"Required reading" for today's smart writer.

"Required reading" for today's smart writer.
Information & inspiration to hone your craft and increase your cash...Since 2009

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

10 Things to do Daily to Advance Your Writing Career

 
A full-time living from writing doesnt happen overnight. In the interim, we need to earn a living, help support our families and honor our ongoing obligations.
Even when life gets in the way, here are some simple things you can do daily to help keep up your creative momentum, promote your work and drive revenue writing opportunities

COUNT TO 10...!

See what's topical.
Watching the news, setting up Google alerts, reading the latest Twitter Moments… there are hundreds of ways of keeping up to date with whats happening in the world, and in the areas that interest you and are relevant for your career. The news is a perennial source of angles for article ideas for example, if youre a wellbeing journalist and a well-known celebrity discusses a fear of flying, that article on phobias you wanted to write is suddenly topical. Or if an event happens that mirrors an event in your latest novel, you now have a great excuse to pitch an article on that topic that will also help to promote your work. Remember, an angle explains to a magazine editor: Why should we write about this NOW.
 
Keep an eye on your social channels.
Be a good social citizen
make a point of following people back, responding to comments and sharing useful content. Dont forget to add a comment when you share things, to underline your own talent/expertise and add value to the conversation. Make a point of boosting people in your network that youd like to develop working relationships with too.

Always be subbing.
When it comes to submitting book proposals or stories and poems or ideas for articles and guest posts, let little and often be your mantra. Send out a few at a time; making a point of personalizing each message and carefully following all submission guidelines. (Some agents reject attachments, for example, while some prefer you to use their own online submission system.) That extra care will pay off in a higher rate of acceptances.

Keep an eye on your favorites.
That is, all the publishers, magazines and contacts who have published your work in the past. See what theyre up to, amplify their social and blog content, and look for opportunities to contact them again and cultivate your relationship further. Remember: its always easier to sell to people whove bought from you before, because of your existing track record.

Keep an eye on deadlines.
There are loads of competitions and submissions windows out there, any of which could lead to a profile-boosting acceptance or listing. Make sure you are on top of all the dates that matter to you, so you can prepare entries and submissions in good time.

Comment on posts and articles.
Make a point of contributing to conversations inspired by new posts on blogs and in forums on topics that relate to you and your work. Find the outlets where your target audiences are likely to live online, and start to develop a helpful online presence in discussions so you gradually get your name associated with the sort of subjects you too write about.



Jot things down.
Keep an eye open for ideas wherever you go. Scribble scraps of dialogues, funny thoughts, ideas for plot points, ideas for future projects anything that bubbles to the surface of your mind while youre out and about. Often the best ideas come when we least expect. so we have to be on hand to capture them any way we can with a notebook by your bed, or just recording thoughts into your phone.

Chase proposals and submissions.
Whenever you send off a proposal, whether youre pitching a book, a poem, or a guest post, set up an alert in your calendar to chase after a polite interval. Then, if youve heard nothing when the day comes round, you can send a friendly nudge to see if a decisions been made.
 
Chase payments.
Cashflow failure is the #1 reason that start-up businesses fail, and if you're going to be a writing business you need to step up to the credit controller part of the job. Again, make a note in your calendar when payments are due, and send polite reminders if they fall overdue.

Conclusion: Every day, in every way…
As you can see, even when youre very busy and cant write as often as youd like, you can at least make sure youre doing a few things every day to further your goal. Writing is as much a mindset as an activity, and once you get into the habit of inching every day towards that goal, in whatever way you can, youll find an abundance of ways to get there and more good things start happening for you and your career.



Dan Brotzel (Twitter handle: @brotzel_fiction) is co-author of a new comic novel,
Kitten on a Fatberg (Unbound). As a reader of this blog, you can

pre-order Kitten on a Fatberg for a 10% discount simply quote promo code KITTEN10












Image credits: Pixabay.com

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Motivational Quotes to Inspire, Enrich & Inform!


