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What is an EPK (Electronic Press Kit) and how do I create one?

epk - elecrtonic press kitEssentially an EPK (Electronic Press Kit) contains all the information someone would want if they were considering booking you to speak or writing an article about you.

While mostly used by performance artists (bands, dancers etc) it is becoming more and more common to see speakers and authors creating and using EPKs to great benefit.

While you can search online for examples and templates of EPKs (electronic press kits) for you to use as inspiration, essentially you should consider including the following:

  • Short, one paragraph biography
  • Long, detailed biography
  • Embedded videos and/or links to videos that highlight you speaking and presenting, preferably in a range of different environments and to differing sized audiences
  • Embedded videos of any television coverage
  • Embedded show-reel/demo-reel (compilation of your speaking and presenting engagements)
  • Sample chapter of your book
  • List of all your published works with short summaries
  • High-resolution photos of you – both with and without your book
  • High-resolution cover image for each of your books
  • Testimonials – both written and video
  • Statistics on your following, including social media
  • Links to any press coverage (http://leighstjohn.com/how-to-write-a-press-release/)
  • Any relevant awards or recognition
  • List of any up-coming speaking engagements
  • Contact information for the speaking agency that represents you (if you have one)
  • Your contact information including email, website, address and phone

What format should the EPK take?

Preferably, it should be compiled into a PDF (make sure all links in the PDF are live!) that a potential client or reporter can download, as well as being a page on your site through which an interested party can scroll.

Where do you put your EPK?

Suggest you create a separate link on your website that goes direct to your EPK page and downloadable PDF.

How do I promote my EPK?

Suggest putting the link to your EPK in the signature of your emails, even on your business cards!  After all, this is the place where all your major achievements have been compiled.

Make it easy for people to book you!

Writing Competitions & Book Fairs – April 2016 Deadlines

writing competitionTime to start writing and/or submitting your work for these April 2016 Deadlines!

Remember, continually promoting your book leads to greater awareness, increased sales and sometimes to opportunities you could never have imagined…

Here are the latest writing competitions and book fairs for you to consider – they each have deadlines of April 2016 for submission.

Kay Snow Writing Contest

  • http://willamettewriters.org/submit-your-writing/kay-snow-writing-contest/
  • April 30, 2016
  • The purpose of this annual writing contest, named in honor of Willamette Writers’ founder, Kay Snow, is to help writers reach professional goals in writing through a broad array of categories, and also to encourage student writers. In addition to cash prizes, winners will be listed on the Willamette Writers website, are honored at our Willamette Writers Conference held annually in August, and are automatically considered for publication in Willamette Writers’ new literary journal.

Self-Published Book Awards

  • http://www.writersdigest.com/writers-digest-competitions/self-published-book-awards
  • April 1, 2016
  • Whether you’re a professional writer, a part-time freelancer or a self-starting student, here’s your chance to enter the premier self-published competition exclusively for self-published books. Writer’s Digest hosts the 24th annual self-published competition–the Annual Self-Published Book Awards. This self-published competition, co-sponsored by Book Marketing Works, LLC spotlights today’s self-published works and honors self-published authors.

1st Annual New Deal Writer’s Competition

  • http://livingstonarts.org/new-deal-writing-competition/
  • April 1, 2016
  • The New Deal Writer’s Competition is a short story competition where the writer is asked to use a painting chosen by the staff of Livingston Arts as inspiration for their piece

Ware Poets Competition

  • http://www.poetrypf.co.uk/comps/ware16.pdf
  • April 30, 2016
  • The competition is open to anyone aged 16 or over.

2016 Bristol Short Story Prize

  • http://intercompetition.com/index.php/writing/ad/2016-bristol-short-story-prize
  • April 30, 2016
  • “The maximum length of submissions is 4,000 words, there is no minimum length.
    Stories can be on any theme or subject and are welcome in any style including graphic, verse or genre-based (Crime, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Historical, Romance, Children’s etc.).
    All entries should be in English.”

Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize

  • http://www.upress.pitt.edu/renderHtmlPage.aspx?srcHtml=htmlSourceFiles/starrett.htm
  • April 30, 2016
  • “The University of Pittsburgh Press announces the Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize for a first full-length book of poems.
    You have to send one copy of your manuscript on good quality white paper, with no fewer than 48 and no more than 100 typescript pages. You should also include your curriculum vitae.” “7500 Thomas Blvd.
    Pittsburgh, PA 15260”

Spring 2016 Literary Festival

  • https://www.ohio.edu/cas/english/news-events/spring-literary-festival.cfm
  • April 6-8, 2016
  • Since 1986, The Spring Literary Festival has featured some of the world’s finest, most distinguished writers of poetry, fiction and non-fiction. The three-day festival is held in May on the Ohio University main campus in Athens, OH.

