Writing from the Peak, PPW Blog

Screw this Writing Thing: My Most Epic Writing Failures

by: Jennifer Lovett Herbranson

*WARNING: Foul Words Ahead*

Ok, so I’m one of those who started writing the minute she could scribble with crayons. My father kept the first story I ever wrote. In the seventh grade, I wrote a travel story with a friend of mine in Spanish class. By college, I knew I wanted to be a writer, so I took two courses: Creative Writing Fiction and Creative Writing Poetry. Both were epic disasters.

My poetry teacher told me I’d spent too much time reading the British Romantics. He was probably right. My fiction teacher told me my story didn’t make any sense. Rejection is part of the business, right? Well, it still sucks. But there is something to be learned from every disaster.

  • Crappy teachers can motivate you. When my poetry professor called my poems angsty crap pieces and told me I’d never have a future in writing, I hung my head in shame. Yes, he said this in a class full of edgy poets on their way to Pulitzer Prizes and probably some meth addictions. Eventually, I raised my eyebrows, got pissed and decided to pay attention to what he did like. I will forever hate the tatted up, pierced girl with long black hair and willowy skirts whose poetry oozed from the page in mid-90s Alanis Morrisette stanzas that he loved oh so much. (probably because I’m jealous)
  • Learn what you can. Discard the rest.  My prof hated my poetry. Did I say that already? It was full of trite clichés better suited for John Keats’ garden and British tea time. Under his glaring eye of disapproval, I learned how to write about love and pain in a modern way. That modern way included creative ways to describe action with as few words as possible. I did eventually write something that made its way into the annual university poetry anthology. It was called, “Fuck This.” Guess I showed him.
  • Advice should be taken with a grain of salt. For whatever reason, my fiction teacher never taught us how to plot. It was a semester-long course on writing fiction and the man, a New York Times bestseller, never taught the elements of the novel. This guy told me my novel wasn’t complete. Well, genius, you only asked for one chapter. This was an early lesson for me because writers are bombarded with advice, counsel and wisdom on a subject that is, at its core, creative. Take what you can use and move on.
  • Be badass. I’m on a Cobra Kai kick lately (What?! You haven’t seen the series on YouTube?! 100% on Rotten Tomatoes!!!), and being badass is the central theme of the new Cobra Kai. I could have easily melted into a puddle of nasty poo after my poetry and fiction teachers so blasély dismissed me. But no. I stood up. I schwacked their hoity toity idea of what a writer was supposed to be. and I kept going. Being badass means you stand up for what you want.

You KNOW you want to be a writer. So be one. Don’t let anyone get you down. Ever. Take what you can from the disasters because the best lessons are learned from failure. Then drop it. Move on. Be badass. No Mercy Bitches!

Jennifer Lovette Herbranson

Jennifer Lovett Herbranson is the founder of Writer Nation, a podcast and Facebook group dedicated to helping writers market their work. With 17 years communications experience, she regularly writes on social media, internet marketing and face-to-face publicity. She currently lives in South Korea and travels around Asia for fun. You can find her on her WebsiteFacebookTwitter, and Pinterest: @jennylovett

Happy Birthday Harriet Beecher Stowe

Photo courtesy of USA NARA, public domain

Harriet Beecher Stowe, born on June 14, 1911 in Connecticut and lived much of her life in Cincinnati.  Her best-seller, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, helped galvanized the abolitionist movement, leading to the Civil War. 

Harriet saw the value in being surrounded by books. Does the presence of books impact your writing?

 Gabrielle V Brown, Contributing Editor

Gabrielle V. Brown writes all manner of fiction and nonfiction.  Find her on Facebook, and instagram ; contact her at gvbrownwriter@gmail.com.  For more about today’s birthday author, visit her website.

Project Management to Publication

by: Jason Henry Evans

You have decided to self-publish your novel. Congratulations! There is a world of opportunity out there for you. All you have to do now is…well…everything!

OK, OK, maybe I’m being a little glib. But when you decide to become an author-publisher, you’ve decided that you’re not only an artist, you’re a business. You can’t be driven by ego, or negative emotions. You can’t use fear as a crutch. Procrastination will kill your manuscript, as will perfectionism. (Those two are actually sisters, if you didn’t know.)

If you want to publish your manuscript in a reasonable amount of time, then you have to embrace Project Management.

