Blog 4

THE BENEFITS OF CREATIVE WRITING

My grandfather (R.I.P.) once told me, “Take that rage and put it on a page.” I never forgot that quote, and to this day I continue to use this as inspiration for self-therapy. A lot of people do not realize the profound psychological effects of creative writing. When you write your thoughts or your feelings on a piece of paper, you are not only telling a story; you are also clearing out the system in which we function on.

Writing Is Therapy

When I am unhappy about something, I often find myself writing a song, a poem, or a short story that often has nothing to do with the issue in question. However, what is the psychological value of doing this? To be honest, I would say that about 80 percent of those things I write down are never read, and most likely will never be read. In fact, they will sit on my hard drive for years before I ever see them. However, when you write, you are clearing the subconscious gunk out of your existence and placing it onto a sheet of paper. I have done analyses of my writings, and have found that often what seems to be a short story based on fiction is actually a subconscious mechanism for my brain to clear itself out.

James Hetfield

James Hetfield is the lead singer and rhythm guitarist for the band: Metallica. He is also the primary writer, and is attributed as the author of around 90 percent of their songs. He eventually found himself in rehabilitation for drug abuse, and upon returning to songs he had written years before his induction into a clean life, he realized that a lot of the songs he had written were actually about drugs – and he never intended it to be that way. An example is the song: “Master Of Puppets,” which Hetfield said he learned in rehab that the song was rather obvious: it was about cocaine! These seemingly infamous words may sound like jargon, and to him they were…until he examined them in rehabilitation and found these songs were written about cocaine! “Have your breakfast on a mirror,” as one lyric.

Learn To Vent

So, what’s my advice?

Allow yourself to vent. Next time you feel you are upset, or angry, or even happy, you should write something down. Do not write about what it is; let your subconscious guide you into writing something that is a creative story or a poem. The more abstract you can be, the more likely you are to heal. And you may write something that is actually worth reading – even if just by you and you alone. Let us use a broad example: Donald Trump. Are you pissed off about what Trump is doing? Or are you pissed off about what he isn’t doing? Well, do not write about Trump; do not even write about politics. Just write! Clear your head and let your hand do the work. Write a short story, and think of it as a hidden message. That is the point of creative writing: allowing a sense of mystery and symbolism in your work.

They Are Inkblots

Eminem said it best: “These songs are inkblots.” The point of writing is to hide what you are really talking about. The goal is to get something out to the world that is so abstract that the meaning is subjective. In other words, “inkblots.” Let the reader decide what the writing is about, rather than trying to convince them of the topic. That way, it is up to the reader to understand the nature of the content. I often like to think of it as, what would happen if this piece of work was examined in an English Composition class one hundred years from now? I would want a teacher to ask me to write an essay on what the symbolism behind so-and-so is; what the writer was implying when he wrote so-and-so. Think back to English class and recall the many books we had to read, and the many questions we had to answer.

     They were all subjective, and that is what makes those books worth reading.

So, Write!

Writing is therapeutic if done correctly. I would say you should be writing something new every day. If you have an iPhone, use the “Notes” section to document various poems or songs; write short stories using that function. Then, return to it days or weeks later and try to figure out what you were talking about. Can you uncover your own thoughts in words that may seem abstract? And did you accomplish something? I would actually go ahead and write at the way end: a section on how you feel after you wrote that piece. Do you feel alleviated? Do you feel more angry than you originally were? Isolate patterns in your creative writing, and remember: inkblots will always be seen the same, but through different sets of eyes!

Take This With You

Writing is about art, despite the many times I have had to explain that this is actually not true. So, to clarify: when I say that your book is not art and is, instead, a product, I never once meant to demean the true beauty of what a book or a short story or a tall tale or a poem. With that said, allow yourself to write not based on what your brain is telling you. A bit of neuroscientific knowledge for you: the cerebral cortex is where we store most of our memory, and if you call your book “art,” that part of the brain recognizes its first perception of what art is. So, catch their attention, but do not leave behind your soul. It’s on you…

Blog 5

EXAMINING TWO WRITING STYLES

 

 

   Some of us plan, others do not. Does this necessarily mean that there is a correct way to write? The truth is, there is no “right” or “wrong” way to plan. However, there are a number of different ways to do this. Some people like to plan; others like me are willing to just jump right in and get things going, allowing it to “flow.” We will be examining these two polar opposites using what I call “writer personas.”

