Friday, January 29, 2016

Diversify Revenue Streams #AmWriting #Freelance

Writers more than any other creative professional seem to buy into the illusion that we need to work for free to gain exposure or build a portfolio. This sometimes leads to exclusive arrangements that don't benefit the writer at all--not in the long term.

Painters and sculptors, for instance, don't commit to exclusivity with a gallery unless they are receiving a substantial amount of commission in return. However, writers will jump on exclusive contracts (or self-publish exclusively with a major distributor) with only the vague promise of more exposure or "you can showcase your work for free" so people can "try you out" deals.

This must stop. As professionals, we collectively need to start respecting our work enough to set a fair price on it for the amount of work involved, our own costs of production, and because no one should be exclusive to any one entity without a substantial upfront payout. That's business.

There is a strong business argument for diversifying your income streams. Warren Buffet said, "never rely on a single source of income." Wise words, yet a lot of authors aren't understanding the benefits of being with multiple distributors and having more than one thing or service you're trying to market. If you were investing in the stock market, would you put everything you have into one company? What if it went bankrupt tomorrow? If you were in a casino, would you play roulette and put your entire life savings on the line for one spin of the wheel? Are both scenarios to risky for you? Then why would you as a business owner put all of your faith in one distributor or one client? It's not a sound business decision.

If you're a freelance writer, spread your talents around to multiple magazines or advertising agencies seeking content marketers. Layer that with writing books (and vice versa--authors, freelance your skills in other arenas.) Become multi-faceted with various streams of revenue to keep you afloat should one of those streams dry up. It happens.

Authors can also create e-courses to teach aspiring writers how to craft a novel or, depending on your book's topic, become a professional speaker. Many companies look to sponsor blogs that are doing well--are you honing your content marketing skills? There are so many options if you only choose to hustle and give yourself the credit you deserve for the talent you possess.

We live in the age of the independent contractor where a lot of companies prefer hiring freelancers for project work. Beware the exclusivity or 'non-compete' clause because you never want to limit your opportunities.

Value your work. Price it accordingly. Diversify not only your revenue streams, but also your marketable skill sets. Present yourself as the expert you are and do not settle for deals--ever--that simply promise "exposure."

I read an article recently about a musician being asked to perform at a local restaurant for free with the promise of "exposure so people could try the band out." He asked the restaurant owner to come to his house and cook for him and his buddies for free for a week just so they could try him out, see if they liked his food. Guess how well that over?

The key to long term success in this industry is to create diverse revenue streams and to continue to layer upon your skill set to branch out. If you're exclusive to one entity now, I ask you...think about how your revenue could grow if you were in multiple platforms or if you had a diverse clientele.

If you're not diversifying because that sounds like too much work, then maybe you don't want success bad enough. Because guess what? Someone else does and they're going to manage their energy, create more, network more, and diversify their way to a growing income.

Never settle for less than you deserve.

Write on!
Amber Lea Easton
http://www.moxiegirlwriting.com


Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of nonfiction, thrillers, and romantic suspense. A professional editor and freelance journalist for nearly two decades, she created Mountain Moxie Publishing Services to assist authors in mastering the writing craft. Her memoir, Free Fall, is dedicated to spreading suicide awareness, has topped international best selling charts, and has been named by Dr. Prem as fourth on the "Ten Most Inspiring True Stories Everyone Must Read" list. Easton is also a speaker regarding parenting through trauma and suicide awareness. To discover more about Mountain Moxie Publishing Services, please go to http://www.moxiegirlwriting.com. For a list of all of Easton's books, articles and interviews, go to http://www.amberleaeaston.com.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Wearing Three Hats While Revising #AmWriting #Motivation

One of the biggest issues I find when I'm working with clients is that they like to argue "big picture" with me. I will be commenting on a specific drop in plot or characterization in a scene and will hear, "but later on--in book two--that will all make sense."

Umm...sorry. If you want the reader to stay with you until book two, then you as the author need to remain in the moment. You need to revise as if you are three people simultaneously--architect of the story, character, and reader.

How would the character react in that moment? Remember that the character does not know what you know as the author. They are being compelled by your creativity and vision. Their reactions must be believable to the actions occurring and the information that they have at that moment in that scene.

Will the reader believe that the cause and effect of this scene? Trust me when I say that readers are fickle. If they're into your story but you do something so unrealistic or unforgivable in chapter sixteen, they will put down the book and never return. If your character's family was just murdered and the character was threatened by a specific person yet says nothing...does nothing...has a burger with the "suspect" as if everything is fine--maybe even cries in his arms despite knowing that he is ninety-nine percent most likely the murderer--is that believable? Will the readers believe this reaction based on how you've characterized the protagonist to this point?

Yes, you the author may know that the "suspect" is indeed innocent--but if the character has been afraid, if the threats were made, if the kids were killed in their sleep and the house went up in flames, and the protagonist only has one known enemy--do the actions of the character in that moment support the story thus far?

The last thing you want a reader to do is stop trusting you as the author.

It's always good to know where your story is headed, but you must remember that only you have that information until the reader turns the last page. It's your job as the writer to keep the action going, the characters in a "need-to-know" status, and the actions/reactions both believable for the circumstance.