Project Management will put your book on a schedule and insure its publication if you follow these steps. Are you with me? OK. Let’s go.

Step One: Write an essay

Ask yourself why you want to publish a book at all. Why do you want to self-publish? Be honest. Explore the reasons. Art can be very emotional and it’s super important that you understand your own motivations for doing it. Because when the hard deadlines hit, when you’ve got to scrape up money for covers and formatting and Facebook ads, you will question everything. This document will give you the answers to those questions.

I have a friend who self-published a book about two years ago. At the time she talked a lot about quitting her job and making money with her book. When I reminded her that her dream was not likely to happen with the first book in the series she agreed and said she had a plan. Two years later book two still isn’t out. She’s done draft after draft. Why? Because she got into writing to be famous. When the fame didn’t come, she lost her way. She says she’s working on book 2 – and I believe her. But if she had been honest about her motivations from the start, maybe we’d be on book three or four right now? Maybe she would have done more marketing?

Step Two: Get a Calendar

Either a physical or digital will do. Is your draft complete? Good! Now, give yourself at least nine months to publish that book. You’ll need a lot of time because you have to factor in sick time when you can’t write, dealing with cover artists and editors, finding and booking a venue for your book release party, and learning marketing. Not to mention kids, spouses, and crunch time at your real job. All of this will take time.

At least six months before you launch, learn how you market your book. (I found author Jeff Goins & David Gaughran very helpful.) Make sure your book cover is done at least six weeks before your launch. Make sure your final edits are done at least six weeks before your launch.

Step Three: Make a list

A book requires a team. You’ll need a cover artist – please shop around for one. You’ll need someone to either format your book or teach you how to format a book. And you’ll need an editor.

When I wrote The Gallowglass, a historical fiction novel (to be released June 15th of this year), I spent a lot of time researching. I spent a lot of time getting better at writing. But I thank the heavens that I hired an editor who pointed out some weak spots in my plot and characters. It was a hard conversation to have about my story. After a lot of reflection, I realized my editor was right on every point. So, I had to make time to include about 15,000 words of re-writes. I am glad I did. (Which is another reason you want to give yourself at least nine months of time to release a book.)

Step Four: Find an accountability Partner

I have a friend who has self-published half a dozen books. After probing him I realized that all he did was write the books, and his wife actually self-published them. She kept him working under a deadline, managed the entire process with editors, cover artists, and the like. For my friend and his wife, it worked out well.

If you don’t have a spouse with those kinds of skills, that’s alright. Find someone who will support you by using a mix of carrots and sticks to get you to your deadline. They don’t have to know all the ends and outs; they just have to know your deadlines and be close enough to you to kick your butt when you’re slacking and can call you on your malarkey when you start making excuses.

Step Five: Take the money side seriously

Federal & State Tax Law can be a wonderful support for your book project. Congress wants to support you in running your business. But you have to act like a business if you want to reap the tax benefits. That means setting up a separate bank account (checking is easiest). It also means keeping receipts and making a spreadsheet to keep everything together. I know it sounds daunting, but it really isn’t – and you’ll thank yourself for doing it from the beginning.

My wife is an accountant. She deals with sloppy business owners all the time. She just finished an IRS Audit where her client couldn’t prove where the money came from to pay a certain business expense. Had the owner kept better records, the auditor would have given her the expense deduction.

Don’t be like my wife’s client! Keep all your records for your book project. If you’re not good with physical receipts, the IRS accepts photos of receipts. Keep them in a folder on your desktop, or on the cloud. If you do this, you can claim deductions on your taxes because of the money you spent on your project. How cool is that? If you mimic the habits of businesses the IRS will start treating you like one.

Project Management can feel overwhelming, but so was riding a bike or driving a car. Most of us learned to both. With a little research, practice, and a few bumps in the road, you’ll be published before you can say Project Management.

Jason Henry Evans

Jason Evans wanted to be a writer his entire life. He just didn’t know it. He has been an educator in public & private schools for twelve years. He has earned Double bachelors from UC Santa Barbara, teaching credentials from Cal-State Los Angeles, and an MA from UC Denver. He has two short stories published and is the editor-in-chief for Man-gazine. He lives in Denver with the Fetching Mrs. Evans and his three dogs and one haughty cat.

Follow Jason on Twitter @evans_writer. Like his Facebook Author Page, or sign up for his newsletter at www.jasonhenryevans.com

Author Readings

by: Jamie Ferguson

How do author readings work?

