Pen and Muse Summer School

Pen & Muse Summer School Recap

Posted by on Sep 22, 2014 in Pen and Muse Summer School, Writing | 0 comments

Pen & Muse Summer School Recap

I can barely believe that August is over and September is upon us. August is one of my favorite months, not only because of my birthday, but because of Pen and Muse Press Summer School (PMPSS).  For the summer school, a ton of talented and amazing authors, marketing geniuses, and agents get together to share with you the tools that you will need as an author to grow your business and perfect your craft. This year, we held our 2nd Annual Summer School and boy was it hoppin’. HUGE thank you to all who helped to participate and take time out of your busy weeks to help other writers grow! I love the writing community. I wanted to make a list, a Pen & Muse Summer School Recap of sorts so that all of our courses and helpful hints are available. Check them out below by subject!   Blogging Blogging Platforms: How to Choose by Kristen Jett So You Want to Start a Blog, Eh? Five Steps to Begin by Jolene Haley Team WordPress vs. Team Blogger by Andee Hannah and Kristen Jett A Rose By Any Other Name (The Importance of Blog Titles) by Kristen Jett What a Professional Author Blogs About by J. Elizabeth Hill 10 Things for Authors to Blog About by Kristen Jett What the Heck is SEO and Do I Really Need to Know? by Kristen Jett Finding Your Blogging Voice by Andee Hannah Planning Your Editorial Calendar by Kristen Jett Freebie Alert: Blogging Calendar Planning Worksheet Different Types of Writing So You Wanna Make a Webcomic by Ron Tucker Writing Serials by Jinsey Reese Screenwriting by Tellulah Darling Freebie Alert: What the hell is a Blovel? (and worksheet to start your own) by Jolene Haley   Writing Novels, Including Tips and Tricks Starting a Novel:How to go from bones to full body by Rebekah Crane Turning the Spark of an Idea Into a Novel by Jessi Shakarian Classifying Genres by Jolene Haley Write Your Own Damn Rules by Julie Hutchings Writing Resources for Plotting by Amy Kessler Creating Characters and Villains by Jessi Shakarian To Sequel or Not to Sequel by C. Elizabeth Vescio Fun Ways to Plot by Kristen Jett Freebie Alert: Character worksheet 5 Improv Theater Lessons for Characterization by Jennifer Brinkmeyer Craft Your Way – With Layers, Without Rules by Jessica Park How to Write Believable Characters by Julia Weber Campfire Tales – a Unique Method for Encapsulating Your Story / Creating Your Synopsis by Eddie Louise Keeping Art and Heart in the Market by Emily Murdoch First Five Words – Getting Your Opening Up to Par by Riki Cleveland Innovation in Writing by Amy Joy Lutchen Creating 3 Dimensional Characters by Rebecca Rogers   Editing and Formatting Your Novel Editing Types by Jen Meyers Self Editing (With Real Examples) by Jen Meyers How to Take Criticism by Kristen Jett How to Meet Deadlines by Rachel Russell How to Read / Edit Notes by Alicia Thompson Freebie Alert: Editing Checklist + Printable Editing Worksheet To Scrivener or Not to Scrivener by Sam Hager Copy Editing Wizardry Tricks by Helen Boswell Formatting Tips & Tricks by Amy Kessler How to Do Line Editing (The Six People You Need To Be When Line Editing Your Novel)  by JC Lillis A Guide to Handling Revisions by Kate Brauning How To Trim Words From Your Manuscript by Janice Hardy Freebie Alert: Scrivener Plotting Template by Kristen Jett   Marketing Your Novel and Yourself Making Networking Work by Rebekah Crane Establishing a Target Audience and Why by Kristen Jett Joanna Penn on Marketing by Joanna Penn and Kristen Jett How to Create an Unique Blog Tour by Kristen Jett Pros and Cons of Social Media by Heather Marie Befriending Book Bloggers by Books She Reads and Kristen Jett Freebie Alert: Beginning Author Marketing Checklist Social Media Marketing Etiquette by Sarah Raasch What an Acquisitions Editor Looks For in a Pitch by Marisa Fuller The Importance of Having a Good Website (and What You Should Have On It) by Tyler Snell How to Build a Kick-Ass Street Team by Mina Vaughn Freebie Alert:  Author Website Checklist by Kristen Jett...

