Habits Are Hard to Come By

Over the past couple of weeks I have been thinking about habits, what they are, how they are formed, and how we can use them to our advantage. This is important for writers because writers have to make a habit of writing every day. I know I have not been able to build the habit of writing every day, and I can see an impact not just in the quantity of writing I turn out, but also in the quality of writing. Today I want to take a few minutes to write about how and why the habit of writing is important for all of us, whether you are a writer or a business owner. 

What is a habit? 

If you search habit on Google you will find Merriam-Webster’s definition: “a behavior pattern acquired by frequent repetition or physiological exposure that shows itself in regularity or increase facility of performance.” The Encyclopedia Britannica says “a habit – which can be part of any activity, ranging from eating and sleeping to thinking and reacting – is developed through reinforcement and repetition. These two words, reinforcement and repetition, are key to how habits form and why they stick around.

Reinforcement 

I do not want to dive deep into what psychologists define what reinforcement is but I do want to touch the higher level meaning of the word. Psychologists define reinforcement as a consequence to strengthen (or weaken) a future behavior when the behavior is followed by a specific stimulus.  There are two types of reinforcement – positive and negative. To put it in layman’s term, positive reinforcement is something received when an action is completed and negative reinforcement is something taken away when an action is completed. By recognizing the types of reinforcement we can help ourselves better form our habits.

To help you establish the habit of writing there are some ways you can reinforce your actions. For example, you can use positive reinforcement by allowing yourself to watch an episode of your favorite show on Netflix after you write for 30 minutes. This is something I used in college when practicing for my senior recital. I would walk down the street, practice for a straight hour and when I was finished I watched an episode of New Girl. 

You can see the use of negative reinforcement in action whenever you climb into your car. The little beeping you hear when put your key into the ignition? It turns off (removed) when you click in your seat belt. I’m not suggesting you have a big bell that keeps ringing until you finish your writing but there are things you can do to negatively reinforce your writing habit. Having a deadline to meet can help you negatively reinforce your writing habit. In practice, you can use this to help avoid the unpleasant feeling (or worse yet, loss of revenue) of missing your deadline. The act of finishing your project on time is negatively reinforced because you are removing the negative feeling of missing the deadline because your task was completed early.

It is important to stay consistent with your reinforcement. There is something called a schedule or reinforcement which is how frequently you reinforce your behavior. If you want to learn more about these there are many sites on the internet you can search. Also, you want to be sure you are reinforcing your behavior (writing) within an appropriate time. The reinforcement will have a higher chance of being tied to an action if the reinforcement is seen as close to the action as possible. So if your positive reinforcement for writing an hour is to watch an episode on Netflix be sure to watch that episode as close to the completion of your writing time as possible or you risk having the reinforcement lose its effect.

Repetition

Repetition is the act of repeatedly doing something over and over. Repetition means you spend time writing each and everyday. When you try to create a habit of writing it is important you always write daily, no matter how long it might be. John Grisham, New York Times Best-selling author, recently released eight tips for writers. In the article he says writers should write one page a day, in the same place and at the same time each day. This simple act of repetition will have you form your habit of writing. 

If you struggle with finding a constant time and place to write, schedule out your writing time in advance. Maybe you spend thirty minutes a day writing after you watch the morning news, or maybe you write as you ride the bus into work each day. Look at your calendar and find a time that works best for you and be sure to stick to it. That’s what repetition is all about. 

When you are trying to build your habit of writing make sure you use both reinforcement and repetition. If you are looking for inspiration check out our Facebook Page, M Colleen Wietmarschen, LLC, for a daily writing prompt. 

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.

 

Halloween…Ghostly Fun for Kids and Memories for Kids at Heart!

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Time flies by and life is so busy, I can’t believe October is over.  Carved pumpkins still sitting on house steps, fallen leaves not yet raked still on the ground, and on November 6 we gain an extra hour of sleep. I used to love the time change and now that I am older…not so much!  By 6:00 p.m. it’s already dark – boo, and I don’t mean the ghostly boo; I mean yuck!  It seems like it’s already time for bed. I’m already making a list of things to do in the evenings!

On with my story:  While wracking my brain on what to write about for Halloween, I came across the picture for this blog and remembered an event that happened 21 years ago. When I saw it, I knew I had to share my story. I chuckle when I see this photo. People who know my sister Mickey will understand and laugh, and those of you who don’t will hopefully laugh and enjoy the story because with any luck I will write this so you can envision it as you read along.

