Articles tagged "writers"

Modern Thought Leadership: three absolute must-have’s

 Modern Thought-Leadership: It doesn’t happen overnight

With the ever-expanding world of social media marketing influence, the concept of the modern day “thought-leader” has not only experienced resurgence, it has also enjoyed an expanded application of what thought-leadership is and can be.  Just last week, I had the opportunity to work with the awesome team at Prezi to create a kind of journey for modern day thought-leader.  Out of this research developed a pathway and three key, absolute must-have drivers:

  • Passion and Drive – a characteristic all thought-leaders share.  Not only do they have a new idea or way of thinking about something, they all posses an avalanche-like drive to share this idea with the masses.  It is what keeps them awake at night, what makes them attend every conference, present at every forum, and write every blog post.  You must have passion for the subject matter.  Want some inspiration?  Check out any TEDtalk.
  • Innovative Use of Tools – every influencer/thought-leader I’ve ever run across from Deepak Chopra to Guy Kawasaki have all utilized creative ways to spread their knowledge with new audiences.  This is now easier than ever in that anyone with an imagination and access to the web can find an audience.  Social media outlets provide ever-inventive opportunities for infinite sharing and connection.
  • Care about the Audience – yes, meeting your audience face-to-face after a presentation matters, book signings matter, interactive Q&A sessions matter.  In other words, the audience matters (A LOT).  The most successful thought-leaders realize this fact and take great care to not only reach out to but also elicit feedback from their audiences.

These three points just begin to scratch the surface of the path to thought-leadership but, truthfully influencers and innovators can come from anywhere…so, STAY MOTIVATED AND SHARE YOUR IDEAS! (also, checking out some of the steps summarized in the thought-leadership Prezi won’t hurt either.

What does modern-day thought-leadership mean to you?  How are you spreading your ideas?

Writing and work ethic

A dear friend of mine told me the other day that she couldn’t understand how I was able to write. “I just sit down at my computer and, well, eventually I start writing,” I told her.

“No,” she said. “I mean, I don’t understand how you can make yourself do something that is so incredibly frustrating to me. I hate writing — I can’t believe you do it for fun.”

I replied, “Well, it’s not always fun.”

Because as we writers know, it isn’t always fun. Sitting down to write, there are always those “no good, very bad” days where writing isn’t something that relaxes us or even something we take pleasure in. It drives us insane. We want to do anything but write. (The Internet seems like a great place to hide from writing. Talk to any writer and they can tell you all about the most mind-numbing waste-of-time websites on the Internet and how they have spent considerable time there.)

So why do we stay writing, even as day has turned to night, a long frustrating night into another bleary-eyed morning? Why do we keep writing something that might never find a huge audience, or something we know is just going to get cut in edits?

I believe that’s where work ethic comes in, and even though only a few lucky people on this Earth get to call writing a job, there is some aspect of being a writer that demands you take it as seriously as your job. You are producing art, but you are also doing “work.”

That’s the separation between people who write opportunistically and without much labor and writers who have to sit and struggle through a piece, and toss and turn all night because wow-does-that-scene-stink. Sometimes you have to force yourself to write, just because you told yourself you would. Even if nothing good comes of it, at least you put more hours into your craft, your strange and beautiful desire to translate and work through ideas on a page.

A writer’s work-ethic comes from the knowledge that it’s not that first hour where you write your best, but that third or fourth. That moment when the words (after losing all sense from endless re-reading), begin to coalesce into something extraordinary and true. A writer’s work-ethic is knowledge that the payoff isn’t always in the moment of writing itself, or even publication, but the fact that you participated in part of a long history of a phenomenon of inward-thinking and art. It’s beautiful to be a part of, even if it’s not always fun or prosperous.

So the next time someone asks you why you write, why you can’t make an event or go out that night because you have to do it, and why you can’t just write another time,  maybe it’s best just to say, “Because I need to. Because I want to.”

What to Read?

Finding recommendations for independently published books can be difficult. Over at The Guardian, Dan Holloway explains:

“As a reader, I believe life is too short: if I want a great thriller, there’s enough Mark Billingham and Tami Hoag to work through. If I choose to read self-published books it’s because I want something different.”

Holloway also outlines resources for finding well-reviewed self-published books. There’s the Indie eBook Review, which reviews recent self-published books, as well as IndieReader, which does an incredible job writing thoughtful reviews of some really interesting self-published books. All in all, Holloway paints a portrait of a burgeoning literary culture surrounding independently published books, one that’s sure to grow as self-publishing becomes the dominant force in the literary marketplace. As a writer, it’s incredibly important to keep track of who is writing reviews and what kinds of books garner attention, especially if you want your title to find a large audience.

