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Posts Tagged ‘Cori Chu’

Open Book: Why Does My Writing Suck?

September 2, 2013 Leave a comment

I do not know one single writer that has not, at some time or other, asked the question: Why does my writing suck?

Of course, I thought I knew why. I thought that all my drafts were horrible. I dare not show them to anyone. They might figure out that what I deem is my only talent is rather a figment of my imagination.

Then, I came across this video, which is a shorter version of Baltimore radio host, Ira Glass’ explanation why we expect so much from our writing. Writing takes time to mature. So, if you have been beating yourself up over your lackluster writing attempts, have faith. I now play this video every time I secretly torture myself over my writing attempts. It centers me.

http://vimeo.com/24715531

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Open Book: An Ending for 2011

December 24, 2011 Leave a comment

Happy Holidays!

We are about to witness the passing of another year.  I suspect there will be many changes in 2012. You can feel it in the air.  It starts with the economy, the political unrest on the national level and eventually trickles down into our homes and our daily lives.  Some people hate change.

Change is not a bad thing.  I mentioned to my husband the other day that when life or the course we have been on accumulates too many projects, collects too many peopleand things, the best action plan is to go back to basics.  Start from the beginning and incorporate into your life the essential behaviors and things that you would need to function.  (Most people do not make a distinction between need and want.  This distinction between your needs and wants list is the key to defining who you are.) Then add layers to it.  You will find that you will do things differently, cutting out unnecessary or outmoded steps in your life…allowing more new things to come into your life.  It is much like giving your bedroom a fresh coat of paint.  You first must clean out the entire room, pick out a paint color (goal) and then reintroduce only things that you need.

For me, change is been in the works throughout 2011.  I have learned much about myself, my motivation to write, and to maintain this website.  If you have noticed, I only post when I feel I have something to share.

So, I leave you on Christmas Eve with a great blog by Larry Brooks.  Here Larry shows us the long view of our writing journey.  It is something to think about as you reflect on your writing goals for 2012. http://storyfix.com/

May your new year be filled with conflict, mayhem and drama — of course, on paper, not in real life.   Are you ready?

Open Book: Is Blogging Overrated?

September 18, 2011 Leave a comment

After blogging for a couple of years now, I am wondering if blogging is overrated.  Yes, as a writer, you would think that this process is a no brainer and enjoyable.  But in truth, it steals time from my day, from my other writing and reading, and although pleasurable, may or may not be all that productive from a return on investment viewpoint.

In another blog written not long ago (http://www.corichu.com/blog/2011/08/22/create-blog-written/), I took the position that blogging is an activity that helps a new writer.  The blog is free self promotion, a foundation for building a loyal fan base when that first novel gets published.

I was struggling last week to come up with something worthy of writing.  I realize that “worthy” is subjective, but I wouldn’t want to read a blog if I didn’t expect to come away with a new idea, a different point of view, or at least a bit of humor.  Geesh, my time is worth something…and that’s what this blog is all about.  Is blogging overrated?  Am I getting something out of my time investment? 

Blog posts are not quick, easy breezy well-written snippets. I think more  like a journalist; someone who reports or makes sense out of a series of facts.  I just happened to pick the topic of writing, but I could be writing a blog about baseball fashion or nutrition, or focus on the aging baby boomer body.  I read other writing blogs, who have covered the grammar topic, the how-to topics very thoughtfully and thoroughly and wonder if I should just make this blog a series of great links that I found.  After all, the nuts and bolts of the writing process doesn’t change enough to warrant me to re-invent the wheel just because I can’t think of something to publish in my blog. 

Blogging pressure can be annoying. Besides, even though I write fairly quickly (and I do have opinions), I find that I just can’t  spew out anything that comes to mind.  I have to have a topic that I find interesting, come up with an outline, and then research the fine points.  All this is time consuming.  I don’t write my blog because I have a passion for it, and certainly I don’t like that I am adding to more deadlines on my to-do list.  Even though this is self induced, it is nevertheless annoying and pressure.

Marketing component. Also, what people fail to realize is a blog is a product.  Like any product to get the readership up, there is a marketing component.  If you create a blog, how many hours do you expect to spend reading, commenting and linking to other blogs….other social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter?

More time consumed? I hear that we are a nation of non-readers.  I can hardly believe that, but if it is true, then the vlog (video blogging) is the next big marketing platform.  And how much time are you going to invest in vlogging when blogging becomes passe? 

