Archive for the ‘* The Writing Life’ Category

We had a very good meeting about blogging this month. Thanks, as always, to Charity Samora  for her excellent presentation on available sites, reasons to blog, and the do’s and don’ts of blogging.

Personally, I want to thank everybody for your help in critiquing my chapter. After several edits, a person becomes too close to their own writing. Your fresh eyes were invaluable in spotting weaknesses. Thanks a bunch.

After the meeting, Tammy Godfrey suggested we do a meeting about “Apps” that are helpful to writers, along with a study on how to link all of one’s platforms together (blog, Facebook, website, linkdin, etc.) I asked if Tammy could lead the group in such a session for our May 21st meeting, and she said yes. Looking forward to that.

Our critique coordinator is holding workshops on the first Saturday of each month now. If you want to prepare something for critique on May 7th, reply to James’ request for an RSVP later when he sends out meeting announcements. I highly recommend it.

– Sherrie Seibert Goff


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Marshall Public Library
Saturday, March 21, 2015 / 3:30pm-5:30pm

Greetings, Fellow Writers:

Do you have a partially written novel that is stuck or stalled, and you just can’t manage to finish it? Or do you have an idea for a great book, but don’t know how to begin? Perhaps you are someone who can’t think of anything good to write about at all.

There are two basic types of writers—detailed planners and gardeners—with a lot of variations in between. Next Saturday we plan to study the ways of the gardener as one way to help you start and finish that book.

Be sure to attend our March 21st meeting when we’ll use the first hour for a study topic on how to grow an entire novel from a tiny seed—how to get started, how to edit it, and how to finish it.

Second hour will be reserved for readings, if you want to share some of your work. Come to get inspired and enjoy the company of local writer friends.  In the meantime, keep in touch on our Facebook open forum.

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Kindle Unlimited is a new program where readers can “borrow” an unlimited number of ebooks to read for a subscription price of $10.  Writers are naturally concerned what this will do to their royalties. Bret Wilson investigated and reported his findings at our last writers meeting.  Thanks, Bret
This is a copy of the information sent to me after my phone call with the people at Kindle Unlimited. Have a nice day. Bret

Hi Bret,
Thank you for calling in today! It was a pleasure to assist you!

Sales rank is determined by a number of different inputs and may be changed over time. If your book is borrowed from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library or read from Kindle Unlimited, your book’s sales rank will be impacted. Please note that only the first borrow or read from a customer will be counted.

The share of the KDP Select Global Fund is calculated based on a share of the total number of times customers read all participating KDP titles.

When a Prime Kindle Unlimited user reads more than 10% of your book for the first time, or a KOLL user downloads it for the first time, that qualifies you for a share of the fund.

For example, if the monthly fund amount is $1,000,000, with unique KOLL customers downloading and unique Kindle Unlimited customers having read past 10% of 300,000 total KDP titles, and your book was read 1,500 times, you will earn 0.5% (1,500/300,000 = 0.5%), or $5,000 for that month.

The payment schedule will be the same as your other sales from KDP, and will be one combined payment that includes royalties for sales and the payout from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.

Regardless of your country of residence, we’ll pay you via the method you’ve chosen in your account (Electronic Funds Transfer or paper check, depending on your particular options).

If you have additional questions about KDP Select, be sure to check out our Help pages:


I hope this helps. Thanks for using Amazon KDP. I hope you have a nice weekend ahead!

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Marshall Public Library
Saturday,  January 18, 2014,  4pm-6pm
New Year’s Resolutions

Welcome back for a brand new year of writing, fellow authors.  Hope you had a great holiday season with family and friends.  Special thanks to Janice Anderson who has booked the Minnie Howard Room for all of our 2014 third-Saturday meetings.

To refresh your memory: In our meetings before Christmas, Juergen Roscher led us in exploring how to build a writers platform.  We covered all of the aspects of What is a writer’s platform?  Why does a writer need a platform? and the several Building blocks of a platform.

We planned to return in January to talk about what we had done over the holidays to build our own platforms, and to share with one another our experiences and tips.  So, next week’s meeting will be an open discussion, and we will have time later for critiques if you want to read some of your work.