2016 Bath Short Story Award

  • http://bathshortstoryaward.co.uk/
  • April 25, 2015
  • “Stories can be on any theme or subject but must be original and written in English. They must also be for adult or young adult readers. Non-fiction and fiction written for children under 13 years is not eligible.
    Maximum length is 2,200 words.  Entries must not have been previously published in print or online, been broadcast or won a prize.”

Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest

  • https://winningwriters.com/our-contests/wergle-flomp-humor-poetry-contest-free
  • April 1, 2016
  • Submit one poem only, with a maximum of 250 lines 351 Pleasant Street, PMB 222, Northampton, MA 01060

The London Book Fair

  • http://www.londonbookfair.co.uk/
  • 12-14 April 2016
  • The London Book Fair is the global marketplace for rights negotiation and the sale and distribution of content across print, audio, TV, film and digital channels. In 2016 the fair will take place at Olympia, West London, and cover all aspects of the publishing industry.

Ver Poets

  • http://verpoets.org.uk/
  • April 30, 2016
  • Poems must be no more than 30 lines in length. They may be on any theme and in any form. The competition is open to anybody aged 16 or over. Competitors may submit any number of poems for a fee of £4.00 per poem, 3 poems for £10, £2 per poem thereafter.

The Prestigious Claymore Award

  • http://www.claymoreaward.com/
  • April 30, 2016
  • Judges will consider any subgenre of mystery or thriller. Enter the first 50 pages of any unpublished literature “P.O. Box 680759
    Franklin, Tennessee 37068-0759”

Colm Toibin International Short Story Competition

  • http://www.focalliteraryfestival.com/the-colm-toibin-international-short-story-award/
  • April 1, 2016
  • “Entries must be between 1,800 and 2,000 words in length. Entries must be in English. Entries must be the original work of the author and must not have been previously published either in writing or electronically. Entries which have received awards in other competitions are also ineligible.” “C/- Focal @ Enniscorthy Library
    Lymington Road,
    Enniscorthy Co. Wexford Ireland”

International Short Story Contest

  • https://www.firstwriter.com/competitions/short_story_contest/
  • April 1, 2016
  • The contest is open to stories of any style and on any subject, but they must not be longer than 3,000 words. The closing date for submissions is April 1, 2016, and there is a reading fee of $9.75 / £6.50 per story. Alternatively you can enter two stories for just $8.63 / £5.75 each, three stories for only $7.50 / £5.00 each, or five stories for only $6.00 / £4.00 per story.

Momaya Press’s Short Story Competition

  • http://momayapress.com/momaya-short-story-competition/
  • April 30, 2016
  • Momaya Press’s Short Story Competition is open to writers of any nationality writing in English and offers the opportunity for winners to be published in the Momaya Annual Review 2016.

The Bath Novel Award

  • 2016 http://bathnovelaward.co.uk/
  • April 10, 2016
  • Novels written for adults or young adults, first 5,000 words plus synopsis PO Box 5223, Bath, BA1 0UR, England, UK
    FanStory’s Character Writing Contest
    http://www.fanstory.com/contestdetails.jsp?id=102630 April 29, 2016 “Write a short story that includes a character that is part of the scene pictured below. Creative approaches are welcomed. We are looking for ‘Vivid Characterization’ – well-defined, rich characterization. These are characters you can vividly hear, see, smell and care about as they are created by the writer. Minimum length 700 words. Maximum Length 7,000 words. Recommended length 2,000 – 3,500 words “

The Story House Ireland Presents “Poetry: The Craft”

  • http://www.poetryireland.ie/writers/opportunities/the-story-house-ireland-presents-poetry-the-craft
  • April 11, 2016
  • Coleridge said that poetry is the best words in the best order, but how do you choose the words and the order? Join experienced tutors, Nessa O’Mahony and Peter Sirr, for a week-long residential course that will guide you through the craft of writing poetry, from getting started, developing a daily practice of writing and reading, through drafting and redrafting, to finishing your work.

The Magpie Award for Poetry

  • http://pulpliterature.com/contests/
  • April 15, 2016
  • At Pulp Literature, we have an affinity for poetry, the hard liquor of literature. We like it strong, neat, and we don’t mind if it makes our eyes water. Our judges, will be looking for a fusion of musicality, imagery, feeling, and thought. May the best poem win!

Kathryn A. Morton Prize in Poetry

  • http://www.sarabandebooks.org/morton
  • April 30, 2016
  • This contest is open to any poet of English. Employees and board members of Sarabande Books, Inc. are not eligible. Individual poems from the manuscript may have been published previously in magazines, chapbooks of less than 48 pages, or anthologies, but the collection as a whole must be unpublished. Translations and previously published collections are not eligible. To avoid conflict of interest, close friends of a judge or students in a degree-granting program with a judge are not eligible to enter a contest in the genre for which their friend or teacher is serving as judge.

