- Does your significant other totally ignore your ‘writing world’ or view it with contempt either because you’re not making enough money or because they feel jealous?
- Does he/she refuse to consider your writing as anything other than a ‘mere hobby?’
- Does he/she belittle or demean your ‘writer dreams?’
- Does he/she believe you’re wasting your time and should be spending that time in something more ‘valuable?’
- Does he/she make you feel guilty for those hours you spend writing?
- Does he/she say they understand, but then they put demands on your writing time and don’t respect it?
- Is he/she jealous of the time you spend writing at the computer?
- How does their behavior make you feel as a person and as a writer?
- To what extend do their criticism contribute to your insecurity, anxiety, and maybe even depression?
- How do you cope with their behavior?
- What keeps you writing and persevering in spite of all the odds?
- What would you like he/she to understand about you as a writer?
Posts Tagged ‘writing’
That’s a good thing, right?
Well, marketers have discovered a new benefit to finding (and keeping) those imaginary friends again.
One top advertising agency –- Organic in Detroit –- even gave its imaginary friends their own office space.
Because these fictional characters, or “personas,” make it much easier to make a deep connection with your writing and content marketing.
“Personas allow them to journey into a relational territory where they can understand on an emotional level the most important determinants of real consumers’ brand preferences and purchase decisions,” Dale Buss writes in Advertising Age, “And personas give marketers a meaningful shorthand for communicating with one another.”
I agree with Mr. Buss. If you’ll humor me for a moment, I want to translate some of that advertising-speak and show you how to create your own imaginary marketing persona … and how he or she can make you a better writer.
Craft your own persona
Creating a persona can help your writing better resonate with audiences -– and it doesn’t require having extra office space.
You only need a willingness to be creative.
Create your own persona by first envisioning your perfect reader.
Then, write down the bare facts: name, age, gender, income, education and marital status. Focus not only on demographics, but also personal details that help you identify with this person on a more intimate level.
You can even do a quick search on Google Images to find a photo that matches the persona. Don’t use stock photos –- you want someone who looks real. (Just don’t share it publically unless you have permission to use the photo.)
The idea here is to get as specific as you can about the appearance of your imaginary friend.
Dive deeper into your persona
Once you’ve filled in the basic facts, write a paragraph or two for each of the following categories:
Personal information Describe her as if she was standing in the same room. Write about her goals, her values, her likes and dislikes. Write about her biggest problems, and the things that keep her up at night.
Needs What are her needs? What problems does she hope that your writing will solve? How are these problems causing her pain and discomfort? What end result does she want, and what end result does she really need? Are they the same?
Influence Here’s where you lay out all the factors that go into her decision to take your advice. What influences her decision? How does she find out about your writing, and why does she remember it? What differentiates you, and why is that important to her?
So, who is your imaginary friend?
Click here to download a PDF that takes a look at what the completed persona from the example above might look like.
Then take the time to create your own persona page.
Once you’ve finished, hang it somewhere you can refer to it often. That way, you can apply your future writing to this persona, and get an idea of whether it will resonate with your target market.
How about you — think you’re too old (or too smart) to have an imaginary friend?
Or maybe you’ve used a persona and found it improved your writing and marketing.
Either way, let us know about it in the comments below.
About the Author: Kelly Kautz is a freelance copywriter who blogs about marketing for small business owners.
Posted in Articles, The Writing Life, Virtual Book Tour Guests, tagged campaign, dirt, elections, Horror, mark laflamme, politics, stephen king, suspense, the pink room, The Writing Life, thriller, vegetation, writing on December 16, 2008 | 11 Comments »
So, I’m sitting at a gloomy bar and gazing dreamily into the mirror behind the array of bottles. I’m not thinking about anything deep, really. Just wondering if my nose is getting bigger and if I should do something about that.
A burly man sits down next to me and taps his fingers on the bar to summon the bartender. Then he turns to me.
“You must be a writer,” he says.
I nod happily, giant nose bobbing up and down.
“That’s right,” I tell him. “What gave me away? The deep thought? A clip of conversation that hinted at an ability for literary gymnastics? An air of seething imagination?”
“No,” said the man. “I just noticed that you drink a lot.”
Misconceptions about writers are everywhere. There are still those who remain convinced that we are all modern incarnations of Faulkner, stumbling from our drunken beds just long enough to eat food directly from pans and to pound out five thousand words of prose before climbing back into our bottles.
I can live with this particular myth. Let them romanticize the craft by imagining us all as brooding intellectuals chained to our addictions as we cope with the crushing weight of genius.
But other misconceptions absolutely slay me.