Come share your experiences, hints and advice on marketing your brand as an author.  We’ll talk about what our New Years Resolutions are in the way of writing, and what we hope to get from our group meetings in 2014.

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How to Build a Writer’s Platform  (Part 1)
presentation by Juergen Roscher

What is a Writer’s Platform

♦  Conventional Definition of a Platform
– The thing you stand on to get noticed or heard
– Stage
♦ Writer’s Platform
– How to get noticed or heard as an author
– Connection with your existing and potential fans
– Personal ability to sell books
– Who you are
– Who you know / your personal and professional connections
– Media outlets, blogs, and social networks that you can
utilize to sell books- Visibility as an author
– Activities engaged in that get your name and work noticed
by the public
– Marketing, not of a specific work, but of you as the author
– Everything you do to build your brand

Why Does a Writer Need a Platform?
♦ More books are being published now than ever before.
♦ Over 5 million books available on Amazon.
♦ Major publishing companies have laid off an alarming number of
editors and publicists in the last five years; those left are overloaded.
♦ Small publishing houses will rely mostly on the marketing of the author.
♦ Self Published authors have no marketing support except their
own efforts.
♦ Except for the top-tier authors, platform is of the utmost importance.
♦ In the near future almost every book ever published will be available.   ………………………………………………………………………………………………………
Book vs. Platform
♦ Question to Michael Hyatt by an author:
“Two respected agents have told me they loved my book and proposal and are willing to represent it, but not until I have a social media following numbering in the thousands. I find this bewildering.: Doesn’t a good book stand on its own anymore? Are Writers now doomed to spend the bulk of our workdays trawling for blog subscriptions?”
♦ Hyatt’s response to the author:
“A good product does not stand on its own anymore. It is foundational, but not enough. In order to be successful in today’s business environment, you need two things: a compelling product and a significant platform.”
♦ Michael Hyatt’s success equation:›
Compelling Product (Book) + Significant Platform = Success

Building Blocks of a Platform
♦ New-school platform building blocks
– Website/blog with large readership
– An impressive social media presence (Twitter, Facebook, and the like)
– E-newsletter and/or mailing list with a large number of subscribers
or recipients
– Guest contributions to successful websites, blogs, and periodicals
♦ Old-school platform building blocks
– Public speaking appearances
– Article/column writing for the media
– A record of strong past book sales
♦ Both new-school and old-school platform building blocks
– Individuals of influence that you know / personal contacts
or organizations
– Membership in organizations that support the successes of their own
– Recurring media appearances and interviews – print, radio,
TV, or online

♦ Everyone needs a website
♦ Website should be the foundation of your platform
♦ Purpose of a Website
– Basic, important information about you and what you write
– Means to contact you
♦ Key elements of a good website
– Landing page
– About me Page
– Biography comparable to your accomplishments
– Professional head shot
– My books or My writing page
– Information about your books and writing
– Contact me page
– Email address
– Do not put your telephone
– Other contact information such as social media contact information
♦ Blog or news page that is constantly in flux and has new content on a consistent basis
♦ Resources page
– Great Websites you recommend
– Blogroll – blogs you follow
– Build Community (Tribe)
– Build goodwill
♦ Events and Speaking
– Information about anytime you are appearing in public
– Builds Credibility
♦Find me online page
– Social media contacts
♦ Reviews, testimonials or interview page
– Reviews of your books
– Endorsements from celebrities of organization
– Builds credibility

♦ Purpose of a blog
– Provide free content (blog articles) on a regular basis in an
effort to build steady and significant readership
– Build a relationship with readership through blog articles
and comment section
♦ Blog Requirements
– Needs a theme (topic) – Your Brand
– High quality content (articles 500-800 words)
– Blog regularly – add new content at least weekly
– Be Informative – What is of value to your targeted audience?
– Be Entertaining – blog readers are looking to learn and be entertained
– Be Engaging – encourage comments and respond to some of the
comments – build a tribe
– Categorize or tag your blog article – keywords that describe
the article.

