vs. staff (staff are listed on the masthead)

--Regular departments where your story might be a good fit

--Whether or not your idea has recently been covered

--Writing style (first-person vs. third-person narration; formal vs. informal tone, etc.)

3. Know your slant. It's not enough to tell an editor that you want to write a story for them about weight loss. You need a specific slant, e.g., "9 Ways to Lose Weight While Napping" or "How I Lost 38 Lbs. Eating Nothing But Bananas."

4. Don't hide the ball. The editor is not going to steal your idea. Promise. So don't be cagey - you need to explain enough about your idea that the editor is intrigued, can envision where the story might fit into the magazine, can see that you've thought through the details and length of the story, and, most importantly, can see that you can be trusted to write it well and deliver the goods.



About The Author

Jennifer Carsen, J.D. is a recovering attorney and the founder of Big Juicy Life. Her specialty is turning lawyers into writers. Go to http://www.bigjuicylifecoaching.com for a copy of the free report, "6 Myths About Leaving the Law for Writing."

The author invites you to visit:
http://www.bigjuicylifecoaching.com

Nine Tips to Getting Published

You’ve written your story and now you want to send it off to a publisher. But is your story ready to be sent off? To increase your chances of getting published the following tips should help get your story ready for publication:

1. A good title can help catch the editor/publisher’s eye;
2. Always include a beginning, middle and an ending in your stories;
3. Edit for clarity as well as grammar, spelling, etc...;
4. Always use correct (or publisher required) manuscript presentation;
5. Include a front and back coversheet;
6. Include a SASE;
7. Stick to the required word count and format;
8. The less work the editor/publisher has to do, the more likely your piece will be accepted (but don’t make your manuscript look like a book, that’s the editor/publisher’s job);
9. Always be professional.

If you can submit an error-free, professional-looking manuscript, you will have already beaten all the other writers who think they’ll get their story noticed if it’s printed on pink paper, bordered with little stars, or hand-written in old Gothic. None of these strategies will give you an edge; they will only make you look too eccentric to be worth an editor’s trouble.

Being neat, professional and competitive may help to put you ahead of the rest and get your story published.


About the author:
Kristy Taylor is a syndicated journalist with articles and fiction strewn across all forms of media. She has written and published numerous books, and is the executive editor of Paramount Publishing, which encompasses several web sites, including http://www.ShortStoryCompetitions.com



For more help on building the perfect proposal,
check out Terry Whalin's book,


Book Proposals That Sell

Writing With All Five Senses

E.L. Doctorow once said, “Good writing is supposed to evoke sensation in the reader not the fact that it is raining, but the feeling of being rained upon.”

What is he talking about? Easy. He is describing the importance of vivid description. For any writer to succeed, he/she must master showing instead of telling. For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, here's an example:

Telling: I heard a dog crying in the distance.

Showing: The mournful howl of a dog ripped through the air, causing my pulse to quicken and goosebumps to appear on my flesh.

Do you see the difference? In the first one, I told you that a dog cried, but you have no idea what it sounds like. In the second, I helped you to hear the dog for yourself. You now know that it was a mournful and eerie sound.

In every good story, it is vital to allow your reader to become involved. One of the best ways to do that is to use the five senses. Don't tell your reader things, allow him to see, hear, smell, feel, and taste them. Paint such a vivid picture that your reader can't help but become involved in the story.

Try this exercise to strengthen your skills of showing.

Get a piece of paper. Divide it into five columns and title each column with the following: see, hear, smell, taste, and feel. Now, think of your favorite place in the world. Imagine you are there right now. In the appropriate columns, write down everything you can about that place. What are you seeing? Are there smells? If so, describe them. How do you feel? Warm, cold, scared, peaceful? What kind of sounds do you hear? Cars, birds, water? Taste can be a little tricky unless your favorite place is a restaurant, but try to come up with something if you can.

Once you have your detailed list, write an article in which you describe that place to the reader. Don't tell them about the place, but use your five senses to show them the place that you love so much. Don't focus too much on one sense, but be sure to include each one.

