Writing Tips

Writing Tip: Market Yourself (The First Step)

Hey Everyone!

Today’s post is specifically geared for YOU: the blogger, author, creative person that you are.

Marketing your work is more than just posting a fancy photo of your book cover or your latest blog post. Marketing is more than just shouting out into the void “look at me!” Good marketing involves hard work and (you guessed it) authentic relationships with your target audience.

Look at it this way: why should anyone want to read what you have to say? Why should anyone pick up your book off the shelf instead of someone else’s? What do you have to offer?

The work that we do is so much different than a regular nine-to-five job because our work is dependent on our audience. That’s why learning how to market our work can be so important and also so scary. A lot of beginning writers and bloggers feel daunted by marketing their work because really, marketing begins with YOU.

If you do not believe in the worth of your blog posts or writing, than why should anyone else? The first step to marketing your work is to learn that you are marketing yourself, your product, your ideas, your thoughts, your experiences, your realities, and your fantasies. So my first bit of advice is this:

Own Your Own Identity

This might be the hardest thing to do, but first you must develop your own online identity, particularly as bloggers and even as authors in today’s technologically-savvy society. This is because most of your promoting will be done online (surprise, surprise). In order for anyone to know you exist, you must first create your presence. When you begin blogging, or creating a website, or even creating facebook/instagram author pages, you need to think about: personality, consistency, frequency, and authenticity.

  1. Personality: Your blog, website, facebook/instagram page should be individualized. Of course, it’s not a bad thing to start with a template provided to you, but eventually, you should begin tweaking and editing your sites to reflect who you are.
  2. Consistency: If you use a specific theme, or profile picture, or cover photo, etc., it should be similar across all of your social media sites. This helps your audience know that your separate sites all belong to you and form harmony instead of dissonance.
  3. Frequency: You cannot create social media sites and then dip out. This is where that hard work comes in. Have confidence in your abilities and blog more regularly as time allows. Your pages will not magically attract a following, you have to get out there and go get it!
  4. Authenticity: In the getting-out-and-go-getting-it, don’t forget to be yourself. Don’t put forward a fake front and don’t lie to get followers. You can only pretend for so long. Be yourself and garner a genuine audience who is actually interested in what you have to give.

That’s a lot for today so I’m going to stop here. In the future, I’ll work to expand on the next steps in your marketing campaign.

Meanwhile, I would love to hear from you on your own experiences. How have YOU promoted your work in the past? Do you find that my four (Personality, Consistency, Frequency, & Authenticity) work in your own promotion avenues?

Happy Writing Everyone! I’ll see you in the comments!

 

©KaylaAnnAuthor

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

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Writing Tips

Writing Tip: The 3-Draft Rule

Today, I’m going to offer you some advice about how many drafts you should have before you consider sending out your full manuscript to a publishing company.

I consider the magic number to be 3: Three full-length drafts and let me tell you why.

Draft One: Getting it Down

Your very first draft should be focused on just getting your writing out of your head and down on paper. In this draft, I encourage you to just write. Do not focus on getting it perfect, or saying everything you need to say.

Create the bones of your manuscript.

Or, in other words, consider it the road map for the rest of your drafts. This first draft is all about getting your words on paper and it will be messy, it will be disorganized, it will not be perfect. And guess what, it shouldn’t be. However, this is very important: this is NOT an outline. This first draft should be a whole and complete draft with plot lines and developed characters. When I say this is the bones of your manuscript, you should still include the entire skeleton.

Draft Two: Buffing it Out

After “completing” your first draft (meaning that the bones of your manuscript are present and arranged), it is time to start adding the “meat” (the muscles, sinews, and veins, etc.). Draft Two can be accomplished on your own or with a friend or writing colleague. I personally believe that it is beneficial to have outside opinion for this draft. What I do, is I send my Draft One to friends and receive BETA reader comments. What needs flushing out? What drags? What doesn’t make sense, etc.? Once I have their comments, I comb back through my first draft and begin addressing both their comments and add in my own.

As I am going through, thinking about their comments and my own, I REWRITE (yes you heard me), REWRITE the entire manuscript. I open up a new blank screen next to my first draft and I RETYPE everything. (Next week I’ll be sharing a blog post as to why I REWRITE instead of Editing). After this, you should have a completed, flushed out draft, but you’re not done yet.

