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There are a lot of things I wish people knowledgeable in the field had told me before I got started as a writer. Any creative field has its ups and downs, different from the more ‘practical’ fields such as math or business or even science. Creative fields are often difficult to become successful in. Education does not seem to matter as much. Experience is highly valued but very hard to get. Mentors and jobs are few and far between. In fact, all creative fields appear to be the most difficult of any of the professions. There are few guidelines and even fewer hard and fast rules. In fact, the very creativity that is so prized is what makes it difficult to know what to look for in an employee or for a profession. In that same thinking, I wanted to give you a few tips on what beginners in the creative fields need to know. Whether you are a writer like me, a painter, a sculptor, a dancer, or even a musician, these tips will give you valuable insight into the profession you have chosen to pursue.

  1. You have good taste – You know what you like and do not like. You know what works for you. You know what you want to do with your life in a general sense, though you are sort of unclear on the specifics. But you definitely know what works and what does not. What is good and what is bad and what is in between.
  2. There is a gap – Even though you know what works, your work is just not that good. You get frustrated and annoyed because you know what needs to be done, what your goal was, but you missed it. You missed the mark. Does that mean you are not cut out for this field? No! That is what I am trying to tell you.
  3. You have potential –What is the difference between potential and success? Failure. Lots and lots of trail an error. Experience. I know, it really is not fun to try and fail over and over again, but that is how you learn. This is the point where most beginners get frustrated and give up. They move on the more ‘suitable’ fields and spend their lives behind a desk, thinking that their talent is only worthy of hobby status.
  4. Failure is normal –Never, ever give up. If you really have a passion for being creative, then you have to keep going past the failures. It can take years to get past the failure stage. Your work will never seem to be good enough. It will never come out the way you want it too. It will always seem to fall short.
  5. Do a lot of work – The only way to get past the failure stage is to do a lot of work. Work all the time. Practice every day. Write a lot. Paint a lot. Sing a lot. Dance a lot. Whatever your field, do it all the time. Practice makes perfect, right? Well, practice is also a way to learn, to iron out the wrinkles, to toss out what does not work and refine what does.
  6. Make deadlines – Even if the deadlines are self-imposed, make them. You need pressure to work well and really get things accomplished. It could be daily, weekly, or monthly deadlines. Make them. Make them harder each time you are successful in completing one. Make them reasonable so you do not get frustrated. Just have deadlines and work hard.
  7. High volume – Do not just do one thing over and over again. Do a lot of things. Even if they are small, doing different things will teach you different methods. They will help you find out what works for you and what does not. What makes you go faster and be more creative and what bogs you down. Doing varied work means you learn more about who you are and how you create.
  8. Have goals – If you do not have a goal you are working towards then what is the point of working? It may just be to complete a body of work. It may be to get published or promoted or applauded. It may be someone’s approval or even a paycheck. Whatever your goal is, keep it in mind as you work. It will help to motivate you and remind you what you are working so hard for.
  9. It is going to take a while- Nothing about this is fast. Work is not fast. Practice is not fast. The point is to take the time to do it right and hope it pays off in the future. You can do things fast but not good or you can do things good but not fast. The choice is up to you.
  10. You have to fight – This is not easy. You have to work hard. You have to fight past your inner fear of failure. You have to be willing to be hungry and work in meaningless jobs to make ends meet. You have to fight to have time to practice. You have to sacrifice. If you want to be successful, you will have to fight for every inch, every minute, and every dollar you make.

It does not sound like much fun, does it? But being successful in a creative field is a lot of work, a lot of effort and a determined spirit. You cannot learn creativity. You cannot work your way into it. If you have a gift that you want to share with the world, then that is great. Just do not let the difficulties hold you back and make you give up. Having a job you love that uses the things you are good at is well worth all the time and effort you will put into it. Remember, there are different kinds of success. If you are happy and satisfied, then I think that is the best kind of success anyone can hope for.

About the Author:

This guest post is contributed by Debra Johnson, blogger and editor of live in nanny.She welcomes your comments at her email Id: – jdebra84 @ gmail.com.

