It’s November. Time for NaNoWriMo – What’s That?

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NaNoWriMo – have you heard of it? National Novel Writer’s Month. Honestly, I never heard of it until six months ago. NaNoWriMo is the month (November) writers and anyone who wants to enhance their writing skills commit to their goals for writing. People dream about writing a novel or book or becoming a better writer, but we all know dreams don’t mean anything unless you set a goal because goals have a deadline. NaNoWriMo is the month people commit to write 50,000 words for their novel or other writing project during November. Fifty thousand words divided by 30 days is 1,666 words/day. What activities can you shave out of your day to make time for writing? Less TV, less time on social media, less time sleeping? Maybe you’ll have more time one day than another. That’s okay. The idea is to set your goal and stick to it.

We’re all busy, but if we’re serious about writing, let’s take the challenge. When I plan things or carve out time for tasks I’m able to hit my goals. If exercise, violin lessons, meetings, etc. are on my calendar, I’m more organized and my brain doesn’t have to “remember” things. Therefore, I’m less stressed and have a clearer head to finish things faster and easier.

At this time in my business and life, if I aimed for 50,000 words this month, I’d fail. Wow, did I say that? Yep, but I’d rather say it up front than to say I’ll write 50,000 words this month, not do it and then criticize myself for the next five years! So, my goal for November is writing 25,000 words. That’s 833 words a day which is doable. We’re creating new programs, writing more blogs, and writing a book for 2017 so 833 words on average a day for the month of November is my goal. I can commit to that. How about you? What’s a goal you can stick to and not blast yourself for the next six months if you don’t reach your target?

It’s about having fun, setting a goal, managing your time, and finishing or moving closer to completing your novel or writing project. If you want support during this month, follow us in our Facebook Group, Your Literary Prose Writing Circle. It’s an interactive group where you ask questions, find support, and more. We’re announcing new things to come and provide daily tips and more! We hope to see you there!

We look forward to hearing your goals for NaNoWriMo this month. Comment here and in our FB Group. Peter and I will post our updates daily in the FB Group too.

Here’s to NaNoWriMo and making it work for you – no matter what your goal is for writing this month!

Until next time,

Colleen and Peter

Your Literary Prose

Here’s more information on NaNoWriMo.

 

Announcing Telesummit Experts and Topics, Oh My!

We’re excited to announce the experts and their topics for our Capstone Telesummit event on April 1. We’ve extended the day since we have two bonus experts sharing their information! The hours are now 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM EST. If you can’t make the entire day, that’s okay; all audio is recorded and we’ll send it to everyone whether you’re online all day or not. That way, you can go back and absorb the material at your leisure!

The next segment of the Teleseminar, “It’s More Than Just Words,” is Thursday, March 10, 2016, at 4:00 PM. “See” you there. Thanks to the following experts. We couldn’t have accomplished this without you!

We’re Grateful For:

Michelle Arbore

Social media marketing for authors; what works for fiction might not work for nonfiction writers.

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Diana Ennen

Best-Selling Author and PR Expert Shares What It Takes to Market A Book; the Pitfalls to Avoid and How to Create Magic for Sales.

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Kay Fittes

From Speaker to Author – The Author’s Guide to Creating Confidence and Credibility.

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Beverley Golden

During her interview, Beverley discusses how “writing was the easiest part. It was the editing, publishing, and marketing where most of the energy was spent.”

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Tonya Hofmann

How being published establishes credibility as a speaker, what publishers expect, and once you’re published it’s another avenue of revenue!

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James Ranson

Comprehensive Book Plans: Why You Need One to Create a High-Quality Book.

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Michelle Scappace

Authors Can’t Do It Alone; Your Focus is Writing. PVAAs Have Training and Expertise, Provide Guidance, and Encouragement…

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Janica Smith

Self-Publishing Options: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

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Janica Smith and Michelle Scappace are also going to talk with us about how authors can find a certified PVAA and the benefits of someone taking their course through Instruction Smith to become a certified PVAA.

For more information on our experts, visit their sites and also sign up through our expert page!

There’s an extra bonus for you too – Sign up before March 15 and receive all recordings of our audio, all freebies, and one hour of coaching with Colleen and Peter. We can discuss your book, your process of writing, where you’re at and where you might want to go, clear up any objectives or goals… But, the deadline is March 15. What’s stopping you? Your book; It’s More Than Just Words!