Another great resource is Booklamp.org, the “home of the Book Genome Project. Similar to how Pandora.com matches music lovers to new music, BookLamp helps you find books through a computer-based analysis of written DNA.”

A great way to make sure your own book gets reviewed is to look into some of Lulu’s reviewing services, including options to have your book reviewed by Kirkus or Clarion reviews.

So, where do you find help selecting books to read? What websites or book reviews are helpful? Do you think self-published books are getting the right amount of respect from reviewers? Have you ever reviewed someone else’s book online? Let us know!

Additional Reading:

Are eBook borrowers eBook buyers?

The struggle to get eBooks into libraries continues. Large publishers seem to be at an impasse, unsure whether giving libraries the rights to their books will drive down sales. Independent publishers, on the other hand, have been making their own eBooks available to libraries for some time, be it independently or through a platform.

For authors, libraries are a great way to broaden readership, but does it also help the bottom line? What we really want to know is: Are eBook borrowers eBook buyers?

According to a survey (New Survey Supports That Ebook Borrowers Buy, Too) conducted by the library-lending platform Overdrive and the American Library Association (ALA), readers who borrow eBooks from a library also end up buying more than three eBooks per month. Not only do readers who use digital libraries end up buying books, they’re actually more enthusiastic to buy after a visit to the eBook library.

“Library lending encourages people to experiment with new authors, topics and genres — which is good for the entire reading and publishing ecosystem,” Carrie Russell, director of the ALA’s Office for Information Technology Policy, said.

With the major publishers slowly, and hesitantly, entering the library market, now is a great time to get an eBook into the library, especially when selection is so limited and the appetite so huge. According to the survey, over half of respondents would consider buying an eBook they encountered on a library site, and almost 60% considered the library their main interaction with new titles. (For us, who follow books tirelessly on the Internet, that seems nuts! But this proves that libraries still play a huge part in book culture and book promotion).

It will be interesting to watch over the next few months how the transition of eBooks into libraries goes. It might be the perfect opportunity for independent publishers and independent writers to gain a foothold in a voracious marketplace, one that’s not as conventional as a bookstore, but is deeply entrenched in the book-reading ecosystem nonetheless.

Would you offer your eBook to a library? Have you? Do you believe the results of the survey or does your own experience tell you otherwise? Let us know in the comments.

The Rise of “New Adult” Fiction

It’s everywhere you look — media about young people in their 20s, trying to figure things out. It’s on HBO, it’s in film, it’s definitely in the blogosphere (it’s also the writer of this blog post, obviously).

Image by: Pete Ashton

Millenials,” as they’re known, have become a hot commodity in the media landscape, as this tech-savvy generation learns to deal with a recession and a prolonged adolescence that includes internships, grad school, and making a million different decisions about what they want to do with their lives.

So, it makes sense that a new genre of literature might emerge about this set. And, of course, it has emerged from authors who use multi-platform publishing. Cora Carmack, who self-published her book, Losing It, saw her book rise to number 18 in the New York Times bestseller list without it even having a print edition. She was then offered a contract from HarperCollins to write more books, as well as a re-release of Losing It.

The term itself – New Adult (NA) – was coined by St. Martin’s Press as a midway between adult literary fiction and young adult books. It didn’t really take off until this year, however, as scores of independent writers began writing novels that talked about these “Millenials” in an engaging, experimental and exciting way. A new website, call NA Alley, reviews a number of “NA” titles that are popping up from independent authors.

That a new genre would explode from the ranks of self-published authors makes total sense. Publishing through an open platform allows writers to experiment as well as publish books that might not already fit into a niche market. By finding readers, they are creating their own markets, and big publishers are beginning to notice. Publishers now follow the independent authors, not the other way around. 

As readers continue to look for new books that they can relate to, novels have to change with the tastes of each generation. Unfortunately, large publishing is slow. Independent writers, always keeping their ears to the ground, can identify new genres, know what they want to read themselves, and publish it without having to wait for the market to catch up with them.

Lulu’s 13 Days of Writing Song – Day 6 Video

On the sixth day of writing my true love gave to me…

Add some joy (and discounts) to your day with our silly short video. Happy Holidays! To check out Lulu’s 13 days of deals, visit the landing page here: Thirteen Days of Deals

Lulu’s 13 Days of Writing – Day 1 Video

On the first day of writing my true love gave to me….

We created fun holiday videos in stop animation to celebrate writers. There is a great deal being announced each day of the 13 days (Dec. 13- Dec. 26, 2012), so stay tuned!