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Back in the day, books used to be marketed through various media such as print, radio, and TV. However, the dawn of the digital age has brought new and innovative ways to promote reading material to a wider audience. And one of the most accepted forms these days is marketing through social media.

Here, we are going to take a look into how social media can be used as a tool for promotion.

Blogging

If you are an author, a blog is a good way to establish a personal relationship with your readers. Through this, you can post excerpts or share updates about upcoming tours.

A good number of authors have been using this medium to interact with their fans and they include George R. R. Martin (author of the A Song of Ice and Fire series) and Paulo Coelho (Brazilian novelist who wrote “The Alchemist”).

Furthermore, it also gives visitors an opportunity to read other things that you have to say when you are not writing a book.

Facebook

Setting up an account on this networking site is another way to generate interest for your book. You can also use it to engage in conversation with your audience.

If you have a new post up in your blog, you can share the link with your FB friends and have them check it out. Who knows? You might even garner a few “likes” in the process.

You can also take a cue from American author Anne Rice and ask your followers for their opinion on certain topics. This way, you can make your page a hub for interesting conversation.

Twitter

Another good way to generate buzz is to sign up with this microblogging portal. You can utilise the power of hashtags (#) to spread the word about your material.

You can also keep track on the number of times your book has been mentioned in tweets by setting up a “saved search” using its title.

Furthermore, it is also another avenue where you can interact with your readers and post engaging questions. Even established authors such as Salman Rushdie, Margaret Atwood, Neil Gaiman, and Paulo Coelho are using this medium to communicate with their fans!

Youtube

You’re probably wondering what printed material has to do with a visual medium. But Youtube is a creative way to market your story through so-called “book trailers.”

Once you have a video, you can share it on Facebook or Twitter where it can get “liked” or retweeted.

Authors such as Erin Morgenstern (“The Night Circus”), Gary Shteyngart (“Super Sad True Love Story”), and Seth Grahame-Smith (“Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter”) have videos promoting their work.

By harnessing the power of these social media sites, you can stir interest about your material. And who knows? It might even lead to sales.

AbouttheAuthor

Emma Tomlinson is the Head of Retail of the Smart Traffic SEO companyleading UK agency offering search engine and social media marketing solutions to various clients around the world.

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The hard part is done.  You have completed your new best seller.  You have just purchased a new wheel-barrel to collect all the cash that will soon be rolling in.  Your family, friends and co-workers have kept you afloat for the first several months with more than acceptable sales figures.  But wait.  What is happening?  Is there more to life than Amazon?

The Online Train is Moving

The online giants have lulled you into a world where everything is packaged perfectly for your new baby.  Great picture of your book, a brief description of your work, and even an attractive picture of you, the author, with your bio.  Reviews with loving words and nothing but kind gestures.  Armed with your Best Seller Ranking, you are now ready to move on to other and possibly more lucrative distribution channels.  Be careful.

Other Channels of Distribution

Don’t get me wrong, the online giants are wonderful places to sell your book.  In fact, many authors go no where but online.  In the words of self-publishing guru Dan Poynter, the hardest place to sell a book is at the bookstore!  On the surface, you would assume that the large and independent bookstores would love to sell your book.  Why not?  After all, there is another title they can add to their repertoire, and the margins aren’t so bad as well.

A lot depends upon the Publisher

Selling your book directly to the consumer either through your website or through an online source is a relatively straight forward proposition.  It gets a little trickier when you venture off the online train and attempt to move to the major wholesalers.  One thing to look out for is whether or not the publishing entity will take returns on your book.  If so, all is good.  If not, this could be a major hurdle that you have to overcome in order to get your book distributed offline.  The retailer at the end of the line needs to be able to return it to an entity, like a publisher, if the consumer is unhappy with their purchase, or there is something wrong with the book itself. 