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How to Build a Kick-Ass Street Team by Mina Vaughn

Posted by on Sep 11, 2014 in Artistry of Marketing, Guest Post, How To, Marketing and Branding, Writing | 1 comment

How to Build a Kick-Ass Street Team by Mina Vaughn

So you’re going to be an author. Congrats! You’re at the start of a really exciting journey, so why not bring along your friends and gain some major cheerleaders! I love my street team, but it wasn’t easy putting it together, so that’s why I’m here at the Pen and Muse school to help you figure out how to put one together. There’s no right or wrong way, and many other authors may do it differently, but here are five steps to putting together an awesome street team.   1)      Figure out what you want. Do you want your street team to blast every new blog post someone does about your book, or do you mainly want them to tweet promo links? Think about what your goal is—discoverability? Sales? Having a goal-centered plan is key to being able to build your street team and also measure its success once it’s up and running. 2)      Start with your friends. I don’t necessarily mean your BFF from third grade, I mostly mean your writer friends. The ones who were in the query trenches with you, the ones who are already published and the ones who are almost there. If they’re active in the writing community and love you and your book, ask them. Note: I didn’t say add them. Some people may not want to be on your street team but that doesn’t mean they don’t love you. Don’t take anything personally—this advice will go a long way during this publishing process! If you don’t have a thick skin yet, work on it! 3)      Meet some bloggers. This part makes some new authors nervous. Bloggers for your genre may often be really influential and it’s scary to just say “UM HI READ MY BOOK”, so don’t do it that way. Follow them on Twitter. Like them on facebook. See what they love to read and what they’re not as jazzed about. Interact. If you end up forming a relationship, you can eventually see if they want to be on your street team. This is after they’ve read an ARC, of course, since they need something to base their opinions on. Some bloggers may not fall head-over-heels for your book, and that’s ok. Stick to the ones who are going to be your cheerleaders. Stop being nervous—bloggers do what they do because they LOVE BOOKS, plain and simple. Plus, they’re always on the lookout for new talent. 4)      Decide on a platform. There are many ways for you to organize your street team, but the best that have worked for me are google groups and facebook groups. Google groups is basically an email format where you would add people to a list and then shoot out emails to that pre-made list. Basically, if you have something to say (Hey, ____ starts pre-order today!) then type up the email to the group and it’s on its way. Easy. But not that interesting, and doesn’t build camaraderie as well. It’s good for just business and getting the important stuff out there. This is why I have two formats. Facebook groups allow members and myself to post pictures (This guy looks so much like _____) and ask polls and just interact more in a small, more intimate way. However, sometimes the main message gets lost in the feed so that’s why I like the two group method. Some people don’t have facebook, too, so that’s part of it. Anyway, pick your platform, add your friends and bloggers and then… 5)      Reward them. Tweeting your book, RT’ing reviews, sharing on Facebook. Those all take time and...

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Freebie: Author Website Checklist

Posted by on Sep 3, 2014 in Artistry of Marketing, Writing | 1 comment

Freebie: Author Website Checklist

All good things must come to an end, right? True fact: I (Muse KJ) hate that saying. Buttttt, it’s also true that Summer School is coming to an end – today.  Did you miss any of the earlier posts? Be sure to stop by the syllabus and poke into any classes that you missed! One of the most powerful tools in marketing is your website – and bonus: it can be one of the easiest (and most fun) to use! But how do you know if you’re using your website to the max? Simple – we’ve got a freebie for you with what you absolutely should not leave off your author website – and what you may want to consider adding on.   Freebie: Author Website Checklist   Is your author website up to par? Grab this free checklist to find out! Click To Tweet Need help with your writer website? Grab a checklist + Muse feedback! Click To Tweet Still not sure if your writer website is up to par? Leave a comment – Muse KJ will go check it out and give you some feedback! Andddd that’s a wrap – hope you’ve enjoyed this year’s Summer...

