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Keys to Effective Writing

Long Term Marketing Plan for Self-Published Authors

Long Term Marketing Plan for Self-Published Authors
1.      Start Blogging. There are many websites whereyou can set up a free blog. Try to write a blog at least once a week. You canwrite about your experiences as a writer, but you’re not limited to that. Writeabout your experiences as a teacher and as a mother. Talk about how importantit is to you to improve literacy. Examine politician’s literacy views. Write one blog post a week.
2.      Use social Media. I know you have a facebookaccount, but if you don’t have a twitter account, get one. Post something aboutWandering Sam at least once a week. It doesn’t always have to be a sales pitcheither. It can be as simple as “I just read SillySandra to my kids again. They love that story.” The point is to keep it inpeople’s head. Post one post about yourbook on Facebook and Twitter every week.
3.      Join LinkedIn, and join groups. There aremillions of groups you can join. Join as many as you can. Doing this willextend your network, which simply ‘gets your name out there.’  Joinat least one group per week, and participate or start a discussion once a week.
4.      Once a month, submit your book to a bookcontest. There are millions of awards for self-published books. For the mostpart, you’ll have to send a free copy of your book, so only do this once amonth because you’ll go broke and be overwhelmed if you try to do a lot atonce.
For authors of children’s books, theChildren’s Writers Resource Center puts all these contests in a book too. It’sunder 20 bucks, so if you want to buy it, then it has great information for allof 2012. Here’s the site for the book:  http://www.resourcesforchildrenswriters.com/
Submityour book to a contest once a month.
5.      Get your book reviewed. Having professionalreviews of your book increases its publicity. If your book gets a positivereview, websites will want to list your book. There are hundreds of children’sbook reviewers, but like the contests, you usually have to send the reviewer afree copy of your book. However, if the reviewer writes a positive review ofyour book, only positive effects ensue. Submityour book for review once a month.
Thesesuggestions are Optional
1.       You may consider going on a ‘virtual booktour.’ That pretty much means that you’ll do interviews for various peoples’blogs. It gives you a lot of exposure, and it’s not that expensive. Again, youhave to pay for your virtual book tour, so this is optional, but IF you pay forANY marketing, then this is a good way to spend your money. Here’s the site Irecommend IF you want a virtual book tour: http://www.virtualbooktourcafe.com/virtual-book-tour-package.html
On this tour, a professionalreviewer will review your book, and you can choose how many ‘stops’ you make,depending on how much you want to spend. Plus, you’ll have a radio interview.
2.       Another good idea is to offer a contest onyour BLOG or website once every 3 months. There are multiple ways to do this,but this is one of the best ways to do it: To participate in the contest, aperson must ‘write a review of your book on Amazon.com.’ Create a start dateand end date for the contest. After the end date, put the names of all peoplewho wrote a review in a hat. Draw a name, and offer a prize. (Most people do agift certificate- for example, a $25 gift certificate to Chili’s).
3.       Selling books is a business. If you want tosell A LOT of books, then you can hire a publicist. This is pretty expensive,and I don’t recommend you hire a publicist until you have multiple bookspublished, but there are many authors who have hired a publicist for one book.A publicist will ENSURE that you sell books, but you do have to pay for it. Ifyou’re interested, here’s a service I recommend: http://maxbookpr.com/