The Planner

     “The Planner” is someone who starts with an idea, followed by a short three-paragraph synopsis (often preceded by an outline that consists of bulleted points), and then a few revisions of the synopsis, followed by a lengthy treatment. Though there is nothing wrong with this type of style, it does negate a bit of the purpose of creative writing. I feel that creative writing cannot be planned or organized. I do understand the idea of coming up with a treatment for your story, or a general idea of what you are writing, but in the words of Steven King: “Write 500 words at a time and never read what you wrote; just write.”

The pros are that you will know exactly what the story is about, and you will be able to easily synthesize plot points, character backstories, settings, and chances are you will find yourself writing a great piece. The cons are that sometimes it is just as bad to over-prepare as it is to under-prepare. My advice for this type of writing is to leave in a lot of “blanks.” By that I mean, plan to an extent, but also plan for improvisation. If you have a strong character backstory, is there a way to add to it as you progress? Is a good guy who was planned to be the hero perhaps someone who can end up the enemy in some way? 

In other words, plan…but also plan for improvisation!

The Freewriter 

     I am one of these. I begin with an idea and I let the story envelop me. It can be problematic because often you are left with no real structure. As illustrated in my upcoming release (a sequel to the infamous “Port Risk”), there was a lot of great content – the kind that makes you thrilled and sick to your stomach at the same time. However, because I had no idea where I was headed with it, I ended up stopping the writing process for over three months, and it sat there on my hard drive collecting dust.

In the end, I came up with a great twist ending, but you can tell by reading it that it just was not on-point. The other problem with this method of writing is that it often causes a severe lack of content. I freewrite with every book and every story; there is no “planning” involved – ever. This is probably why none of my books ever exceed 20,000 words: without planning, I am forced to write based on my mood. However, that is where the advantage of freewriting comes in! Your mood will change every day; your mindset will also change. This allows your brain to come up with new ideas based on emotion, and that is quite possibly the most powerful facet of freewriting: you are relying on your daily rhythm, and the emotions you feel will pour out onto that page. You may be stuck with less structure and content, it’s worth its salt.

What’s The Right One?

     That’s for you to decide. I suggest trying both. See which you are comfortable with. If you are a seasoned writer, chances are you will know which utilizes your skills the best. Sometimes trusting your gut is the answer, but be prepared for a lot of “waiting around.” Other times, planning to a tee will give you plenty of content and a great setting/backstory for each character, but the emotion may be lacking. Either way, see which works for you and trust your instincts – always!

Finish it…

Blog 2

5 STEPS TO INCREASE A BOOK SALE

With over 792 books published daily on Amazon.com, and even more on Kindle, I am often asked how to increase sales. I suffice to say, this is not every writer’s opinion. You will find guides on tactics, mostly those of a guerilla matrix, but I warn you: these are not surefire ways to land massive sales, but they do work. I bring to the attention of the audience: a brand new way to look at your sales process for your book, novel or narrative short story.

#1: Find A Sales Team

Find a sales team and give them a percentage! Everyone’s doing it. Well, not really, but you should. We offer a promotional service to anyone who wishes to allow us to do this for you, so feel free to send us a message and we will get back to you. So, what can a sales team do for you? They may be able to offer what is called “deferred payment,” i.e. the good ol’ “when I get paid, you get paid” way. Offer 15 to 20 percent of each sale they make, find a practical way for them to keep track of sales, and boom! You’ve got free workers who are responsible for every client. Seriously, get deep into it.

#2: Use Sales Navigator

Utilize the $79/month option of unlimited connections! Sales Navigator allows you to target leads directly based on everything from age, occupation, gender, income level, and demographic. You can even go as far as targeting specific personality types if you did it right. Use it to add 20 new connections each day. Send them this: “Hello, I am connecting to say I was interested in [name an article they’ve written or a company they work for]. I have a new book out called [title of book] and it may apply to you. Send a link to your book. Boom, done.

#3: Use Facebook Groups

Facebook Groups is a wonderful place to market! Just do not do it in an obvious manner. Instead, focus on engagement. By engaging, you are commenting on appropriate Group topics and possibly throwing in a link to your book if it helps them. Never post “Hey, buy my book!” Rather, comment and say: “I loved this post! You might benefit from a book I wrote a while back…message me!” Add a smiley face, too.