Great Apps for Writers

You’ve heard plenty of people say,”There’s an app for that,” but which are best for writers? Whether you need to give your creative side a kick or want to continue revising your work during your morning commute, here are a few apps you may want to check out:

Pages: For $9.99 this Apple app allows you to write and re-write no matter where you and your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch are. Start a new doc or drag Pages ’09, plain text, or Microsoft Word files into the iCloud and… boom, your creativity can take center stage at the bus stop or while waiting for a movie to begin. Other perks include choosing from 16 templates for reports, flyers, cards, and posters; adding in charts and graphs; or printing wirelessly with AirPrint. And since Pages saves your work as you go, you’ll never have to worry you’ve lost your latest if you press the wrong button or close out of the app. Given all of these perks, it’s no wonder MacWorld rated it 4/5 stars.

Advanced English Dictionary & Thesaurus: 250,000 entries, 1.6 million words, and 134,000 pronunciation guides — all for 99 cents. Need I say more? If you’re in a bind, this is the app to turn to. What’s more, you can edit your history, bookmark specific words, and learn not just what the word means and its synonyms but also a whole host of related information including examples/types and parts of the object you’re looking up.

Story Tracker: At $7.99 this app is a steal for the submitting writer who wants to keep his or her ducks in a row. You can keep track of the publications you’ve submitted your works to (sortable by date), make note of details for each market, including title, genre, editor, or deadline, catalog your submission history with specific sites and markets, and more.

Evernote: See something you think might make for a nice moment in a future novel? Jot it down with Evernote, a free app that helps you “stay organized, save your ideas and improve productivity.” Recently optimized for the iPhone 5 so that you can view more notes, this New York Times Top 10 Must-Have app’s perks are many and include:

Inspirational Quotes for Writers

How many times have you come across a quote and thought I should write that down? If you’re anything like me, the answer is: a lot. Finding meaning in someone else’s words is a joy, and as a writer I find comfort in the wisdom — and struggles (let’s be honest) — of others. It’s nice to know that not everyone gets “it” (or a seven figure deal for that matter) the first time out the gate.

“I try to remind myself how much I love to stitch words together to make a story that kids might enjoy reading,” says Kristiana Gregory, author of the young adult novel Stalked. The Robert Frost quote taped to her printer reads, “All the fun is in how you say a thing.”

Alexandra Foster, a former New York City-based freelance writer, turns to Ralph Waldo Emerson when she’s struggling:

“Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.”

I have quotes all over my apartment. Above my desk I have Ernest Hemingway’s “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.” And on my fridge there’s a small piece of paper with Andy Rooney’s words scribbled: “A writer’s job is to tell the truth.”

VH1 writer and blogger Kate Spencer says Andy Warhol’s honesty “speaks” to her — especially when he said: “Don’t think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it’s good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.”

Each of us will take to certain phrases more than others, but in case you need a little inspiration these days, here are some quotes to consider:

“Every writer I know has trouble writing.” –Joseph Heller

“The road to hell is paved with adverbs.” –Stephen King

“You can make anything by writing.” –C.S. Lewis

“You can’t edit a blank page.” –Nora Roberts

You might also enjoy the Pinterest Pin Board we just started as a place to collect inspiring quotes for authors.

In the comments, tell us: What quotes inspire you as a writer?

The Best Web Resources for Authors (Part 2)

In an earlier blog post we went over some of the Internet’s best sites for the latest on publishing, finding a critique buddy or group, and even writing prompts. But that’s of course not all the Web has to offer. Here are a few others you might want to check out:

Mashable: Think you know social media? Think again. This self-proclaimed “largest independent news source dedicated to covering digital culture, social media and technology” features helpful articles on what’s trending (hint: keep checking to see if there’s a PR opportunity for your book); the latest must-have apps; and the marketing campaigns that have caught their expert’s eyes. If you’re looking to find out who’s showing off their stuff right, visit Mashable and learn from the best.

Seth Godin’s Blog: Seth Godin is a marketer extraordinaire. No, really. Just ask American Way magazine, which called him “America’s Best Marketer.” How did he earn such a title? Well, in addition to publishing 14 books (now available in 30 languages), he’s also founded dozens of companies. Although he admits that some failed, his latest– Squidoo.com, a platform for publishing original, user-crafted lifestyle content on single topic pages–averages 13.1M U.S. visitors per month and 27M worldwide. In short, listen to his thoughts on “the circles of marketing,” taking risks, and, well, anything else.

The Coalition of Independent Authors: Speaking of those risks Mr. Godin talks about, if you’ve published (whether independently or not) you’ve taken the biggest one a creative type can.