Are you seeking a clever intro to a personal essay?  A creative prompt that helps to break through writer's block?
The right words to capture a teachable moment?

Quotes are key. Quotes can educate, entertain and empower.

With this in mind, today I'll share a few here to move you forward, make you think and hopefully motivate you.
Feel free to add your own favorites in the comments section.

MOTIVATIONAL QUOTES TO NOTE...

 
"Your capacity to say no determines your capacity to say yes to greater things."
--E. STANLEY JONES
 
"And in the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years."
--ABRAHAM LINCOLN
 
"He will not let your foot slip--he who watches over you will not slumber."
--PSALM 121:3
 
"One person can make a difference and everyone should try." 
-- JOHN F. KENNEDY

"If you can not do great things, do smart things in a great way."
 
"Try not to become a person of success, but rather try to become a person of value."
 
 
"If you want to achieve greatness, stop asking for permission."
 
"Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna' get."
--THE MOVIE FORREST GUMP

"Be like the birds--sing after every storm."

"Don't be frustrated by your inexperience--all green things inevitably grow."

"Handle them carefully, for words have more power than atomic bombs."

"Life loves to be taken by the lapel and told: "I am with you kid. Let's go."
--MAYA ANGELOU

"Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up."
--GALATIANS 6:9


A penny for your thoughts.
Do you have a fave?

Thanks for reading.

Image credits: Jane Nannono

Thursday, September 5, 2019

6 Ways to Stand out in the Publishing Industry (without selling your soul)!




Shakespeare once said: “The world is a stage.” And for me, there’s no greater “display” of who we are than what we do. In fact, the Internet, social media, blogs and global relationships have served to amplify our voices and highlight our “performance.”

It seems that so many people today are trying to stand out and get noticed.
The competition is fierce. The stakes are high. The potential rewards are great.
So many are seeking their “15 minutes of fame”…a viral video, a book contract, a major endorsement, their “big break”-- that these “starry-eyed dreamers” will do just about anything to get discovered.

Unfortunately, not realizing that there is a good way and a bad way to stand out.
Don’t let it be you.
In my efforts to enhance and edify fellow writers, please allow me to share what I have learned in my many years in the publishing industry, that could perhaps enable others to go the distance with fewer detours.

Accordingly, here are 6 timely tips to stand out (and stay relevant) in the publishing industry without selling your soul:

 



1. KEEP YOUR WORD.

Where do I begin? I’m not sure why it happens so often or if there is simply a decline in personal values, but so few people honor their words these days, that if YOU do, you’ll immediately stand out and impress. In my creative and corporate careers, I have worn many hats: senior editor; arts organization founder; office manager; instructor; (to name a few). I have dealt with folks of different creeds, colors, educational backgrounds, genders, levels, etc.
The ones that I choose to maintain ties and conduct business with repeatedly are those that can be counted on and trusted. Folks that have personal integrity. I would recommend the same for you.
 
2. KEEP CONFIDENCES.

Whether you are dealing with a famous celebrity that you are serving as a “ghost writer” for, or know some juicy gossip about a Facebook group friend, keep it to yourself. The world is smaller than you think. “Loose lips sink ships.”

3. DON’T “SNUB” FOLKS THAT YOU CONSIDER TO BE BENEATH YOU ON THE LADDER OF SUCCESS.

The reason? First off, well… it lacks class. Secondly, you never know who might be in the position to help or befriend you in the future. Or a person's sphere of influence.  Are you with me here?
Some time ago, for example, I reached out to a very famous celebrity who had just launched a cookbook. Since I love cooking and was a fan of hers, I excitedly issued a brief email message requesting an interview for my blog. I must admit that her response gave me cause for pause. Her interaction was so cold, impersonal and ungrateful, (this chick wouldn’t  even agree to the interview without knowing my specific site stats). Adding insult to injury, she never thanked me for my initial interest and support. I later decided not to move forward with it. I also didn’t purchase any of her future books.
The moral of the story? Kindness doesn’t cost a thing. And fans are the reason celebrities (and successful writers) exist. Too many folks suffer from the "Big I little U syndrome."
As a point of reference here, I treat my yard maintenance guy with the same respect I show my attorney.
“It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.”