Rewind 21 years. How many of you remember the Olan Mills picture plans from years ago. The plan offered a “free” 8-1/2 x 11 picture four times each year if you came in for a “sitting.” Well, we all know the “ploy” of going through the door and you never just leave with that 8-1/2 x 11 because let’s face it your kids are just too cute.  Peter is our only child so we have pictures from Olan Mills from age three months to four years old and then we start with his pre-school to kindergarten pictures hanging down the hallway stairwell from our upstairs, and we call it the “Wall of Peter.”  During the beginning of the “Olan Mills” years Peter was the only grandchild (besides two older grandchildren) on our side of the family for several years and then boom, boom, boom, three boys within six months of each other: Mitchell, Kevin, and Donovan.

Kevin’s mom is Mickey, and Mickey and I did a lot together (she’s about 12 hours away now). When Kevin was born our mom “gifted” Mickey the Olan Mills’ picture package too.  So Kevin’s first Halloween Mickey said it would be fun to take Pete and Kevin and have their picture taken together and dress them up in a costume.  So being the “leader” I am, I followed right along.  We arrived at Olan Mills and we “dressed” them in their Halloween costume and the picture above is the most expensive photograph two people probably ever spent on two children and you can’t even see their faces!  Now mind you, Kevin was six months old and Peter was 3-1/2 so you have a 3-1/2 year old holding a 6 month old underneath a sheet to make them look like a ghost.  I actually stood behind them and propped Kevin up against Pete so he wouldn’t fall off the table. We were laughing so hard during the entire time it was amazing the photographer was able to take the pictures.

Every year during the Halloween season, I look at this picture and it brings back fun and fond memories of two small boys who are now 24 and 21, two wonderful young men, and I wish I could stand behind them and protect them like I did 21 years ago, but today they stand on their own and I pray God protects them and they stay smart enough to protect themselves.

What’s your favorite Halloween memory? We’d love for you to share your story!

Until next time,

Colleen

[Updated post from four years ago.]

Try These Writing and Editing Processes… Your Time Is Money

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In the long run, separating the writing and editing process, setting a timer just to write, and avoiding distractions can end up saving you time and money.  We’re all busy and try to multitask everything we do, but sometimes it just doesn’t pay to try to combine doing everything at one time because we end up going back and starting over again. When I write, I find I need my brain’s undivided attention!

Write First; Edit Second.

One common trait many writers and authors wrestle with is disconnecting the writing and editing process.  I struggled with this for years; if I knew something was not correct while writing or typing, I immediately went back and corrected it so I wouldn’t forget to change it later, but realized at some point that I was losing time, and let’s face it, time is money. After years of doing this, I finally started writing the article or blog, etc. and then editing. “Letting go” of this was excruciating for me, to say the least! My advice: Put all your thoughts down on paper or type them on the computer and then revise the grammar, duplication of word usage, incorrect spelling, etc.

Wait to Write Your Introduction.

Introductions are hard to write so if you struggle with your introduction just start writing your first key point from your outline and then after you write your chapter, article, blog, etc. go back and compose your introduction.

Set a Timer.

I’ve mentioned this before in different “writings” but it’s a great habit to start no matter what type of business you are working with; i.e., coaches, speakers, lawyers, Fortune 500, etc. When you determine the length of time you want to write, set a timer and write. You decide the amount of time – 30 minutes, 45 minutes, 60 minutes – it’s up to you, but during this time, until the buzzer sounds – write. Focus on writing; no checking email, making phone calls, checking Twitter or Facebook, cleaning off your desk, etc. Write.

Keep Moving.

What? I mean keep writing even if you want to edit as you are writing. This is one habit I have really worked on; however, it’s a struggle, but I have found that if I keep writing and edit later, I do save time. I have a system for notes or information I don’t want to forget about; I highlight the area and mark it with bold letters. You could try this or write a note to yourself or use {brackets} to record your notes and come back later and edit the material.

DD – Duck Distractions!

It’s difficult enough to write when you aren’t interrupted, but constant interference can play havoc with your writing progress. Some helpful hints to DD:

  • Tell people you are writing and need to concentrate; give them the hours you are not available.
  • Turn off Skype, Twitter updates, your cell phone, office phone ringer, etc.
  • Find a quiet place – a place you can close the door, or perhaps a go to a quiet park or the beach.
  • Put on a pair of headphones – people will think you are listening to something (even if you aren’t) and less likely to disturb you.