2016 Poetry Chapbook Contest

  • http://www.omnidawn.com/contest/poetry-contests.htm
  • April 18, 2016
  • Open to all writers with no limitations on the amount of poetry a writer has published. Submissions should be 20–40 pages of poetry, not including front and back matter. (Keep in mind that this is intended to fit in a 5.5 x 7 inch published chapbook of approximately 60 pages or less, although you can submit on standard 8.5 x 11 inch pages, and we will format to fit the smaller size.) Colleagues, students, and close friends of the judge, Hoa Nguyen, are not eligible. “1632 Elm Avenue
    Richmond, CA 94805-1614”
    Wax Poetry and Art http://waxpoetryart.com/contests/poetry.html April 30, 2016 “The work submitted must be wholly original to the person submitting
    the work.
    Simultaneous submissions are not allowed for this contest. Please do not
    submit the same poems anywhere else until the contest results are
    announced.”

RhymeZone Poetry Prize

  • http://www.rhymezone.com/contest/
  • April 12, 2016
  • For the first RhymeZone Poetry Prize, we asked people to write poems on the theme of “Understanding”. We received 3,556 submissions from more than 3,000 people from all across the United States and Canada. The poems touch on all aspects of the contest theme, and there’s a staggering diversity of styles, forms, meters, rhyme schemes, and topics.

Allen Ginsberg Poetry Awards

  • http://www.poetrycenterpccc.com/awards/
  • April 1, 2016
  • Up to five poems per person will be accepted for consideration. Submit four copies of each poem for distribution to the judges. No poem should be more than two manuscript pages. Since the poems will be judged anonymously, sheets which contain the poems should not have the poet’s name on them. Include a separate cover sheet with the poet’s name, mailing address, phone number, email address and the titles of the poems. Poems cannot be returned.

Paterson Fiction Prize

  • http://www.poetrycenterpccc.com/awards/
  • April 1, 2016
  • A $1000 prize is awarded by The Poetry Center at PCCC for a novel or collection of short fiction which, in the opinion of our judges, is the strongest work of fiction published in 2015.

THE 2016 BEST FIRST NOVEL COMPETITION

  • http://www.delsolpress.org/DSP-NovelCompetition.htm
  • April 15, 2016
  • The competition is open to all authors writing in English regardless of nationality or residence, and is available to published and unpublished authors alike. Genres we are looking for include literary and upmarket fiction, mainstream or general fiction, mystery/thriller or speculative fiction with a literary edge, serious women’s fiction, and unique experimental work. “2020 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
    Ste 443
    Washington, DC 20006”

Acrostic Poetry Contest

  • http://www.fanstory.com/contestdetails.jsp?id=102652
  • April 24, 2016
  • Write an acrostic poem where the first letter of each line spells out a word (downwards). The poem can be about anything. It can be based on one or more words. Creative approaches are welcomed. One entry per person. New entries only. Acrostic poetry only.

The Richard Snyder Memorial Publication Prize

  • http://ashlandpoetrypress.com/guidelines/snyder-prize
  • April 1, 2016
  • This poetry book series honors the memory of Richard Snyder (1925-1986), poet, fiction writer, playwright, and long-time professor of English at Ashland University. In selecting manuscripts for this series, Ashland Poetry Press editors keep in mind Snyder’s tenacious dedication to craftsmanship and thematic integrity.
    “401 College Ave.
    Ashland, OH 44805”

The Eastern Iowa Review Poetry Prize

  • http://www.portyonderpress.com/eastern-iowa-review-poetry-prize.html
  • April 30, 2016
  • The Eastern Iowa Review Poetry Prize will award three poets a prize for poems that reflect smart writing from a “good spaces” context suitable for a wide audience. No poem length or style restrictions. Prose poems are welcome as are found poems, free verse, haiku, rhyming poems, etc. All poems must be completely unpublished.
    6332 – 33rd Avenue Drive, Shellsburg IA

2016 Indiana Review Poetry

  • Prize http://indianareview.org/contests/
  • April 1, 2016
  • “Send no more than three poems per entry, 8 pages maximum.
    As of September 2014 we no longer accept hard-copy submissions.
    Entrant’s name must not appear on the submission.
    Cover letter must include name, address, phone number, and title. Entrant’s name should appear ONLY in the cover letter.” “Ballantine Hall 529
    1020 E. Kirkwood Ave. Indiana “

THE ANNUAL GULF COAST PRIZE

  • http://gulfcoastmag.org/contests/gulf-coast-prize/
  • April 9, 2016
  • The contest awards publication and $1,500 each to the best poem, essay, and short story, as well as $250 to two honorable mentions in each genre.