Interview With Rick Algood

I am so excited to present this interview on my blog. Though I have lived in various states, I was born in Mississippi, and I ultimately returned to my home state. I love being a Mississippian. Mississippi is entrenched in history, and our citizens are some of the most loyal and compassionate people in the entire world.
Rick is a down-to-earth, self-proclaimed family man, and he is a true southerner.
Without further ado, let me present my interview with Rick Algood. Rick was born and reared in Mississippi, and his books are “must reads”for all southerners.
You can contact Rick at algoodpublishing@gmail.com to order book or you can order them directly from him at the following address:
Algood Publishing,Inc. PO Box 322 West Paducah, KY 42086-0322
They are $15.95 plus$3.00 when shipped via media mail.
For those readers who are not familiar with your background, can you give us an overview of you?
I was a child of the 50s and 60s when I grew up on a cotton farm just west of Louisville, Mississippi. I graduated from high school in 1970 and spent two years at The University of Southern Mississippi studying commercial art. When my parents became ill I moved home to take care of them and spent my third year of college at Mississippi State studying communication and journalism. While attending State I was commuting back and forth while holding down three jobs, plus trying to help out on the family farm. I came to the conclusion it was either work or school. I couldn’t do both. So at the end of my third year of college I quit and hit the road working for construction companies. After a few years, I fell in love and married the girl of my dreams in 1975. In 1978, we moved to Western Kentucky where I began my 34-year career in a paper mill.
I know that you’ve written multiple books. Can you briefly describe your books?
Actually, I’ve written six. One I have yet to publish. The first was titled Beyond the Cotton Fields. It was a book I wrote for my daughters to let them know more about my life growing up in Mississippi. I had over 200 copies printed and gave away nearly all of them to friends and relatives. The response was overwhelming. I received letters from all over the country encouraging me to keep writing. Thus began my fiction endear.
I had always wanted to write fiction. The 100th anniversary of a young lady’s murder gave me the idea for my first book, Where Angels Weep. I know of only two people that knew who the actual killer was, and both took the secret to their graves. One shared with me enough information that I thought it would make a great book. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it was the beginning of a series of books I have called The Angel Series.
Here is a brief synopsis of the four books in the series:
Where Angels Weep. This book was inspiredby a century old murder that happened near where I grew up in Winston County, Mississippi. The story is one of mystery, inspiration, and hope.Kentuckian, Michael Dawson, stumbles upon a clue from his late Mississippi uncle that reveals how to solve the murder of Jenny Martin. It is a tale that will hold you spellbound, make you laugh and inspire you as you discover people can rise above the chains that bind them.
Second in the series is An Angel With No Name. This book takes the reader in another direction as Michael Dawson follows the clues sent to him by his late uncle and tries to discover who killed Jenny Martin in 1918. It too is a story of mystery, love, and inspiration chronicling the lives of a Mississippi family you will love.
Third in the series: The Midnight Angel. This story makes you fall even further in love with the unusual decedents of the Bodel and McAlister families as one of their presumably dead relatives tries to flee from a mobster, Big Benny Fontina. Forgiveness, humor, and love can be found in the most unexpected places as this story unfolds.
Fourth in the series is The Christmas Angels. An older couple finds themselves with an orphaned boy and his dog. Young Bobby Barrtow’s distant relatives are dangerous and unsavory. Will Jim and Mary Ann McAlister be able to adopt the child they fall in love with? Are there such things as Christmas Angels? This Mississippi family and their neighbors who live on Whippoorwill Ridge will keep you turning the pages as you discover there really are angels among us.
What’s your inspiration for writing?
That is a tough question. I don’t begin a story knowing ho wit will unfold. It all happens when something inside of me compels me to sit at the keyboard and begin punching keys. I have a general idea what I am supposed to write about when I sit down, but the story unfolds and reveals itself on the screen in front of me. I’m as surprised as the readers are when the book is finished. As for inspiring, I’d have to say the area of the country where Grew up inspires me. History inspires me, Hope inspires me. The little man no one notices that goes to work every day, inking out a living for his family inspires me.
What’s your writing process like?
When I  begin a story, I commit to writing at least five pages a day. If I’m on a roll I keep writing. Oftentimes I lose all track of time when I’m at the keyboard. My wife has to remind me when it is time to eat, take a break, or go to bed. I get lost in the story.
Do you think writing is an inherent or learned talent?
Both. First comes inherent. A writer must have a passion to share a story. Then one learns the mechanics of telling his story on paper in such a way the reader will enjoy it. It is a learning and growing experience.
What advice would you give to unpublished writers who want to publish a book or story?
I’m the wrong person to be asked that question. I have yet to contact a publisher, though I would like to. With all the brick and mortar stores going out of business these days, and my career in the paper industry, I’m committed to using paper. I like to hold a book in my hands. I became my own publisher so my books will be printed on paper. Maybe someday I will go the route of and agent or a traditional publisher. I don’t like the publishing part of the business. But my goal is to share my stories and I would be afraid a traditional publisher would take my work and sit on it. I’ve heard horror stories of folks who have worked long and hard on something, send it to a publisher and then it never sees the light of day.
The best advice I can offer is do something! Doing anything is better than just wishing something would happen. You have to stick your neck out once-in-a-while.
