Monday, October 24, 2011

ASK LEE ANN: Writers Questions Answered

I suppose this could turn into a real "Dear Abby" kind of blog or a regular feature because I know a lot of writers have many questions.  But I invited and I got questions so as promised, I'm going to answer them from the best of my ability and experience.  Thanks to Louisa Luigi who asked!

Like one of my favorite college professors once told me, there are no dumb questions....just dumb people who are afraid to ask!

First question is about editing.  Do editors get tired of our same old same old mistakes? Probably - they are human too although I do my best to learn from mine and at least make new ones.   Anyway, the question was how do you go back and learn (or re-learn) the basics?

It's a very good question.  Here's what I do - when I signed my contract for my first novel and soon had the first set of edits staring me in the face I realized I'd probably forgotten a lot of what I learned back in high school grammar class.  So I dug out one of my favorite birthday gifts of all time - a 5th grade English book from the 1960's.  My cousin Bill gave it to me as a present when I was probably about ten or so because it was discarded from his school.  In our family, we never throw away books and he knew I wanted to be a writer.  I still have it and so I sat down and studied it.  I also have a college level grammar text from a very good deceased friend and my former pastor at St. Canera Church, Roger Leveilee.  Between the two books, I was able to give myself a refresher course.

If that's not an option, I've suggested to some writers that they consider taking a basic composition class at a local college.  It's a good way to jump in, immerse yourself in all those things you might have forgotten over the years.

And now to the second question - what are good ways to promote?
This is the bane of writers everywhere these days and it's a hard one.  We're all out there trying to figure out what works, what doesn't.  I was talking with the host of A GOOD STORY IS A GOOD STORY (on BlogTalk radio), Marsha Casper Cooper just before I was a guest and we talked a lot about promotion, what works, what doesn't.   I don't think spending a lot of money is the answer but I can tell you things I do/have done that are simple yet seem to work.

Get some business cards printed up and leave then around wherever you can.  I have mine out at local cafes, supermarkets, the library, etc.  I've left them at bookstores, pass them out at author events, book fairs, anything.  Use VistaPrint.com and they're cheap  - free with shipping cost.   I also make up little flyers with the newest book cover, blurb, buy info and my friend at the local family restaurant puts them out on the counter for me.  Make them a half page or less size each and they'll fly out like hotcakes.

If you don't have a blog or website, get both now, make them pretty but not flashy, keep them updated and promote them everywhere.  I'm now running three blogs and one website.  Particpate in blog hops, events like the Weekend Dirty Dozen, #samplesunday, Snog Sunday, Six Sentence Sunday.

Join some Yahoo groups and post promos/excerpts.  Be sure, however, to learn the rules of the group and obey them.

Do any kind of media event you can.  I've done local tv, local radio, use my weekly column in the small town newspaper to promote mine and other authors work, do BlogTalkRadio if you get a chance (trust me, that works). 

Guest blog.  A lot of bloggers (including me) love to host guest blogs so check around.  You'll be sure to find someone who will let you take over for the day!

More questions, anyone? Leave them in comments and I will answer them in an upcoming blog post.  If I get enough maybe we'll start "Advice Monday" or something.

Happy writing!

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