There’s a lot of variation in how author readings work, but they basically go like this:

You’re invited to participate in an event and read something you’ve written. You may be asked to read for a certain amount or time, or read an entire story regardless of how long it takes. What you read from could be a specific story, from any published work you’ve written, or from anything you’ve written – which might include a project you’re currently working on.

Participating in a reading can and should be a fun and wonderful experience.

Depending on the venue and situation, you may or may not have the opportunity to bring/sell books. Some places (ex. bookstores) will sell your books, either print or ebook, through their own system.

Readings usually involve multiple authors reading at an event, but there are situations where you’re the only author reading. If you’re participating in a multi-author event you may have a fixed slot, or can request to go first, last, etc.

After the reading is over, you’ll have the opportunity to sign copies of your book(s) and talk with members of the audience.

Why participate in a reading?

Readings are a great form of marketing the title you’re reading from, and they’re a great way to promote you as an author. Not only does the audience get to hear your story, they have the opportunity to connect with you as a person.

Having people show up to listen to your story is an awesome experience, and it can be incredibly rewarding to have the opportunity to meet with members of the audience afterward.

Should you participate in a reading?

Do you enjoy speaking to a crowd, or are you super introverted and hate being the center of attention? Or perhaps you don’t mind talking to an audience, but the idea of reading something of your own gives you the heebie jeebies?

If you’re really uncomfortable with this type of activity, it might not be the right thing for you – and that’s okay! You can be a super successful author without ever reading any of your stories aloud.

If you’re comfortable (or comfortable enough) with reading to a group, consider the setting. Will you be reading in a quiet area where the audience can hear you well, or in a noisy bar? Is the location convenient, or will it involve a three-hour drive each way?

In addition to considering the setting, consider the situation. If it’s a multi-author reading event, how do you feel about the other participants? Will you be reading from a romance novel, but the other authors are horror writers?

Don’t feel obligated to participate in a reading just because you were invited. Make sure the situation is right for you.

How to prepare

If the venue allows you to sell books, make sure to bring some to sell. Or if the venue will sell your books for you, make sure they have all the information ahead of time so they can stock print copies and/or get your ebook in their ordering system. If you’re reading at a place that sells your books through their system, they will probably request that you not bring your own copies.

Bring a pen! You may be asked to sign copies of your book! If you haven’t autographed a lot of books yet, you may want to think about what to write ahead of time so that you don’t have to come up with this on the fly.

Bring business cards, bookmarks, or whatever materials you have – or prepare some, if you don’t have anything like this put together yet. Sometimes you’ll have an area to set up a display where you can showcase more than one of your books. You could make a banner, print out a giant version of one of your book covers, or do something quirky that fits your book and/or your brand. For example, horror writer Mark Leslie has a life-sized skeleton (it’s fake, don’t worry!) named Barnaby who he takes to readings and signings.

One of the most important things you can do is practice reading ahead of time. If you’re given a fixed amount of time to read, this will allow you to ensure your selection will fit in this time period. If you haven’t read to an audience before, or if you’re not sure which approach to use for this particular story, practicing will allow you to decide how you want to read. For example, do you want to use different voices for your characters? Or read them in more of a narration style?

Readings are fun!

Participating in a reading can and should be a fun and wonderful experience. Figure out what is important to you with this type of event, and vet each opportunity to make sure it’s a good fit for you and your career.

And have fun!

Jaime Ferguson

Jamie Ferguson has curated ten multi-author collections and is working on many more, including a monster-themed anthology series. She is a member of the Uncollected Anthology, an urban and contemporary fantasy author collective, which she joined in the spring of 2018. She loves creating colorful spreadsheets and has spent her day job career working in software. Jamie lives in Colorado and spends her free time in a futile quest to wear out her two border collies, since she hasn’t given in and gotten them their own herd of sheep. Yet.

Write Brain

by: Robin Laborde

Writing Real LGBTQ Plus Characters: A Panel Discussion

I belong to a faith tradition, Unitarian Universalism, that affirms the inherent worth and dignity of every person. It’s a well-intentioned principle that in practice often keeps us on a comfortable periphery, preaching “tolerance” while staying far away from the bleeding edge of societal debates. I’m coming to believe that fixing the divisions in our society takes more than tolerance, it takes curiosity to learn about those we have been taught to consider as “other.” We must be brave enough not only to ask questions but to stay and listen to the answers, to accept that each person has a truth that may not be the same as our own, and to seek to understand.

