Categories
Writing and Publishing

How to Fuel Your Writing

I write a lot and in many areas: magazine columns, newsletters, multiple blogs, non-fiction books, memoirs, and I recently added short stories. But this doesn’t sap my creativity; I still have more ideas than the time to explore them.

Here’s how I fuel my writing:

Keep a List of Blog Ideas: I have a running Word file of concepts for posts. Whenever a thought comes to me, I jot it down on whatever is available and transfer it to my blog file. Some ideas are immediately useful and some evolve over time, while a few fail to materialize. With this list, I always have a starting point for my next post.

Maintain a File of Book Concepts: I also have a running list of book ideas, which currently exceeds four dozen. It has a list of working titles, along with a premise, logline, or theme. As the idea blooms, I start a separate folder to collect a growing body of ideas and resources for that book. Soon an outline follows. When I contemplate my next book, I simply pick the most developed or promising item on my list.

Record Every Presentation: I don’t often speak publically, but when I do, I always record it. This isn’t because of ego but because my words may be a basis for a book. If so, I simply have the file transcribed, and I edit as needed. An hour of audio roughly equates to 10,000 words.

Save All Cuts: Each time I remove a scene from a book, a section from an article, or a paragraph from a post, I keep it. It may come in handy one day. Often it becomes the basis for another book, article, or post. Whatever I cut, I always save.

File Every Published Work: Once I publish something, that’s not the end; it may be the beginning. Books can come out in different forms or formats; articles may be reworked; posts can be repurposed. I never want to recreate when I can tap something already finished. (There are legal and ethical limits to this, so proceed carefully.)

Retain All Non-Published Work: Just because I can’t find a home for something now, doesn’t mean it’s worthless. It could be the timing’s off, the right outlet hasn’t been found – or formed, or the audience is temporarily looking elsewhere. Perhaps I need to set it aside for later tweaking. Regardless, I never delete or dismiss it. Sometime, somewhere readers will be waiting – and I want to be ready.

By implementing these steps, I always have ideas on what to write.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

Categories
Writing and Publishing

Is Blogging a Form of Self-Publishing?

I once read that blogging is a form of self-publishing. The author’s opinion gave me pause. It seemed a simplistic claim. I felt it in some way diminished the noble art of publishing.

Anyone can blog, and it seems most everyone does, but not most everyone self-publishes a book, even though the tools are there so that anyone can.

While some blogs are profound and worthy, other blogs are trivial and unworthy.

Oh, wait, some self-published books are profound and worthy, while others are trivial and unworthy. Perhaps there are some parallels after all.

Given that some blogs become books, either verbatim or as a springboard, perhaps blogging is prelude or preparation to self-pub.

What I do know is that blogging is a good practice for publishing. Blogging can accomplish the following:

Blogging Teaches Us to Meet Deadlines

Having a regular blogging schedule gives us mini-deadlines to hit. Every week we must write, produce, and publish what we create. If we miss a deadline our readers know it. Even worse, we know it. Deadlines prep us to be ready to hit bigger deadlines later for our books.

Trains Us to Write When We Don’t Feel Like It

Writers write—even when we don’t want to. Sometimes we need to write when we’re sick or tired or lacking motivation or have nothing to say. That’s life, and blogging trains us to realize and accept that.

Conditions Us to Publish

We write a post, edit it, and then…vacillate. It’s scary to press “publish” and share our work with the world. What if they don’t like it? What if the piece isn’t ready? But after a couple of dozen posts, it gets easier; after a couple hundred, it’s not a problem; and after a couple thousand, I don’t even think about it. That readies us to click publish on our books, too.

Prepares Us to Receive Feedback

Blogging puts our words out for the public to see. Some will like what we write and others won’t. Others will point out typos, and a few will find errors that don’t exist. This will happen with books but on a greater scale. Blogging prepares us for that.

Yes, blogging is self-publishing. So if you blog, that means you’re a published author.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

Save

Save

Save

Categories
Writing and Publishing

Must Writers Blog?

As someone who’s written 2,500 blog posts and counting, you may be surprised that I don’t think a writer must blog. Here are two considerations, followed by a blogging option:

Fiction Writers

It’s hard for fiction writers to build a following with a blog. Unless you want to blog and have ideas for posts that align with your author brand, then don’t do it.

Your agent or publisher may have different ideas, but don’t worry about that unless the issue comes up.