You grew up in Mississippi. Mississippi has traditionally earned a reputation for racism and discrimination. In Mississippi, we have made great strides to change this global impression. Do you think Mississippi’s reputation is improving? Can you tell us a little bit about how you think we are evolving as a state?
Mississippi is not the only state with a past. The past is what it is. Racism is a learned characteristic. It can only be held on to by those who let it dwell in their hearts.
When I read about old murder cases such as the three civil rights workers found buried in a dam, Medgar Evers and Emmett Till finding closure it gives me hope that old hatreds and prejudices are fading.Times have changed not only for the state I call home, but many others, too. I don’t think it will ever be a perfect world, but it is a whole lot better now than it was when I was younger. Only when men see each other with their hearts instead of their eyes will racism ever disappear.
You say in another interview that “It was a difficult book to write because I literally poured my soul out on paper.” I think that is true of most authors. As an author, how difficult is it to bear your soul? In the end, was it worth it? Did you find that it was cathartic? What do you say to other authors who are hesitant to pour their souls out on paper, in fear of criticism?
You are referring to Beyond the Cotton Fields, my memoir. There were moments of sheer joy and moments of deep sorrow writing that book. It was definitely and emotional experience putting some of the stories down on paper. Even when I reread passages from that book, it is hard not to get emotional.
I suspect other authors who write similar memoirs have those same feelings. Was it difficult, you ask? Not really. I am the kind of person that what you see is what I am. I don’t have any skeletons in my closet. If I hadn’t written that book the way it was written it would have been milk-toast, and my daughters wouldn’t have known any more about me or my past than they already did.
Was it worth it? Oh, yeah. When the three girls read it and said that they loved it because it was it was like I was sitting beside them telling them all those stories about myself, the times I grew up in and the people that touched my life, I knew I had succeeded in writing the book I wanted them to have.
Cathartic? Possibly, in the sense I had finally accomplished what I had set out to do. Personally, not so much. I am what I am. I accepted that a long, long time ago. We’re all unique, are we not?
Would I advise other writers to do the same? Absolutely! We’re all human. Most folks can empathize with what others have gone through. Sometimes it’s good to know you aren’t alone. I received a lot of mail from readers of that book thanking me for putting it all down for the next generations. Many of those letters came from folks who were not sent a copy of the book. A lot of people read it and passed it along to friends and relatives. I hesitate to guess how many letters I received from various states. It was overwhelming. I heard from people in their 20s and people over 100.
What is one of your favorite memories of growing up in Mississippi?
Just one! That’s not fair. If I’m limited to one, I’d have to say growing up on the farm and all the people who worked there. You asked a question earlier about racism. When I was little, I didn’t know what racism was. I loved playing, fishing, hunting, and working with the people on the farm.
Fall and cotton picking time sticks out most vividly in my mind. I loved it at the end of the day when the sun was setting low in the sky and the cotton wagon pulled into the field. Workers would gather around the scales at the end of a long, hard day and rejoice when they saw their labor pulling down on the cotton scale. There would be friendly banter and laughing as they climbed onto the wagon and emptied their sacks. We would all lie back in the freshly picked cotton and stare up, watching the stars come out one by one in the night sky overhead as the tractor pulled us back home.
Some would be talking about what they were going to cook for supper. Others were softly humming or singing, while still others lay back in silence, worn out from picking all day. It was back breaking work.
I’ll never forget the mixture of smells. Sweat combined with freshly picked cotton. I loved it, strange as it sounds. Every year about this time,I can sit quietly, close my eyes and go back to those moments. I cherish those memories, though I would hate to repeat them. It was a different time, a different place. Sometimes the memories of our past are better being just that.Memories.
What universal messages do you want to convey in your writing?
Everyone has a past. Everyone has a future. Get off your tail and do something! Life is only as good as you make it, no matter what situation you find yourself in.
You live in Kentucky now, which is still the South. Do you consider yourself a true Southerner? To you, what does it mean to be a Southerner?
Of course, I’m a Southerner! I don’t consider Kentucky as one of the Deep South states. –Not much cotton was grown here. But you can take someone out of the South and put them anywhere in the world, and they will still be a Southerner. It’s in our blood.
If opposites attract, my wife and I are a good example of that. She was born in New York. We’ve been married thirty-seven years, and there is no way you’ll ever convince her that I am not a Southerner. My daughters were born here in Kentucky, and I’m certain they consider themselves Southerners to a degree. But they never lived in the Deep South, so I would beg to differ.
Then again, I think true Southerners are a dying breed. What with all the new technology, Internet, cell phones, and Wi-Fi, regional borderlines are vanishing. If you think about it, I’m sure you will agree that in another generation or two we Southerners will be like the dinosaurs. We’llbe extinct.
Are you working on any new projects?
My wall is covered with posted notes at the moment. I have a couple ideas haunting me. When that little voice inside tells me to sit down at the keyboard, there will be another book. I think I’ve been hearing it trying to get my attention for a few weeks now. Perhaps it’s time to listen to it.
You can contact Rick at algoodpublishing@gmail.com to order book or you can order them directly from him at the following address:
Algood Publishing,Inc. PO Box 322 West Paducah, KY 42086-0322
They are $15.95 plus $3.00 when shipped via media mail.