Money making blogs. If you are blogging because you think you are going to make money from affiliate programs, realize this venture has its own pecularities.  First, you will need a great niche…one that will have pull, even when you skip a few days.  (A good example is a celebrity watch blog.) Second, be prepared.  This as a full time job, even though it seems like a part time occupation—one that insidiously steals your time from you.  Third, Technorati reports that only about 10 percent of blogs are money producers.  Some are wildly successful, but most are not making more than $20K a year.  I have been reading about the success stories.  They are inspiring. 

Final Thoughts.  Eh, am I still going to blog?  Yup, I am. I don’t know why though.  It seems to boil down to my need to share.  I am on Facebook and Twitter, but for some reason I don’t post often. 

You will have to weigh the pros and cons for yourself.  Just remember what you devote to this activity usurps the time on another writing project, with the family, with friends or another activity.

Light bulb moment!  Hmmm, maybe I should be sharing and getting paid for it? LOL

Open Book: Blog Content Basics

September 8, 2011 Leave a comment

No two brands of ketchup taste the same.  The basic ingredients may be similar — tomatoes (or tomato concentrate), sugar, vinegar, salt, onion powder, garlic powder, etc.  — but the taste differences lie in the ingredient quality and proportion.

And so it is with your blog.  Your blog site is uniquely yours even though there may be a couple of hundred or more people blogging about the same topic.  To keep your followers, consider these basics when you post your next entry:

     Does your post solve a problem?
     Does your post inform?
     Or have timeless content?
     Maybe your post is in demand (trending)?
     Or does your musings provide a bit of humor…something that is insightful,     but leaves your reader chuckling inside at your wit or twisted viewpoint…a bit of comic relief?

If you can say yes to one or more of these questions, your post content will provide value to your reader and will have them coming back for more.

Like the quality of the tomatoes in the ketchup, so is the quality of your writing. Write well (with the help of the SEO gods) and your posts will fly off the shelf.  Write incoherently and well, your writing (while surely highlighting your unique brand) might limit your viewing audience.

Open Book: Quick Ways to Get Your Blog Read

September 5, 2011 Leave a comment

The writer…the teacher…the marketing guru in you emerges in a spanking  new blog.

I was told that if you write, the followers will come.  True to some degree; however, your success will be measurably better if you write coherently and have something interesting to share (your opinion or some newsworthy mention).   Well written blogs may not always be successful blogs.  It certainly helps, but writing skill needs more to get follower retention.

To increase your followers, here are easy ways to get the word out:

1.  Your blog address is now as important as your name and phone number  in your marketing materials.  Blog address should appear on everything from business cards, signature email address, and stationary — everything printed.

2.  Write as if you were talking to your best friend.  Your voice should be conversational, but to appeal to the widest spectrum of people, refrain from using street language.

3.  Write about something that interests you.  Blogging is not a sprint, but more like a cross country run.  Pace yourself.  Don’t start off with writing a blog daily, because you will burn out.  (If this is a journal or a record of your daily musings or your day job, this might not be such a chore.)  Writing about something your passionate about comes through in the writing.

4.  Be consistent about your blog entries.  Once a week?  Twice a week?   Just think about your followers.  Would you want to read a daily blog everyday, when so many other things compete with your time?  It is best to be consistent, say maybe on a Tuesday and or Thursday.  ( Mondays are horrible, because everyone starts Monday morning with a slew of emails from the weekend.)  Too much is annoying… too little and your followers may totally forget you. 

Bottom line: Post regularly.  Two a week is minimal to help establish an affinity to you.

Blogging Tip: If you love writing blogs, store your extra blog entries, because you may not have time or go on vacation or you will have a brain freeze one day.

5.  Boring blogs don’t attract readers. Interesting ones grow by word of mouth. 

6.  Your blog entries should be more than a litany of  other people’s links.  They want to know about you and what you know that can help them make their life easier…or humorous enough that for a split moment they forget their lives totally.

7.  Comment on other similar blogs, maybe referring to a blog you wrote on the topic.  From you blog, include links to them and ask them to link back to you.

8.  Register with blog directories, so that people searching for your topic will find you.  (ie. technorati.com)  Link to your facebook page, your twitter account.

9.  Bookmark your posts on digg.com, yahoo.com, del.icio.us.com, reddit.com and stumbleupon.com.

Okay, after reading this blog, I realize that it has taken me 15 minutes to collect my thoughts and notes, another 30 minutes to write it, and maybe another 30 minutes to promote the blog using my suggestions.  Just saying, if you want to get the most out of blogging, you will be investing about 2 hours give or take each time.

Open Book: How to Put a Writer's Press Kit Together

August 28, 2011 Leave a comment

 

What do you want your image to  be?

One way to craft your image as a writer is creating a press kit.  Simply, a press kit is a collection of one-page documents that highlights your newest publication, a little bit about yourself, and other related accomplishments. 