The Waterston Desert Writing Prize

  • http://www.writingranch.com/waterston-prize-for-desert-writers/
  • April 1, 2016
  • Now in its second year, the Prize annually honors literary nonfiction that illustrates artistic excellence, sensitivity to place, and desert literacy – with the desert as both subject and setting. Inspired by author and poet Ellen Waterston’s love of the high desert of Central Oregon, a region that has been her muse for more than 30 years, the Prize recognizes the vital role deserts play worldwide in the ecosystem and human narrative. “PO Box 640
    Bend, OR 97709”

Beacon Street Prize

  • http://www.redividerjournal.org/submit/contests/beacon-street-prize/
  • April 30, 2016
  • We launched the Beacon Street Prize in 2012, in honor of our 10th anniversary, and writers and readers responded with such enthusiasm that we now hold it annually. Welcoming submissions of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, the 2016 contest will open February 15 and close April 30.

Binsted Arts Poetry Competition

  • http://www.binsted.org/poetry-comp
  • April 17, 2016
  • Original unpublished poems are invited on the theme:
    A way through the woods

Ver Poets Open Competition

  • 2016 http://verpoets.org.uk/
  • April 30, 2016
  • Poems must be no more than 30 lines in length. They may be on any theme and in any form. The competition is open to anybody aged 16 or over. Competitors may submit any number of poems for a fee of £4.00 per poem, 3 poems for £10, £2 per poem thereafter.
    16th Poetry on the Lake http://www.poetryonthelake.org/page2.php April 30, 2016 “3 categories: Open & Formal (max 40 lines each), Short (max 10 lines)
    Mark category top right of each page. The same poem may be entered in two or more categories
    but will count each time as a separate entry. “

The Very Short Fiction

  • http://www.glimmertrain.com/pages/guidelines/very_short_fiction_guidelines.php
  • April 30, 2016
  • “The Very Short Fiction Contest is open to all writers.
    Any story that has not appeared in a print publication is welcome.
    Maximum length: 3,000 words” “PO Box 80430
    Portland, Oregon 97280 USA”

The Fiction Open

  • http://www.glimmertrain.com/pages/writing_guidelines.php
  • April 30, 2016
  • Open to all subjects, all themes, and all writers. Most entries run from 3,000 to 6,000 words, but any lengths from 3,000 to 20,000 words are welcome. “PO Box 80430
    Portland, Oregon 97280 USA”

2016 New South Writing Contest

  • http://newsouthjournal.com/contest/
  • April 15, 2016
  • This year’s contest will be be judged by Anya Silver in the genre of poetry and Matthew Salesses in the genre of prose. First place winners in each category will be awarded $1,000 prizes; second place winners, $250 prizes; and third place winners, a three-year subscription to New South. Your $15 entry fee also includes a one-year subscription to New South. You may submit electronically via Submittable ONLY.

2016 Frost Farm Prize

  • http://www.frostfarmpoetry.org/prize/
  • April 1, 2016
  • Poems must be original, unpublished and metrical (any metrical form). No translations. There is no limit to the number of poems entered by an individual, but an entry fee of $5 U.S. per poem must accompany the submission. You are welcome to submit a poem sequence (a crown of sonnets for example) but each poem must be entered as a separate file and will be judged individually. “280 Candia Rd.
    Chester, NH 03036”

Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction & Essay Contest

  • https://winningwriters.com/our-contests/tom-howard-john-h-reid-fiction-essay-contest
  • April 30, 2016
  • Welcome to the 24th annual Tom Howard/John H. Reid Fiction & Essay Contest. Submit published or unpublished work. $4,000 in prizes.

Margaret Chase Smith Essay Contest

  • http://www.mcslibrary.org/program/edu/essay.htm
  • April 1, 2016
  • The rules of the contest are minimal. Essays must be typed and double-spaced. Contestants should provide contact information so they can receive notification of final results. Essays should be no longer than 2000 words. Quality of evidence, argumentation, and writing is more important than quantity of pages. “56 Norridgewock Avenue
    Skowhegan, Maine 04976 “

Twelfth International Short Story Contest

  • https://www.firstwriter.com/competitions/short_story_contest/
  • April 1, 2016
  • Welcome to firstwriter.com’s Twelfth International Short Story Contest. This competition is open to fiction in any style and on any subject, up to 3,000 words long.
    LitRejections Short Story Prize http://www.litrejections.com/short-story-prize/ April 4, 2016 “Our inaugural story prize is welcoming submissions from writers around the world for the chance to win cash prizes and publication on our website, a site with over 100 million web hits.
    We would love to read your stories and bring your voice to a wider audience of readers, agents, publishers, authors, and many leading figures from all of the other creative industries, who regularly visit our website www.litrejections.com”