#4: Send A Press Release

And send one out before you publish! We offer a press release writing service so if in need of one, contact us. Press releases are cheap to write but expensive to distribute. Your best bet is to test the three best sources using the same press release and doing it at the same time and on the same day. PR.com is one; PRWeb.com is another; Newswire.com is another. Press releases are sent to multiple journalists, media outlets, and some bigger names such as Google News. However, the manner in which the press release is sent out (i.e. before or after a release), the content you are getting the “word” out on is about (can you pitch the book via this method or is it best to save your money?), and the price you pay to distribute it.

Try for release on a Tuesday or Wednesday. Best days to send.

#5: Network With Authors

If you can, start to partner with other marketing professionals. This can best be done on LinkedIn using Sales Navigator. Type in the search bar: “Author” and you will have thousands of options to connect with. These may require a better script: “Hello, I see you are also an author of a similar type of book as mine. Would I mind setting up a chat with you to see how we can benefit each other?” Your goal here is to find a way to make them a strategic partner. They promote your book, and you promote theirs. This can be done with promotional branding, a mutual 5-star review, or a credit somewhere in the book.

I used this method once. Hear more!

Blog 3

WHAT MAKES A GREAT PRESS KIT?

A press kit is crucial for any business seeking media exposure! But how do you go from “writing a press kit” to “making it work out?” Often we see and counsel authors and other multimedia specialists on the attractiveness of a press kit, but they always seem to forget the main bulk of the idea. The first step to writing a great press kit is to realize it does not often come in the form of a presentation or a written document. A press kit should always be hosted online. It should be on your website, and available for all to see and view. There are many steps, but we want to avoid the bulk of the conversation and instead focus on what you really, really need to know. You can find tons of articles online about what is needed in a press kit, i.e. at the end of this page we have a list that includes the basic tips you need to get started. For now, let us focus on the more advanced facets you need.

Why Online?

Let us start at the beginning. In the early 1980s, musicians realized they needed to do more than simply send in a CD with their music on it. Radio stations were crucial for a musician to get the word out, so after a surge of CDs and unlistened music, managers began to develop press kits that came in the form of a sporty presentation, written in print. It always included a biography of the band, a press release, a tour schedule, and any/all media they could possibly incorporate. Next thing you know, 2014 hits (and ReverbNation opens, as well as BandCamp in 2017) are born, where a musician can literally write their bio, include free music downloads, and just about everything the “older press kit” featured was not online. This was a major step and it transferred over to business. Online press kits are sequentially easier to host, easier to develop, easier to understand, and much more is capable with one (think about this: if you had sent in to a media source a paper copy press kit and found out you had a typo, how would you change it? Would you have to resend it? What if the tour schedule changes? Think about that one for a moment. Then, continue to read.

So Where Do You Host It?

Go to our “Releases” page.

We avoid linking directly in our blogs because the text color is blah, but when you really need to see a true press kit, check out our FlickBack press kit, developed on Wix.com. We will include a link at the bottom of the page. That, my friends and dear readers, is the best possible example of what you need to be doing. Next, did you know you could upload both a page on your website (or a completely separate website) as well as distribute in a more presentable format? We will include links at the bottom of the page that allows you to host all of your necessary files (Bios, logos, videos, photos, media, the actual press release itself, and contact info) on a small USB drive, which features a logo on it. Check the links below!

Don’t Be Afraid To Go Nuts

Develop a press kit online the same manner as you would if you were summarizing your company to someone else. Realize that though organization may count, it is not the epicenter of your creation. Rather, it is a matter of dazzling (hence the reason why we decided to use really, really ostentatious graphics for this post) and to be chaotic, causing entropy, raising awareness, and not representing your brand. Disrupt your thoughts on how it should look, and then check the links below.

Press Kit Content

Whereas a paper press or media kit was once the norm (and, even to this day, there are surely still presentation folders printed up at the neighborhood Kinko’s arriving lazily on journalists’ front porches), we now abide by the same template of a standard website. I do suggest visiting one of my personal projects’ press kit, which you can view by clicking below. The bulk of it is to introduce yourself, provide an author bio, a photos page, a videos page, and (of course) a page about the books! Remember something about this new way of spreading media relations: though the content definitely matters, journalists and other sources of media kits receive hundreds (if not thousands) of these things monthly. This means they will scan the website for 10-15 seconds before losing interest unless you can capture it! So, that first page better be damned good, and then format appropriately. Do not just use a standard template. Give it your all, and I recommend using Wix.com for this. https://rwmcclellan3.wixsite.com/flickback to see our mobile app’s press kit, hosted on Wix!