Nonfiction Writers

It’s much easier for nonfiction authors to blog. Just blog about the same things you write about in your books. Build an audience around your content, and they will likely be interested in your books too. Given that, don’t blog if you:

  • Don’t have the time
  • Lack of incentive
  • Fear it will drain you
  • Aren’t ready to commit to it
  • Don’t have enough ideas of what to blog about

Blogging Alternatives

As an alternative to starting your own blog, you can look to guest post on other people’s blogs.

Blogging isn’t right for everyone. If it’s not right for you, invest your time and creativity elsewhere.

Some publishers and agents insist that your blog, but if you know it’s not the right fit for you, don’t let them force you into doing something you don’t want to do.

Just walk away, and look for a publisher or agent that doesn’t take such a hardline approach.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

Categories
Writing and Publishing

Blogging Your Book for Fiction and Nonfiction Writers

Many people wonder if you can blog your book. This is a common question and answers differ. Here are my blogging tips for blogging your book.

Fiction Writers

For fiction writers, you can blog about your book’s content: setting, characters, and supporting background, but you can’t dole out your book in blog-sized chunks. Of course, there have been exceptions, but they’re rare.

Nonfiction Writers

This is not the case with nonfiction, where you can compile a series of posts into a book or incrementally post sections of a book in a blog.

Even if you’ve blogged the entire book and it’s available for free, authors have still had success in selling the same information in book form.

Summary about Blogging Your Book

So for nonfiction writers, blogging your book is okay. But this isn’t the case for fiction authors.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

Categories
Writing and Publishing

WordPress Primer: Seven Tips to Get Started Right and Minimize Confusion

I recently posted a series on getting started using WordPress for your blog or website. In case you missed some of them, here are the seven posts:

  1. Using WordPress For Your Blog: Two Options to Consider
  2. Getting Started with WordPress
  3. What’s the Difference Between a WordPress Page and Post?
  4. What’s a WordPress Theme?
  5. What’s a Widget and Why Do I Want Them on My WordPress Blog?
  6. What’s the Difference Between a Category and a Tag on Your WordPress Blog?
  7. Essential WordPress Plugins

Setting up a blog is just the first step; the next one is coming up with great content and presenting it in the best way possible. Therefore, I just completed a series on blogging, where I shared ideas on how to best use a blog once it’s set up.

Happy blogging!

Read more in Peter’s Sticky series, including Sticky Sales and Marketing and Sticky Customer Service featuring his compelling story-driven insights and tips.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

Categories
Writing and Publishing

What’s the Difference Between a Category and a Tag on Your WordPress Blog?

Part 5 in the continuing series on using WordPress for blogging: a platform-building, book-selling tool.

WordPress categories and tags are confusing. They seem to do the same thing and offer similar results.

WordPress Category

A category is like a file cabinet drawer for your posts where you place related content. Categories are general groupings of broad topics. Our site (or blog) should have at least three categories (else, why bother) but no more than perhaps eight (else, it’s too hard to find things).

Each post needs one—and only one—category. Just as you wouldn’t try to put one piece of paper in two folders, don’t assign one post to two categories. (I understand using multiple categories for one post can mess up search engine optimization, and no one wants that.)

Last, never default to “uncategorized.” That’s just lazy and doesn’t help anyone.

Word Press Tag

Think of a tag as a cross-reference tool. Tags can be a subset of a category (like a folder in a file cabinet), transcend categories (like an index), or both. Regardless, their purpose is to link related content. Every post needs at least one tag and can have more, but don’t go crazy. One or two is great, three is okay but definitely stop at six.

In determining tags, consider reoccurring themes or words in your posts. Unlike categories, you don’t need to limit the number of tags you use, but do seek tags you will reuse. A tag used only once accomplishes nothing.

Also, a tag is not the same as a keyword. Keywords are used (or more correctly, were used) to indicate main topics within a post, whereas tags link related posts.

(In case you’re wondering, I wrote many posts on this blog before I understood the difference between tags and keywords, so I have many tags used only once; I will remove or consolidate them – when I have time.)

This blog has seven categories and 231 tags (though once I redo the tags, it will be closer to 50). This post is in the category of “Tips” and has three tags: “blogging,” SEO” and “WordPress.”

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

Categories
Writing and Publishing

The Power of Podcasting: Four Reasons to Have an Author Podcast

It seems people are jumping on the podcasting bandwagon. They want to grow their audience and build their platform in order to sell their books (or whatever other product or service they have to offer).

This makes sense. Look at the recent surge of interest in audiobooks, with people who “read” books by listening to a recording. They do this during their commute to and from work, as they exercise, or when they attend to projects around the house. They have become voracious “readers” without ever opening a book or turning on their e-reader.