As you revise, keep those three perspectives in balance. You are the omniscient god of your creative world, but the characters are living it, and the readers are experiencing it. Make sure you don't miss some key reactions and actions simply because you already know the ending.

Write on!
Amber Lea Easton
http://www.moxiegirlwriting.com 

Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of nonfiction, thrillers, and romantic suspense. A professional editor and freelance journalist for nearly two decades, she created Mountain Moxie Publishing Services to assist authors in mastering the writing craft. Her memoir, Free Fall, is dedicated to spreading suicide awareness, has topped international best selling charts, and has been named by Dr. Prem as fourth on the "Ten Most Inspiring True Stories Everyone Must Read" list. Easton is also a speaker regarding parenting through trauma and suicide awareness. To discover more about Mountain Moxie Publishing Services, please go to http://www.moxiegirlwriting.com. For a list of all of Easton's books, articles and interviews, go to http://www.amberleaeaston.com

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Snag 'em and Bag 'em! Mastering Hooks #AmWriting



 “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.”

—Robert Frost


Hooking The Reader
(go ahead and get out your work-in-progress to make this an interactive post)

Beginning is always the hardest. We writers stare at the blinking cursor, the story we want to tell urging us forward, but the challenge becomes finding that perfect first sentence. It's hard to do. Readers take it for granted when they're ensnared from the first word. Little do they know the agony involved in the author's mind as we search for that hook. 

With first drafts, I encourage you to simply begin. Write it out from the first word to the last, but then return ready to slice and dice up your masterpiece. I can't tell you how many first chapters I've cut completely in revision. Why? Because they didn't do their job. Yes, they may have smashed open the creative process for me as the author, but in reality they weren't the right fit for the tone or pace I wanted to set for my story. 

The key to great writing is being able to admit when you need to hit that delete button and do it without remorse. 

As we write, stories evolve and take us on a journey we never expected. Characters change. Plots become layered and intense. With non-fiction or fiction, we may realize we began in the wrong place—perhaps too early or too late. So what do we do? We fix the beginning so it does the rest of the story justice. 

I'm a huge movie buff. Not only do I like them for entertainment, but I also enjoy them from the point-of-view as an author. Movies rarely start out with long meandering character introductions or drawn out pans of the landscape that go on and on and on with nothing else happening. No. They begin with a strong hook that pulls us into the tone of the world we are about to enter for a few hours. Perhaps it's a shot of dark alley where a woman is stumbling against overturned trashcans. Maybe it's a scene where a man is sneaking out of window as daylight breaks across a well-manicured neighborhood. Movies get to the point and set us up for the story from the very first "action." 

That's what the blinking cursor is for the writer. Ready, set, action! With authors in a world where our books are competing with a million others in the digital age, the pressure is high to capture the reader's attention immediately. Does this mean you need to start with a murder or a car chase or something equally devastating? Not unless the story calls for it. Interest can be achieved without shock value. 

First chapters serve the following purposes—setting the tone, introducing characters, establishing the conflict, and laying out the setting. They need to be free of backstory (which I'll talk about later in this book) and devoid of unnecessary descriptions that cause the pace to drag. 

This brings me back to that first paragraph, or even the first page. Look at your work in progress now and ask yourself if you've nailed it. If you've revised a hundred times already, I don't care. Be hard on yourself. Read your first page now and ask yourself these questions:

Have you started the story in the right place? If you were shooting this as a movie, would that first scene be compelling? Knowing your story as you do, is the beginning setting it up well? Are the characters being introduced in an interesting way or have you over-described their physicality rather than their personality? Have you established tension on that first page? 

If you answered no to any of the above—or even if you shrugged and thought it's 'good enough'—be prepared to hit that delete button and push yourself to a higher standard. I'll tell you right now—shrugging and thinking it's merely okay or fine are sure signs that you can do better. 

What about prologues? The publishing industry is forever evolving, as I'm sure you know. Prologues have fallen out of fashion for most genres, except perhaps science fiction and fantasy where a lot of world building is necessary. The consensus amongst agents is that they are a waste of time and an indication that the story has started in the wrong place. Some even view a prologue as the writer being too lazy to pepper backstory throughout the book in a more challenging way. If you have a prologue, ask yourself how you can convey that information differently within the manuscript so that readers can be catapulted into a story that's forever moving forward. 

Wow yourself. Yes, I said it. Just between us writers, let's be honest. There are moments when we read our own words and think, "damn, that's good." We may even be a little surprised and wonder how we managed to pull off such a brilliant line. There's nothing wrong with that feeling of pride. If only every line could be stellar, writing wouldn't be such hard work. 

Did your beginning wow you? For the most part, we are own worst critics (although I've met some whose arrogance impedes their self-awareness, but, because you're reading a book about taking your writing to the next level, I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt). This critical eye can work to our advantage at this point. 

 
“I love writing. I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotions.”--James A. Michener


Why do the first chapters need to establish tension? That's the hook. Intrigue must be established the moment the reader looks at your page one. This is true regardless of genre. Even children's books begin with introducing the problem that the story will conquer. 