When is Description too Much?

Have you ever read a book that paints a sensory picture? While reading, you can literally see images in your mind. You know the sounds, the smells, the feelings that an author is trying to relate. It really helps you enter the plot of the story.
On the other hand, have you ever read a book where the author goes on and on and one about one item, describing it relentlessly? In this circumstance, you may have skimmed over the entire paragraph, trying to figure out what happens next in the story, avoiding the drawn-out, elaborate description that bored you to tears.
As writers, sometimes it's difficult to tell the difference between engaging description and monotonous details. When is description too much? Unfortunately, there isn't a steadfast rule that I can dole out that will magically teach you how and when to use description. As a reader, you automatically know when something is beautifully descriptive as compared to a portion that is lengthy and invaluable. So if you know as a reader, why is it so difficult to differentiate as a writer?
The problem is that as writers, we are very close to our work. That isn't a bad thing. As a writer, we write what we know. We write what we love. We write what we are passionate about as people. So it makes sense that we are close to work. However, it is that closeness that also prevents us from being able to decipher the difference between adequate description and overkill.
So what's the solution? How do we know if we are boring our readers? How do we know if we need to add more description or take some away? Here are the tips that I give my clients in regard to this issue.
1. If you don't have an editor, you need one. All writers need an editor, not just the bad ones. I promise you all successful writers have an editor.
2. If your publishing company does not provide an editor and you cannot afford one at the moment, then have friends and family read your writing. Ask them to be brutally honest with you- and not just give you fluffy compliments. Then, when your friends and family do give you criticism, take it, consider it, and don't get your feelings hurt.
3. Read your work out loud. All written works of art should flow. When you read it out loud, issues that you may not have noticed before will become abundantly clear to you.
4. Use description that increases the value of your story. For example, you don't have to describe Cindy's appearance in lengthy detail UNLESS Cindy's appearance is pertinent to your plot line. If Cindy is beautiful and uses her appearance to manipulate people, then by all means, describe her fully. However, if Cindy's appearance doesn't have anything to do with the story, then you can briefly describe her beauty.
5. Make every sentence count. Don't take any one word for granted. I know I say this a lot, but if you can keep this in mind and apply it to your writing, then you literally will create a wonderful work of art.
6. Keep reading. Reading books of varying genres shows writers what TO DO and what NOT TO DO. You know what you like. You know what you don't like. Keep reading. Make a mental note of what works and doesn't work. Apply those facets to your own writing.