Whatever you do, don't underestimate the importance of the five senses. No one wants to read a story where everything is told. It's like sitting down and reading a text book. Boring! Bring your story to life in the eyes of your reader. Show, don't tell!


For more information on using the five senses, check out my 8-week e-class at LearnWriteNow.com!

SMALL REPORTS FORTUNE - Jimmy D. Brown


How to Make More Money With Information Products Than Ever
Before By Using Three Powerful NO COST Tools

By Jimmy D. Brown of “Small Reports Fortune”

.................................

It’s all under your control.

If you sell information products and want to make more
money with them, there’s good news:

It’s all under your control.

That’s right, you can make more money with your
information products simply by doing something that you
have the power to do.

It’s not dependent upon anyone else. It’s up to you.

Let me explain …

While there are a lot of different aspects of selling
information products, there are really only two ways to make
more money with them …

Sell More
Refund Less

Really, it’s pretty much that simple.

In order to make more money with information products you
need to either SELL MORE or REFUND LESS.

Or, better still, do BOTH.

Now, in the many years I’ve been selling information
products, I’ve found there are three powerful tools that will
help you do just that.

You can use these three tools to SELL MORE by using them
on your classified ads, solo mailings, sales letters,
autoresponder messages and virtually any sales tool.

You can also use these three tools to REFUND LESS by
applying them to the information products you create.

Care to find out what they are?

Read on …

*** Three Powerful Tools ***
What makes these tools so powerful is a combination of
important benefits

* They don’t cost a penny to use.
* They work over and over again.
* They are under your control.

In fact, you already have them.

These three powerful tools are WAYS TO USE WORDS.

Tool #1. Education. When it comes to information products,
nothing comes close to the power and profitability of
educating your readers.

I’m talking the distance between the planet Pluto and the
computer screen you’re now staring at.

Not even remotely close.

Content is king. Nobody else gets to wear the crown or sit
on the throne. Content rules the land of information
products.

So, first things first, you gotta give your readers information
that educates them. You gotta teach them something.

Do this in your promotion tools (ezine articles, reports, sales
letters, etc.) and you’ll have readers thinking “This person
knows something … I better take a closer look.”

You’ll SELL MORE.

Educate customers in your information products and show
them how to produce results in their own lives and you’ll
make them happy, satisfied customers.

You’ll REFUND LESS.

Tool #2. Entertainment. To be completely honest, it’s not
enough to solely provide content. Even if it’s good content,
that won’t always get the job done.

Think of it this way: your high school civics teacher
provided you with (too much) content in a single 55-minute
class, but would you really buy anything from him?

Maybe a hall pass or a set of earplugs, but that’s about it. :o)

Nobody likes to read BORING content. We turn off boring
television programs, we fall asleep reading boring books and
we keep our credit cards tucked firmly inside our pockets
when we read boring sales letters, ezine articles, solo
mailings or special reports.

Make it fun. Make it entertaining. And you can do that by
using …

* Illustrations
* Funny stories
* Analogies
* Outrageous statements

I once wrote an article entitled “I’ll Swallow A Live
Grasshopper If This Doesn’t Boost Your Website Traffic”.

Do you think anyone read it?

Ask yourself this: would YOU like to read it?

We love to have a good time, and there’s no reason why you
shouldn’t apply that reasoning to your writing.

Keep readers interested as they consume your promotion
materials by entertaining them.

You’ll SELL MORE.

Help customers enjoy reading page after page of your
product by entertaining them.

You’ll REFUND LESS.

When you add entertainment to education, you’ll make more
money with information products …

… faster than you can say “ “LIVE GRASSHOPPER.” :o)

Tool #3. Emotion. Whether it’s outrage over an injustice,
excitement over a success or piqued interest over a
possibility, our emotions drive us.

Few decisions are based on intelligent analysis, but rather on
emotional response. Few actions are based on accurate data,
but rather on impulsive feelings.

We are emotional people. And there is no stronger proof of
that than to watch what we do and to listen to what we say.

Your job is to get us emotional. Fill us with hope.
Empower us. Give us courage. Motivate us. Issue a
challenge. Inspire. Get us to do something.

That’s what we really want. More than education, more than
entertainment – we want someone to compel us to do
something to make our lives better.