THE LONG ISLAND BOOK FAIR

  • http://www.libookfair.com/
  • April 2 – 3, 2016
  • Featuring Books and Ephemera, with Paper in every category, Prints & Post Cards, too. 720 Northern Blvd. (NY25A) Brookville NY 11549

New York Antiquarian BOOK FAIR

  • http://www.nyantiquarianbookfair.com/
  • April 7-10, 2016
  • From April 7-10, 2016 book lovers will find a fascinating treasure trove at the Park Avenue Armory. Over 200 American and international dealers will exhibit at The ABAA New York Antiquarian Book Fair, bringing a vast selection of rare books, maps, manuscripts, illuminated manuscripts and ephemera. The diversity of specialties includes art, medicine, literature, photography, autographs, first editions, Americana, and much more. “Park Avenue Armory
    643 Park Avenue, New York
    Between 66/67 Streets”

Southern Kentucky Book Fest

  • http://sokybookfest.org/
  • April 23, 2016
  • Southern Kentucky Book Fest is one of the state’s largest literary events and is presented by Barnes and Noble Booksellers, Warren County Public Library, and WKU Libraries. Held annually in April, the Book Fest draws thousands of readers of all ages who welcome the occasion to meet their favorite authors and purchase signed copies of their books. Bowling Green, Kentucky 42101

2016 Virginia Book Fair

  • http://www.virginiabooksellers.org/
  • April 29 – 30, 2016
  • “40 of the country’s finest booksellers under one roof, offering books, manuscripts, maps, autographs, art and ephemera for every taste and budget.
    Admission is free, parking is ample, and the VMFA Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is right next-door (with its award-winning café and restaurant). ” “428 N. Boulevard
    Richmond, Virginia 23220”

Bloomsbury Book Fair

  • http://www.bloomsburybookfair.com/
  • April 10, 2016
  • We welcome our regular dealers PLUS some new faces and Specialist Military Dealers! You can expect dealers in fine and rare books, ephemera specialists, map & print sellers, as well as auctioneers and bookbinders, be sure to mark the date in your diary! “Bedford Way
    London WC1H 0DG”

2016 AWP Conference & Bookfair

  • https://www.awpwriter.org/awp_conference/
  • April 2, 2016
  • The AWP Conference & Bookfair is an essential annual destination for writers, teachers, students, editors, and publishers. Each year more than 12,000 attendees join our community for four days of insightful dialogue, networking, and unrivaled access to the organizations and opinion-makers that matter most in contemporary literature.

The Buffalo Small Press Book Fair

  • http://www.buffalosmallpress.org/
  • April 9-10, 2016
  • The Buffalo Small Press Book Fair is a regional two-day event that brings booksellers, authors, bookmakers, zinesters, small presses, artists, poets, and other cultural workers (and enthusiasts) together in a venue where they can share ideas, showcase their art, and peddle their wares. “Porter Hall
    453 Porter Avenue
    Buffalo, NY”

THE 2016 VIRGIN ISLANDS LITERARY FESTIVAL AND BOOK FAIR

  • https://vilitfest.wordpress.com/
  • April 21-23, 2016
  • The second annual Virgin Islands Literary Festival and Book Fair is set to kick off April 20-23 with events highlighting and celebrating literature’s role in culture and society. “University of the Virgin Islands
    St. Croix Campus”

Blue Ridge Bookfest

  • http://www.blueridge.edu/blueridgebookfest
  • April 22-23, 2016
  • The 2016 Blue Ridge Bookfest is pleased and excited to announce that Novelist Ms. Sara Gruen, author of the widely acclaimed Water for Elephants, will be the 2016 Blue Ridge Bookfest Featured Author. “180 West Campus Dr.
    Technology Education & Development Center
    (TEDC Building)
    Flat Rock, NC 28731”

Ohioana Book Festiva

  • http://www.ohioana.org/programs/ohioana-book-festival/
  • April 23, 2016
  • Since its inception in 2007, the Ohioana Book Festival has given readers the opportunity to connect with their favorite Ohio writers. Held each spring, the Festival welcomes roughly 100 authors and more than 3,000 visitors every year. Capitol Square, 75 E. State St., Columbus, OH 43215

Greater St. Louis Book Fair

  • http://www.stlouisbookfair.org/
  • April 28, 2016
  • Greater St. Louis Book Fair is one of the nation’s oldest, largest and most popular charity book sales. For over 60 years, book lovers and collectors have enjoyed bargain prices on a diverse and quality selection of new, gently-used and rare books. Fair proceeds benefit local non-profit education and literacy programs.