Social Media Presence
♦ Connecting with other individuals through online websites where people
virtually gather.
♦ Social media allows you to easily do the following:
– Connect, network, and make friends
– Receive information/news and learn
– Share information that you created or found interesting
– Promote your work and works of friends
♦ “In today’s marketplace, the biggest emphasis in terms of author platform would be their online digital platform. How many followers do they have on Facebook and Twitter? What is their website traffic? We really dig into these stats when deciding to take on a project.” Beth Gissinger (Adams Media)
♦ Social media is important, but your efforts in the arena needs to point people to great content – Websites, blogs, and articles.
♦ Twitter (www.twitter.com)
– Establish relationships – connection with potential fans
– Follow interesting people – people of influence, publishers,
agents, editors, other writers, …
– Join groups where your potential readers virtually hang out at
– Share information that you find interesting or beneficial
– Help others
– Direct traffic to your website and blog
– Notify followers of your book(s)
♦ Facebook (WWW.facebook.com)
– Less formal and more personal than a website and blog
– Direct communication with those who become friends
– Post status updates, photos
– Comment on friends post, photos, and updates
– Authors can create a fan page
♦ Goodreads (WWW.Goodreads.com)
– Community of readers
– Readers provide reviews on books, list of books they have
read, are currently reading, and want to read
– Follow favorite authors and reviewers
– Establish and participate in groups around common interests
– Authors can establish an author’s page
– Link to their website, blog and social media
– Post blog articles
♦ Google +
♦ Linkedin
♦ Youtube
♦ Pinterest
♦ Forums – Find out what forums your target audience congregate
at and become involved

E-newsletter/email list
♦ An E-newsletter is just an email you send to webpage and blog
readers who have signed up for it.
♦ It can be new content or content from your blog or a combination of both.
♦ E-newsletters have a set frequency – daily, weekly, biweekly, or monthly
♦ Same requirements as a blog – be informative, entertaining and engaging
♦ Invite website/blog readers to sign up for e-newsletter
♦ Offer an incentive for signing up for your e-newsletter
– Free gift such as an eBook you have created
– Contest with a great prize with the stipulation they sign up for
your e-newsletter
♦ Lower priority than some other platform developing possibilities, but can be an effective marketing tool.

Guest contributions to successful websites, blogs, and periodicals
♦ Collaborate with other successful and up and coming bloggers
♦ Write blog articles for other websites
– Always include your website and/or blog information as
a byline in the blog article
– Readers of the blog might become your readers
♦ Ask others to write guest articles for your blog
– Always make sure your guest blogger’s website and/or
blog is referenced in a byline.
– You don’t have to create all of your blogs material . Many
successful blogs have 30-40% of their material provided
by others.
♦ Same requirements as a blog – be informative, entertaining, and engaging

Public speaking appearances
♦ Few avenues give you more instant credibility than having some
impressive public speaking gigs under your belt
♦ Face-to-face with your potential audience
♦ Writers’ conferences
♦ Be well prepared to speak
♦ Attend Toastmasters if you need public speaking coaching

Articles or Columns for Media
♦ Similar to blogging – guest blogging
♦ Write articles within your desired field of expertise (niche)
♦ Established immediate credibility
♦ Benefits of article writing:
– You get paid
– Established publications and websites have a built-in
audience – potential fans
– Building editor contacts in the media

A track record of strong past book sales
♦ Finding a writer with a history of books that have strong sales
is one of the main goals for a publishers
♦ Vast majority of books fall to earn back their advances
♦ Low initial sales can affect the rest of an author’s career
♦ Sales of previous self-published books
Notable: 2000+ for fiction, 4000+ for non-fiction
Very Notable: 6000+ for fiction, 10,000+ for non-fiction
Impressive: 15,000+ for fiction, 30,000+ for non-fiction

Individuals of influence that you know
♦ Personal contacts that can help you get noticed
♦ Marketing opportunities at no cost to you
♦ Request individuals of influence for blurbs, promotions, endorsements, …