The panel of PPW’s last Write Brain provided a variety of perspectives on the LGBTQ experience, including a spirited debate about the acronym itself. And while the myriad and constantly evolving labels can be confusing for those outside this culture, the conversation helped illuminate a central concern: the wish to be SEEN. To be acknowledged and understood.

Kudos to PPW for facilitating this valuable conversation. One of the intentions of the event was to help writers create diverse characters with sensitivity and understanding. The evening certainly helped me illuminate my own approach to writing a gender fluid character.

Write Brain’s Panelists were:

LGBTQ Panelists

David R Slayton grew up in Guthrie, Oklahoma, where finding fantasy novels was pretty challenging and finding fantasy novels with diverse characters was downright impossible. Now he lives in Denver and writes the books he always wanted to read. His debut YA fantasy, GHOST DRAGON, will be published in January 2020 by Harmony Ink Press. He is represented by Lesley Sabga of the Seymour Agency.

Emily Kay Singer/Nonir Amicitia has never really fit into molds or boxes. They claim labels such as queer, nerd, Heathen, and Social Justice Cleric, but none of those completely describe them. They’ve published short stories in anthologies, entirely too much fanfic, and has several novels-in-progress, all featuring queer characters and diverse casts. They also co-write the Aces High, Jokers Wild series under the penname O.E. Tearmann.

Suzanne Anderson is a schoolteacher, writer, and long-standing member of the geek community in Colorado Springs. She brings an intimate voice and open trans perspective to the discussion of authentic characters.

When not fighting our robot overlords or tinkering with Tarot spreads, Vivian Caethe writes weird fiction, science fiction, fantasy, quirky nonfiction and everything in between. She lives in Colorado with a super villain cat. She can be found as a writer at VivianCaethe.com and as an editor at WordsMadeBeautiful.net.

Robin Laborde

This recap from Write Brain is presented by Contributing Editor Robin Laborde. Robin is not sure exactly how long she has been a member of Pikes Peak Writers but she enjoys it very much. While she is currently writing a speculative fiction novel set in the near future, she dreams of flying to the moon in a spaceship made from butterfly wings.

Marketing on a Budget

by: Margena Holmes

Start marketing when you start writing.

Marketing—one of the least favorite things a writer needs to do. We have to come out of our writing cave and actually talk to people about our books. They say (and just who are “they”?) you should start marketing when you start writing your book. But how does one do so effectively? I haven’t a clue! Okay, I have a little bit of a clue. All kidding aside, there are several ways to market your book and yourself.

Facebook Groups

The easiest and least expensive way to market your book is through Facebook groups. There are sooo many groups on Facebook dedicated to readers, authors, and promotions, and a lot of these groups will host events for authors to sell their books. Join them and then start posting your information on your books. Make sure you follow their rules for posting (once a week? Once a month?) and then change it up a bit each time you post within that group.

Make up an ad in Paint, Photoshop, or Canva one week, then post a description of your book next time. Include a link to where readers can purchase the book, and always include a picture no matter how you advertise. Photos draw potential readers in, as social media is very visual. This is one of the things you can do before your book is even released to build excitement and generate interest for your book.

Amazon Marketing Services

Another good way to advertise is Amazon Marketing Services. Starting from your KDP page, select which book you want to promote and follow the prompts. It will ask you the amount you want to spend per click, how long you want to run the campaign, and if you want to customize your ad. I was finished with my ad in under fifteen minutes.

Book Signings

I like to think outside the box, too. Does your book have a theme? Tie in a book signing to the theme of your book! It’s a great way to advertise. For my book Dear Moviegoer, I asked a movie theater if I could set up a table to display my books on an afternoon during a major movie release. You could do the same for a science fiction book, fantasy, horror, etc.

Comic Cons

Comic Cons are also a good way to get yourself and your book out to readers, but they could be hit-or-miss depending on the Con. I’ve had some success with big and small ones, but it depends on the type of Con. They’re not cheap, though, and you probably won’t make your money back, but it’s a fun way to sell your book and talk to readers, especially if you like going to Cons anyway.

Printed Material

If the thought of having to talk to so many people makes you a little queasy, see about placing business cards, postcards, or flyers on tables of cafes, bookstores, and restaurants. Ask first, however. You don’t want your items tossed into the trash by the manager.