And the power and profits go to the ones who can do that.

Fill readers with hope and expectation with your marketing
materials.

You’ll SELL MORE.

Give your customers confidence and enthusiasm as they read
chapter after chapter of your information product.

You’ll REFUND LESS.

*** Conclusion ***

If you want to make more money with information products,
then you CAN do it. You’re in charge. It’s under your
control.

Education.
Entertainment.
Emotion.

Three powerful tools that lead to incredible profits.

But, only if you use them.

Some will read this article and discard it like they have done
with countless others.

And some will get busy.

I think you’ll be one of the few who will make more money.

Prove me right.

.........................
Jimmy D. Brown is the author of "Small Reports Fortune" - if
you can write 7-15 page small reports, you can earn a living
online working just a few hours each week from your home.
Look for his EXCLUSIVE formula "Creating A Six-Figure Income
With Small Reports"
.
.........................

A Closer Look at Writing E-books

Are you one of the hundreds of struggling freelance writers who can't seem to catch a break? Are you tired of rejections and apologies? You know, the ones that say, "We'd love to use your manuscript, BUT. . ." Freelance writing is a difficult job, but it doesn't have to be. At least, not anymore, thanks to eBooks.

I know what some of you are thinking. You're saying that you want to be a real writer. Well, when it comes down to it, eBooks are the new thing, so it is in your best interest to get on board. As for not being a real writer, who is the judge of what is and isn't a real writer? You've written a book, whether it's paperback, hardback, or electronic doesn't matter. It's your book, and you are the author. It's that simple.

The second complaint that is often heard in the realm of eBooks is that all the information has already been covered. WHAT? People, places, and things are changing daily. How can everything already be written about? Look at the Internet, for example. It alone offers countless topics for your next eBook. Technology is in a constant state of improvement. Write about it!

What else can you write about? Anything you want to. That's the beauty of it. The world is full of people looking for information on a variety of topics. Gardening. Yoga. Internet business. Pets. Green living. Even writing itself is a popular topic for best-selling eBooks. The possibilities are endless. Plus, even if your topic is already widely covered, you still have options. Give your eBook a different slant or approach the topic from a different angle. Pick a specific topic within a broader topic. For example, if you're wanting to write an eBook about writing, narrow it down to article writing or writing fiction for children. Take a minute now to brainstorm your topic and see how many subcategories you can find, then choose one to be the basis for your eBook.

Being a writer myself, I know that you dread the thought of devoting more time to another project when you've already been rejected so many times. Believe me, I've been there, but that's just another great thing about eBooks. You see, eBook publishing is NOTHING like traditional publishing. In traditional publishing, you write the book, send it out to a publisher or agent and wait for months for them to decide whether or not they would like to publish your manuscript. If you're lucky, you'll soon get an acceptance letter, and the publishing process will begin. However, for many of us, that simply isn't the case. Instead, we receive one of those politely written form rejection letters, forcing us to start the painful process all over again. Ebook publishing is exactly the opposite.

In eBook publishing, you can publish the work yourself. Now, this is not like self-publishing through a vanity press. That involves spending a great deal of money that you probably don't have and then still having to do most of the work yourself. If your main goal is to publish your own eBook, there are countless ways to do that on the Internet, some of which are free to set up as long as you agree to pay a small percentage on every eBook you sell.

You can also use your eBook to promote your online business if you have one. How? Believe it or not, by giving it away. It sounds strange, I know. How can you make money if you give stuff away? It's really quite simple. Everyone loves free stuff! By giving your eBook away, you get into the hands of the people who really want to read it. If it is well-written, they will be impressed and will search out more about you and your other projects. Voila! Instant customer!

If you don't have your own business, that's fine. You can use your eBook to promote other people's businesses, making you an affiliate. Why would you want to do that? There are two reasons. First, it still gets your book into the hands of those who may seek out more eBooks by you, thus enhancing your sales. Second, by placing your affiliate links in your eBook, if the people who receive your eBook buy something from your affiliate, you get a piece of the profit, usually no less than 50% and often much more. It's a win-win situation.