Also worth noting: if domestic diva Martha Stewart could find benefit in befriending bad-boy rapper Snoop Dogg, maybe we should all be more open to different creative alliances. "Fo' shizzle!"

4. ESTABLISH A REPUTATION FOR EXCELLENCE.

Submit quality work consistently. Blog bodaciously. Honor deadlines. Strive to make a positive difference. Help others when you can. Believe me, your reputation in the publishing industry is just as important and relevant as the size of your social media following. Wouldn't you agree?

5. CHOOSE YOUR BATTLES WISELY.

Don’t engage in word wars in public forums. Don’t burn bridges unnecessarily.
Resist the urge to “bad-mouth” a bad client through a detailed rant on your blog.
Take the "high road". There's less traffic.

6. STAY TRUE TO WHO YOU ARE.

Never lose yourself in your efforts to be liked and accepted by everyone else. Stand for something. Then stand firm. Recognize that no matter what you do and how hard you try, not every one will dig you or your work. And that’s okay.
As the Good book tells us: “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul?”

That’s my take here. Would love to hear yours.

Remember, you don’t have to be in the spotlight to shine!




Image credits: Pixabay.com

Sunday, September 1, 2019

10 Successful Writers Share Top Tips on Leveling up!

 

How to Earn More This Year...And Make More Progress

 
Welcome back, readers! Today's post is sure to please. Whether you aspire to start a blog, finish a novel, elevate your platform or your bottom line, I've "picked the brains" of 10 accomplished writers to help you accomplish those writing goals. 
All as part of my ongoing mission to help you "work smarter, not harder" and advance in your career. So grab your favorite brew, get comfortable and get your pencils ready...you'll want to take notes. :-) 
 

THE BIG REVEAL... 


“Look for regular clients—those that you can write for more than once. You’re more likely to get a “yes” to a pitch; regular clients come to you with ideas/assignments; you spend less time pitching overall; and you’re also more likely to be able to negotiate more money because your regular clients appreciate what you do for them. At the outset, I pitched ANY client, but after I changed my strategy to target clients (at the time, magazines that I knew I could write for more than once), my income more than doubled."
KELLY JAMES A.K.A. KELLY JAMES ENGER
Author of books on freelancing including Six-Figure Freelancing, Second Edition: The Writer’s Guide to Making More Money. 


http://www.kellykjames.net/
 
 
 "Guest post on top blogs. Whether you are writing novels or nonfiction, there are issues and topics that will interest bloggers and their audiences. Getting known in the larger world via leveraging other people's audiences is the fastest (and most fun) way to get traction for your books."
C.S. LAKIN, AWARD-WINNING BLOGGER @ LIVE, WRITE, THRIVE
 
 


 
"Do your research. Although it may sound generic, I truly believe this to be the key because it's so many ways that it proves beneficial. Whether researching others in the same genre to see how they wrote the book or how they made their millions, it's always a good idea to know what you're about to embark upon. That way, instead of reinventing the wheel, you solely have to customize it to your demographic."
 TONEAL JACKSON, FOUNDER OF AUTHORS PROMOTING SUCCESS
 
  
 
 "Develop something of your own to sell. My income made a dramatic leap once I started self-publishing ebooks. And ecourses have proven to be especially lucrative. The best part about them is that once they're developed, it's almost like earning on auto pilot.
The reason I say almost is because nothing in business is truly hands off. The courses have to be kept up to date. But this is not difficult; the real hard work is putting it together initially.