Vista Print

There are several places to get advertising materials made inexpensively. I like Vista Print. They always have a deal running for something. You can get 500 business cards for $10. Look around and see if there are other deals by other companies. You can always mix and match—get your business cards from one place and bookmarks from another (though if you want them to match, it may be better to pick one company).

Marketing is a necessary evil that we writers must do to advertise our books and ourselves, whether we like it or not. Get creative and have fun with it!

photo of margin holmes

Margena Adams Holmes was born in Bellflower, CA sometime in the 1960s. She has always had a love for both reading and writing, writing her first song/poem in 1st grade. Margena is a big supporter of indie authors and will read anything that draws her into the story. She is an observer of life, and many everyday things could (and do!) end up in her writings. Her publications are available through her author page. Contact Margena via email: jedi_anegram@hotmail.com.

PPWC2019 – Reflections

Although PPWC2019 fell into the history books almost a month ago, the buzz is still electrifying. Here are just a few things people had to say:

“There’s a reason PPWC is one of the longest-standing and productive writing conferences in the country. The level of talent, professionalism, access to both industry leaders and Mother Nature create the ideal opportunity for writers at all levels to move ahead in craft and career.” ~~Susan Wiggs, New York Times best-selling author

What really stood out at PPWC was the clear affection that attendees felt for each other.  Clearly, many were experienced veterans of the conference, and they were so happy to see each other again.  And still, they were very inclusive of new people.  Plus, present company notwithstanding, I thought the programming and the level of instruction to be phenomenal. ~~John Gilstrap, New York Times bestselling author

I’ve attended the Southern California Writers Conference a couple of times, and while the workshops are on par with PPWC, they don’t include meals into the conference (except for the Saturday night banquet), so I’m very happy PPWC does that! It’s nice to be able to talk with authors and faculty there in an informal setting. They’re pretty normal, in a nerdy sort of way–like us! ~Margena Holmes, Author

PPWC has long been my favorite conference to attend. It was the first writers conference I ever went to–as an attendee in 2007–and it set the bar high for others. I’m always thrilled when I get to come back as faculty and reunite with so many familiar faces, be part of the top-notch presentations you offer (one of the many reasons I adore PPWC), and be around such an enthusiastic, supportive, focused group of writers. This past year, as I always do, I filled my days when I wasn’t presenting attending the presentations of others–I learn so much there every time. And I am inspired and charged up every time I come by the authors I get to work with in my workshops–everyone is so fully engaged, dedicated to their craft, and wonderfully interactive. It’s also one of my favorite places to lead workshops. Coming to PPWC is like coming home, every time. ~Tiffany Yates Martin, Editor/Owner, FoxPrint Editorial

PPWC 2019 was my first time teaching at a writers conference, a longtime goal of mine. I was a little nervous, until I realized just how friendly and enthusiastic all the attendees were. Everyone at PPWC came with an open mind, ready to learn new things and build their writing skills. I was so impressed by the knowledge and curiosity of everyone who attended my classes–I think I learned more from them than they learned from me! ~Rachel Craft, Author

As I sit at home, drinking a hot mug of coffee, I like to reflect on the things I’ve learned, the people I’ve met and the knowledge I’ve acquired. I try to process it all and allow it to motivate my writing. By the end of that first cup of Joe, I want to write all the things. I want to finish my manuscript, edit another and submit to every anthology. ~Jason Henry Evans, Author

I thoroughly enjoyed the presentations and workshops I was able to attend; the faculty was top-notch. And who can leave out the networking benefits of Barcon?  But ultimately, the very best part of PPWC was the friendships I made.  Writing can be such a lonely thing, but I have now gathered my tribe!  ~Kate V. Conway, Author

PPWC2019 met all of my expectations. My favorite quote from the weekend came from John Gilstrap when he said, “Don’t write a book – tell a story.” My favorite class was…ALL of them. So much information filled my notebook with knowledge and my mind with ideas. My favorite thing to do? Volunteer. I have been on the Query team since my first conference in 2012. It is a great way to contribute to this amazing event. These reasons (and many more) are why I return year after year. ~K.J. Scrim, Editor PPW Blog and Author

For the six years I’ve been attending PPWC, I’ve heard how the Pikes Peak Writer’s Conference is one of the best, friendliest, and most respected conferences in the country, and while I believed my astute fellow conference volunteers, I am bred from the school of trust but verify. So, this year, when I was approached by many editors/agents, as well as all of the keynotes, I requested details when they told me how happy they were to attend a PPW Conference.