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The Importance of A Great Website & What Every Author Should Have On It by Tyler Snell

Posted by on Aug 29, 2014 in Artistry of Marketing, Marketing and Branding, Writing | 1 comment

The Importance of A Great Website & What Every Author Should Have On It by Tyler Snell

The Importance of Writer Websites: What You Should Include By Tyler Anne Snell I won’t sit here and pretend I have the most amazing author website in the land of the internet. Sure, I’m fond of what I have and spent a good few days getting the details finalized, but there are still some things I’d like to improve. Then again, like writing a book, there’s always something I feel needs to be changed. Maybe it’s just our creative pursuit for perfection popping its head up again? But, I digress. For those of you who don’t know me, let me give you a quick background of why I’m passionate about writer and author websites. Basically, I absolutely love reading. It is my vice, my addiction, and the biggest reason my paychecks deplete after each month. So, in summation, I read a lot and often. Which also means I visit a lot of authors’ sites. I look for their bios, blogs, social media, and what else they’ve written. All in an excited search for my next White Whale. Let me tell you, it’s a smorgasbord of madness out there in writer website land. So for those of you who have books out, or maybe just a WIP, let me tell you what (most) every reader looks for and wants in your site.   Blog To me, this is one of the most important aspects of a writer’s site. Whether it’s you posting about the most recent news for your book or you talking about how frustrating it is to push through writer’s block, having a dedicated space for your thoughts is a must. It helps your fans see a very personal part of you, which can make them more invested in your future success. If you don’t think you have the time to keep up a blog, make time. Once a month is better than never.   Books This should be a no-brainer but you’d be surprised at how many people DON’T dedicate a page to their works. It shouldn’t be a struggle for readers to find a list (with pictures of their covers, please) of what you’ve published with purchase links or are currently working on. Make a page and put that link in your top and bottom navigation. Also, go that extra step to make it easier on readers and put your most current book on the homepage with its purchase link.   Bio Be funny, be serious, be interesting. Dedicate a page to tell your fans (current and future) about the person behind the books. Whether you want a long run-down of who you are and how you got started or a short paragraph about yourself, make sure you craft something you can be proud to direct people towards. Include a picture too!   Social Media One of the first things I do when I’m looking at a new author is pull up their Facebook and Twitter accounts. There’s nothing like that feeling of connection when you get personal updates from an author. So make sure you clearly showcase links to your social media on your site.   Contact This page doesn’t have to be insanely glamorous. I’ve seen a lot of sites that just have two sentences that list off email addresses and social media links or just a form that’s built into the site. Either way, make sure you have a place that people can contact you. Plus, you never know when the fan mail will start rolling in!   Graphics / Pictures Whether it’s your book covers, book art, or graphics made for blog...

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A Guide to Handling Revisions by Kate Brauning

Posted by on Aug 28, 2014 in Editing Wizardry, Pen and Muse Summer School, Writing | 0 comments

A Guide to Handling Revisions by Kate Brauning

A major part of writing a novel is revising. Good, solid revisions are a different process than drafting, and may take several rounds. Handling the editorial letter itself can be difficult—hearing someone point out all the areas your manuscript needs work can be overwhelming, even if you’re braced for a tough critique. As an author-editor, I’ve been overwhelmed by edits myself and I’ve seen it happen to my clients, too—but revisions really don’t need to be overwhelming. So pull up a chair and we’ll talk about specific, simple strategies that can help you address those notes and apply them to your manuscript. Editorial letters can come from a few different places. A professional editorial letter may come from your editor at a publishing house, if you have a publishing deal, or it may come from your agent before going on submission, or it may come from a freelance editor you hired to get your manuscript in good shape independently. Professional editorial letters, especially ones from people invested in your career like your agent or editor, should be taken seriously. Take a few days to process the comments before reacting or deciding how much of the advice to follow. Don’t write off a comment because it doesn’t match up with what you planned for the story. Think about it, and see if those ideas challenge your concepts in positive ways. If you’re confused or want clarification on any of the advice, don’t hesitate to ask for it. Agents and editors definitely want you to ask. Finally, make sure you’re making those edits your own. Don’t just fix the surface; take ownership of the ideas, apply your own voice and vision to them, and dig deeper than those notes. Take ownership of your revisions. Click To Tweet Most authors also work with beta readers and critique partners, and the kind of advice given there can vary widely. Of course, you should only be sharing your work with people whose talent and advice you respect. Following bad advice can make a mess of your manuscript. Sift through the comments to make sure what’s being advised is good for the story. Sometimes a change that’s recommended will make the story different, but not necessarily better, so keep a strong idea of what you want your story to be. I have several writers who give me feedback on my work, and it’s almost always helpful to see the story the way someone else does. One of the most confusing things about critique partner edits is that sometimes the sets of notes will disagree. One might say the pacing is too slow, while another might say it’s awesome how active the plot is. Sometimes one finds the character badass, and someone else things she’s unlikeable. When you have conflicting advice, ask yourself whether there’s a connecting issue. Perhaps a lot does happen in your story, but the plot points take too many pages to happen. Action spread over a lot of space can make the pacing slow. Maybe your character is badass, but her motivations need to be built up so readers connect with why she’s doing what she’s doing. Sometimes conflicting advice is simply due to personal taste; not everyone is going to react the same way to an element, and that’s fine. An important thing to keep in mind is that while CPs and beta readers may be right that there’s an issue, their solutions might not be best for the story. (The same goes for your agent or editor’s edits.) Take the issues they’re pointing out seriously, but just make sure the...