If you get one book out there – just one, mind you – there will be those who assume you are fantastically rich. They will wonder aloud why you’re driving around in a 1992 Stanza when you must have a vault of cash somewhere from all of those book sales. They will ask you directly why your shoes have holes in them when Saks is just a short jet ride away.
Is it any wonder we drink?
There are those who will offer up advice on getting your book into the hands of a behemoth publishing house, or getting crazy buzz for an existing book, in one easy sentence: “You ought to send your book to Stephen King.”
Yes, Stephen King, who writes three novels a week and tours like a rock star, will probably save your ass. He’ll drop everything, flip through your rough draft with all its crazy margin notes and coffee stains, and see that it gets off to Random House.
With a personal recommendation, of course.
When the masses get wind of your writing efforts, they will immediately presume that after writing a novel or two, you are now tapped out of ideas. They will approach you in corner stores and windy parking lots to save you from literary asphyxiation.
“You know what you should write about?” they will say. “Boy, have I got some ideas for you.”
They say Faulkner was a sober man until this started happening.
Most authors I know have more ideas afloat then they have time to write them. Presently between novels, my most pressing problem now isn’t conjuring up some grand idea but deciding which of a half dozen to tackle next.
Do I want to write about the iPod playlist delivering subtle messages to the music listener? Should I go with the cannibalism plot dreamed up one weird night while dining with the in-laws? Do I want to write that story about what happens within the brain in the final seconds of life?
Lots to choose from, yet a minimum of two people today will try to convince me that their ideas require immediate attention from me personally.
Who among you will share his bottle with me?
There is a certain mystery about anyone who makes a living out of the written word. Non-writers look upon the author the way they look upon a campfire, wondering over the seeming magic of it. They want to know where all those ideas come from. They want to know what it is like to have a million words circling in the sky of your mind all at once, like a murder of crows that never flies away.
The mystery and the stereotypes don’t hurt much. They’ve been around since the first caveman, having not yet discovered liquor, scrawled his thoughts upon a stone. When people marvel over you as a writer, they will be more tempted to check out your work, forking over money you can use to buy new shoes.
Embrace the mystery, I say. Greet all of those misinformed comments and answer those endless questions with flourish. Stare into the mirror above the bar like the pensive literary beast that you are and make them wonder about what goes on within that writer’s mind.
And while you’re at it, take a look at my nose. Seriously, is it getting bigger?
Mark LaFlamme is an award-winning crime reporter and columnist at the Sun Journal in Lewiston, Maine. His weekly column, Street Talk, where he often compares editors to bats, spiders, extraterrestrial slugs, and “other beings too diabolical to describe,” has been named Best in Maine and Best in New England. In 2006, LaFlamme was named Journalist of the Year by the Maine Press Association.
Read an interview with Mark LaFlamme here.
Check out LaFlamme’s books on Amazon:
Posted in Fantasy, Ghosts, Halloween Festival, Horror, Interviews, Mystery, Novellas, Paranormal, Romantic Suspense, Short Fiction, suspense, Uncategorized, Vampires, tagged ebooks, echelon press, halloween, Horror, Interviews, karen l syed, Publishers, quake, writing on October 21, 2008 | 1 Comment »
Started in 2009, Echelon Press publishes short stories, novellas and novels in various genres. Under their new imprint 'Quake', they also publish fiction for middle graders and young adults. At present, Echelon publishes two paperback novels a month as well as one or two of their popular short story and novella downloads. Here to talk about the company and how it was created is owner Karen L. Syed. If you want to know what a publisher blog is about, visit Karen at The Life of a Publisher.
Thanks for being here today, Karen. Why don't you begin by telling us a bit about Echelon Press? When did it get started?
Echelon will be eight years old in February 2009. We started the company to make a place for writers to make a name for themselves. People seem to confuse that with not wanting to be successful. It has ALWAYS been my goal for any author at Echelon to go onto bigger and better things. If that means many books with Echelon, great! If that means one or two with us and then a contract with a bigger house, awesome. We are definitely not just a playground for writers who want to be published. I have recently discovered that there is a difference being an author and being a published writer.
You publish a fair amount of horror, both short stories and novels. What type of horror do you publish?
So far it hasn't been as much as I would like. I love the horror genre. What I'd like to see more of is the types written by John Saul or Douglas Clegg. I don't mean alien horror, they are more thrillers. I love the stuff that presents the unknown and grabs you by the throat and holds on tight without letting you immediately know what 'it' is.
What you do not like to see in a horror story and what are the most common mistakes horror writers make?
I am not a big fan of the total gore scene. I love the unknown. Knowing something is right around the corner, your skin crawling with apprehension and fear, while adrenaline rushes through you, leaving you breathless and unable to move. So many of the horror stories I read focus so much on the shock value that they don't give their stories a chance to develop fully. They spew slime and blood all over everything and think that this makes it spooky. It just makes it gross. Why can't authors rely on their senses to indulge the fear gene instead of just wanting to make people sick?