In summary, this is what I was told:
–The variety of material, genre, and skill levels catered to by the workshops, invited guests, and keynotes. A little something for everyone.

–The amount of coordination and organization conducted prior to and during conference by the conference volunteers.  “I can’t believe this is all done by volunteers”.

–The overall vibe of the conference is positive and light. We are able to maintain a joviality throughout the days and nights, something that is rare as time presses on.
~Kameron Claire, PPW President and Author

6 Lies You’ve Been Told About Your “Author Platform”

Jennifer Lovett Herbranson

Number, 1, One, Digit, Background, Scrapbooking

An Author Platform is Only for Nonfiction Authors

Get outta here! Platform is for everyone!

Ok, so it’s definitely easier for a nonfiction author because they already know what question they are trying to answer for their audience. All the information they’ve spent years learning through doing or academic rigor can be shared in droves. Nonfiction authors really need to organize and dose out their information strategically to keep the platform alive.

For fiction writers, however, a platform is simply what you offer your readers. What experience are you providing they can’t get elsewhere. Don’t say nothing because otherwise, why are you writing? Figure out what you offer your reader. Create a world around that online. That’s your platform. It isn’t a place. It’s your public persona and what you offer. You do this because people buy books from people they know or think they know. Let them get to know you.

Number, 2, Two, Digit, Background, Scrapbooking

You Have to Tell Readers Everything About You or They Won’t Like You

Why yes, you are amazing. But you have to tell them everything because information goes on the interwebs??? Uh, okay “eye roll.”

Your platform is about your reader and what you offer that reader. That’s it. It’s what YOU decide you want your readers to know, and they don’t need to know everything about your private life. Unless of course you become an overnight New York Times bestseller and all the media come banging on your door, digging through your trash and talking to your middle school Spanish teacher. Well, hey, every job has its downsides!

Seriously, figure out what you want your Public Persona to be. What do you want to offer the reader? I encourage authors to think of three things about themselves they are comfortable sharing with the world. I talk about Alabama football, world traveling and anything that has to do with the Karate Kid. Does this appeal to everyone? Nope. Does it have anything to do with my books? Again, nope. But it does allow potential readers to get to know part of me. Even better is these things are innocuous and don’t intrude on my private life.

Number, 3, Three, Digit, Background, Scrapbooking

You Can Build a Platform Without a Website

No you can’t.

You can build a platform without a blog but you can’t build a platform without a website. Sorry, but it’s just expected. Like having a colonoscopy when you’re 50. You just have to do it. The industry, the readers, the universe expects to find you at www.AUTHORYOU.com so just unplug your ears, and go ahead and build the site.

You only need to include a short bio section with a hi-res professional headshot, and your social media or buy links and a place to sign up for your author email. That’s it. It doesn’t have to be anything extensive. It just has to be. And it has to be professional looking. While it may not have much information, it does need to look like you’re taking your own writer career seriously. Use Wix, Weebly, SquareSpace or WordPress. (WordPress is the best for SEO and lead generation on Google searches.)

Number, 4, Four, Digit, Background, Scrapbooking

You Must Have a Million Followers

ONE. MILLION. FOLLOWERS! Sure, okay. You have a million followers who love you and found you organically online even though you opened your Instagram account….yesterday.

Ever since the industry got a clue that people could buy followers, this whole “how many followers” do you have thing isn’t as relevant anymore. What you need are engaged followers. People who actually comment, like and share your stuff. These people become fans who can become superfans. That’s what you need, so stop worrying about how many followers you don’t have, and create a genuine relationship with the ones you do have.

Number, 5, Five, Digit, Background, Scrapbooking

Setting up a platform can be done in 5 minutes a day

Yep, still eye rolling over here!

Anyone who tells you creating a platform can be done in only five minutes a day is a liar. To create a solid platform, a community for people online, you have to spend time doing it. There is no other way around it, and yes, it is worth it. When you are ready to launch a book, you’ll have people to launch it to.

Use a dashboard like Hootsuite (no longer free) or Buffer or TweetDeck to help you save time on social media or blogging. Schedule out posts as far out as you can.

Pick one social media platform to update. That’s it. Just one. These days Instagram is the best place to be but don’t discount other platforms that may work better for your genre. Spend time every day or every other day responding, liking, sharing.