Newburyport Literary Festival

  • http://newburyportliteraryfestival.org/
  • April 29-30, 2016
  • Founded in 2005, the Newburyport Literary Association, Inc. will host its eleventh festival April 29th and 30th. PO Box 268 Newburyport, MA 01950

Dayton Book Expo

  • http://www.daytonbookexpo.com/
  • April 30, 2016
  • For the seventh consecutive year, hundreds of book lovers will convene at the Dayton Book Expo. The all-day event includes panel discussions for aspiring authors, activities for children in the Kidz Zone and book signings! The event is free and open to the public. Great Hall – Building 12 444 West Third Street Dayton, Ohio 45402

 

6 Of The Best Pieces of Advice From Successful Writers

I’ve been reading some advice from successful writers lately and exploring what their routines are like to see what I can learn about them.

pen

Here are six of the most common pieces of advice I came across that have helped me a lot improving my writing here at Buffer.

It also features actionable tips for you on how to implement them in your own writing.

 

1. The best ways to get over the “blank page hurdle”

 

I write because it comes out — and then to get paid for it afterwards? I told somebody, at some time, that writing is like going to bed with a beautiful woman and afterwards she gets up, goes to her purse and gives me a handful of money. I’ll take it. — Charles Bukowski

Unlike Charles Bukowski, writing well doesn’t come so easily for a lot of us (including me). It takes a lot of mental energy, strains your working memory and often makes you feel vulnerable if you try to be open and honest in your work.

 

The pure effort of writing is hard enough, but coupled with the pain of putting your work out into the world and letting others judge it, this can be enough to stop you from getting started at all.

 

The trick to overcoming this isn’t easy, but it’s surprisingly effective: give yourself permission to write badly, and just start.

Anne Lamott, author of Bird by Bird wrote an excellent essay on why writers must start with horrible drafts:

I know some very great writers, writers you love who write beautifully and have made a great deal of money, and not one of them sits down routinely feeling wildly enthusiastic and confident. Not one of them writes elegant first drafts. All right, one of them does, but we do not like her very much.

Anne’s essay makes me feel much better about the hard work of writing great content, as she makes it clear that all great writers struggle with their first drafts:

We all often feel like we are pulling teeth, even those writers whose prose ends up being the most natural and fluid.

So to get over the biggest hurdle–the blank page–just get writing. Don’t be afraid that your draft might be bad (it probably will be, but that’s okay.)

Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere. Start by getting something – anything – down on paper.

10 Rules for Writing First Drafts

 

(Great infographic from Copyblogger)

2. Discard clichés: How to stop writing like “you’re meant to write”

Down with the cliché! If only it were that easy. Clichés surround us, and it’s surprisingly hard to avoid using them.

Put simply, in writing, clichés are bland and overused phrases that fail to excite, motivate, and impress your readers or prospective buyers. (6)

Clichés dominate our language both in speaking and writing. This is because we hear them all the time, so they become the first phrases that come to mind when we want to express ourselves. Which is exactly why they’re a problem:

Given that clichés are the phrases that have struck our eardrums uncountable times, we either don’t associate them with particular ideas and products, or we associate many products and ideas with a particular cliché. 

The fact that clichés are so generic you can attach them to any idea makes them ineffective. (6)

This actually has a lot to do with how we take in words and phrases when we read. The more familiar a term or phrase becomes, the more often we start skipping over it as we read, rendering it ineffective.

 

The best way to avoid this problem is to use different language to explain familiar concepts.It’s a careful balancing act between being so different that your readers are turned off by the effort of understanding your content and being so familiar that your work becomes trite.

In other words, your audience has to feel your content is new, but also credible. (7)

 

3. Don’t make it sound like writing, instead “Write like you speak”

 

It is only by writing, not dreaming about it, that we develop our own style. — P.D. James

Novelist and screenwriter Elmore Leonard knew how important the reader was. More important than his English Composition teachers, that’s for sure. He never let “proper” writing get in the way of telling a great story and making it engaging for the reader.

If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it. — Elmore Leonard

Writing like you speak is harder than it might sound. For some reason, it’s easy to “put on” a tone when you start writing, without even realising it. This is something I’m still working on, and it takes a lot of practice.

 

In Kurt Vonnegut’s list of rules for writing with style, he explains how much better his writing is when it sounds the way he talks:

I myself find that I trust my own writing most, and others seem to trust it most, too, when I sound most like a person from Indianapolis, which is what I am.

One thing that’s really helped me to improve in this area is a trick that Leo taught me:imagine someone sitting in front of you as you type, and write as if you’re talking to them.

Continue reading # 4-6 here:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/belle-beth-cooper/6-of-the-best-pieces-of-a_b_4628690.html

How to Make Money Writing Online and Content Marketing

How to Make Money Writing Online and Content Marketing

by: C.A. Perez

Article writers using content marketing often overlook content readability when composing their articles. Writing articles online for money must not only consider motivating readers to buy a product. To make money writing online, authors must also provide readable quality content.