Today's readers have many choices available to them. They download samples to read and, if yours bored them for a millisecond, they will move on to another choice. That's the reality. This doesn't mean you need to sacrifice quality at all—nor does it mean you need to compromise your story or your literary style. 

So let's take a look at your work. What does your first paragraph look like? Does it contain power words that hammer their meaning without supportive adjectives or adverbs? Are you initiating a promise to the reader? If not, revise. Tighten it. Lose those adjectives and adverbs that are indicators that you're not using the correct noun or verb. 

Have you intrigued the reader? Is there a sense of the character's inner conflict or attitude? What's the mood of the story? Will your audience be able to immediately know if you're writing a mystery, a drama, a romance, or a comedy? If not, how can you change it? Do you need to begin somewhere else? 

As an editor, I've seen many stories that actually begin in the wrong place. This happens because the author had a story to tell, but as the writing commenced and twists and turns unfolded, the story itself changed. That's common and a natural result of the creative process. However, some authors are loathe to cut their original beginning. As I've stated, I've cut many beginnings after writing 'the end' on a manuscript. I've had to go back and completely rewrite the first few chapters so they worked with the finished story. It's also true that sometimes I've gotten it right from the start. Be critical when judging this for yourself. There's no crime in rewriting a new beginning. 

It's essential that the reader see something in the main character that they are identifying with emotionally from that first introduction. This doesn't mean spending paragraphs on physical description, which needs to be handled sparingly anyway unless someone has a glaring scar or physical attribute that defines them and sets up the central story conflict. What are their actions saying about them as a person? Are their internal thoughts happy, irritated, angry, scared, conflicted? What are they doing in that place? Why do we as readers care about this person? If we don't know right away, we will never know because we'll stop reading. Interest isn't created simply by a physical description—a hook is based on an emotional connection. 

Why should the reader care about your story? Answering that you think they should care because you wrote it and spent months or years crafting it is the wrong answer. Those first chapters---especially those first five pages or so—are your hook.

Here are a few examples of great first paragraphs:

From Perfection by Julie Metz
It happened like this: Henry's footsteps on the old wooden floorboards. The toilet flushing. More footsteps, perhaps on the stairs. Silence. Then the thud.

From Burn by Linda Howard
This was the vacation from hell.
Jenner Redwine sat frozen on the barstool, trying to remember what Bridget had told her and reconcile it with the nightmare that was actually happening. She'd been told that a man and a woman would argue at some point during the evening. The woman, Tiffany, would leave, and the man, Cael, would then approach Jenner. She'd been instructed to appear interested, and accommodating. She was to do exactly what he said, otherwise they would kill Syd, the only real friend she had in this world.

From Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson
The accused man, Kabuo Miyamaoto, sat proudly upright with a rigid grace, his palms placed softly on the defendant's table—the posture of a man who has detached himself insofar as this is possible at his own trial. Some in the galley would later say that his stillness suggested a disdain for the proceedings; others felt certain it veiled a fear of the verdict that was to come. Whichever it was, Kabuo showed nothing—not even a flicker in his eyes. He was dressed in a white shirt worn buttoned to the throat and gray, neatly pressed trousers. His figure, especially the neck and shoulders, communicated the impression of irrefutable physical strength of precise, even imperial bearing. Kabuo's features were smooth and angular; his hair had been cropped close to his skull in a manner that made its musculature prominent. In the face of the charge that had been leveled against him he sat with his dark eyes trained straight ahead and did not appear to move at all.

From Fearless Fourteen by Janet Evanovich
In my mind, my kitchen is filled with crackers and cheese, roast chicken leftovers, farm fresh eggs, and coffee beans ready to grind. The reality is that I keep my Smith & Wesson in the cookie jar, my Oreos in the microwave, a jar of peanut butter and hamster food in the over-the-counter cupboard, and I have beer and olives in the refrigerator. I used to have birthday cake in the freezer for emergencies, but I ate it.

 
“A little talent is a good thing to have if you want to be a writer. But the only real requirement is the ability to remember every scar.”--Stephen King


Hooks Throughout Your Novel
It's not enough to grab your reader's attention from the opening pages. You must integrate other hooks throughout your book that pull your reader deeper into the story. 

All stories begin with a promise. Whether it's to find the killer and bring him to justice or to conquer another species to save earth, the initial hook implies a promise to the reader of what is to come. Regardless of genre, hooks are a necessary component to storytelling.

As writers, we pepper various hooks throughout the book, always at key spots, that keep the reader turning the page. Think of them like guideposts on map steering your reader along, perhaps asking key questions or deepening a sense of doom. By strategically using hooks, you are creating that can't-put-it-down-for-even-a-minute feeling in your reader. 

There is a sea of books out there and avid readers usually have a large to-be-read list. When they come to a chapter break, they often treat it like a commercial break where they get up to find a snack, let the dog out, check email, or whatever. That's to be expected, but you want them thinking about your book while they're away and getting restless to return to find out what happens next. 

You don't want them forgetting about it and never picking it back up. 