Number, 6, Six, Digit, Background, Scrapbooking

Set Up a Platform AFTER The Book is Finished

No, no, nope, no, nope! 

You love your book, right? I know you do! Starting your platform after the book is finished is like coming home with a new baby and having no diapers. It’s like starting your race 15 minutes behind the pack. It’s like…like…I don’t know…like trying to start your car with no gas in it.

Look, the industry will tell you that you only need to write your second book and that’s good enough. Yeah, the industry will also tell you if you already have a following, you’re higher up on the list of maybes. Why wouldn’t you want every edge you can get?

If you’re going to publish indie, this is not even up for debate. You need to have a following. Give your readers progress reports, free scenes and snippets from the book or from your research, have your kid interview you on your writing process. If you’re a lawyer, provides case notes (without privacy info of course). If you’re a spy thriller writer, redacted case studies are fun. Do whatever you can to keep them hungry for your book. That way when you launch that book, they’ll be your biggest fans and can help sell it for you.

Jennifer Lovette Herbranson

Jennifer Lovett Herbranson is the founder of Writer Nation, a podcast and Facebook group dedicated to helping writers market their work. With 17 years communications experience, she regularly writes on social media, internet marketing and face-to-face publicity. She currently lives in South Korea and travels around Asia for fun. You can find her on her WebsiteFacebookTwitter, and Pinterest: @jennylovett

Happy Birthday Nayantara Sahgal

Novelist and photojournalist Nayantara Sahgal celebrates her birthday today, May 10th. Her novel Rich Like Us won the Sinclair prize for fiction. 

Have you ever encountered bewildered looks when explaining your yawns were the result of getting up at 3:00 am for that idea that couldn’t wait? Or found yourself trying to explain why your antagonist has their own playlist?

Some may consider we writers just a bit quirky. Acknowledge them politely. Then get back to following your passion and write those words.

Profile Photo of Gabrielle V Brown Managing Editor Pikes Peak Writers Blog

Gabrielle V. Brown, Contributing Editor with Writing From the Peak, writes all manner of fiction and nonfiction. Visit her website, find her on Facebook, and instagram orcontact her at gvbrownwriter@gmail.com

Conference is Over – Now What?

The writer’s conference you just attended was AMAZING, but now what do you do? Here are a few tips to make the most of your experience.

After You Get Home

Don't forget to write!
  • Give yourself a day off, at least from writing-related tasks. Your brain will process your experience even if you’re not consciously chasing after it. Unpack, do laundry, get settled.  Go to your day job if you must. But give your brain a rest from conference things, let your mind have a day to process.
  • After a day or two of rest, followup with the contacts you made. You’re recharged, and ready to reach out.
    • Remember how I said to have a system for all those business cards/contact info you collected during the conference?  Here is where that organization pays off. You should have, all in one place, contact information, and notes about how you intended to followup.  Now is the time to send those emails or texts, make anticipated phone calls, or get something in snail mail (yes, some people still do that). You’re a professional, so of course you’re following through in a timely manner.  Well done!
  • You took a lot of notes during Conference, didn’t you? Review all that fantastic information you nearly drowned in just a couple of days ago. Summarize what you’ve learned. Taking the time to do this now will help you retain what matters most. Jot down an action list, a book-buying list, a “must-try-this” list as you go along.
  • Head over to the websites of those you met – read blogs and leave comments.  Write a review. Connect on social media. Stay in touch and nurture the new professional connections you made.
  • Shoot off a few emails, leave comments on websites, engage with those you met. The relationships you build now may have impact on your writing career later.
  • And finally, if you had a good experience, let the organizers know.  Participate in surveys, so they can further improve their event next year. Consider volunteering to help out at future events. Become active in your local writing community.

Most important of all? Don’t forget to write!

Editor’s Note: A huge thank you to everyone who attended PPWC2019! We hope you had as much fun as we did! Please remember to fill out the survey you will receive shortly. Also, please consider volunteering for PPWC2020. It is a wonderful way to give back to the writing community!

Profile Photo of Gabrielle V Brown Managing Editor Pikes Peak Writers Blog

Gabrielle V. Brown, Contributing Editor with Writing From the Peak, writes all manner of fiction and nonfiction. Visit her website, find her on Facebook, and instagram orcontact her at gvbrownwriter@gmail.com