From Writers Helping Writers:
So, three things about me:
- I like to help (really, I’m a bit psycho about it – be warned)
- I like to build unique storytelling tools
- I like to share great resource finds with other writers
Online, I try to match people with the information they need. Sometimes people reach out through email or a Facebook page to see if I can help them solve a problem they’re having. Many writers tend to have similar struggles, and so I often end up recommending the same tools or sites again and again. I thought it might be fun to round up the resources I recommend the most.
#1: The Critique Circle
A lot of writers reach out because they’ve 1) written a book and need guidance on the next steps, 2) they’ve become frustrated because they can’t seem to sell their book and need to know if there’s something wrong with it, or 3), they need an editor for a manuscript. While it sounds like these writers may need different things, likely they don’t. All three could benefit from the same thing – unbiased feedback.
Critique Circle is an online community where you can submit your work for critique and offer feedback to others in turn. You’ll get a variety of critiques (six, ten, maybe more) from writers at different levels. Having six sets of eyes (or more) on your work means collectively you’ll get some good guidance on what to fix, and multiple critiques can help with spotting patterns. If several folks are all pointing out the same or similar issues, you know there’s a problem to fix.
You might be wondering why I would send someone who is submitting to agents and publishers to a critique group and not an editor, right? Well, it’s simple: many writers submit before they’re ready. (I sure did, back in the day.) And taking your book to an editor right off the bat is going to cost money, whereas the Critique Circle is free (they do have a paid plan, too). Starting with a free option is a good first step.
So, unless a person tells me they’ve extensively workshopped a book and have already used critique groups, I recommend starting at Critique Circle, even if a person just needs an unbiased opinion on whether a book is ready for submitting. Once the writer has learned what they can at the critique level, they can decide if they need to move to an editor, or focus on their query letter & targeting to achieve a better response rate.
Another handy-dandy tool I suggest to writers all the time as they polish and tighten is ProWritingAid. It’s a brilliant tool with a free and paid version (and the cost is reasonable and offers great value). As I mentioned above, hiring a freelance editor can be costly, so the stronger you make your writing before seeking one out, the better. And if you are querying, or sending a synopsis and sample pages, you don’t want typos, grammar or weak writing to distract an agent or editor from your brilliant story premise.
. . . .
Ah, marketing, the necessary evil. We can write a book, and publish it, but if we don’t market it, chances are, no one will find it. So, we need to proactively think about our audience and how to reach them. I know you’re worried about coming across as car salesman-y, but here’s a secret – marketing isn’t about selling books. It’s about having a focus, being authentic, and building relationships. (You can read more about my FAR Marketing Method here.),
If we want to find our reading audience across the entire world, we should get online and embrace social media to some degree. Don’t worry, we don’t need to do it all, but we should do some, focusing on platforms where our ideal audience hangs out.
A big problem with social media is that it can steal a lot of time, so using tools in the right way can help us be more efficient. A tool I couldn’t live without is Buffer. It allows me to schedule content on all my social platforms, so I’m always sharing helpful articles and occasional items to help people discover how I can help them. Scheduling this content means I get time back to use my social media time to hang out and chit-chat on feeds and DMs, as being social is what it’s really about.
Between writing, publishing, marketing, and running a business, well, writers juggle A LOT. Lists can be our friend, but having a way to visualize our action items and track important spreadsheets, links and sites in one place is really helpful. Becca and I use Trello, which allows us to create boards, lists, and cards for everything we do from our publication process for each book, to marketing objectives and goals, to brainstorming ideas for blog posts, books, and new tools for One Stop for Writers. Cards can be dragged from one column to the next, reordered, labelled, etc. It’s a brilliant way to map out a to-do list or process, or even brainstorm ideas for a new book. Did I mention Trello has a generous free version?
Link to the rest at Writers Helping Writers
PG used Buffer a long time ago and can’t remember why he stopped, so he’s going to try it again. The idea is that you can spend a single creative session putting together posts for Instagram, etc., etc., then schedule them over a period of time so new bits of marketing stuff is showing up on various people’s feeds throughout the day.
Absent scheduling, if you put everything up at 10:00 AM your time, then you’ll miss the people who check their feeds at breakfast and those who check them on the bus trip home and those who check them when the kids are finally in bed. The feeds on the big social media sites can move at warp speed. Yes, people can follow you, if they remember to do so, but showing up on feeds because you’ve scheduled them on a spread-out basis several times a day means you’re hitting more people than you are if all your tweets, posts, etc., show up at 9:00 pm every day. Oh, and don’t forget time-zones.
There are several tools/services in the OP that PG hasn’t tried, so he’s happy to have those visitors who have tried them to share their likes/dislikes, etc.
One additional point – PG has been on social media for long enough to have seen particular tools that start out very nicely end up being annoying because the venture capitalist that’s funding the company says they need to sell ads everywhere or something like that. It doesn’t hurt to keep an eye out for articles that tell you who’s up and who’s down.
Hint: AOL Chat Rooms are no longer a thing.