Membership in organizations that support the successes of their own
♦ Find organizations that are patronized by your target audience
♦ Be active in the organizations
♦ Serve in the organizations
♦ Build relationships with organization members
♦ Attend organization’s conference
♦ Support others in the organizations – reciprocate when others help you

Recurring media appearances and interviews
♦ Look for opportunities to appear on any media outlet as
a regular contributor or frequent guest
♦ Print – regular column in a newspaper or magazine
♦ Radio and TV- regular guest on a radio show or an expert in a
certain field of interest
♦ Online – regular contributor to a website or e-newsletter,
host a weekly podcast, or
♦ Market yourself as an expert in a field
A friend in Dallas owns a rifle range – media interviews him
anytime there is a story on firearms.    ……………………………………………………………………………………………..
End of Material covered on 21-Sep-2013
ing of Material covered on 19-Oct-2013  ………………………………………………………………………………..

How to Build a Writer’s Platform  (Part 2)
presentation by Juergen Roscher

Getting Started
♦ Create a Brand
– Your author name
– Email Address – firstname.lastname@gmail.com or better
yet firstname@firstname.lastname.com
– Email Signature: Michael Hyatt
– My Blog: http://michaelhyatt.com
– Speaking: http://michaelhyatt.com/speaking
– Twitter: http://twitter.com/michaelhyatt
– Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/michaelhyatt
– Google+: http://gplus.to/michaelhyatt
♦ Business Cards
– Name
– Contact information
– Tagline
– Social Media contact information
♦ Website
– Same look and feel as Business Cards and Social Media Profiles
Social Media Profiles
– Same look and feel as Business Cards and Webpage
♦ Profile Picture
– Headshot
– Professionally done
– Use on your website, twitter account, Goodreads, book covers, etc.
♦ Articles – Magazines, Newspapers, Blogs, …
– Articles about you or your books
– Articles you have authored
♦ Photos
– Writer’s Conferences
– With other author’s or famous people
♦ Reviews of your book(s)
♦ Reviews you have authored on other books
♦ Lists of Awards – include photos, press release or other information about the awards
♦ Write your Biographies
100 Word Biography
300 Word Biography
500 Word Biography

Twitter Biography (140 characters)
Merry Christmas! My name is Juergen Roscher. I write
Christmas stories. Check out my Christmas blog –

♦ List of computer searchable TAGS that describe you as a writer
Your Name
Genre – Romance, Non-fiction, Dystopian, Science Fiction
Name of published books
Writer’s Conference Presenter
Anything that describes you as author, what you write about,
other items that relate to your writing

♦ Generate a List of blog article ideas
Example – Potential Christmas writer blog articles:
Christmas Book Reviews
Christmas Movie Reviews
Christmas Traditions
Christmas Checklist – list of items that need to be done each Christmas
Favorite Christmas
Christmas Quotes
Favorite Christmas Books
Favorite Christmas Movies
Christmas Challenge such as reading the five Dickens
Christmas stories
Christmas Crafts
Favorite Christmas Hymns
Favorite Christmas Songs (non-sacred)
Christmas Around the World (Christmas Traditions from
different areas of the World)
Christmas Plays
Christmas Decorations
Christmas Origins (How Christmas began)
Christmas Lights
Christmas Treats
Christmas Recipes
Interviews of Christmas Authors
♦ Starting inventory of 10-15 blog articles on topic
Non-fiction writer’s topic is area of expertise
Fiction Writer topic could be genre, writing experience, or general blog
♦ Profile your readers and consumer demographics
Who are your potential readers?
Where do they hang out?
What do they expect in a book?
Fish where the fish are
♦ Become familiar with Social Media terms
Google social media terms
Start with one or two social media tools and learn how to
speak the language
♦ Elevator pitch
Be prepared to pitch your book any time, any where
30 second pitch
2 minute pitch
5 minute pitch
♦ Secure endorsements
♦ Online Media Kit

So many options …
♦ You should not dive into every platform building option
♦ Your goals and target audience will dictate which platform
building tools to use
♦ Pick a few avenues and develop them to your fullest
♦ You can (and probably should) use new school and old school methods.