If you do choose this route, be sure to choose an evergreen subject, so you can sell the course for years. I've been selling my SEO writing course since 2009; and my romance writing course since 2017. I have one more, and another one on self-publishing in development.
Again, it's a lot of work in the beginning, but once they're up and going, they can be great money makers -- and can pad dry spells we all encounter as freelance writers.
This helps you to earn more in two ways: (i) via direct income from the course itself; and (ii) because it allows you to have another income stream, you can be more selective about the types of freelance writing projects you take on, and/or raise your freelance writing rates."
YUWANDA BLACK, AUTHOR OF "THE ULTIMATE
FREELANCER'S GUIDEBOOK" 
 
  
 
https://unbound.com/books/kitten-on-a-fatberg/










 
"I think my top tip - for myself and others who may find it useful - would be to focus more on giving out more and less on promoting your own stuff. I’m going to try and spend more time sharing other people’s work, giving constructive feedback, leaving reviews, helping to promote the people, especially those who’ve helped me. To get anywhere you need to build relationships, and that has to be a two-way street."
DAN BROTZEL, CONTENT DIRECTOR & AUTHOR 
 
, "Do your homework for better client relations. The most crucial tip I use when working with clients - don't skimp on gathering the details. I make a list of questions, thoughts, suggestions, etc. before I meet or talk with them on the phone about their project. Although I can touch base and gain more details from them as I work, I like to come away with enough initial details that help narrow and refine the process. Learned this the hard way; in my early days, I wasn't as diligent, and it made the process longer, more stressful, and less efficient. This step also helps me get a better picture of their vision, and helps better focus on the true finalized project."
KAREN E. LANGE, AUTHOR & INSTRUCTOR
  
 
 
"Seek retainer projects. After years of writing for professionals, small business owners and nonprofit organizations, I am beginning to seek retainer projects from established companies and corporations instead of one-time projects. Also, I use my freelance writing checklist to ensure I am charging for each service I'm providing to complete the project. In addition to blog posts and newsletters, I'm thinking of the communication tools that companies use weekly, monthly and quarterly so I can pitch my services for those."
MARCIE HILL, M.S. AUTHOR, TRAINER, BLOGGER

https://www.marciewrites.com/


 

(On making progress...)  

 
"Meditate and affirm. Set your intentions: In this writing session, I want to feel...{excited, eager, confident, harmonious, peaceful, flowing}. After this writing session, I want to feel...{satisfied knowing I am fulfilling my mission, excited, eager for the next session}}."

DR. NOELLE STERNE, AUTHOR OF
TRUST YOUR LIFE 
 


"Being a writer begins with passion and continues through open-minded growth. Being open to an editor's remarks or to taking yet another class (or reading another book) on how to write well. Passion puts our fingers to the keyboard. Hard work brings about the story we want to convey. Unfortunately, it's not about the money. It's actually rare to make one's living as a writer. Even the "Cheryl Strayeds" of the world have to teach a class or give a talk (with compensation) to supplement their writing income. But if you love it, you'll do it, and you'll keep wanting to grow. And you'll change the world (one story at a time) as you go."
MELANIE HOLMES, GLOBAL MEDIA AWARD 2014
 
 


"My top tip for making more progress toward achieving your writing success is to set external deadlines. This could be submitting a scene the first day of every month to your critique group/partner, revising a short story or poem in time for a contest or magazine submission deadline, or editing the current draft of your manuscript to get it to your editor by an agreed-upon date. Setting external deadlines will force you to make your writing a priority and inspire you to get the work done."
KRISTIN OAKLEY, MANAGING EDITOR OF WRITE CITY MAGAZINE

https://kristinoakley.net/

...And last but not least. What Jen recommends:

Jen @ Pen & Prosper
Learn more to earn more. Want to reach your full potential as a writer? Devote time, effort and money into professional development.
Teachers do. Cosmetologists do. Other serious practitioners do. 
Take classes. Invest in information products. Hire a creative coach.

When you "invest" in yourself it pays off!