With the advent of Google’s stated goal to improve a user’s search experience, many websites and articles lost their coveted positions in Search Engine Ranking Positions (SERPs). It is now, more than ever, that quality website content writing is king. Writing online for money as a means of ‘gaming’ the search engines through keyword stuffing, article blasts to thousands of article directories, and weak, poorly structured website content writing are gone.

Readability

Readability measures the grade level needed to understand any document. There are several schemes that are used to determine readability. The Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level is one of better known and most used measurements. Your content writing can be much improved if you incorporate this measure into your article writing.

Although it has come under criticism for its simplicity, Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level scale is still widely used and can give you an idea of your article’s readability.

You can determine your article’s readability with the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level scale which assigns a grade level to the written material. MS Word provides a readability statistics feature found under the spell check tab that determines your article’s grade level reading score.

There are free utilities on the web that allow you to copy and paste your document and the utility will return the grade level score. There are others. Online-Utitility.org is one. You can find them with a ‘free readability tools’ search on the internet.

You can also use the Google ‘more search tools’ feature found at the bottom of the left navigation bar when doing a Google search and choosing ‘reading level’. The organic results will show ‘basic’, ‘intermediate’, or ‘advanced’ reading levels for each of the page results.

Although, the results may not be 100% accurate, they do give you an idea of the grade level that your article or page is written at. It may seem that I am putting much emphasis on readability and quality content. It is important to note when writing for the web that the content be easily understandable by your targeted reader. You make make money writing articles online by targeting your reader.

Ideal Reading Level

If you dumb down your website content writing, the reader may feel insulted and dismiss your words. If your words are too pedantic, readers may accuse you of flaunting your knowledge. You may have quality content, but not readable by your targeted audience.

What is the ideal reading grade level? The answer eludes me. Many claim that the national average reading level is eighth grade and that article writers should write at that level or lower when writing for the web. I have yet to find any evidence to substantiate that claim or that you will make money writing to that grade level.

Studies have been conducted by various governmental agencies under the U.S. Department of Education and by independent private agencies on various aspects of literacy throughout the United States, but I have yet to find any authoritative data that specifically identifies the national reading average to be at the eighth grade level.

Adult Literacy in America

The study most often cited as the source of the eighth grade reading level claim is a 1993 study, Adult Literacy in America: A First Look at the Results of the National Adult Literacy Survey, by Irwin S. Kirsch, sponsored by the National Center for Education Statistics. You can review the results yourself at the National Center for Education Statistics.

However, the study does not specifically state that the national reading level average is at the eighth grade level. In fact, the study’s committee “… agreed that expressing the literacy proficiencies of adults in school-based terms or grade-level scores is inappropriate.”

The study did survey levels of literacy skills ranging from Level 1 to Level 5, with Level 5 being the most difficult or the highest skill level. The survey did show that about half the population performed at levels 3-5 and half performed within the lower levels 1 and 2.

SERPs and Readability

Nevertheless, if we accept the various reading level scales like, Flesch-Kincaid, article writers can improve their content marketing to more closely match the acceptance of targeted readers. In addition, Google and other search engines may or may not look favorably on the webpage or article and rank it higher than one that Google deems to be written at an inappropriate level as evidenced by the Official Google Blog

For instance, an article written at the twelfth grade level about building a tool shed may not be looked upon as worthy of Google’s definition of maximizing the user search experience. An article on the same subject written at the sixth or seventh grade level might well fair much better in the SERPs.

On the other hand, writing an article on the Literacy Statistics of Migrant Workers at the fourth or fifth grade level would not fare well with academic readers and probably not with the search engines.

The point is that article writers should consider readability when writing articles. The effort does not need to be an all consuming effort. Readability can easily be checked with one of the tools I mentioned earlier.

Be aware of the end user. The more you comply with Google’s goal of “providing the best user experience possible,” the more favorably the search engine will rank your writing for money efforts.

About The Author

Writing articles online for money can be very profitable. Start off on the right foot, learn how to write and structure your article and increase your sales and traffic by following the rules of the road in my new e-book: “Writing For The Web:An Introduction To Article Writing”. Find out about it and more at http://WritingFortheWeb.info.

An Outline Makes Business Writing a Snap

An Outline Makes Business Writing a Snap

by: Fred holt

There are several ways to simplify the writing process. One of the quickest and most easily adaptable ways is to create and follow a simple outline for all of your business writing.

While you don’t need a detailed, four-page outline that encompasses every point you want to make or every theory you purport, a simple outline can assist you in organizing your thoughts, narrowing your topic, helping you decide exactly what you want to say, and ensuring that you cover every important aspect of your subject.

An outline also helps you jump over the writer’s block hurdle that plagues nearly every writer at one time or another.