Draft Three: Cleaning it Up

Once you have completed crafting your narrative (it has bones, and muscle, and skin), it’s time to make it pretty! If hardcore editing is not your thing, ask for outside help whether that means the family member who is an English major or paying for grammar edits. Trust me, nothing lowers the quality of a good book faster than bad grammar. This is your one chance to impress a publishing company, so spend some time (and maybe *some* money) improving your manuscript until it shines.

 

Well, there you have it: my three-draft rule!

What do you think? Is three drafts too many or too little? Be sure to comment below!

***Extra Tip: It is okay to have some time take place between Draft One and Draft Two, distance can be a good thing for your own writing! It can give you perspective.

 

Happy Writing Everyone!

©KaylaAnnAuthor

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Writing Tips

Writing Tip: Stop Working/Keep Writing

Many of you have probably read my blog post: Writing Tip: STOP Writing. I was ecstatic to see that it was so well-received and that so many of you either took encouragement from the post or replied with your own positive experiences in seeking distance from your writing.

One of my favorite things about blogging is the comment section because in the comments, I really get to have conversations with other like-minded, brilliant authors and bloggers. For instance, on that post, I engaged in a conversation with Michelle at Fantasyland on the power of stopping a project while continuing to work. That conversation sparked today’s blog post (so thank you Michelle!)

Michelle mentioned that when she needs to, she will sometimes stop the current project she is working on (giving herself that needed distance) and then pull up another project and work on that instead.

Now, I am not the type of writer who can work simultaneously on multiple large projects, it’s just too much for me. I prefer to work on one large project (like The Agency Games) and maybe some smaller projects such as my blogging posts. I cannot start another book until I have finished the old.

However, the idea to stop working on your major project but to keep writing is a fantastic idea! In doing so, you are giving your mind the break and distance it requires, but you are still writing and keeping your creativity flowing. If you are like me and you cannot work on several large projects at once, here are some practical ways where you can stop working, but keep writing:

  1. Blog Posts: If you are reading this post, odds are, you’re a blogger, author, or both. If you are a blogger, what better time to work on scheduling some blog posts than when you need distance from your book?
  2. Poetry: The wonderful thing about poetry is that it is the perfect outlet for spewing out writing. Now, I would suggest cleaning it up before you post it, but often times when we are frustrated by writer’s block or in need of distance, getting our emotions out through poetry can be a powerful thing.
  3. Free Writing/Journaling: Maybe you are so stuck/overwhelmed that both blog posts and poetry seem daunting, but you still want to write. That’s when I would suggest free writing or journaling. Write about literally anything, your day, your hopes, the color of the wall, your dream vacation, whatever, just keep those writing juices flowing.

What about you?

What do you do when you need distance from a larger project?

Happy Writing!

 

©KaylaAnnAuthor

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

blogging tips

Blogging Tip: Re-Use Published Posts

Now, before you get all…

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Take a second to hear me out.

It is completely OKAY to re-use old content. You might have noticed lately that I have been re-sharing writing and blogging advice that I posted in the past.

Here’s why:

  • My Blog is Growing! (Which is awesome by the way) And that means that I have new followers.
  • New followers means that I have people currently following my blog and reading my posts who have not seen the old posts.
  • So, I share the old posts for two primary reasons:
    • So that my new followers will have access to writing and blogging tips previously published
    • And that my old followers will be reminded of writing and blogging tips they have previously read.

Not only is this beneficial for my followers, new or vintage, but it is helpful for me as well because it helps fill up my blogging schedule.

Now, don’t get me wrong. You should not, definitely not, spam your blog with old content. Do not repost the same blogs every week or every month in a never ending cycle. Your blog should consist primarily of new content with some old content thrown in.

Here is what I consider the golden ration when I post 10 times every two weeks:

8 new vs. 2 old

(In every two week span I normally re-share 1-2 posts per 10 blogs)

80% of my blogs are new, fresh, and exciting content while 20% is re-sharing previously published content for those who have not seen it or need the reminder.