If you have your heart set on being published by a traditional publisher, never fear. Publishing your own eBook can help you in that area as well. How? When publishers receive a manuscript, one of the first things they do is Google the author. They are eager to find out what kind of following and audience he/she has. You see, it is not just the responsibility of the publisher to promote your book. It's yours, as well. If you already have a faithful following of your work, a publisher may deem you worthy to take a chance on. Writing and publishing eBooks gives you an easy way to quickly make a name for yourself and build an audience. This may be the very thing that gets your foot in the door of a traditional publisher.

Have You Considered Online Writing?

There are many talented writers in the world that cringe at the thought of full-time freelance writing. After all, most full-time authors aren't exactly rolling in the dough. The work is hard, tedious, and often, unappreciated. But things are changing in favor of the struggling writer. And, it's all due to the many writing opportunities now available on the Web.

When many people hear of successful Internet gurus, they picture the multi-millionaire that owns four or five businesses and basically conducts those businesses on the Web. Well, there are many people who would fall into that category. But, did you know that you could bring in more than $100,000 each year by simply doing the thing you love to do? Writing! You heard me. The starving poets are a thing of the past. If you are interested in making a serious living as a writer, here are some opportunities now available to you.

Article writing: This is one of the most popular forms of writing on the Web today. Many businesses are discovering that article marketing is one of the easiest and fastest ways to drive targeted traffic to their websites. The problem is that many of these web owners are not writers. They don't have a clue how to put together an article, so they will gladly pay you to do it for them. An average article is 400-700 words, making it easy for you to write several of these a day.

Web content: Just as with article writing, there are many people out there looking to set up their own web site, but they do not possess the talent to write their own content. This is another area where owners are willing to pay you to produce the content for them. This often involves writing introductions to the company, biographies, sales letters, product descriptions, and the like. The work is not difficult, but it does require some knowledge and familiarity with web site design.

Copywriting: This is writing basic sales letters for a company or individual. In the letter, you describe the product or service being offered and try to convince the reader to purchase it. I'm sure you've received a multitude of these offers in the mail. The online versions are set up the same way. These letters are written in a casual tone, making it much easier for you to write. There are other variations of copywriting, but this is the most popular.

E-books: Here, you have two choices. You can write and sell your own e-books. This method requires a lot of work on your part because you will have to set up arrangements for selling and marketing, but in most cases, you will get to keep all of the profits. There are also people out there with a great idea who are looking for someone to write an e-book for them. The pay is not usually great, but the work is relatively easy, especially if you are already familiar with the topic.

Blogs: Again, there are a couple of different options in this area. You can set up your own blog and sell advertising on it. The alternative is writing for someone else's blog. As with e-books, the pay for each posting is not great, but you could write several postings in an hour. The more blogging jobs you get, the more money you can bring in.

Ghostwriting: This is where you write a book, article, story, etc. for someone else, but they get the credit for the work. When you are paid as a ghostwriter, you are being paid for not only the use of your work, but also the rights for it. Basically, your employer gets to claim the work as his/her own. Because of this, writers can charge a little more for this service. Occasionally, a ghostwriter is acknowledged for his/her assistance, but not always.

Editing & Proofreading: In this area, people pay you to correct their mistakes, whether they be grammatical or typographical. Each job is a little different. Some employers want you to make the project sound as good as possible, even if that means butchering their work. Others want only the most basic of your editing skills. Be sure to find out what your employer wants before taking on the job.

These are just a few of the many online jobs now available to you as a writer. If you are just starting out, it can be very difficult to find these jobs. In that case, I would suggest trying out some of the different writing services like Elance or Guru. On these sites, you bid on the different writing jobs that interests you. There are many writing jobs listed each day, so you can count on always having work. Other resources you can use are writing sites such as Freelancewriting.com. Here, the jobs are listed, and you have the opportunity to directly contact the person who placed the advertisement.

The possibilities are endless. With a little discipline and motivation, you can easily become a full-time freelance writer. I've given you a few ideas of where to start, but I promise you that if you'll dive in, you'll find more opportunities than you can handle. So, choose wisely. You don't want to over-commit, but you do want to make a living. And, now you can, doing the thing you love most.