What makes a horror novel or story truly compelling?
The only thing compelling is the unknown. To recognize danger and fear and not know where that danger comes from. To feel the presence of an unknown entity so close that it's putrid breath blows across your cheek. To shiver against the chill of dread caused by words so powerful and explosive you have to close your eyes against the next phrase.
How do you see the state of the horror fiction market at the moment? Is it thriving or declining?
I don't know that it is declining, but neither is it thriving. I think so many authors in the genre have resorted to the shock value of the gruesome. The movie industry has made that so glamorous that authors feel the need to "keep up." This is not the case. Books are not the same as movies. Some people say that Friday the 13th and the Halloween movies are horror, but in fact I think they are more thrillers or gore flicks. Keep in mind this is just my idea, and many others may disagree.
What types horror books do you think are most popular with readers?
I can't even begin to answer that question. Different readers like different books.
You also publish horror for young adults. How much horror is too much horror in a young adult book?
I'll take a stab at this one, but let's be clear on one thing. How much is too much is up to the reader and their parents. For Quake, our new young reader line we like to keep things in the head. We aren't going to go out on a limb and offer gratuitous gore just to sell books. We all know that kids love all that blood and guts spurting here and there, but perhaps it's because it's all we offer them. When you present something as cool then what do you expect? A dude running around chopping off heads is not cool. A cloud of mist that sweeps into a room and envelops a sleeping girl while whispering secrets of evil, a little cooler.
On average, how many submissions do you receive in a month? Of those submissions, what percentage you end up accepting for publication?
Our paperback submissions are closed except for invitations and referrals, and eBooks, but we still get at least a dozen or so unsolicited submissions per week for paperback. Writers seem to ignore the potential for eBook sales and all want paper publication. eBooks have such great potential to build a readership, and if an author can build a readership with an eBook they can do anything.
As for acceptance, we do only twelve titles per year in paperback and right now aren't even getting enough submissions for eBook to do one per month. Did you know that tens of millions of dollars are spent on eBooks each year? Why wouldn’t an author want their share of that?
What tips would you offer authors who are doing book signings this Halloween?
Make them fun! They have to be fun. Don't let the readers wonder why they even bothered to come to your event. Show them with your words, you attitude, and your books that they are important to you. Don't make them wonder. And by all means get into the spirit! A little bit of spook goes a long way!
Is there anything else you'd like to share with our readers?
This industry is one of the greatest. Don't take it for granted, whether you are a reader or a writer. Writers, don't ever forget why you sell your books for publication. It's all about your readers. You can write all you want, but if you are serious about being a solid published author, don't ever forget how you get there.
And readers, let the authors know what you like and don't like. Your opinion matters. If you don't like something, don't buy it, be honest and be open about your favorite authors. If the last five books you read by your favorite best seller stunk, then why keep buying them? Don't be afraid to try new authors, they are the future of the industry, and you might be surprised!
Interview by Mayra Calvani
Mayra Calvani is a multi-genre author and reviewer. Her paranormal books include Embraced by the Shadows (romantic horror/vampire) and Dark Lullaby (atmospheric horror). She is also the co-author of the nonfiction work, The Slippery Art of Book Reviewing.
Rose DesRochers is the founder of Today's Woman, a site catering to writers–both men and women–of all levels and genres, including poetry. The site features articles, stories and interviews and also publishes press releases. It also has a forum for writers to share ideas and promote their work. In this interview, DesRochers talks about what makes her site special.
Why don't you begin by telling us a little about yourself? Are you also a writer?
Yes I am. I have been writing poetry for 20 + years. I am also a freelance writer. I have written several articles and essays.
How did Todays-Woman.net get started?
In the beginning Today's Woman was going to be a woman's portal. I changed my mind and decided it would be a friendship community for both men and women. Some of the first members joined and started submitting their writing. It took on a writing theme of its own, so we began to gear the site more towards writers. Today it is a full fledge writing community.
Who is your audience?
Our audience is writers of all genes, but a higher percentage are poets.
What does your site offer readers and writers?
Today's Woman Writing Community has a useful selection of services including author interviews, regular columns, interactive forums, and a place for writers to share their work for critique by their peers. We have monthly writing contest that spark member’s creativity and we have a variety of writing lessons submitted by experience writers to help writers. We also offer a full directory of links to literacy resources, famous poets, online book store, and an area in our forums of calls for submission and writing contests. We also offer our visitors and members a writers warning section that keeps them up to date about various poetry contests and publishers to avoid.