Book Bibliography
Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World
Sub-Title: A step-by-step guide for anyone with something to say or sell
Author: Michael Hyatt
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Published Date: May 22nd 2012 (first published May 1st 2012)
Pages: 261
Brief Synopsis of Book: To be successful in the market today, you must possess two strategic assets: a compelling “product” and a meaningful “platform.” In this step-by-step guide, Michael Hyatt, former CEO and current Chairman of Thomas Nelson Publishers, takes readers behind the scenes, into the new world of social media success. (Goodreads description).

We Are Not Alone
Author: Kristen Lamb
Publisher: Who Dares Wins Publishing
Published Date: 2010 Pages: 197
Brief Synopsys of Book: The author’s method is simple, effective, and helps authors find ways to harness the imagination used for writing and employ this creativity to build a solid platform designed to connect with readers. The best part is you don’t even have to be a computer expert or know anything about sales. This system is designed to change the writer’s approach, not the writer’s personality (Back Cover of Book)

Create Your Writer Platform
Author: Chuck Sambuchino
Publisher: Writer’s Digest Books
Published: November 23rd 2012 (First Published October 26th 2012)
Pages: 224
Brief Synopsis of Book: In “Create Your Writer Platform,” you’ll learn: The definition of a platform–and why you should start building one “now.”How to harness the 12 Fundamental Principles of Platform.”Old School” and “New School” approaches to platform, from article writing and conference speaking to website development, blog posts, and social media avenues. How to develop a platform for nonfiction, fiction, and memoir. In addition to Chuck’s invaluable insights, you’ll also find 12 case studies from authors with effective platforms, as well as professional advice from literary agents.
(Goodreads description of book)

Internet Article Bibliography
What is a Writer’s Platform?
Author: Cliff Daigle
http://fictionwriting.about.com/od/thebusinessofwriting/a/What-Is-A-Writers-Platform.htm Good general description of Writer’s Platform

Why Having a Platform May be the Only Way to Sell Books
Author: Penny Sansevieri – Author and CEO, Marketing Experts, Inc.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/penny-c-sansevieri/why-having-a-platform-may_b_3639378.html Overview of why a writer’s platform is needed today more than ever

71 Ways to Promote and Market your Book
Author: Kimberley Grabas
Some ideas are good, others?


“…All the methods the author has of reaching the buyer.” – Gina Panetteri (Talcott Notch Literary Services)

“I think it is extremely difficult to sell a nonfiction book by an author without a platform. – Shawna Morey (Folio Literary Management)

“Great marketing (platform) only makes a bad product (book) fail faster.”
– David Ogilvy

“When considering the best URL for your website, the commonsense option is your full name – in my case, chucksambuchino.com.” – Chuck Sambuchino

“Non-fiction authors are there to inform, educate and serve the readership in some way. If you want to publish a diet book, blog about healthy eating and logically related topics like exercise and beauty.” – Kristen Lamb

“An e-newsletter … allows us to directly reach a base of our most dedicated supporters.” – Kathleen Boyle and Therese Walsh, founders of WriterUnboxed.com

“If a writer can convey that she or he has media connections, has the writing chops to be accepted by the big boys, and is interesting, editors feel more confident to buy his or her book.” – Laurie Abkemeier literary agent – DeFiore and Company

“It’s not always who you are or what you can do, but who you know that matters.”

“Whenever we start building our author platform, we need to honestly look at our strengths and acknowledge what we are and aren’t willing to do.” – Lisa Hall-Wilson

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For those new to the group, the 7 items below are some pearls of wisdom left us from our departing founder – Jocelyn Eikenberg. We wish you all the best, Jocelyn, and thank you so much for starting our wonderful group.

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As most of you know, I’m leaving Pocatello sometime this summer. Before my departure, I wanted to share a few things I’ve learned over the years — most of which I learned right here in Pocatello. So here goes:

1. You can learn to write well. For the longest time, I never considered myself a writer because I didn’t believe I had the inborn “talent” to do it (unlike my sister, who churned out short story after short story before even graduating from high school). And I think a lot of us buy into that myth, that if we don’t have it now, we never will.