Don’t be Caught off Guard

While the online market is a great and necessary place to be, such can be said of the offline market of bookstores, big box stores, and the plethora of other opportunities for sales.  If your publisher will not accept returns, it is not the end of the world.  There are companies out there who specialize in distributing other publisher’s books once completed.  Usually another ISBN is established and away you go.  Make sure if you are in the early phases of your project, you check on returns and what is really in the fine print of expanded distribution.

Author Bio

John Patrick (Jay) Thomas is a four-time cancer survivor who lives with his family in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina.  Jay attended Gettysburg College and The American University before embarking on an entrepreneurial career on Wall Street.  Jay turned to the teaching profession after his life-threatening bout with bone cancer, where he has taught at Charleston Southern University, Southern Wesleyan University, and more recently at West Ashley High School.  He has traveled as a missionary and may be one of the few people that tell you cancer was the best thing to ever happen to him.  You’ll have to ask him why.

www.acalltofaithbook.com

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You know what? Writing is not all it is cracked up to be. It is supposed to be this sort of glamorous profession, and yet it is not. It is more like hours of blank, mindless boredom and frustration interspersed with bouts of intense productivity. Even when you stay productive the writing itself becomes more of a chore than a joy. Your brain just gets fried.

I know the signs that I am getting burnt out. I start misspelling simple words like the and when. I add commas like sprinkles on a donut. I forget the names of people and places and start referring to them in general terms, just because I am too lazy to look them up. You know; that place, with the thing, by the water, with the clouds. You know what I mean, right?

Sometimes, you just need to take a break. Get outside, get some fresh air, and maybe take a walk. But sometimes even that will not cut it. Sometimes, you just need a vacation.

Vacation is not a four letter word, no matter how society makes you feel. For some reason, we feel like taking a break is tantamount to running away from home: foolish, unwise, and really a little childish. But it is not! It is so important to take a brain and body break; to get out of the rut that you are stuck in and find your center.

What is the point of staying at work and getting nothing accomplished? Pouring out reams and reams of boring, repetitive, and uninspired writing is not what you want to do with your time. If you just take a little break, you will come back refreshed and inspired, and that is worth more than anything.

Another thing that gets me about writers, though, is how what we do is frequently not considered work. Oh, yes, maybe if you are a journalist or something ‘real’, people might take your work seriously. But if you are a blogger or the like, then you can forget about it. I love the tone they use.

“So… you blog for a living?”

They say it like it is a dirty word or something. It is like they say: so you sleep for a living? Really?! What is hard to understand about this? Writing is writing, whether it gets printed on paper or online. If this is my profession, you better respect it or you will get a piece of my mind!

Do not listen to them. You know how hard you work. You know how tired you get, using your brain and creativity day in and day out. You need to be refilled and refreshed. There is no shame in needing a break, and no shame in taking a vacation. In fact, I insist. Stop reading, stop working, and get going. Now. I mean it. Why are you still here? Go! Oh, and have fun!

Author Bio

Heather Smith is an ex-nanny. Passionate about thought leadership and writing, Heather regularly contributes to various career, social media, public relations, branding, and parenting blogs/websites. She also provides value to hire a nanny by giving advice on site design as well as the features and functionality to provide more and more value to nannies and families across the U.S. and Canada. She can be available at H.smith7295 [at] gmail.com.

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I have an idea @ homeAs writers, we are told over and over to write from the heart. You hear writers talking about a book, saying, “it was the story of my heart” (awww, heart-warming music swells, eyes grow misty).

But what if the story of your heart won’t sell?
(huh? music screeches to a halt)

Sorry I had to bring you down, but yeah. It happens. We pour our hearts into a book that means the world to us only to find that no one, especially a publisher or agent, would read it. In fact, I’m going to take a wild guess and say that happens way more often than selling to an agent or publisher. Especially in these days, when publishers are looking for the next big thing and won’t take the chances they used to take on a new author, say, five years ago.

So what’s a writer to do?

I say, write from your heart, but write it smart.