So how do we do that? By making sure our scene breaks, chapter breaks, and chapter beginnings are as compelling as page one. 

The strongest hooks stir emotion or raise questions in the reader that keeps them reading "just one more page before bed." And then another and another. A reaction can be subtle, but it's strong enough to keep the reader compelled to discover more. 

Not all hooks resonate the same with every reader, this is true. You as the author can't control that. What you need to keep in mind when placing and constructing a solid hook is the story's promise. 

Focusing on hooks forces you to write with intention. This may feel awkward at first as you look through your manuscript and realize there are more revisions to be made. The craft of writing is hard work and there is no secret formula for mastering it. There is only information that you can use to elevate your writing to another level. Writing hooks can feel forced if you're not used to it, but keep tweaking them until they become a natural part of your writing process. Think of hooks as another tool in your writers' toolbox. 

When revising, look for opportunities to strengthen your story with well-placed hooks. Look at your scene breaks, chapter breaks, and opening lines of chapters. Do they elicit questions, emotion, or suspense? Do they possess an element of foreshadowing? These are subtle, remember, and your word choices are important.

Examples of some chapter break hooks taken from random books on the shelf behind me:

Last sentence of a chapter break from Certain Girls by Jennifer Weiner
When she turned toward the window, I opened my eyes a crack, and I could see her in the lamplight, her secret face, the one she shows only to me.

Last paragraph of a scene break from back roads by Tawni O'Dell
I stood up. My jeans were soaked from sitting on the ground for so long and from tromping through the wet woods. I stared at her, willing her to turn around and see me, to look at me with pity or ridicule or indifference but to at least see me. I was beginning to think I had imagined everything.

Do you sense the emotion? Remember that the key to a strong hook is appealing to the reader's sense of caring. This doesn't need to be overt, in fact it's best if it's simply crafted well enough that the reader doesn't feel like they've been hit over the head. Subtly is best.

Actionable steps for analyzing your manuscript for hooks

  • Have you started in the right place? What's going on in that first paragraph? Does it clearly set the tone of the story to come?
  • Do you have a lot of adverbs or adjectives? If so, that's a clue that you're using the wrong nouns and need to power up your sentences.
  • Is there any backstory at all in the first chapter? Why? Do you need to begin earlier in your story? 
  • Are your characters relatable, three-dimensional people that give the reader a reason to care about them? Are they unique in some way? Are you presenting them in a way that the reader cares about their fate? 
  •  Is there tension present? 
  •  If this were the opening of a movie, would the audience be captivated or more interested in their popcorn? 
  •  Knowing the story only as you the author can, do your first chapters do it justice?
  •  Evaluate every scene break and opening sentence of each chapter. Do they compel your reader to keep going? Are you strategically placing hooks like a map guiding your readers where you want them to go? Hooks are writing with intention—what is your intention?

Be ruthless with yourself when thinking about these questions. You only master the craft of writing by pushing yourself beyond your comfort zone. 


“A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus: 1. What am I trying to say? 2. What words will express it? 3. What image or idiom will make it clearer? 4. Is this image fresh enough to have an effect?”--George Orwell

Write On!
Amber Lea Easton
http://www.moxiegirlwriting.com


Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of nonfiction, thrillers, and romantic suspense. A professional editor and freelance journalist for nearly two decades, she created Mountain Moxie Publishing Services to assist authors in mastering the writing craft. Her memoir, Free Fall, is dedicated to spreading suicide awareness, has topped international best selling charts, and has been named by Dr. Prem as fourth on the "Ten Most Inspiring True Stories Everyone Must Read" list. Easton is also a speaker regarding parenting through trauma and suicide awareness. To discover more about Mountain Moxie Publishing Services, please go to http://www.moxiegirlwriting.com. For a list of all of Easton's books, articles and interviews, go to http://www.amberleaeaston.com

 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

10 Things To do in the Morning to Increase Chances of Success #AmWriting #Freelancing

Ten suggestions for getting your day started off on the right track every day. As freelancers/solo-preneurs it's sometimes tempting to "wing it", but these strategies can help you accomplish more in less time.