Not so. Writing is a skill that you can learn to do better. Sure, maybe some of us might learn faster or have a propensity for the written word. But generally speaking, most great writers aren’t born that way. They work at it, a lot. They had their share of crappy first drafts and false starts. They might have started their training in writing classes, just like many of us did.

While you can always improve your writing on your own, if you want to move faster, consider reading books on the craft of writing, and even enrolling in a writing course that teaches you practical writing skills.

2. Know your writing style. I’m a planner, and when I write, I like to know where I’m going. I plot out the story, I have a structure, I understand what’s generally going to happen — though I also allow for some flexibility, those ideas that come along in the midst of the writing process.

But maybe you’re the opposite — you just sit down and start typing away with no idea where things will go.

It’s important to know what works best for you as a writer — and realize that not every approach will be your style. Find what works for you and stick to it.

3. Know your genre. In the publishing world, you always hear that for nonfiction books, agents just need a proposal. Well, imagine my surprise when I learned that for memoir — the genre I tend to write in — you need the entire manuscript, and often the proposal as well.

I’ve learned other nifty things about memoir over the years — for example, most agents like your memoir manuscript to be about 85,000 words, and word counts DO matter.

Every genre is different and if you’re considering the traditional route of publishing, it pays to know what’s what.

But even at a basic writing level, you should know your genre. Over the years, I’ve chosen to read a lot of different memoirs, especially travel memoirs, to get a sense of what my peers have done. How did they approach their stories? How did they structure them? How did they present themselves as a narrator? I’ve learned so much from reading other authors in the genre, and gained a better sense for what works in memoir and what doesn’t. To that end, I’ve even picked up a few books on the craft of memoir itself (my favorite still remains Sue Silverman’s Fearless Confessions).

4. Know the industry. Not that long ago, I envisioned the publishing industry much like the Wizard of Oz — all powerful, mysterious and always hidden behind the curtain.

But it’s not. In fact, maybe we’re lucky in some respects, because we live in a time when there’s more transparency about the publishing process than ever before. The knowledge is out there, and it might just help you get a leg up on the competition.

5. Connecting with other writers will help you. Writing is such a solitary pursuit and when we’re looking at our own words on the page, we don’t always know what’s good and what’s trash. That’s why I’ve gained so much from other writers, such as people in this group and beyond. But more than that, other writers can inspire you to keep going, remind you you’re not alone, and even lead to opportunities (a writer friend of mine, for example, was an editor of a magazine that i ended up writing a few articles for).

6. Publish articles strategically. Before I even began publishing articles for magazines, I came up with a list of topics I wanted to write about. Then I looked for magazines where these topics might fit, and decided on one for the topic I wanted to write about first. I would study that magazine, then write the article in a voice and style that fit the magazine. Then I submitted it.

You might call all of this a kind of publishing strategy. I didn’t just write randomly about this or that and then find a magazine. I had a specific focus in terms of topics, I targeted specific magazines and got to know them, I wrote for the magazine I wanted the article to go in.

I learned this, incidentally, from Susan Swetnam, a professor of English at ISU. While I can’t guarantee 100 percent success for everyone (you may have a tougher time depending on the publication), I will say that, so far, I’ve only ever had a few articles rejected.

7. Never give up. Some years ago, I drifted away from my writing. The reason? I lost confidence, I believed I could never make it, that I wasn’t good enough.

It took the encouragement of a friend to get me back into writing. My only regret is that I didn’t resume my writing sooner — that I lost a few years of practice and learning that could have jumpstarted my writing career much sooner.

Now that I’ve met more writers over the years, I’ve come to realize that the “I’m not good enough” affliction happens to writers of all stripes, even the successful folks. Success doesn’t even erase the insecurities, it piles them on because now everyone expects you to live up to a standard (one that, perhaps, you’re not even sure you can repeat again and again).

The best thing you can do for your writing is keep writing. We all have bad days, we all churn out crap sometimes, we all get frustrated and lose inspiration. The important thing is to write anyway — because it’s not the first draft, but in the editing, the reworking, the process, where your best stuff comes forward.

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