Your turn, readers.
As Pen & Prosper celebrates "10 years" in the blogosphere, I hope you'll join me in celebrating these ten experts who contributed a great wealth of wisdom to this project by leaving a comment.
 
Thoughts? What's your favorite success tip shared?
Any tip you'd like to add?

Thanks for reading.

Image credit: Pixabay.com

Monday, June 10, 2019

The 3R's Series Continues With Need to Know Info!



RECOMMENDED READS AROUND THE WEB


7 WAYS TO MAKE MORE MONEY WRITING
https://thewritelife.com/7-ways-to-make-money-writing/

MUST-HAVE WEBSITE CHECKLIST
https://www.marciewrites.com/freelance-writer-website-checklist

CHARGE A FAIR RATE FOR YOUR TIME--HERE'S HOW

https://writersweekly.com/this-weeks-article/charge-a-fair-rate-for-your-time-by-haneef-davenport

THE POWER OF TESTIMONIALS

https://writersweekly.com/this-weeks-article/there-is-money-in-testimonials-by-jennifer-brown-banks

29 WAYS EMPLOYERS CONTROL YOUR LIFE

https://blackfreelance.com/employers-control-lifeno-really/

THE 3 BEST WAYS TO GET VALUABLE FEEDBACK ON YOUR WRITING

https://www.writingandwellness.com/2019/05/20/top-3-ways-to-get-feedback-on-your-writing/

JUNE IS NATIONAL AUDIO BOOK MONTH

https://www.booksontape.com/june-is-audiobook-month




RESOURCES & MISCELLANEOUS LEADS


25 WRITERS' APPS TO CHECK OUT STAT!
https://thewritelife.com/valuable-productivity-apps-that-help-freelancers-get-way-more-done/

SPEAKING OPPORTUNITIES
CWA SPEAKERS' BUREAU

https://www.chicagowrites.org/news_and_events/entry/cwa-announces-call-for-2019-2020-speakers-bureau-programs

CALL FOR SUCCESS STORIES FROM FREELANCERS

https://writersweekly.com/writersweekly-com-writers-guidelines

CHICKEN SOUP SERIES SEEKS YOUR STORIES & POEMS

https://www.chickensoup.com/story-submissions/possible-book-topics

MIZMOR ANTHOLOGY

https://www.poeticapublishing.com/mizmor-anthology


 

REVIEW

Burning Palms* Christopher Landon, Director





As most of my regular readers are aware, I'm a big movie buff. It's in fact one of my favorite past-times. But I must admit; this movie was different than the hundreds I've watched before.
Initially, I didn't really know how to process what I saw. I wasn't quite sure where the writer was coming from, the message or the motivation for this film.

What I can attest to is that it was dark, funny, sick, thought-provoking, insensitive, entertaining and hugely controversial. There are five short stories "that will mess you up for life" about various people and places in California that address a myriad of issues, perversions, dysfunctions, relationships and just plain strange situations. Expect the unexpected.

In the end, I would recommend it for its entertainment value.
But, if shock value or dark humor offends you, this one won't be your cup of tea. You've been warned. :-) I'd give it ***1/2 stars.

Wrapping things up here...

 
This concludes the 3Rs series for June. And more importantly, my posts for the next few months.
Practicing what I preach, Pen & Prosper will take a much-needed summer break.

Look for more exciting posts, leads and topics to help you know more and grow more, around the 1st week in September.
Feel free to leave comments and to connect in the interim. I'll be checking periodically.  

Have a safe, fun summer, folks!


JEN


Parting thoughts? Comments? Suggestions?


Image credits: Pixabay.com
Burning Palms- Amazon.com


Monday, June 3, 2019

This Just in...Pen & Prosper Turns 10! Let's celebrate

 
Welcome, readers!
It's June. And what a joy! Summer is on the horizon; it's my birthday month; and Pen and Prosper celebrates 10 years in the blogosphere.
Indeed three is a charm!