Top Resume Tips

This article is on my website, but I'm going to post it again here on my blog. Although we prepare professional resumes for a measly 25 dollars, it's easy to prepare your own professional resume. From my experience, these are the best tips I can give for resume preparation.
When preparing a resume, the most important tenet to remember is that a resume is merely a sheet of paper. It is usually one in a stack of hundreds. Often times, the person who evaluates it is extremely busy, and a meager glance may be all the attention your resume will receive. For that reason, it is important that your resume is professional, memorable, and accurate. Creating a professional resume is a very difficult task. Hiring a professional resume writer is the best way to ensure that your resume will be stellar. However, if you do decide to write your own resume, keep these tips in mind.
  • Proofread, proofread, and proofread again!! If your resume has 1 grammatical error, then there’s a great chance it will be tossed.
  • Highlight your best professional attributes in the least amount of space possible. A potential employer won’t read a lengthy resume.
  • Incorporate uniformity. Make sure that your spacing, titles, bullets, or paragraphs are equal throughout the entire resume. Multiple formats look messy. A uniformed resume is neat and professional.
  • Choose the format that makes you look the best. There are many different ways to write a resume. Depending on your skill or experience, choose a format that exposes the best you have to offer.
Resume FAQs
As a resume writer, these are the questions I am asked the most.
Do I have to have an objective on my resume?
In the past, the traditional format for a resume always included an objective. Today, however, resumes come in all shapes and sizes. So, the simple answer is no. You don’t always have to include an objective on a resume. On professional resumes, I include an objective if my client is seeking a specific job or if he/she has minimal prior employment/experience.
How long should my resume be?
Typically, a resume should only be one page long. Some of my clients, however, have extensive training, and it’s vital to expose those skills to a potential employer. Therefore, a two-page resume is okay in such circumstances. If your resume is more than one page, though, make sure you include a header or footer that incorporates your name, your address, and your phone number. You should also number the pages. This important in case the pages get separated.
Should I include any color in my resume?
The simple answer is no. However, when I prepare a professional resume, I prepare an electronic version as well as a print version. An electronic version of a resume should have no color and no special formatting in order to ensure that formatting isn’t scrambled when a potential employer opens the file. A print resume, on the other hand, must stand out from the rest. For this reason, I always incorporate some type of special formatting, and I sometimes use colors. The colors, though, should not be bold. Try using colors like gray, brown, or navy blue.
What font should I use?
Again, on an electronic version of a resume, you should use very simple font like Times New Roman, Calibri, or Arial. These are standard fonts, and this will ensure that the integrity of the resume is preserved when opened by a traditional employer. On a print resume, however, you can vary the font type. Use a font tailored to compliment the entire resume. Do not use more than 2 font styles in the resume.
Want your resume prepared by a professional resume writer? Call 1-888- 530 2964 or shoot us an email at owner@coghlanwriting.com. Prepared, professional resumes are only $25