What I mean is — put all the passion you feel about your book into a format/story that will sell. If you want to tell your grandmother’s story about growing up on a farm and her life married to an abusive husband, take a look at what’s going on in woman’s fiction. If you want to write it with a twist of humor and a snarky voice, check out chick lit – yeah, it’s still around. If you want to write it as a romance, so in the end she finds the right man and marries him, go the romance route. If your grandma was a shocker, maybe even erotic romance! If she discovers a body in the well and sets out to discover who it is and how it happened, how about a mystery?

Yes, you could write it as a memoir, but they really don’t sell unless you’re someone famous, and I don’t mean in grandma’s home town, population 560.

And selling books is what we’re talking about, right? Not just getting published. Anyone now can publish a book, it’s selling it that’s the hard part (besides writing, yes).

If you just want to tell the story and have a few friends and family read it, fine. But if you’re talking a career in writing, then you’re going to have to be smarter in what you write. You’re going to have to figure out where your story fits in the genres that are selling, and write your tale to fit.

Because when you write within known and popular genres half the battle is over. There is already a huge audience out there who loves to read…women’s fiction, romance, adventure, mystery, suspense, horror, or chick lit. You don’t have to hunt up readers, or depend on that town of 560 to each buy a copy of your book.

Can you take her exploits and drag them onto the future? Can she wake up one morning and discover zombies overrunning her farm. She gets the kids, barricades the doors and window, loads her shotgun, and…well, you get it.

Making your book marketable – no, it’s not a dirty word, folks — is the key to selling. How are you going to sell that memoir, or that story you thought of when you were a kid and now want to write?

First, write a book people want to read.

Second, the best thing you can do for your first book is to write the second, and the third, and keep writing.

What happens when a reader finds you, reads your book, likes it and goes out to get the next one, and oops! It’s not there? No more sales. They’ve hit a dead end and move on to another author, one with more books, prettier, shinier, and younger books than yours.

But if you’ve written the next one or are in the course of writing it, and you promo it in the back of your first book, it gives the reader hopes that, hey, coming next year, or in the spring, a second book from this newly discovered fabulous author will appear!

They might even put your next book in their To Read list on Goodreads!

Lynn Lorenz lives in Texas, where she’s a fan of all things Texan, like long horns, big hair, and cowboys in tight jeans. She’s never met a comma she didn’t like, and enjoys editing, drinking, and brainstorming with other writers. Lynn spends most of her time writing about hot sex with even hotter heroes, plot twists, werewolves, and medieval swashbucklers. She’s currently at work on her latest book, making herself giggle and blush, while avoiding all housework.

Find her books at http://www.lynnlorenz.com and at Amazon and her publisher’s websites. She’s also on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Photo: Julián SantacruzCreative Commons

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RoyIt’s a common misconception that writers have the luxury of sitting at home working for hours in their pajamas. Wouldn’t that be nice! Sorry to burst your bubble folks, but we all know that is not the case for any writer. Most writers dabble in multiple projects while juggling family, home and real life. Timing is everything, especially when you are a writer. Here are a few tricks for your writing trade to keep you ahead of deadline and successful:

Plan ahead and set deadlines for yourself. Your goal could be two chapters a week, a certain word limit, or whatever you think would work for you. Also remember to set goals for building your platform. Ask yourself several questions, “is this a realistic deadline for the amount of work,” “what will this require me to do,” “how much research is needed” and so on. Once you have decided that the time allotted compliments the work load, start planning your work schedule. For best and quality work, split your time up.

So that means to prioritize! Decide which is most important by your due date and the amount of work you have to put into it. Obviously the projects that are due soonest, they are at the top. Following the due date priority, decide which one will require the most work, whether that is researching, interviewing, drafting, or connecting with potential audiences through social media. Figure out what should be at the top of your list and follow that by what doesn’t need as much time or effort and so on.

Once your list of priorities has been made, determine how much time you need for each listed goal. Remember to account for daily things like coffee, lunch and bathroom breaks, phone calls, and meetings. Then account for weekly things like doctor appointments, soccer games, and so on. Give each goal some wiggle room, it is better to overestimate your time then to be stuck rushing and digging yourself out of a hole.