  1. Reflect. Take a moment in the silence of the morning to ask yourself, 'what did I accomplish toward my goals so far yesterday or last week?' 'what is the status of my current project?' 'what do I need to do today because of that?'
  2. Pause and be present. No, I'm not being woo-woo. It's true. If your day begins in chaos, it's likely to stay that way. Instead, take a deep breath, be in the moment (even if you have a dozen text messages) and decide to handle one thing at a time. This gives you the power over your day rather than the other way around.
  3. Get comfortable. Make sure everything you need is present before sitting down to focus...do you have your coffee or tea? Is your work space properly lighted? Is your chair at the right level? If not, these things can end up being a diversion as you go along. 
  4. Organize your work area. Clutter can distract you and ultimately sabotage you as you go along. Before you start, make sure your area is clean and free of items that will annoy you later in the day.
  5. Stretch, stand, walk. Before you sit down for a day at your desk, get the blood circulating through your veins. Not only will this give you more energy, it will give you a greater sense of control before you tackle your waiting projects. 
  6. Review the to-do list and prioritize. It might feel great to think you can do everything on that list, but it's important to make a hierarchy of "must do's" verses "want to do's". Be realistic. Nothing is more self-defeating than setting unrealistic expectations for yourself. It's important to do the high priority items first--no matter what you may think. Your energy and motivation is usually strongest when you first begin the day so why waste it on the tedious stuff you can do later?
  7. Visualize success. By thinking from the end, you can work backward to determine the necessary steps to reach your goal. This helps you stick to the plan at hand when you're already visualizing the end result. A mental play-by-play can also help you foresee potential challenges and enable you to make adjustments.
  8. Adjust and map your day. It's important to know if there is any preparation needed before a client phone call or a meeting so you're not blindsided. Thinking ahead and being prepared will make everything go much more smoothly. 
  9. Do not multitask. Sure, we all like to think we can do three things at once, but more often than not quality is sacrificed and we can start to feel overwhelmed. If you've done all the steps to this point, there is no need to feel like you need to "do it all." Focus! 
  10. Anticipate distractions. With a home office, especially, this is crucial. I still have teenagers coming in and out of the house and I want to know their schedule so I'm not taken by surprise while on a client phone call. Do you have a conference call at a certain time? Set an alarm on your computer or phone twenty minutes prior so you can finish up one thing and be fully present for the other. It's important that you know what may come up--even low-priority distractions like social media notifications--so you can be one step ahead. 
All of these things are easy to implement into your morning routine so you maintain that all important focus for being the best you can be.

Write on!
Amber Lea Easton
http://www.moxiegirlwriting.com 

 
Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of romantic thrillers, contemporary romance, women's fiction, and nonfiction. She also writes five different blogs, volunteers for children's literacy, and advocates for suicide awareness. In addition, she is a professional editor and mother of two extraordinary human beings. She currently lives in a small cabin high in the Rocky Mountains where she is completely aware of how lucky she is. To find out more about her books, visit http://www.amberleaeaston.com. To discover more about her publishing services, please go to http://www.moxiegirlwriting.com.

 

Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of nonfiction, thrillers, and romantic suspense. A professional editor and freelance journalist for nearly two decades, she created Mountain Moxie Publishing Services to assist authors in mastering the writing craft. Her memoir, Free Fall, is dedicated to spreading suicide awareness, has topped international best selling charts, and has been named by Dr. Prem as fourth on the "Ten Most Inspiring True Stories Everyone Must Read" list. Easton is also a speaker regarding parenting through trauma and suicide awareness. To discover more about Mountain Moxie Publishing Services, please go to http://www.moxiegirlwriting.com. For a list of all of Easton's books, articles and interviews, go to http://www.amberleaeaston.com.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Rejection Sucks But Life Rolls On #AmWriting #Motivation



Rejection sucks. As a writer, we're told we're supposed to toughen up and have a thick skin, but the reality is that never stops sucking. No matter how many articles are in my portfolio or how many published books are on my resume, I still cringe at the idea of being judged and dismissed. It's human nature.

Today I searched through all of my files looking for something I'd printed out years ago. I knew it was there and needed to find it. I moved my office not too long ago so now my shelves are split between two rooms--chaos, in other words. After spreading out all of my file folders and journals, I stumbled upon a rejection letter I received from a major publishing house back in 2002. For some reason I don't remember, I had it laminated! A lot has happened in my life since then so I don't remember why I would have done something like that, but that's not the point. I read that letter regarding a book of mine that's now published--by a different publisher--and looked at the criticism.

This editor had gone into great detail about the faults of the story. I started thinking about why that didn't stop me. Riptide--the romantic suspense novel that had been so unceremoniously destroyed by this woman--is one of my bestselling novels, well-received by readers and critics alike. But what kept me from quitting? Why didn't I say, "oh, well, I guess this writing career isn't for me" and quit right then? Believe me, that letter was one of many--but, for some reason, I'd laminated it.

As I thought about it, I started thinking about rejection as a whole concept. What makes us keep going after a lover chooses someone else? What makes us trust again when a friend abandons or betrays us? What makes some people fight through the darkness and causes others to give up?

I sat there for a long time looking at that letter and trying to remember that time in my life while questions swirled through my mind. What made me keep trying and failing again and again? 

I wish I could say 'hope', but that's too trite and not at all informative.

I think it has more to do with loving ourselves, with being connected with our purpose, with believing in ourselves enough to keep getting up again and again despite the odds, and a willingness to learn, adapt and do whatever it takes to succeed.

Perseverance, yes. Stubborness, yes. Focus, most definitely. Ambition, wholeheartedly.

I knew that Riptide had the potential to be great so kept on revising and submitting until a publisher finally said yes. Reading that editor's criticism now reminds me of how far I've come. Some of what she wrote no longer makes sense for the published novel so I squinted a lot trying to remember the version she'd read. I couldn't. It doesn't matter.

It doesn't matter now and it didn't matter then. Not in the big scheme. Sure, it probably disappointed me, but it didn't stop me. It was just a moment in time--a speedbump--and that's what all rejections are. They are simply saying, "this isn't for you right now" and steering you in another direction.