I post tips and suggestions on Facebook and received the following comments from two people:

Introductions: Michelle Campbell from Forte Virtual Support Solutions:

“This is a great tip, Colleen. I always do this. I rarely start from the beginning and finish at the end. I jump around from section to section and point to point, especially when I get inspired to discuss a particular point. It’s much more difficult to write if you force yourself to stick to an outline you create.”

DD – Duck Distractions: Patti Cooper from Big Sky Social Media Management:

“I find it very difficult to concentrate when working from home, there’s always someone around. I usually just go in the bedroom and close the door. But the headphone idea is a great one. I’ll be trying that now, thanks for sharing!”

What steps do you take to Duck Distractions?

My tip for you – keep moving along when you write, and edit when you have finished your article, blog, chapter, etc. See what happens. You might find you are more productive and the system works better than editing as you write.  What are some of your tips and tricks? I’d love to hear from you!

Until next time,

Colleen

The Easiest Way to Start Your Book Today

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Welcome back readers.

Have you ever thought to yourself, “I want to write a book?” Or, maybe you’ve heard an increasingly large number of entrepreneurs are writing books and you want to jump on the train. Maybe you want to spread your story and expand your audience beyond your current clientele. We’ve heard these types of comments and questions from many people and we are here to help. Over the past month we have put together a guide for authors, speakers, coaches, and businesses owners to start the book they’ve always wanted to write.

Today I’ll break down what we created and why we sectioned it out the way we did. From the first day of writing to finding your readers’ problems to brainstorming ideas for your cover and everything in between, we have you covered.

What we did?

Making it easier to start your book!

“Ten Simple Steps to Discover the Book Inside You” is our way to help people who want to write a book but do not understand where to start. One of the hardest parts of writing a book is starting. Newton’s first law, as stated probably one too many times outside of the field of physics, still holds true – “An object in motion stays in motion, an object at rest stays at rest.”  The aim of our guide is to help writers to just start, to create a certain time to write in a creative place, and to begin planning the entire process of writing, publishing, and marketing their future book.

Each manuscript goes through three main processes, which you have probably heard from us before: writing, publishing, and marketing. We divided our ten days into three, three-day blocks tackling the three tasks in each period block. But, that only adds up to nine days. The last day, and in our opinion the most important day, is the day in which we encourage our writers to take the time to plan out the rest of their book, and to take the next step forward.

If you want to learn a bit more about how to start writing your book, download “Ten Simple Steps to Discover the Book Inside You” today and begin your path to publication. Or, if you know of someone interested in writing a book, please share this post with them. We appreciate it! 

Until next week,

Peter

Ten Simple Steps to Discover the Book Inside You

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Happy Mother’s Day… Reminiscing as They Grow Up Too Fast!

Pete Senior Night Fam Picture

On being a mother… What is it about motherhood that changes everything? After waiting eight years to have our miracle, Peter, I was terrified I wouldn’t know what to do or be able to love a human being like a mother should. Really. I hated babysitting when I was growing up; the thought of slobber on my clothes, in my hair grossed me out – what was I doing?

Fast forward eight years of trying to have a child, a miscarriage of twins, and our miracle came into this world, a fighter from the first breath he took. It’s personal for him so I won’t go into everything he’s been through, but he is the light of my life. Below is a blog I wrote after his senior night year in high school. I hope you enjoy it. They grow up too fast and leave (and sometimes come back and that’s okay), but being a mom has been the greatest joy of my life (yes I love my husband!), but there is nothing like the bond of mother and child, and I have loved him since his first breath – how could I think I wouldn’t be able to love him?

Senior Night LaSalle High School 2006 – Memories

At the start of each school season I always reminisce about the coming year’s school seniors.  I recall when they were freshman, and how young they looked and how scared and uncertain they seemed.  As seniors, they are leaders standing tall, and I think how time flies.  People always say “time flies” but do we actually contemplate the reality of it?  Pete was a senior two years ago. This August he started his sophomore year of college-it can’t be!  Pete was in the marching band during high school.  His major is Music Education (you may not laugh-at least he is going to college) :).

We still support The Pride of La Salle Marching Band by attending football games and marching band competitions.  This is the last year we’ll recognize most of the band/color guard members and it’s bittersweet.  Life goes on; change is inevitable.  Today I came across the poem I wrote to Pete on his Senior Night and started thinking about this year’s seniors and thought I would share the poem and a funny story with you.