Also, I hardly ever re-share movie reviews, contest results, etc. because no one needs to hear that twice. I only ever re-share writing tips, blogging tips, and maybe the occasional short story or poem.

What do you think about re-sharing previously posted content?

What is your golden ratio?

©KaylaAnnAuthor

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

blogging tips, College Writing Tips, Writing Tips

Life Tip: Stop Limiting Yourself

Today’s tip really can apply to just about any of my normal categories. Whether you’re a writer or a blogger, listen, stop limiting yourself.

Do you realize that our own expectations and beliefs in ourselves can ultimately limit us more than the world can?

Let me put this into perspective for you. This past semester, I had a conference with a student who did not believe that he could get an A in any English class class and so his goal was to get a B.

During our conference I discussed his current standing, how I believed he could get an A, determined by his effort and his own expectations in himself. At the end of our meeting, this student decided that he was going to shoot for an A instead of a B. Guess what he got in my class?

The point is this: why do we set these restrictions on our own goals and dreams? The obvious reason is self-doubt or a lack of faith in ourselves, which ultimately travels back to the idea of fear. We are afraid of being wrong, we are afraid on disappointing ourselves and others. We are afraid that if we aim too high, we have no choice but to fall.

Well let me tell you, I’d rather aim high and fall lower every time rather than never reach my full potential.

When we put our own limits on our goals, we will never see just how far we can go or what we can actually accomplish. So please, stop limiting yourself in your writing, in your dreams, in your blogging, in your relationships.

Think kindly of yourself and shoot for the stars!

Happy Writing!

©KaylaAnnAuthor

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

blogging tips

Blogging Tip: Challenge Yourself

Today, I’m going to talk a little bit about blog scheduling, more specifically, how often you should post a week.

I know, I know, I’ve already freaked out half of you and the other half of you are staring at the screen like this:

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Blog scheduling, meaning how often you post on your blog (not to be confused with scheduling your posts ahead of time–which you should do), is going to be different for every individual. Some bloggers post every single day. *Hats off to them*

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Some bloggers only post on the week days, taking weekends off. Other bloggers, like me, only post 3 times a week, some only post once and so on and so forth. Like I said before, blog scheduling is different for every blogger. However, there are some consistencies that every blogger should keep in mind.

  1. If you want to grow your blog, you need to be posting at least once a week. If we only see you once a month, odds are, we won’t remember you all that well. (This may not be true for all circumstances but it’s a general rule).
  2. If you want to maintain followers, you need to be reading and commenting on other blogs the same amount (if not more) than when you are posting your own content.
  3. Lastly, (and what today’s blog is really about), you need to challenge yourself with your scheduling goals.

Blogging is hard, I know, trust me, I completely understand that. I have been blogging for about a year and a half now and some days I feel burnt out, not just in blogging but in everything. However, if you don’t push passed your walls, you will always find yourself blocked by something.

While it is wise to set realistic blogging goals, it is unwise to “settle” in your goals. For instance, if you work two jobs and you’re in school or a parent, it might be a tad unrealistic to say that you are going to blog every single day. So I would suggest that you to set a realistic goal, but not a “settling” goal. What do I mean by a “settling” goal?

Story Time! At the beginning of Fall 2018, I was heading back into the busiest season of the year for me and I had thought long and hard about my blogging schedule in the next coming months. I considered reducing my weekly posts. I knew that every day, or even 5 times a week was unrealistic for my schedule, but I also knew that I did not want to settle and simply pop in once a week. So, I decided that with a little extra effort, I could make 3 posts a week work. (Now, I’ve been about 90% successful in this, which ultimately shows me that I chose the right number. It’s enough posts a week that I am challenged to complete it, but not so challenged that I continuously fail).

So today, I encourage you to take a look at your blogging schedule. Are you being unrealistic, realistic/challenging, or are you just settling?

What do you think? Should we challenge ourselves in our weekly blogging schedule?

Happy Blogging Everyone!

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©KaylaAnnAuthor

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Writing Tips

Writing Tip: STOP Writing

“Stop writing?!”

“But Kayla,” you may ask me, “how can you tell me to stop writing? Shouldn’t we keep writing? After all, we are writers! How can we be writers if we are not writing? How does stopping our writing actually help our writing? Isn’t that contradictory?”