What’s a PAA and Why You Need One

Nine Ways a PAA Goes Beyond The Words

Many of you might be wondering what a Professional Author’s Assistant (PAA) does. In short, a PAA is someone who helps authors complete their books. From the manuscript to the publishing to the marketing, a PAA guides an author through all the processes of a book that many authors don’t think about but are just as important to overall success of their book. In fact, Colleen wrote a blog earlier that goes into more detail about what a PAA does.  But you still might not know why a PAA is important.

Here are nine reasons why an author needs a PAA.

1. Can an Author’s Assistant Help You?

The answer is YES!

Over 80% of the population desires to write and publish a book, but many don’t know where to go or what to do once the manuscript is finished so it sits in a folder on the computer or in a desk drawer and the paper turns more and more yellow as the months and years progress. Well, no more. If you decide to self-publish your book, a certified author’s assistant can help you publish from start to finish in two to three months. If you prefer to go the traditional route, they can still help, but the time period is longer to publication (closer to 18 months). At this point are you asking yourself who is a professional virtual author’s assistant and how can they help me? They are professionals who have successfully completed an intensive training course and passed a rigorous final exam and earned the title of certified Professional Author’s Assistant (PAA). PAAs have specialized skills and knowledge to work with authors.

2. Keeping You — and Your Books — Organized

A Professional Author’s Assistant saves the author time and money by organizing and scheduling tasks so the author can write. There is much more to completing the manuscript, publishing, and marketing a book than writing it. There are too many duties for one person. The author’s job is to write; we offer worry-free writing to clients and take care of the other multiple details. For a more complete idea of how a PAA can help you, visit our website.

FYI: The PAA can help you through the entire process or for the parts that you need most help; it’s entirely up to you.

3. Have The Best Resources On Your Side

A PAA has professional resources and connections. The PAA is someone who understands the industry and technology and knows where to go and who to use for whatever you need. No more need to assemble your own team to help publish your book. A PAA has a trusted team consisting of professional printers, graphic designers, web developers, book designers, marketing experts, professional proofreaders, and more!

4. The Support You Need

A PAA collaborates and supports the author during the process so time isn’t lost between writing, publishing, and marketing the book. From the very beginning, the PAA works with you on your timeline and budget (remember a professional PAA gives you a reasonable timeline). During the process you aren’t alone; the PAA is a source of assurance guiding you so you meet your end goal of publication and sales!

5. Invest In Your Book

Not only is hiring a PAA a cost-saving advantage, it is making an investment in your book. A PAA knows what the author needs to professionally finish a manuscript, publish and market it. If you try to figure everything out on your own, you actually spend more money than if you hired a PAA. Reiterating, your job is to concentrate on what you do best – write!

If you spend the time and energy to both learn and complete all the administrative tasks a  PAA knows you will lose that time to making money in your field. If you are a psychologist charging $200/hr and you do these tasks yourself that is time you cannot bill. Not only does a PAA already know these jobs, they can help you finish these tasks quicker, meaning you can publish you book sooner, leading to more sales.

6. Keeping The Facts Straight

Did you know when you quote someone in your book you must ask for permission to use that quote? Or, if you use a statistic in a book you must find the latest source document and cite it and make sure that it is the most up-to-date information for the survey or statistic?

There is more to finishing the manuscript than writing it. PAAs help organize the author’s source documents, research the target reader, fact check information in the book, obtain permission to use the work of others, including quotes and interviews. They help coordinate professional peer and target reader reviews as well as research potential publishers and send book proposals, complete a comparative analysis for the book proposal, and prepare the manuscript to submit to the publisher.

7. It’s Time For Publishing

Did you know it’s important to have someone review the printer’s proof other than your original editor? It is also highly recommended that the author does not proof the printer’s preview copy of the book. A fresh pair of eyes will catch more than those who have seen it before.

When it comes to publishing your book and/or eBook, the PAA coordinates the self-publishing process and coordinates testimonial requests. Your Professional Virtual Author’s Assistant assists in managing the information for the book cover, the book interior, and obtaining the ISBN, the bar code, and Library of Congress cataloging information for the book. Your PAA helps you prepare the eBook, if you decide to publish one, consults with you on a printer and publisher, or helps you set up your own publishing company. Let’s face it; you want to publish your book and the sooner you write it, publish it, and market it, the sooner you’ll start selling it. You need someone organized who can walk you through the process from beginning to end. A PAA is detail oriented and knows the importance of deadlines.

8. Becoming a Bestseller

After you’ve published your book, either with a traditional publisher or self-published, did you know it is still your responsibility to market the book? Traditional publishers do not market your book for you. That’s up to you and your PAA has the knowledge to walk you through the process and find the experts needed to successfully sell your book.