Whether it's the lover who says, "I want someone/something else" or a friend who simply drifts away, rejection can be a blessing even if it hurts like hell in the moment. It's life's way of pointing you toward the path that's right for you. As with the rejection from the publisher, I worked harder, became better, and ended up with a novel I'm proud to have out in the world. With exes, there isn't one I'd want back! So you see? It all worked out.

Rejections are the Universe saying, "something better is waiting for you."

Rejections never stop sucking. However, don't allow them to stop you from loving yourself, believing in yourself, and embracing new people or opportunities that will inevitably cross your path.

As for the lamination...that remains a mystery to be solved another day. 

Write on!
Amber Lea Easton
professional editor and author
http://www.moxiegirlwriting.com


Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of nonfiction, thrillers, and romantic suspense. A professional editor and freelance journalist for nearly two decades, she created Mountain Moxie Publishing Services to assist authors in mastering the writing craft. Her memoir, Free Fall, is dedicated to spreading suicide awareness, has topped international best selling charts, and has been named by Dr. Prem as fourth on the "Ten Most Inspiring True Stories Everyone Must Read" list. Easton is also a speaker regarding parenting through trauma and suicide awareness. To discover more about Mountain Moxie Publishing Services, please go to http://www.moxiegirlwriting.com. For a list of all of Easton's books, articles and interviews, go to http://www.amberleaeaston.com.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Be a Person First, Brand Second #BookMarketing #AmWriting


I hear a lot about "branding" from authors who are just starting out--and some of the more established ones as well. Too much time and effort is given, though, to the numbers aspect. People want to see 'conversions' and increased traffic. I hear constant chatter about rankings and sales data.

What I'm not hearing or seeing much of is fresh content. I'm not referring to new releases--I am talking about blog posts or Facebook posts that have nothing to do with your book. Bestselling authors--authentic bestselling authors--know how to do this well.

In the real world, people are bombarded with sales messages. Buy this, go here, do this. Adding your sales pitch to the fray twenty times a day is not going to compel someone to buy your book. Who are you anyway? Why should they take a chance on you? You're a new-to-them author...what sets you apart?

Oh, but I have a cute cover, you might say. 

So does Sally Sue.

Oh, but my blurb is outstanding. 

Great, but who cares when there are literally thousands of authors out there?

I have an award! 

*eye roll* The average reader doesn't care about awards, they care about content. Are you really any good? Will they like your style? Will they like your characters? Do they trust you to deliver? Slapping an award sticker on your marketing, does not tell them any of the above.

What does? Fresh content that you provide via your blog, Twitter, articles in magazines, and creative Facebook posts. Show a reader that you know how to be funny or vulnerable--or both. Let them see your writing style without shoving a sales pitch down their throats every five minutes. 

Relationships matter. People tend to buy from those they trust, someone they have interacted with in blog comments or on Facebook. They may start out by following your blog, reading several posts, and then deciding they want to buy your book (s). If you're clever, authentic, and interactive, not only will you attract new readers, you'll build a loyal following.

The key here is the word 'authentic'. No one likes to feel they are being lied to or manipulated--or that you only see dollar signs when interacting with them. Create posts that allow people inside your world--let them relate to you.

There is a bestselling author who is actively involved in animal rescue, for example. A lot of her posts are about the animals she's saving, their personalities, their sorrows, their triumphs--only every so often does she mention her writing. Guess what? Her preorder sales go through the roof and her new releases are always much anticipated.

Another bestselling author talks about her hikes around Lake Tahoe. She shows her daily "writing view" and posts photos of her dogs misbehaving while she's trying to meet a deadline.


Yet another is a chocolate fanatic and is always writing about something gooey and delicious.

All of the above authors I mention don't hide that they are working on new projects or that they have a new release. Quite the opposite, actually. They have built such a relationship with their audience that they're able to say, "Hey, I have a new release this month and need your help with reviews...who wants an ARC?" and they have an immediate and passionate response from their readership.

Anyone reading this can begin this approach today. Just be yourself. Stop stressing over numbers and traffic. Stop bombarding people with your sales pitch. If you're about to say that you don't have time, I would hope by now that you know I do not believe that excuse. In fact, I loathe it.

If you have time to check your Amazon ranking ten times a day, bitch about the lack of reach your most recent sales' pitch post on Facebook received, or lament the overcrowding of Twitter with other author's sales' links, then you have time to sit your butt down and write at least three posts a week. Minimum. You're an author! I'm not going to tell you what to write. I've spoken about the necessity for authors to blog before and will link to that post here.

Be human. People want to connect with you. They want to know what makes you tick--not just via a blog, but on your Facebook and Twitter feeds as well. They like thinking that they have a friend in you--and, honestly, some of them start to feel that way when they are the first to rally around your new releases.

So many authors complain that they can't find readers, yet they are not looking in the right places. They are sending out wave after wave of spam. I want you to think about this--how often do you scroll past what looks like just another sales pitch, someone wanting your money? How often do you stop scrolling when you see a post that has genuine emotional appeal, something that feels real and honest?

Relationships matter. Perhaps stop spending so much time chatting with other authors who are also stuck in second gear doing the exact thing you are and start cultivating a genuine connection with your readers.