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Now before you turn away from me and shake your head in disgust, hear me out.

I’m not saying that we should stop all writing. I am saying that you should stop working on the project you’re currently working on once you have finished it. For writers there is this huge urge that once we finally finish a project we automatically want to go back through, edit, and send it to a publisher. It’s just not realistic guys. In order for a work to be good you need to utilize the power of distance.

Now some of you may be wondering what the power of distances and others of you might have already heard of it. For those of you who are unfamiliar or need the refresher: The power of distance is, as it sounds, distancing yourself from your work after you have finished it.

Once you have finished a project you set it aside. If it’s on your computer, exit out of the file for a while (I know it’s scary but don’t worry it’ll still be there when you get back to it). If you’re writing in a notebook (hey kudos to you not a lot of people do that anymore),  close the notebook, put in a drawer and leave it alone. Give your work at least a couple of days if not weeks to rest and work on other projects in the meantime. Heck, go outside and see the sun once in a while (you know us writers are vitamin D deficient).

After a few days or a few weeks whatever you can manage, although longer is better, take your work out. The distance that you have given yourself and your writing will now do several things for you:

  • You will no longer be wrapped in the euphoria of finishing your project. As such, you will be able to remove your rose-colored glasses and look at your work for what it is: beautiful, but in serious need of some editing.
  • Due to the above, you will also be more willing to do what needs to be done, even if this means cutting out whole sections or chapters of your work.
  • You will gain a new and fresh perspective. I’m sure many of you college students out there know the feeling of turning in a paper, believing it to be 100% free of errors only to have it returned to you with red marks and think to yourself, “How did I miss that?” Do you know that when we read the same thing over and over, our brain will automatically fill in the gaps because it knows where we are going? That is why students often miss entire words in their essays, because their brain automatically assumes the words are there. By placing distance between your work and yourself, you give your brain a chance to restart and give your eyes a fresh chance to look at your material (making it easier to spot mistakes).

Try for yourself guys and let me know how it goes! Once you do finish a project and utilize the power of distance I encourage you to NOT EDIT, but rather, to Rewrite Instead.

Happy Writing Everyone!

 

blogging tips

Blogging Tip: When to Follow/(Un)follow?

Hello Bloggers!

Recently, one of my blogging friends reached out to me and asked about the rules of following. Should we follow every blogger we come into contact with? Should we follow any blogger who follows us? Do we unfollow bloggers after a time?

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First off, let me just state: there are no official rules. For the most part, this is based on your individual preference as a blogger.

Now that that’s out of the way, let me get down to what I believe about following.

If Someone Follows My Blog:

  • I will click on theirs and look around. I’ll probably even read a post or two.
  • Now, just because they followed my blog does not mean that I will follow theirs back. I will only follow a blog back if I like the content (for instance, I probably will not follow back a traveling blog while I will follow back fellow authors). So, I already have a limited amount of people who I follow.
    • There are, of course, exceptions to this rule. For instance, I follow a couple of travel blogs and make-up blogs, not necessarily for the content, but because I enjoy the blogger’s writing style.
  • In my opinion, you should not follow someone just so heighten your follower count or theirs. I prefer bloggers to follow my blog only if they are genuinely interested in what I have to say.

When to Unfollow a Blog:

  • I never unfollow anyone (even if I haven’t commented on their posts for awhile) unless they post something that I find repulsive or antagonistic.
  • For instance, if a blogger I choose to follow is a fellow author and all the sudden their whole blog turns aggressively political, I will probably unfollow because I don’t want that on my feed. Otherwise, I don’t really unfollow anyone.

What do you think? Are your “rules” different from mine?

Let me know in the comments!

©KaylaAnnAuthor

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

blogging tips

Blogging Tip: Engaging in Reciprocation One Reply at a Time

Hello Bloggers!

I keep talking and talking (and talking) about this word “reciprocation.” According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, reciprocation means:

reciprocate (v.)

“to return, requite,” 1610s, back-formation from reciprocation, or else from Latin reciprocatus, past participle of reciprocare “rise and fall, move back and forth; reverse the motion of,” from reciprocus (see reciprocal). Related: Reciprocatedreciprocating.