Plot: Turning Your Story Into an Exciting Ride

The plot is the sequence of events that tells the story. The plot is where the author arranges events in a logical order to develop his basic idea. The plot generally consists of five parts: the introduction, the rising action, the climax, the falling action, and the final outcome.

The introduction is the beginning of your story where you introduce your characters, setting, and the basic subject of the story.

The rising action is where the conflict occurs, and the character(s) must figure out how to resolve the problem

The climax is the point of the highest action. This is the turning point of the story.

The falling action is the resolution of the conflict.

The final outcome is the part of the story where you tie up any loose ends and wrap up the story. (There is great danger in dragging a story on at this point. Don't give in to the temptation. Say what needs to be said and end the story.)

Many writers find it best to compare plot to a roller coaster ride. Depending on the length of the story, the plot may have many ups and downs, but it must have both, and it must keep moving. At times the roller coaster may move faster than at other times. The same can be said of the plot. It is important that you give your readers enough action so that they don't get bored but not too much so that they have a chance to catch their breath. As with a roller coaster, there should be breath-taking events and also times of anticipation (like when the coaster is trudging up that high hill). This is known as pace, and is an important part of building a good plot.

Example of a weak plot:

Joe goes for a walk in the woods. He enjoys his leisurely hike. He surveys the plant and animal life around him. He finishes his walk and goes home.

BORING!!!!!!!!!!

Example of a good plot:

Joe goes for a walk in the woods. Before long, he comes across a snake that strikes at him from the side of the trail. He narrowly escapes the snake and hurries down the trail only to find himself a few feet from a black bear. He manages to sneak away without gaining the bear's attention, but as he continues down the path and comes to a crossroads, he discovers that he dropped his map during his flight and now has no idea which way to turn.

Do you see the difference? In the first example, there is no conflict, no action, and therefore, no real story. It was just a boring list of events. The second, however, was full of ups and downs. The beginning set up our character and setting. Then, we have the action with the snake and then the relief of his escape. Not long after that, we are brought to the edge of our seats again by the sighting of the bear. We breathe a sigh of relief as Joe sneaks away unnoticed. But then, our hearts cry out when we realize that Joe has lost his map and is uncertain which direction to go. Up, down, up, down. Just like a roller coaster. Keep that in mind while creating your plot!

Five Steps for Dealing with Writer's Block

There is nothing as intimidating as the blinking cursor on a blank page. It is incessant, demanding that you type something. . . anything. Yet, no matter how often it blinks, the words just won't come. The story is there. Your thoughts are in order, but the delivery is elusive. And so, the cursor blinks on.

Writer's block, despite what many say, is not just a frame of mind or an excuse to avoid writing. It is a plague that infects writers of all age, race, and stature. While there are no "cures" for writer's block, here are a few ideas that may help to release the flow of words.

Copy something - Sometimes just seeing words on the page will spark the muse. Take a few minutes to copy (by hand) or type definitions from the dictionary, an excerpt from the latest book you're reading, Bible verses, etc. It doesn't matter what you copy. Just get your mind and fingers engaged in the process. Pretty soon, you'll discover that you have some words of your own to contribute.

Keep a journal - Journaling is an excellent way to express your emotions, record your thoughts, keep track of writing ideas, or whatever else you can think of. Journaling is your private writing. You don't have to worry about spelling, grammar, or format. It is a time where you can simply allow your thoughts to run freely. Doing this daily helps keep you in the frame of mind for writing, plus it is an excellent stress reliever.

Talk about what you're writing - Whether it's to a friend or a family member, talking about your writing can often spark new ideas or angles that you hadn't thought of previously. If no one is around during your "hour of need," log on to some writing forums or chat rooms. Not only will you be likely to come up with some new thoughts, but some of the people you're talking with may have some interesting contributions as well.

Do writing prompts and exercises - When you're completely stuck on a project, sometimes the best thing to do is to walk away from it and write something else. Writing prompts are great. They set up a scene or situation, and then leave you to your writing. Sometimes the prompt will offer suggestions that you can use in your current project, but if not, it will still get your writing juices flowing, allowing you to soar over the bump of writer's block. Many writing websites offer free prompts and exercises.