Need Assistance?

Contact us for some more info!

Blog 1

YOUR WEBSITE AND WEB PRESENCE

From social media to something as simple as a website or a blog, it is crucial to have more than just the bare basics when you launch your book. In fact, it is almost tantamount to treason if you do not have a website for your book prior to launch, as this acts as the catalyst for sales. Where do people go to find out about an upcoming book? The web. Where does someone go when looking for new books? The web. Why do people go to the web to find new information? It’s much easier than visiting a store. Tired of italicized font? Me, too. 

So, I’ll transition into the next segment.

What do you need to get started?

Really, not much. Setting up a substantial web presence is generally simpler than one would think. Take this site, which was started on WordPress. Sign up for an account, and you get both a blog as well as the capacity to set up separate pages, too! As you can see from this website, I have several pages and subpages that you can’t even see!  The blog acts as my home page, which I update regularly. This is called content marketing and is a term you will be hearing often. This kind of website can also be provisioned using services such as MakeAnEasyWebsite or through a web developer if it is too confusing for you, but WordPress is often the site amateur web developers go to in order to set up a website. Otherwise, you may be paying set fees for something you do not even want or need. Hiring a web developer can be a bit costly, however we do offer Web Presence services.

Social Media influence.

Social media is another area you may be more familiar with. Social media involves simply setting up a Facebook and Twitter page (maybe even going as far as Tumblr, Pinterest, and Instagram) and marking it as the designating force behind your web marketing endeavors. Remember not to confuse a Facebook profile with a Facebook page, which is a completely different entity. To set up a Facebook page, look for the below section to avoid setting up a Facebook profile. Social media presence is as important (if not more important) than setting up a website. This is because billions flock to social media on a daily basis (Facebook in itself covets over 1.2 billion users) and it is a great place to network using their many Groups. Twitter is equally important, as your posts will show up on any profile that is following yours. It is a great medium to disclose updates about a book release, a promo offering, or a book discount. LinkedIn should be a priority! Instagram and others are of importance, too.

Content marketing is essential!

First, what is content marketing? The definition is utilizing content such as blogs, images, and videos as a means to promote your book (or anything else). It varies from situation to situation. For books, you want to make sure you establish a web presence that is visceral to the touch. This includes constantly updating your blog, releasing news updates regularly on social media (even the ones that don’t make sense!), and keeping users updated.

What is the best content?

A rather recent study found that to properly engage users, you need to know 1) what time of day to post at, and 2) what kind of content to post to meet the highest “reach,” or the most users’ views. Videos are at the way top, though I have personally found that photos do more damage than videos. Next in line are links, then quotes, then finally: plain text. You want to utilize photos and videos (specifically photos for a book) with written content, as well as links. As an example of a random quote: “We are preparing for our book’s launch! It is [date here]. Please take some time to check out our website at [link here].” That is an example of a well-formatted social media post. It contains a photo, a pitch, and finally, a call-to-action. A call-to-action is any scenario where you ask the user to do something, whether it is to click on a link that will generate a sale or even asking someone to write a good review. Though the above is not the best example of a social media post (often you will want to include more content and less sales), you should get the gist!

When to post and ways to post.

I am going to provide you with a link that saved my life. This link will provide you with all the answers you need as to: when to post. This was actually posted by a website called HootSuite, which I use and have partnered with in order to schedule posts on all of my various accounts and pages in a timely manner. It allows you to schedule posts in advance, for a very good price! I would definitely check them out, and I will try my best to provide a tutorial video. The facts stated in the link are true. Social media users follow a rather tantamount routine daily, and over time marketing professionals begin to see these patterns that formulate when and where to post. As a self-published author you will need to learn how to market yourself, and it brings me back to our post, “10 Tips For Marketing Your Book” You have to remember constantly that once the book is up and for sale, it is no longer an art form; it is a product that needs marketing.

In conclusion…

Continue reading our other posts, as many complement this one. You are a marketer and a businessman or businesswoman now, and you will need to start marketing your book just like any other company does with a product. Setting up a website and a blog is your best bet, but it does not end there. You also need to be able to utilize social media to your advantage, which allows you to truly reach out to the masses using a number of mediums. And if you need assistance, Contact us! We are here to do more than just provide you with knowledge and some books to read – we are a Literary Advisory, and we want to assist you!