The Most Common Mistakes Made by Authors

As an editor, I have the privilege  of reading books for a living. Because I like to read, I love my job. In my business, I offer free critiques for new authors, so I get to see a broad spectrum of manuscripts. I've read manuscripts by new and seasoned authors. There is no better feeling, however, than to help a new author make that step into publication. With that being said, many new authors ask me about the most common mistakes made by authors.
People are individualistic, and therefore, individuals make individual mistakes. However, when a person is preparing a manuscript for an agent, editor, or publisher, there are specific attributes that an author needs to know. Trust me. The editors, agents, and publishers are looking for something specific.
So in my humble opinion, the best advice I can give to new authors regarding preparing a manuscript involves active voice. You may remember active and passive voice from an English course. In active voice, there is direct action by the subject of the sentence. Here's an example of active voice versus passive voice:
She walked to the store, and she was hit by a flying rock from a nearby lawn mower. (Passive)
She walked to the store, and a stray rock from a nearby lawnmower hit her.
As an editor, I urge writers to go even further with active voice. Simply put, I encourage authors to SHOW and not TELL. Using the same sentence, an author can SHOW how the character was hit by the rock.
As Lindsey walked toward the convenience store, a nearby lawn mower roared to life. She turned her head in the direction of the noise just in time to see the mower spew a rock from its hungry mouth. The quarter sized pebble lunged toward her in what seemed to be slow motion.
In this example, we use active voice, and we show the readers the action. Lindsey walked. The lawn mower roared. Lindsey turned her head. The mower spewed. The pebble lunged.
Using active voice and showing the reader what happens allows the reader to imagine the scene, drawing the reader into the text.
It's very difficult for an author to analyze every sentence, making sure that all sentences in a manuscript draw the readers into the text. As authors, we are very close to our work, and sometimes it is difficult to change our words because we already have the images of our work in our heads. That's why editing is such an important step in publishing a manuscript.
The very best tip that I can give to authors is to make every sentence count. Don't take any sentence for granted. In addition, I always tell authors not to get their feelings hurt when they see the edits from an editor. All successful authors have an editor. It's an important part of publishing, and an editor's job is to make sure that the manuscript is the very best that it can be. Just because an editor makes a lot of changes in a manuscript doesn't mean that you are a bad author. If you have an editor, then you have a great story that needs to be told. Let your editor help you.
Keep reading for more tips and tricks to make your manuscript publishable. I'm lining up a wonderful group of authors to interview in the next coming weeks. I'm very excited about interviewing them. Not only do they have great, published books, but they also have wonderful advice to give to other authors. If I've learned anything in this business, I have learned that it's important to listen to people who have been successful and take their advice to heart.
And as always, if you're thinking about publishing your manuscript, contact Coghlan Writing for our free manuscript review.

What Makes a Good Writer?

What Makes a Good Writer?
I own a writing business, so naturally, I would like to think that I have the skills and talent to be considered a good writer. Views on writing as a talent are varied in our field. Some people think writing is a pure, raw talent. Either you have it or you don't. Others think writing is a skill that can be learned. There are, after all, countless courses, workshops, and seminars that an individual can take to hone his/her writing skills. So what is the truth? Is writing purely talent? Is it purely skill?
Those of us who are logical will tell you this. Writing well is  a mixture of both. Sure, it takes talent to write. As any literary agent will tell you, we come across some manuscripts, and we know, right away, that the author is special because he/she has the X-factor, that indescribable talent that pulls readers into a story. On the other hand, a writer who does not inherently have the mysterious X-factor isn't necessarily doomed to fail. Talent, of course, does help, but talent isn't the end-all of writing.
The world of publishing is a bit tricky, though. I've said this to many of my clients. It's almost like an elite country club, and it's very difficult to get invited to the club, much less to become a member. Unfortunately, publishing has as much to do about popularity as it does about talent. If that were not true, then Snookie wouldn't have a best-selling novel.
On a personal note, if writing isn't your forte, then that's perfectly acceptable. Luckily, you can hire someone who can write well. Though I'm good at writing, I have no mechanical talent. Therefore, I would never try to work on my car engine myself. I'd hire someone who was talented in that particular field.
 I just finished a project with business owner, August Walter. Though he has a firm grasp of business writing, he hired me to help him connect with his audience and clients in terms of writing. His knowledge, talent, and experience in organizational resiliency is boundless, a skill set I would never be able to accomplish in twenty lifetimes. However, in business, he has the cognizance to incorporate his skills and utilize the skills of others. Simply put, if your business needs a preparedness plan, then you'd contact TCAAS.
My point is this: as human beings, we do not have to be good at everything. I firmly believe that everyone has raw talent in something. Everyone has skills. As writers, our most difficult job is to analyze ourselves and determine if writing is one of those skill sets. As business owners, we also have to analyze our skills and admit that we cannot do everything ourselves. No one is good at everything.
For those of you who want to polish your writing skills, stay tuned to my blog, and I will provide helpful hints, tips, and tricks that will increase your level of skill. I'll also interview successful authors, and broach the subject of talent versus learning.
In the meantime, if you need writing help, shoot me an email, and I'll see what I can do. And if you are a struggling writer, take advantage of our free manuscript review.
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