Read - Have you ever been reading something completely unrelated to your writing when - BAM! -- a great concept came to you? That happens to me a lot. Somehow, getting my mind off of my writing allows my thoughts to become more clear and productive. It's strange, I know, but it works. When you're in the dark abyss of writer's block, turn to your favorite book and read for a while. Either you'll come up with something new, or you will have calmed yourself enough that the blinking cursor is no longer the terrifying monster it was thirty minutes ago.

There will be times when the words just won't come. Don't panic. Take some time to walk away. Do some stretches. Take a few deep breaths. Then, try some of the advice above. Whatever you do, don't give up! The words are there within you. It may just take a little time to get them out.

Are You Making These Mistakes in Your Fiction Writing?

John tells Jane about a wonderful story idea he has. Jane tells John he should write a book about it. John does. It is immediately picked up by a major publishing house, and within a month, it is on the NY Times Bestseller list. John quits his job and lives off his royalties. The End.

Every writer in the room is saying, "Yeah, right. It doesn't happen like that." For most writers, no, it doesn't. However, you may see better results if you rid your writing of some tragic mistakes.

Chapter one. Already bored. - It has been said that you have between 3-5 seconds to catch your reader's attention. That's not much time at all. With an opening sentence like, "It was a cold day in Maine," you're sure to lose the reader before they get to the really good stuff. So, start with the good stuff. Spend a lot of time crafting that first sentence until you're sure it will hook your reader. Once you have them hooked, keep them that way. Don't spend the first chapter trying to set up your plot and describe all your characters. You can do that along the way. Start in the middle of your story. Begin in the midst of the action. Then, once the reader is interested, you can fill in the missing details.

Getting from "Point A to Point B" - Your reader is hooked. Your story is going strong. You finished a scene. Now what? Obviously, you need to get to your next scene, but how? How can you jump from one scene to the next without an abrupt hiccup in the flow of the story? This is a tricky area for writers, and it does take practice to make transitions smooth. The best way is to avoid long, drawn-out transitions. Say what needs to be said in as few words as possible, then switch to the next scene as smoothly as you can. If all else fails, leave two or three blank lines between paragraphs to note the passing of time. This is effective, but if you use it too often, your writing will take on a choppy feel.

Weak characters - Readers want to relate to your characters, but it's difficult if your characters are not realistic. You know the type: the smart kid that never makes a mistake, the brave warrior who throws himself into the crocodile pit just to prove his bravery, the mom with five kids who lives in a perfect house with the perfect husband and the perfect car. Yuck! These types of characters are so fake that no one can possibly relate to them. Your readers want characters that they can believe in. Creating believable characters takes a lot of time and effort, but it is definitely worth it. Get to know your characters, and then show them to your readers.

Oops! That can't be right! - Many times, writers get so caught up in their story that they overlook certain points of logic. Bill was so excited to get his character on a plane that he had his flight arriving in Australia five hours after it left Peru. Not going to happen! Lisa was so entranced in her romantic reunion scene that she forgot her main character was allergic to the roses her lover was offering her. It's easy to be so wrapped up in the story that we lose sight of checking all our facts and making sure there are no holes in our plot or our logic. Believe it or not, your readers will pick up on it.

He said, she said - Dialogue is an important element in crafting a good work of fiction, but it can be overused or used incorrectly. Dialogue is the means by which your characters communicate. It is not a way for you to communicate to your readers. Granted, you can do some "showing" through a proper use of dialogue, but avoid having your characters tell your reader the entire story. There are other good ways to get your point across. Where's the action? Where's the description? Where's the plot? In certain scenes, it's easy to get bogged down with dialogue. Don't let this happen. It will cause your entire story to go stale.

Following these guidelines does not guarantee you a place on the bestseller list, but it will help to make your fiction work the best that it can be.

To Self-Publish, or Not to Self-Publish?

One of the top questions in writing today is whether or not one should self-publish. Let's face it. Traditional Publishers receive hundreds of thousands of manuscripts each year, and only a small percentage of those make it into print. The rest are either thrown away or returned to the sender with a nice form rejection letter. For this reason, it makes sense for writers to explore the possibility of self-publication. That being said, let's weigh out the pros and cons.