The book market is fierce. You are your own brand. You are the corporation, so you must think like a CEO. The way you introduce yourself to the market is critical to your success.

While the publishing is changing rapidly, you can still control the information about you to some degree.  One of the best ways to do this is with a press kit. 

Creating a press kit on your website blog will save you lots of time and money.  However, I suggest you might consider having a few hard copies just in case.  Sometimes you are invited to a meeting or conference and the opportunity to promote yourself might be more convenient if you can hand them a folder.  Even though you write down your website or refer them to the website address listed on your business card, your opportunity may just never get around to looking it up.

Whether online or hard copy, here’s what might go into a press kit.

1.  A one page bio covering who you are, your education, your experience (such as teaching and public speaking engagements) and a list of your work.  If your publication list is lengthy, create the list on a separate page. Be sure to include a headshot on page one of the bio.

2. Depending your press kit goal,  you could include  one page of reviews.  If they are long, edit it and use quotes with attribution and occupation.

3.  Include a postcard or graphic with the promotion of your latest work or clips.

4.  A well written resume.  It should not be just a laundry list of the positions you have held.  In the summary, help steer the reader visualize you as the kind of writer you are by connecting your experiences and your writing skills in the Profile Summary.

5.  Don’t forget the well designed business card.  Be sure to include all contact information.  A tag line, if you think of one.  And your URL address.

Presentation is key, so carefully edit and proof every sheet.  The folder should be of decent stock, so it looks professional and not like a book report for high school. 

If someone is reviewing your book and does not know anything about you, having a press kit available will make it easier for the reviewer to get the information right. It will save them time and it will save you time.

Your press kit available online will help the media find information about you more easily.  I recommend the information sheets be in a PDF format, so that the viewer sees the documents exactly as you created them.  Different browsers can skew formats and type fonts. 

 A downloadable photo of you allows the reporter to include it at the last minute. 

The easier you make your information and photo available, the easier it is for others to help you spread the word that you are out there with your new book. 

When you have completed your press kit, wait a few days and then look at it in its entirety. What dominant image of you as a writer comes to mind?  A fresh look at it will let you know where you should tweak it. 

Give the press, the reviewer and anyone else that is willing to promote you a reason to support you.  Let them get to know your real unique strengths and talents.  Let them know your personal story.  The personal touch  is always more interesting.

Help them help you.

 

 

 

 

Open Book: 3 Great Reasons for an Unpublished Novelist to Blog

August 22, 2011 1 comment

People blog for many reasons, but for the unpublished novelist, blogging is a no brainer.

I can’t remember which self-help guru wrote that if you want to be a novelist, you have to do what novelist do. If you imitate the behaviors of novelist, you will one day be that novelist.  One of the behaviors all published authors seem to share is blogging.  Here are the three great reasons why you need to start if you haven’t already.

1.  Name Recognition – Your friends and family might know you are a budding novelist, but you will need a few more thousand book buyers when your novel is finished. Establishing a platform before your first book comes out will give your book a sales foundation.

2.  Expertise – Blogging is a wonderful way of validating your writing through your expertise.  For example, say that your novel is about a mother of a young boy who joins the Confederate army and is wounded inAntietam.  What if you blog about the Civil War?  What if you create a following of historians with your historical interpretations, suggested readings, and new findings about the topic?  Couldn’t you see yourself having a dialogue with some of your followers?  Wouldn’t it be great if your loyal followers retweeted your blog to their loyal followers? This is called viral marketing.

Your Civil War expertise gives your readers the confidence that you will be able to tell a Civil War story with confidence.

3.  Website, Blogging and Marketing – You can shamelessly promote your first novel on your website.  You can blog about it.  You can hop on related websites and leave a link to your new book to increase more widespread viewing and inevitably sales.

Today, a website is equivalent to yesterday’s business card.  However, unlike the painful process of handing business cards out one at a time, now you can reach thousands of people from all corners of the globe in a few minutes.

 Your website will reveal much more about you than merely the standard business card contact information.  From the tone, the style, and the format, your personality will emerge.  The viewer, a complete stranger, might make an intellectual (and sometimes an emotional, depending on how open you are about your personal life) connection with you.  This translates naturally into greater book sales.

And for the website, blogging keeps your site fresh.  If you understand your audience, you can select topics that you know that will keep them coming back.

It might be prudent to keep in mind that even though your candor or attempts at humor might increase your click rate, the energy expended in placating someone else’s bruised ego means less time working on your novel. You just don’t know how your life will move forward with an angry mother —or worse yet, an angry mother-in-law.  So, innocuous storytelling can have consequences.