How do you become a member?
All you need to do is register. Potential writers must be 18 to join. You have a choice between a free account or a premium account.
Are your members mostly women?
Funny you would ask that. The name gives the impression that the site is only for women, but we have an equal number of male members. Sometimes we have more male members posting that women. Our webmaster is male, our co-admin is male and even our moderator is male. What would you know this month's writer of the month is also male. Maybe we should change the name to Today's Man?
What types of promotional opportunities do you offer in your site?
Today's Woman Writing Community offers writers the chance to be recognized as writer of the month. In addition any writer can submit a link to their website to our link directory. For a small fee authors can advertise their book on our website.
What types of articles and stories do you accept for publication?
We are interested in seeing well-written articles on writing, self-help, humor, motivation, true stories and other articles that might be of interest to our loyal readers. Members who join can submit any story, except erotica, to our story board.
What is the hardest task in running such a site? The most rewarding aspect?
Administrating Today’s Woman has been a wonderful experience for me. Not only have I made some wonderful friends, but I have grown in my own writing.
Is there anything else you'd like to tell our readers?
Todays-Woman.net has been a team effort. The site not only belongs to me, but the members. I’m very lucky to have a supportive family and the kind of members, friends, and staff who are willing to devote so much time and energy to helping all writers fulfill their goals.
One of the things writers are asked most often is: where do you get your ideas from? I’ve heard all kinds of responses. I’m envious of the writers who know… but I suspect they are few and far between. The truth, for me, is that they fall out of the sky. They are an amalgamation of the life I’ve lived, the people I’ve known, the books I’ve read, the movies I’ve watched, the songs I’ve loved… and often all at oblique angles.
Example: I watch a lot of true crime shows. I watched one recently that was telling the story of this poor woman who’d been kidnapped by a man and his wife and imprisoned for six or seven years. I won’t go into all the horrible details, but suffice to say that it sparked something. What I ended up writing had little, if nothing, to do with the original story – but it started the ball rolling. Another time, I was writing about a relationship between two characters, and I remembered when a woman in my life had asked me to sing her to sleep because she loved the sound of my voice. My voice is nothing special, in my opinion, but her love of it was so honest and genuine, I couldn’t refuse. This found it’s way into the book, even though the character I ascribed it to was nothing like the real life woman I’d sung to.
I suppose people (self included) look for formulas for things. An ‘if you do A and B, then C will occur’. Writing is no different. In the end, I guess there aren’t any easy answers, or, if you really want to get down to it – there are too many. ‘Write what you know’ is true sometimes. ‘Less is more’ is true sometimes. But ‘rules are made to be broken’ can be true in the right moment as well. It’s all about a feeling in the gut, for me. ‘This goes there.’ ‘Why?’ ‘Because it does.’
A last, too-cutesy little mention. If you want to get all butterfly effect and zen-ish. I once sat down and wrote out an idea for a story. It was a good idea, and, I thought, an original one. A few days later, I was watching one of those true crime shows, and there my idea was – in real life. Something that had happened years ago. I’d never heard the real life story, but the parallels were downright spooky. I’d come up with an idea for a story. A real life killer had executed this idea years before. Did we both get our inspiration from the same place?
Maybe, sometimes, ideas come from a dark little man in a dark little room who sings and claps his hands and laughs while we dance to his tune.
–A native of Fort Worth, Texas, Cody McFadyen is the author of the international bestsellers Shadow Man and The Face of Death. A third book, The Darker Side, is coming out this October.
Read an interview with Cody at The Dark Phantom.
I just heard from Andrea Sisco at Armchair Interviews that they have a cool summer contest going on!
Here is the message by Andrea and Connie:
Announcing 2008 Contest: Summertime Blues For all you authors out there — or those who simply like to write –Tell us in fewer than 1,000 words (in any genre) a short story that takes place in summer. Our panel of judges will be looking for:
- Good storytelling
- Unique turn of words
- Use these words: summer, hotdogs, campfire, “Kumbiah” and blues.
- Well-written (grammar, word usage, etc.)
Winning story will receive $50 in prize money and the first and second runner-up will receive two books of our choosing. All three stories will be published on our site. AND you can list your winning honor on writing resume or book proposal.
- Submit to Connie@ArmchairInterviews.com as a Word doc (if Word not available, submit it inside an email)
- 1,000 words maximum
- Please underline the required words used (listed above)
- Your favorite genre
- On cover sheet, list genre, name, email address, mailing address
Deadline is September 30, 2008
Only one submission per person Winners will be notified after the judging decisions are made. Get writing, get creative–and don’t wait until September 29 to submit. And good luck!
Andrea and Connie
–Mayra Calvani, aka The Dark Phantom