Pros:

1. You have complete control over your book. There are no editors or publishers telling you to make change after change in an effort to "improve" your manuscript. If you want to make changes, go ahead. If not, that's fine too. It's completely up to you.

2. It's quicker. The process of submitting a book to traditional publishers can be a very long ordeal. With self-publishing, you can usually have your book published in just a few days.

3. You keep more in royalties. Publishing houses don't offer much in royalties, especially if your name in not well-known. If you choose to publish on your own, you receive an average of 40% of the profits from each book sale.

4. You can become "somebody." In the writing world, nobody takes you seriously unless you have a book. The sooner you get your own book, the sooner people will start to take notice of you. Your name and presence will grow.

5. You won't receive any rejection letters. Probably the greatest thing about self-publishing is that you never have to receive that letter or e-mail that states, "Thank you for sending us your manuscript. We regret that we are unable to use it at this time."

Cons:

1. You have to do all the work. Publishing houses have an entire staff dedicated to getting books ready for print. If you're going through a POD or vanity press, plan on doing the work yourself. You will need to be your own editor, cover designer, etc.

2. The marketing is in your hands. Many bookstores do not accept self-published books, and those that do are hard to get into. It will take a lot of hard work to promote your book and to place it in stores.

3. Money is required. No matter which company you go with, there will be some out-of-pocket expenses. Self-publishing requires you to make an upfront payment with no guarantee that you'll sell anything. Plus, there is a lot of financial requirements in advertising and marketing your book.

4. It is often looked down upon. Some people have it in their head that a self-published author is not a true author at all. However, many famous authors began their career with self-publishing. A few examples are Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, Beatrix Potter, Rudyard Kipling, and even Stephen King.

There is no right or wrong way to publish a book. The important thing is that you explore all the possibilities available to you and make an informed decision based on your personal goals and the facts you've obtained.

Is You Fiction Work Worthy of Being Read?

There are many elements that go into making a work of fiction worthy of being read. While each part is essential, there are four elements that are vital in transforming your work from a boring jumble of words to a true work of art.

1.The idea - This is where every great work of fiction begins. Ideas can come from various places. Sometimes an idea will just pop into your head or wander in from your imagination, but more often, something in your life will trigger a story idea. A personal experience is a wonderful source for an idea. Many writers come across new topics while working on a completely different project. Ideas can be gathered from television, newspaper articles, or overhearing a story in the checkout line of the grocery store. Story ideas are all around you, so it's important to keep a notebook with you to jot them down when they come to you.

2.The plot - There have been many discussions on whether you should choose your plot or your characters first. Personally, I think you should pick your plot. After all, how do you know who your characters should be if you don't even know what they are doing? The plot is the element that takes your idea and transforms it into a story. It is the part that moves the story from "Point A" to "Point B." In order for your story to be exciting, your plot needs to be exciting. Think of it as a roller coaster. Up, down. Fast, slow. Twist, turn. Your plot should do all of these. The best plots are those that have the reader experiencing opposite emotions in the same chapter. Happy, sad. Scared, relaxed. Assured, in doubt. Keep the story moving, and your reader will continue to flip the pages. Let the story stall, and your book is likely to wind up on the shelf. That's how important plot is!

3.Characters - The next thing every good story needs is good characters. Notice I said "good characters" not just "characters." The character is the person (or sometimes animal) who is living out the story. For the story to be believable, the characters must be believable. Unfortunately, there are many good plots out there that lack realistic characters. The people are dull and lifeless, making it hard for the reader to relate. Make your characters come alive with action, dialogue, and description. Know your character, and help your reader to know him as well.

4.Setting - While this element is not as important as the other three, setting often plays a vital part in a story. Not only does setting tell the reader "where" and "when," but it can also help set the mood. For example, if your setting is on the field of battle in the middle of the Revolutionary War, there is a mood of fear, sadness, and regret. If your story is taking place in a dark creepy house on a stormy night, you have set it up for the perfect mystery.

While there are many other elements in a work of fiction, these are the most important. Master them, and your story will be worthy of being read and hopefully even being published.