 

Let’s focus on this idea of “to return.” Reciprocation means to give back what has been given, or to reflect in equal measures. Now sometimes, we can reciprocate above and beyond what we have been given, but for now, let’s just look at the prospect of equal reciprocation.

What does this look like in blogging? In some ways, it is extremely simple:

If someone visits your blog, visit theirs.

Of course, we can take this even further with a like for a like or a comment for a comment. 99% of the time, I do my very best to engage in this method of reciprocation. For instance, if someone visits my blog and leaves a comment, I open their blog in a new tab before I respond to them and so on and so forth. If you examine the photo below, you’ll notice that I have 17+ tabs open.

Reciprocation

The first tab is my site, this is where I open my notifications and check my likes, read comments, and respond. As I am going through my notifications, every time I come across a comment on my blog, I do my best to open a new tab with that bloggers blog. After I have finished my responses to comments, I then spend about an hour or so going through the blogs and reciprocate!

When I go to their blogs, I often read the latest post or find a post (if they have many) that stands out to me. Sometimes, if I have nothing to say (which happens rarely), I’ll simply “like” their post because I hate leaving empty, meaningless comments. For the most part however, I usually leave at least one comment on one blog post before moving on to the next blog.

“Now Kayla Ann,” you might be asking, “Does that mean I have to follow everyone who follows me?”

Goodness no! Following should be a response of genuine interest, but I’ll discuss this further in an upcoming blog post!

So what do you think of my rules of reciprocation? Do you have a similar system? How do you engage in reciprocation?

Happy Blogging!

©KaylaAnnAuthor

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

blogging tips

Blogging Tip: When You Miss a Day… Or Two…

A couple days go by and without warning you realize that you have gone several days without posting, you have not created scheduled posts, you have not checked or replied to any of your WordPress notifications, in short, you have abandoned your blog. You want to race to your computer, but the unforeseeable distractions that first kept you from your blog are still there, still demanding your time, you cannot blog, you don’t have the time, and so you go another day without posting, commenting, liking, or replying.

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If this has happened to you, don’t lose hope or feel that your blog is now destined to fail. I believe that every blogger has experienced something similar to the above scenario. I know I did this past week.

For anyone who has noticed by absence (I apologize if that sounds arrogant), you may have wondered why I missed two posts last week and why it took me so much longer than normal to reply to your comments.

First, let me apologize for not responding.

I believe that blogging manners require reciprocal communication and as such, my manners slipped.

Second, let me explain.

As some of you may know from the blog post before this one, “Invisible Illness,” April is IBS awareness month. This is ironic as I had a flare-up last week that landed me in the hospital. Thankfully, I did not remain long and within a  couple of days I was feeling back to myself. However, due to what I missed on my bad days, I spent the next several days playing catch-up. Without my pre-scheduled posts to float me through, as a result, my blog became neglected. However, I am back and I plan to be more on top of my work. Thank you for your understanding.

Third, let me offer you some free blogging advice for what to do when you miss a day . . . or two . . .

  • First, breathe, it is not the end of the world. Yes, it does kind of suck, and yes, you do feel like you have let down your followers, but odds are, they do not feel the same way. In my experience, my followers (my friends) are always understanding and, most likely, yours will be too.
  • Second, get back on the horse. Don’t give up! It may seem like you’ve neglected your blog for too long and you should just let it die a silent death. If you enjoy blogging, in any way, shape, or form, you owe it to yourself to jump back online and give it another go.
  • Third, work harder on creating and maintaining scheduled posts. These scheduled posts have been a life-saver for me in the past and when I miss a day or two, I am reminded how important they are for me when I am simply overwhelmed by life.
  • Fourth, take advantage of whatever time you can get to blog. This advice is why I am currently sitting in a hallway of my college, laptop sitting on my knees and plugged into the wall, desperately trying to get in some blogging time before I need to go and teach. Do the best with what time you have.

Well there you have it guys! Blogging, especially good blogging, is hard work most of the time, but in my experience, it’s most often worth it! I hope this post helps encourage you in your own blogging schedules.

Happy Blogging!

©KaylaAnnAuthor

© KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com, 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to KaylaAnn and KaylaAnnAuthor.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.