Your PAA helps coordinate the book marketing activities including the marketing plan and publication date, obtain industry reviews, helps you prepare a media list, your media kit, and article submissions, coordinate the development of your website, including a social media campaign, and blogging, help you create a virtual and/or live book tour, launch an Amazon best seller campaign, maximize the book’s Amazon web page, coordinate an author video, suggest book award competitions, and the list continues. A great marketing plan is a lot of work but it is fun because it’s when sales happen. Look at it as an exciting time for any published author!

9. Industry Guideline for Services

PAAs have industry guidelines to offer estimates* for the amount of time each service should take (obtaining ISBNs, fact checking, gathering testimonials, coordinating the self-publishing process, managing live and virtual book tours, etc.). Keeping the author informed when the estimated time is close is imperative and goes back to great communication between the author and the PAA.

(*Due to variables, estimates cannot be guaranteed but offer a measure. Comprehensive proofreading/consulting is not included in these guidelines.)

Everyone has stories to tell whether it’s fiction, technical, etc. When you’re ready to tell your story, a PAA has the knowledge to help you organize, save you time and money!

Until next time,

Colleen

Five Approaches to Editing; Keep it Fun!

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When it comes to editing and proofreading, there are many factors to consider. When writing, the main goal is to make sure the message is communicated clearly and effectively. The purpose of the writing project should be known from the very beginning. But what happens when poor grammar and minor mistakes are in the way? The message is lost and the errors distract the readers. Remember the suggested approaches below to avoid common writing errors and keep your audience interested:

Always write in the active voice

  • Active and passive voice can be used in any type of writing. However, active voice is the clearest. As you proofread your writing, pay attention to verb usage; is the subject of the sentence “performing” the action or is it “receiving” the action? Keep your subject at the beginning of the sentence instead of the end to alleviate this problem and maintain a consistent level of writing.
  1. Passive voice: Those shoes were purchased by me.
  2. Active voice: I purchased those shoes.

Read your writing out loud

  • If you read your piece of writing silently, it is very easy to ignore grammar mistakes. Because we know our intentions and what we are trying to say, it is easy for us to ignore these errors. Once we slow down and read our writing out loud, we find those mistakes that could distract the audience. We can hear the missing words, mechanical issues, redundancies, etc. You don’t have to read your project to anyone else, just yourself!

Check for redundancies

  • Have you ever found yourself repeating words or ideas in your writing? This happens to us all! As you read through your first draft, highlight any words that repeat or sentences that are similar to one another. You may find that you can combine your ideas into one sentence and use a thesaurus to change your word choice.

Read backwards

  • This probably sounds like a strange approach, but it is very useful when trying to catch spelling mistakes! By reading backwards, you are able to isolate your language and how it is used. You will notice individual words instead of your key ideas. Keep in mind this will not help if you are checking for gaps in the content.

Interview yourself

  • Now is your chance to be the investigative reporter lurking inside of you! (Is that just my fantasy?) After you have checked for grammar and spelling errors, read your piece of writing again and focus on your overall message. Ask yourself questions like these:
  1. Did I give enough details to prove my purpose?
  2. Do I sound credible? Have I included enough research or factual information to prove my points?
  3. Is there extra information I can remove?
  4. Did I contradict my own ideas?

These are just a few of my tips and tricks to help you during the editing process. Try a few or all of them to see which will work best for you! Just remember the most important rule of thumb: state your purpose clearly to help your audience understand your writing, and remember to have fun!

Until next time,

Colleen

 

Tips for Aspiring Authors

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You want to write a book, but you’re not quite sure you have the skills or what you say would be of interest to people. What should you do?  Below are some suggestions to help that aspiring writer in you take shape and write the book within you:

  1. Join a writer’s club.There are many local writing clubs. Find one in your city or near you that suits your needs. I used to belong to a group of aspiring authors and a published author guided the group. We met every other week. She provided different types of writing assignments each time we met whether it was a poem, research for our proposed book, or a creative writing assignment. Then, the next time we met we shared our “homework” and the group critiqued our work. Talk about intimidating and putting yourself out there! But, we learned from each other!
  2. Subscribe to online or hard-copy author subscriptions, i.e., Writer’s DigestThis is one example of a journal which you can receive online or via mail. Writer’s Digest publishes the magazine six times a year. It is chockfull of information on how you can improve your writing skills, how you can enter writing contests, where you can find writing retreats, which tools help writers, and much more.
  3. Start your own writing blog. Peter and I are starting a new creative writing blog – “AteCourseMeal.com” which will be “live” soon. We are doing it for a few reasons. We have a group of friends who eat out weekly on Friday nights (Fab Friday) and we unwind from the week, catch up with friends, and eat at “out-of-the-way places.” No chain restaurants. We are highlighting what’s great about the mom-and-pop restaurants around town and during our travels, and we are sending the restaurants some publicity. We’re also going to publish our homemade recipes and more. Stay tuned! But the idea is we love cooking and critiquing food, we enjoy eating out and during the course of writing the blog, we’ll improve our writing skills and what better way than by writing about something we are passionate about. We chose food. What are you passionate about:  cooking, sports, gardening, music, etc. – whatever comes to mind. The main thing is to write often. Two options for free blogs are WordPress or Weebly.
  4. Improve your vocabulary, spelling, and grammar.  Having a broad vocabulary means you don’t need to use the same words over and over; you have language depth and that makes the story interesting.  Spelling and grammar – so many people believe because you have spelling and grammar check on your computer that you are “safe” from mistakes. This couldn’t be further from the truth. One example is homonyms. Homonyms such as their, they’re, and there are so often mistaken and misspelled – they don’t mean the same thing and when written incorrectly in writing it changes the entire meaning of a sentence. Knowing how to spell properly is essential if you want to become an outstanding writer. Excellent grammar is another must for writing; if you don’t understand sentence structure the material will be so difficult for your readers to comprehend you’ll lose them very early in the story. An excellent source for a grammar tune up is www.grammargirl.com.
  5. Grab the attention of your readers. Express your excitement and passion in as few words as possible to excite your audience and secure their attention. Let their mind see the story you are telling them.

Which tip did you identify with the most? Which one are you going to make a commitment to starting so you can begin the path to write your book or article? Let Pete and me know and we’ll be happy to help you start the process.

Until next time,

Colleen

The Four Top Reasons Authors Need a Professional Virtual Author’s Assistant

[Part of this information taken from the Virtual Author’s Assistant Program.]

Four Top Reasons 9.2015

Yes, most of us would like to think we are superhuman when, in reality, deep down we know we aren’t! Shocking, I know…

Authors can’t do it alone:

  • Your focus is WRITING
  • Our focus is organizing the process

Special Training & Expertise:

  • We understand the methods/industry/technology
  • We have industry resources and connections

Collaborative Synergy:

  • You/We win with excellent communication skills
  • We provide guidance and encouragement
Guiding You Each Step of the Way

We help you #WriteYourWay by providing worry-free writing. Your attention should be concentrating on the characters, the plot, and the flow. We organize all the tasks surrounding the successful completion, publishing, and marketing of a book. All successful authors have an author’s assistant, and first-time authors can have one too – virtually!

Below are the four biggest reasons an author’s assistant is an essential member of the author’s success team:

  1. There is too much work for one person. So many new or aspiring authors have day jobs and this is what they must do until their writing pays the rent. Until an author can clone him or herself, he or she must rely on others to help carry the load.
  2. An author’s assistant has special expertise. From preparing a manuscript to writing a book proposal to coordinating the self-publishing process to running a virtual book tour or an Amazon best seller campaign, an author’s assistant can do this and much more.
  3. The cost is greater when you do it yourself. There is a high learning curve for anyone who has never made the publishing journey. Whether the author is paid $70 an hour or $270 an hour as a coach, therapist, attorney, or entrepreneur, the author’s assistant is a tremendous value at a much lower per-hour cost. With an author’s assistant the author has the freedom to concentrate on those things only the author can do, especially writing the best book he or she can. Expect to pay from $30 to $60 an hour (and it goes higher with greater expertise) for a qualified virtual assistant.
  4. Synergy and collaboration. An author’s assistant is there to help you take each step so precious little time goes by between your writing and preparation for publishing and marketing. If you set the date, the author’s assistant will be there with support and encouragement to help you make it happen.

Most people who start working with a virtual assistant are hooked. One of the keys to success is to have clarity about the tasks you need completed and the payment arrangements – and then put them in a contract. Another key is to find someone with demonstrated training and experience since the first-time author may be in the dark about what tasks are actually needed.

Take it from the established successful authors, don’t go it alone. Find the support you need and you will be well on your way to publishing success.

If you have questions about the manuscript process, the traditional or self-publishing process, or where, what, when, or how to market after publishing, ask us and we’ll be glad to help.

Until next time,

Colleen
M. Colleen Wietmarschen (MCW)