In order to knock out your to-do list, avoid disturbances. Schedule time to check and respond to emails, answer calls and have meetings and, as with your projects, add some wiggle room for any unexpected occurrences. Here comes the not so fun part; get offline and stay offline. No checking your Facebook, personal email, or playing games. Facebook is an amazing time-waster and a wonderful way to get really behind in your work. So stay offline and save it for after your to-do list is knocked out.

There is a time and a place to be a ‘yes’ man/woman, especially for writers. There are always things to do like editing for the tenth time or brainstorming a project that someone needs you to do. Don’t be afraid to say no once in a while. Treat your self-imposed deadlines as if they came from someone really important, because they do…they come from you. Inform the person that you are under a deadline and that you would be happy to help once you have finished your needs. In most cases, they will understand and will be able to hold off and wait for your expertise.

Time managing for writers is all about prioritizing and organizing your day to fit your goals. Avoid anything that will interfere with your flow and keep that nose to the grind. If you follow these tips you will be completed before you know it!

Kate Croston is a freelance writer and holds a bachelors degree in Journalism and Mass Communication. She writes guest posts for different sites and loves contributing home internet service related topics. Questions or comments can be sent to:  katecroston.croston09 @ gmail.com.

Photo: JuliaRosien, Creative Commons

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motivationWriters are often advised to carve time out of each day to write, to put themselves on some sort of schedule and make it happen, inspired or not. This isn’t easy for everyone, and many writers struggle with the distractions provided by the internet when they do sit down at the computer. But the internet age has provided us with more than just distractions. It is also rife with tools and inspiration.

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) asks writers to work on a novel every day in November, committing to a certain word count, and the results have been remarkable for many people. But then the month passes and we must find other motivators to keep us working on our craft.

There’s no reason that daily writing should only be part of November’s routine. It’s good practice for any aspiring writer to sit down as routinely as possible to put words on the page, even if only a few of those words end up being worth keeping. But what happens when you force yourself to sit down at your computer only to be faced with a mockingly white blank document and an equally blank mind?

One way to find inspiration is through writing prompts. You can find books full of prompts, or you can visit a number of websites that will give you ideas. Poets & Writers offers a weekly fiction and poetry prompt called “The Time is Now.” Writer’s Digest also offers a weekly fiction prompt.

Another way to stay motivated is to set your sights on contest. Now that NANOWRIMO has come and gone, try putting your energy into entering writing contests. Winning a contest will help you make a name for yourself in the writing world, and it could garner the attention of prospective agents and editors. Poets & Writers offers a database of contests and competitions for writers of fiction, prose, and creative nonfiction. The database is a great source to keep track of deadlines, entry fees, and prizes. There’s often an entry fee, but the reward often includes a substantial cash prize and sometimes even publication.

Some contests to consider in the new year include:

  • Crazyhorse Fiction and Poetry Prizes–$16 entry fee; January 15, 2012 deadline; $2000 and publication in Crazyhorse awarded to the authors of one short story and one poem
  • Glimmer Train Press Very Short Fiction Award–$15 entry fee; January 31, 2012 deadline; $1500 and publication in Glimmer Train awarded to the author of a short story of up to 3000 words
  • Summer Literary Seminars Unified Literary Contest–$15 entry fee; February 28, 2012 deadline; airfare, tuition, and housing for one of the SLS-2012 programs in either Quebec, Kenya, or Lithuania; publication in the Black Warrior Review and The Walrus

NANOWRIMO is over, but you can still keep that momentum going by sitting down to write on a regular basis, using prompts to help inspire you, and entering some of the wide range of contests offered to writers every year. The resources available to writers can help to strengthen your writing.

Emily Matthews is currently applying to masters degree programs across the U.S., and loves to read about new research into health care, gender issues, and literature. She lives and writes in Seattle, Washington. Check out her previous guest post about NaNoWriMo. 

Photo: Nono Fara, Creative Commons

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