Write on!
Amber Lea Easton
http://www.moxiegirlwriting.com


Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of nonfiction, thrillers, and romantic suspense. A professional editor and freelance journalist for nearly two decades, she created Mountain Moxie Publishing Services to assist authors in mastering the writing craft. Her memoir, Free Fall, is dedicated to spreading suicide awareness, has topped international best selling charts, and has been named by Dr. Prem as fourth on the "Ten Most Inspiring True Stories Everyone Must Read" list. Easton is also a speaker regarding parenting through trauma and suicide awareness. To discover more about Mountain Moxie Publishing Services, please go to http://www.moxiegirlwriting.com. For a list of all of Easton's books, articles and interviews, go to http://www.amberleaeaston.com.




Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Show Up or Shut Up #AmWriting #Writing

Ideas are cheap. We all have them. As writers, especially, we are always coming up with exciting ideas that get our juices flowing.

But so what?

An idea is nothing without action to support it.

I run several writers' groups and I can testify that ideas usually generate a lot of wild support until it comes down to implementing them. Someone will suggest a group project that would be excellent for cross-promotion on a large scale, but when it comes down to the work, no one shows up. Everyone will agree that an idea is "stellar", but then no one participates to make it happen.

What good is an idea without action? Nothing. Nada.

What good is a dream without a plan? Nothing. Nada.

I don't believe in excuses. I honestly don't. I've known far too many wildly successful people who manage to get things done, take that phone call, add another thing to their to-do list, and still manage to see their son play basketball--yet you're going to tell me that you're too busy? I call bullshit on that.

Stops scrolling through Facebook. Stop gossiping about someone who's actually getting the job done. Stop whining about something being hard. If you add up all the time you waste in a day--and are honest about it--you'd have time to accomplish at least two more things in your day that would drive you toward success.

If you're a cheerleader--someone who wildly supports an idea when you hear it with you're comments about 'let's do it', 'how exciting', and 'sounds perfect'--yet disappear when it's time to step up and actually do something, ask yourself why you ghost.

Don't say it's because you're too busy. You're not. We all have a lot on our agenda, but when opportunity calls, it's time to act.

And I'm not just limiting this to career opportunities either. Has that friend you haven't seen in a year called you and invited you out? Did you say you were too busy only to stay home in your yoga pants watching DVR programs? What is the real reason you didn't show up?

We've become a lazy society where 'showing up' seems like too much effort. Human connection and excitement for life have become almost scary--so we avoid them with excuses or simply disappearing acts.

It's time to show up in your life--both professionally and personally. Shut up about how you're not getting anywhere or feeling stuck and get out there, get involved, and take action.

Write on!
Amber Lea Easton
http://www.moxiegirlwriting.com 


Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of nonfiction, thrillers, and romantic suspense. A professional editor and freelance journalist for nearly two decades, she created Mountain Moxie Publishing Services to assist authors in mastering the writing craft. Her memoir, Free Fall, is dedicated to spreading suicide awareness, has topped international best selling charts, and has been named by Dr. Prem as fourth on the "Ten Most Inspiring True Stories Everyone Must Read" list. Easton is also a speaker regarding parenting through trauma and suicide awareness. To discover more about Mountain Moxie Publishing Services, please go to http://www.moxiegirlwriting.com. For a list of all of Easton's books, articles and interviews, go to http://www.amberleaeaston.com.


Monday, January 11, 2016

What Are You Afraid Of? Go. Do That. #AmWriting #MondayMotivation

As writers, it's easy for us to fall into what's easy for us. Maybe we've been writing young adult fiction because it's what felt natural, but now we feel a pull to venture out into a new genre yet stop ourselves from trying. Maybe we have a steady gig writing copy for an ad agency, yet long to publish that novel that's lurking on our computer in an unmarked folder. Why are we stopping ourselves from evolving as writers?

Because we've made a name for ourselves doing ____.

Because ______ is easy.

Because ______ pays the bills and I don't want to rock the boat.

Because my family will be shocked if I do ______ even though I really, really, really want to do _____.

Because if I _____, everyone will see me if I fail.

What is the word that you'd put in that blank?

It's a new year and I want you to go and do whatever it is you wrote in those blanks. Just do it. The world will not come to a screeching halt if you push the boundaries of what is comfortable for you. No one will die (hopefully--I'm giving you all the benefit of the doubt about what you've put in those blanks).

Believe it or not, the writing profession is not life-or-death. We have psuedonyms to protect the not-so-innocent among us. We have the ability to adapt and write many things of diverse interests. Don't be bored. Challenge yourself. Reach for the stars!

Want to write a screenplay this year but you've always written novels so doubt your ability to adapt? Take a class. It's okay to be the dumbest person in the room--it means you're learning something.

Are you a successful blogger who wants to try your hand at publishing a book? Do it. Why not? Everyone else is.

My point is, the only limits that you have are the ones you're imposing upon yourself. As writers, we dwell in a world of infinite possibilities. Fill in those blanks and resolve to do it--fear be damned.