Podcasting extends the audiobook mindset. A podcast simply becomes another audio expression for these folks to consume.

Here are some of the benefits of author podcasts:

Another Channel to Reach Readers

A natural communication channel for writers is the written word. Blogging connects nicely with that. Readers read books; readers read blogs. It makes sense, a lot of sense. However readers who listen to books won’t likely read a blog, but they will likely listen to a podcast. With podcasting, writers have two ways to reach their audience.

Another Means to Connect with Readers

When we read a book or blog post we use the sense of sight to see the words. When we listen to a book or a podcast we use the sense of sound. With audio, we use voice inflections, interject emphasis, and add timing to each sentence as we speak. These benefits of audio all allow us a better means to connect with our audience.

Another Creative Outlet For Authors

Writing is a creative art; so is speaking. Both communicate but in different ways. Both provide creative outlets, but which tap different aspects of our creativity.

A Fun Break From Writing

No matter how much we like to write, we all need to take a break. After all, once we spend a full day working on our book, do we really want to spend another hour writing a blog post? Not likely, but spending that hour on podcasting provides a nice alternative to writing. Then we can return to writing with a refreshed perspective.

Given these great benefits, you might be ready to jump on the podcasting bandwagon. Not so fast. First, you need to consider whether podcasting is right for you. Next week I’ll look at my experience with podcasting, which should provide some more insight into this intriguing communication option.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

Save

Categories
Writing and Publishing

Finding a Writing Mentor

Many Writers Wish They Had a Mentor

The problem is that those who are most qualified to be a mentor are also the busiest, and the people who have time are usually not as experienced.

If you find someone who would make a great mentor, just ask them, but leave them room to say, “No,” because they likely will. As an option, offer to provide them something of value in return.

It could be money, but more valuable might be a service that you could offer in exchange for mentoring. If you’re flexible and willing to give them something in return, the answer might just be “Yes!”

Consider Co-Mentoring

Another possibility is to find someone to co-mentor. If you’re both at the same place in your writing journey but have different strengths and weaknesses, then you can help each other grow as writers. This may be a more viable option.

Mentoring from Afar

Last, someone can mentor you from afar. I read blogs and especially listen to podcasts about writing and publishing. I consider these people as my mentors. I’ve never met them and most of them don’t know who I am, but they do mentor me from a distance and help me write better and publish more effectively.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

Categories
Writing and Publishing

Social Media Content

For social media, I post an excerpt from my blog posts on social media, with a link pointing back to that post on my website.

Though social media platforms prefer you don’t do this, because they want to keep you on their site, I want to get people to my site. That’s what is most important to me. That’s why I tease the post on social media and send them to my site to read the full piece.

I don’t think it’s a good idea to repeat the whole post on social media, and it’s too time-consuming to write a new post just for social media.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.

Categories
Writing and Publishing

Writers Should Start Short and Then Go Long

Writers Should Start Short and Then Go Long

In “How to Write a Book,” I posted that the best approach for aspiring book authors is to start out with shorter pieces. No one wants to hear that, but it’s true.

Shorter pieces let writers experiment and learn—quickly. Feedback is fast. And in an online world, corrections are easy to make.

For nonfiction writers, shorter pieces mean blog posts and articles.

For fiction it means short stories.

Nonfiction Results

Over the years, I’ve written a couple thousand blog posts, which are mostly on my main website and with many more here on this site. (I once had five blogs going. Now I’ve consolidated them and am down to two.)

I’ve also written hundreds of articles—both in print and online—many of which I’ve compiled and catalogued here on this site as well.

In addition, I’ve ghost-written several hundred pieces—mostly blog posts along with some articles—for my writing clients too.

These amount to more than one million words. And I wrote most of them before I published my first book, which now total two dozen—and growing. They are all listed here in the books section, as well as other places, too, such as my main website and my business writing website.

Fiction Initiatives

I’ve not done nearly as much in the fiction area, but I did cut my teeth on short stories before attempting novels. Though a few of my short stories have been published, my novels are still in progress, but I am getting closer to publication.

I just need to allocate time to work on them.

Moving Forward with Shorter Pieces and Long

I’ll continue to write short, as I now focus on writing long.

I have a list of over one hundred book ideas, which should keep me busy for a long time.

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Peter Lyle DeHaan is an author, blogger, and publisher with over 30 years of writing and publishing experience. Check out his book The Successful Author for insider tips and insights.