I like to be different and so I didn’t want to write a letter; all the kids receive letters from their parents and I wanted this to be special.  I knew Pete would be leaving for college the next year, and so I thought I would write a poem.  He’ll take it with him, he’ll think how cool is this?  This poem was not easy for me to write.  I labored over this for days.  Did I say days?  Anyway, Senior Night came, we put our “gift” to our child into an envelope, handed it over to the band director, and he presented it to our child.  Well, as a mother (maybe a father too), but as a mother you are usually sentimental and teary eyed and thinking how did they like the letter or poem?  Did they appreciate it?

I kept watching Pete that night, wondering if he read the poem.  I couldn’t tell because that night was about him and his friends; their night.  I didn’t want to push but after two days Pete hadn’t mentioned anything about the poem.  I had to know.  Did he like it, did he receive it, why hadn’t he said, “Thanks mom.  The poem meant so much to me.”  So eventually I gathered my nerve, went up to Pete and casually asked him how he liked the poem and he said, “You know me mom, poems aren’t really my thing.”  Kaboom!  Crush!  My heart fell to my toes!

Today I am able to laugh about it; I know one day the poem will mean something special to him, but at the time I felt like an idiot.  (He really is a great kid).  Live and learn and remember:  TIME DOES FLY, LOVE COMES FROM WITHIN and YOU LOVE THEM NO MATTER WHAT:

PETE, MY SON, MY ONLY ONE

Pete, my son, my only one,
You came into my life
Little did I know I could love
A child as much as you, my wonderful son.
We knew you were special your first breath on the clock,
A fighter, a warrior, oh the strength you would need
The name we had chosen, Peter, the Rock
So appropriate, God knew, did we unknowingly take heed.

Pete, my son, my only one,
Things you’ve been through have made you strong.
Your dad, ALWAYS there helping you, ALWAYS taking his turn,
Laughter is the best medicine, I’m starting to learn.

Pete, my son, my only one,
Why did the years fly away?
Just yesterday it was play, have fun, and run.
Now it’s still have fun but in a different way.

Pete, my son, my only one,
How proud I am of you, I love you, I’ll miss you
But I’ll always be here
To guide you, to nag you, to love you, no matter where.

Pete, my son, my only one,
Your Guardian Angel will hover if you ask him to.
Take God with you in prayer in all you ever do.
Trust Him, Love Him, Thank Him for all you are able to do.

Pete, my son, my only one,
You came into my life
How much I so love you
Pete, my son, my wonderful son.

Writing A Blog, Leave Your Formulas At The Door

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Photo via Visual hunt

Writing a blog is important when reaching current and potential customers. But how do you come up with what to write?

Editorial Calendar

A way to organize your ideas for the present and the future.

I know what always trips me up when writing a blog is coming up with the topic to write. You might have heard that the biggest enemy of writers is that blank page. It’s true. If you’re not prepared to write you’ll push it back, again and again, until you find your big idea. The problem with that is you might never find that idea, or worse yet you think of that idea but you forget what it was when the times come to pound the keys.

Recently, I talked about the importance of using a content calendar when working with social media. Another tool you can begin to implement is the editorial calendar. This tool is important for anyone who creates content. Using an editorial calendar helps you plan out the content you will write for your blog, newsletter, or any other content you create.

What I find works best is to find one day a week you will release your blog, newsletter, videos, etc. and stick to that day. If you’re even more ambitious you can go for two or more blogs per week. To create your calendar, highlight the days you will release your content. When you decide on the days you’ll release your content all you need to do is fill those days in with topics for you to write about. We’ve used a couple of different calendars in the past to do this; if you work in WordPress there is an editorial calendar plugin you can use to plan out your posts, or you can also use Google Calendar, a hard copy calendar, or any of the planning tools out there.

Finding Your Topics

Writing what people will read.

Great, you’ve set up an editorial calendar, now all you need to do is find out what to write about for your planned posts. With an editorial calendar you can plan out your posts whenever you come up with an idea. All you need to do is place your topics on the calendar so you see what is coming up in the future for you to write. This way if you need to work on a topic in advance you know when to have the information ready.

What makes this tool great is that you can organize and reorganize your content. Say you plan out your next month of newsletters and two weeks later you are offered an interview you want to recap. For your next newsletter you can review that interview and reorganize your current week by pushing it back or just taking that topic and moving it the the end. This will keep your ideas fresh when they need to be and ensure you have topics to cover if the muse has not visited you one week.

By planning out your content you can tailor your writing to the audience that you want. Each time you write you probably learn more about your style, I know I do. You gain valuable information such as who learns from your posts but also who enjoys them. By having this in mind you can direct your topics to those who your readers both want and need.