Write on!
Amber Lea Easton
http://www.moxiegirlwriting.com 

Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of nonfiction, thrillers, and romantic suspense. A professional editor and freelance journalist for nearly two decades, she created Mountain Moxie Publishing Services to assist authors in mastering the writing craft. Her memoir, Free Fall, is dedicated to spreading suicide awareness, has topped international best selling charts, and has been named by Dr. Prem as fourth on the "Ten Most Inspiring True Stories Everyone Must Read" list. Easton is also a speaker regarding parenting through trauma and suicide awareness. To discover more about Mountain Moxie Publishing Services, please go to http://www.moxiegirlwriting.com. For a list of all of Easton's books, articles and interviews, go to http://www.amberleaeaston.com.



Friday, January 8, 2016

Don't Be a Diva #AmWriting #Freelancing

I know this should be obvious, but...don't be a diva!

Manners matter. In a competitive business like publishing where there seem to be writers all around you vying for the same goal, the way to truly stand out is to be professional and kind.

Sounds simple, huh?

It's not.

Too many authors and freelance writers believe that they are the only ones worth anything in this business, therefore, they believe they are above an editor's advice or writing group's rules. I've had more than one writer--too many to count actually--tell me that they are the best writer to have ever lived. Seriously. And they truly think that. Because of this attitude, they try to bulldoze other authors, harass their email list, argue with editors, and snub administrators of writer's groups because, of course, rules are meant for everyone except them.

Their bullying may get them in the door because someone is tired of resisting, but it will come back to bite them in the ass. Editors, producers (for you screenwriters), agents, and publishers want to work with people who are easy. They want to work with people who can adapt to a changing circumstance, who understand compromise, and who are plain and simply kind. Who doesn't?

By all means, stand up for yourself and your work. I'm not saying otherwise. We all need backbones and respect. Ambition is admirable. But kindness is underrated. You can do all of that--stand up for yourself, your work, your integrity--without being nasty or undercutting another.

Publishing is a small world. Yes, writers can be neurotic--as can editors--but at the end of the day your career is built on your reputation.

Look at Katherine Heigel, the former Gray's Anatomy actress, who is reputed to be so difficult to work with that she's been blacklisted in Hollywood. She's gorgeous. She's talented. But no one will hire her because she is allegedly a first class bitch.

Don't let that be you in the writing world.

There are authors who I refuse to work with again because of their diva ways. When they ask me to edit for them, I say no. There are writer's groups I've left because of too many divas who bulldozed through the rules and caused chaos thinking that their projects were more important than anyone else's.

Here's some etiquette 1-oh-1 for writers:

  1. If a blogger hosts you to promote your latest release, send a thank you note/email/e-card. 
  2. Reciprocate all help that you receive. If someone hosts you on their blog, invite them to yours. Don't be all "me, me, me" to the point where no one will host your next book release. 
  3. Respect the rules of writer's groups. If the administrator says no self-promo, then respect that. if the administrator asks that people don't post random nonsense on the group wall, then respect that. These people are always volunteering their time for the benefit of a large amount of other writers. Again, don't be all "me, me, me". 
  4. If an agent or manager asks if your willing to take assignments, say yes. Always. This means you are adaptable and not so hung up on getting all the credit for your own brilliance. You will get more work this way and also make great connections. Your name may not be on the finished project, but you'll be remembered positively if you were kind and able to compromise. 
  5. Be willing to admit when you're wrong--because we all screw up from time-to-time. 
  6. Don't brag about questionable awards that have no real meaning in the publishing world. For instance, if your author buddy gives you an 'excellence in literature' award on a fancy graphic, don't splash it everywhere as if that makes you more special than the next author--because it doesn't. And those of us who have been in the business know it doesn't. Now, if it is from USA Today or NY Times, then sure slap it on the front of your book or your website, but still be careful about bragging to the point where others are rolling their eyes behind your back. And that 'award' from your buddy? Yeah, no one cares. Editors and agents don't care. Readers don't care. It's only making you look foolish outside of your circle. 
  7. When an editor gives you feedback, remember that that is their job. Everyone's first draft is shit--that's a quote from Ernest Hemingway. Writers need editors and editors need writers. An editor's sole purpose is too see your work from another perspective and give suggestions to take it to the next level. Fighting, disputing every comma, refusing to accept any change what-so-ever doesn't make you a superior writer--quite the opposite, usually. 
  8. Be gracious when you're receiving praise and criticism. 
Write on!
Amber Lea Easton
http://www.moxiegirlwriting.com

Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of nonfiction, thrillers, and romantic suspense. A professional editor and freelance journalist for nearly two decades, she created Mountain Moxie Publishing Services to assist authors in mastering the writing craft. Her memoir, Free Fall, is dedicated to spreading suicide awareness, has topped international best selling charts, and has been named by Dr. Prem as fourth on the "Ten Most Inspiring True Stories Everyone Must Read" list. Easton is also a speaker regarding parenting through trauma and suicide awareness. To discover more about Mountain Moxie Publishing Services, please go to http://www.moxiegirlwriting.com. For a list of all of Easton's books, articles and interviews, go to http://www.amberleaeaston.com