In 2009, I began this blog as a way to build my platform and share my love of all things literary.
And I must admit, it has exceeded my expectations.
My journey, (though challenging) has been very rewarding.
For those of you who blog, I'm sure I don't have to tell you how much work is involved to pull this off for a decade.

Blogging has allowed me to connect, reflect, teach, grow, learn and cultivate friendships with fellow writers across the globe.
It has enabled me to speak my own personal truths, champion important causes, instruct and inspire others.

I have published over 770 posts and have been blessed to have my efforts recognized with numerous awards in the evolving years. I've even made some money along the way.

None of this would be possible without you, the reader.
My heart-felt appreciation to those of you who read my work faithfully; who comment on my blog posts; who "Tweet" to your "peeps"; who purchase my products; who contribute guest blog posts; who make me laugh; who offer encouragement (week after week, month after month, year after year).
And those who send me chocolate via snail mail. :-)



In the words of a popular song: "Yes, it's true. I'm so happy to be stuck with you!"

Thanks for reading Pen & Prosper.
Have a great week ahead!

Smooches,

Jen

P.S. If you've been reading my work regularly over the years and enjoy it, (particularly those who may not typically comment), I'd love for you to say "hi" in the comments section.
It would add to my joy.
I promise, I don't bite. Unless you're a steak. :-)


Image credit: Pixabay.com

Friday, May 31, 2019

How to Rebound & Reboot From a Bad Writing Day!


Have you ever had one of those days when you get up early, energized and committed to moving forward in your creative career and the universe seems to conspire to sabotage your efforts?
You know the script: your computer malfunctions; there are constant distractions; you experience a power outage; writer's block grounds you; a client changes the deadline or direction of your project; or you receive a really negative comment from a blog reader or editor.

Like it or not, it comes with the territory. The next time you have a day from hell, don't lose perspective or give up your peace.

Keep pushing forward, with the following timely tips...


1. Don't concentrate on the problem, concentrate on alternatives.

For example, if you're trying to work on your computer to type up a few creative articles or blog posts, and you encounter glitches or a dreaded virus, pen your ideas on paper and save them for a later date. The key here is not to lose momentum or risk forgetting your original inspiration.

2. Make progress in other creative areas.

Make a few "cold calls" to cultivate new business, or clean out your home office. Remember, every little bit helps. Consider the following stats provided by the National Association of Professional Organizers:

  • The Wall Street Journal reports that the average U.S. executive wastes six weeks annually searching for important documents lost in clutter.
  • The Small Business Administration (SBA) estimates that 80 percent of filed papers are never looked at again.

3. Catch up on your reading.

If your goal is to become the best writer possible, reading is a must. Chances are, you have a stack of mags and books on your nightstand that you haven't gotten around to reading this month. Or books that are on your list to purchase soon. Why not start making a dent in that list?
My next intended read? "Becoming" by Michelle Obama.
Have any of you had the opportunity to check it out yet?

4. Step away from your computer.

While this may seem counter-productive at first, "there's a method to my madness."
Sometimes we need to go out and spend time with other people and things in order to replenish our creative juices. I've written on writing breaks before here at Pen and Prosper. For greater gains, don't strain the brain!

5. Have a back-up plan.

To minimize the effects of “Murphy's Law” and to "reboot" faster, make sure that you have systems and procedures in place for the worst case scenarios. For example, some time ago, I had the misfortune of having my cell phone go kaput on me. Somehow the numbers that I had stored in my phone's database were completely gone somewhere to cell phone heaven. Many of those numbers were to key clients I had communicated with over the years. But, since I hadn't tossed out my little pink address book from pre-cell phone days, I was able to stay connected. Hello?

Wrapping things up here...
Keep these five tips in mind to navigate difficult times ahead and stay the course.
May they serve like a "G.P.S." on the path to success!

Your turn.
Thoughts? Agree or disagree?

Image credit: Pixabay.com