Let The Writing Commence

The hard part is over.

Okay, after filling out your calendar you should have all the tools set up for you to write. By looking into the future you probably have articles or books you want to reference all ready. Now all you need to do is sit down and write.

Hopefully by reaching into the future you know, at least vaguely, what you will say. When I sit down to write, at least the first draft, I sit down and put everything I can think about on the page. Let out all of your information on your topic, let the words flow and the ideas sprout, let the meat and potatoes of your thoughts stew on the page. Sit and write, and don’t stop to re-word that second paragraph, or find that perfect adjective, there is time for that when you edit your work. Only after my first copy is finished do I go back and rewrite and edit my work.

In my honest opinion, there is not a formula to writing the “perfect” blog. Your blog should have some character, let your reader know you a bit more after they read your work. When you follow a formula sometimes you lose sight of what you want to convey, you’re focused more on the structure and less on the substance. While the perfect formula is not out there I do believe there are some necessities that should be included.

Substance Over Structure

It’s what you say that really matters.

Yes, every building needs a foundation but what draws people to a Frank Lloyd Wright building is what they see on the outside. Let your readers see your personality, your thoughts, let them connect with you through your words. You need to let your readers know you, after all you’re not a robot. By focusing too much on a formula you can lose the artistry, and yes even writing a blog on business is art. Take the time to focus on the artistry, you won’t be perfect that first time you write but you will learn what people like, what helps you write, and how those mold together.

There are a few things all of my blogs have in common.

1.) First the introduction. I like to introduce the reader to what they will see throughout the blog; a sort of thesis for what the blog is about.

2.) Next comes the body of the work. I like to keep my word count around 1000 words (this one’s a bit longer), and I like to divide my body into sections to break up the monotony of word after word, sentence after sentence. I use headlines to break up my sections, providing not only a hint as to what this section is about but also a little intro sentence to guide the reader.

3.) Finally a call to action of some sort usually closes out a blog. Recently, I have used a conclusion section but sometimes just a simple question or two at the end of the blog can drive engagement and spur critical thought in your reader.

Conclusion

Blogging Made Easier.

If you’ve ever been stumped writing, especially if you can’t come up with the ideas you need, creating an editorial calendar can help you keep your thoughts in order. While people today are focused more and more on the formula, the structure of blogs, remember to add the artistry to your writing. If you can’t show yourself to the reader, can you expect them to remember your writing?

Do you use an editorial calendar? What about blogging formulas?

Until next time,

Peter Wietmarschen

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

2015’s Top Blog Posts

2015 sparklers

Hey there readers!

As the year comes to a close we take the time to review what this year has given to us. Starting our new adventure this year we decided our review would be a quick and helpful recap of our top five blog posts. If this is your first read we hope you enjoy these next few articles and discover something useful, and if you are a returning reader you might be reminded of something you read or missed the first time around.

5. Five Approaches to Editing; Keep it Fun

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: [Read More] 

4. Five Time-Saving Tools for Every Business Owner

As a business owner, there are many tasks you perform every day. How can you save yourself time on daily jobs? Here is a list of some great tools you can use to save time and energy working on your business. [Read More]

3. Tips for Aspiring Authors

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: [Read More]

2. Six Articles Every Facebook User Should Read

A Collection Of The Best Articles About Facebook

In a 2014 study, the Pew Research Center stated that 57% of American adults use Facebook. With numbers like this, it’s no wonder why some of the largest companies use Facebook to interact with their customers.

Whether you are a large multi-billion dollar company, or a small start-up business, or an individual, Facebook is almost a necessity in today’s world to “stay in touch.” If you are new to the world of Facebook, you might have a few questions about how to appropriately set up your account to maximize your social reach and ROI.

Many a blogger has created their own guide on how to best use Facebook and today I am sharing articles from some of the best sites on how to best use Facebook and all of its features. [Read More]

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

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

Now we hope you learned something new. Stayed tuned next year for even more great articles to read.  If you are looking at writing yourself more this upcoming year visit us on Facebook and join our 14-Day Writing Adventure starting early 2016. Write blogs or a book or a newsletter each day. We can provide insights and thoughts if you would like and if you get a bit stuck, we will have a new writing prompt up each day to help you with ideas.

Have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year,

Peter M. Wietmarschen
M. Colleen Wietmarschen

Five Approaches to Editing; Keep it Fun!

editor image

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