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Social Media Marketing Etiquette by Sara Raasch

Posted by on Aug 26, 2014 in Artistry of Marketing, Marketing and Branding, Pen and Muse Summer School, Writing | 2 comments

Social Media Marketing Etiquette by Sara Raasch

When Jamie asked me to participate in this, I knew instantly that I wanted to do a marketing post. My mind filled with grandiose plans to impart the plethora of knowledge I’ve acquired over the past few years of bookish insanity—until I realized that this would be only one blog post, and babbling on and on would go against Sara’s Marketing Rule #298:   Keep it short and sweet, you marketing genius, you.   Which ties in nicely with Sara’s Marketing Rule #176:   Talk to yourself like the badass MoFo you are, you glorious creature, you.   But neither of those rules are what I want to discuss with you. No, I have something much grander in mind, the one rule that, I feel, will most positively influence your marketing journey (yes, even more so than Rule #176. It’s that good).   Sara’s Marketing Rule #1: Let yourself be wonderful.   Sara’s Marketing Rule #1: Let yourself be wonderful. Click To Tweet   While of course I mean the “fantastic” definition of the word “wonderful,” I mean mostly the “full of wonder” definition. See, the social media/marketing world is LOUD. It’s crowded, busy, and kind of smelly, and it’s full of people whose marketing plans include only promoting their book. “But Sara,” you say. “Isn’t that the POINT of marketing? To promote my book?” No, actually. The point of marketing is to promote YOURSELF. Books will come and go, unless the only book you ever plan on writing is the one you have now. YOU are the brand you are promoting, and promoting a person is a whole other beast. An example: you’re presented with the option to read a book by one of the two following authors.   Author #1: You know how much their book costs and when it comes out. You know the title and the summary, because they post it frequently.   Author #2: You know this author ADORES your favorite TV show. They also recently read a book you loved, and post frequently about how obsessed they are with a certain type of food and how that obsession may or may not be destroying their life in the best way. You know the title/summary of their book, because you read a post they did about a movie they just watched, found it hysterical, and zipped over to see what other things they’d written.   Author #1 gets their information across, but Author #2 creates a lasting impact. If all your marketing interactions consist of “My book is on sale for X amount!” or “My book comes out on this day!” advertisement-type posts, readers will gloss over. There’s no interaction, and all of your marketing ploys will feel like heartless implosions of words. You become more a spambot than an author, which is the complete opposite of what you want to be to your fans. You want to be a PERSON to them, relatable and accessible.   Thus: WONDER. Join a fandom for your favorite show/movie/book; let yourself be deliriously excited for things; interact with other fans AS a fan. In doing so, you create relationships based on who you are as a person, and people are far more likely to support your writerly endeavors if they know YOU, not just your book’s info. (PS: This doesn’t mean you can NEVER post advertisement-type things about your book. You absolutely can—but do so in less an “ad” way and more of a friend-to-friend “My book! Look! SO EXCITING!” kind of way.) (PPS: Marketing shouldn’t stress you out. I promise, it shouldn’t. If ever an idea...

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