Organize Your Thoughts

Before you even begin to write, spend some time brainstorming. Grab a sheet of paper and a pen, or a blank computer screen and a keyboard, and write down everything you can think of that relates to your topic. Include ideas that are only slightly relevant, ideas that you may eventually discard, but don’t filter your thoughts at this point. Spend about 10-15 minutes writing down EVERYTHING you can think of about this subject.

When you’re finished, go back over what you’ve written and eliminate duplicate thoughts, unnecessary or irrelevant ideas, or anything else you don’t want to include.

Now you have a fairly thorough list of the general ideas you want to discuss.

Narrow Your Topic

Next, look at your ideas more closely. Do you really want to cover every one of them? Are some of these topics better left unsaid or some such common knowledge that you don’t need to mention them? Only you can decide what’s important, but focus on what you really want to say. Ask yourself some questions, such as:

• Who am I trying to reach with this writing?

• What do I want my readers to understand?

• Are each of these ideas necessary to my central theme?

• Have I left anything out?

Decide Exactly What You Want to Say

Once you have each general topic area defined, it’s time to think about each area in more detail. Decide what makes each thing you’ve written down important. Determine what it is that you want your readers to understand about each specific idea. Write your first draft at this point, being careful to fill in every detail you can. It’s much easier to edit and cut extraneous material than to try to go back and fill it in later.

Cover Every Important Aspect of Your Subject

After you’ve written your first draft, you’ll want to go back and evaluate every sentence, and every paragraph. Have you covered every important aspect of your subject? Should you expand an idea more fully? Can you rewrite a sentence or a paragraph to make it read more clearly or professionally? Now is the time to do your best work. Ensure that your subject is covered fully and completely and that you have said exactly what you intended to say.

Consider Hiring a Professional

Most small business owners and entrepreneurs must wear many, if not all, of the hats in the company. While it’s easy to recognize the importance of your business communications, it’s also easy to allow them to crucial documents to exit your office without full consideration for their impact on your bottom line.

Consider this… if you don’t communicate clearly and effectively with your clients and prospects, you’ll lose their attention — and their business!

That’s why, if your business writing skills are less than professional, you should seriously consider hiring a professional writer and/or editor to assist you.

Often, the first thing your audience sees is your written communication, and if you fail there, you’ll never get the chance to show them what great products and astounding customer service you can provide!

About The Author

Fred Holt, M.A. (English) from University of New Jersey, specialized in teaching content writing, business, and technical communication. He is skilled in MLA, APA, and Chicago manuals of style. His work included writing, editing and proofreading Seo writing and write articles. He has also written many other documents, including resumes, application letters, bibliographies and also buy articles service.

http://www.contentproz.net/buy-articles/

Writing My Book: How to Write Your Single Book into a Wildly Successful Book Series

How to Write Your Single Book into a Wildly Successful Book Series

Are you planning to write just one book? Wait! Before you decide, at least let me show you how easy it is to make your single book into a series of books. By the way, publishers love book series and readers become fanatical over a serial of books.

Begin to change your thinking. Don’t look at your book as a one time thing or a one title event. Begin to look at it as the beginning of your successful author journey. If you are looking for an easier journey, more rewards and more profits with a series of books, follow the tips below:

1. Slash your huge book into separate books. The easiest way to do this is to separate your book into chunks, chapters, sections and parts. Writing this way will allow you to divide and conquer. You can easily take the chunks or sections and divide them into several books. Your readers will love that you made your book such an easy read and buy each one of them.

2. Put your overflow information into a second book. Gather all the overflow research material. You know all the extra information discovered that wouldn’t fit into your first book. Put it in order and develop it into a separate book. For example, if one of your chapters is becoming bloated with information overload consider marking it for book two. There’s no better time to start collecting information for book two than when you are organizing book one.

3. Poll your readers for a key point they want to know more about. Expound on a point your readers show interest in knowing more about. If you don’t know already, try to discover their problems and write the solutions in the next book. Handle this well and your sequel may sell better than the previous book.

4. Select a sub-topic to do further research. Do more research on one of your book’s sub-topics. Take a sub-topic that you only touched on in the first book and cover if fully in the sequel. Your readers will love the additional information and anticipate buying the next volume.

5. Write a companion book for the original book. You can excerpt sections from your first book, insert groups of checklists, discussion or reflection questions and voila you have a study guide or workbook.

6. Develop a meditation or journal book. Gather quotes related to your book’s topic and pair them with excerpts from your original book to put in a meditation book or devotional. Or create a journal with quotes from your original books in the corner of each lined page of the journal. You can number them according to weeks, days or lessons. For example, 52 weeks of inspiring thoughts or 365 days of inspirational thoughts from your book’s topic.

7. Repurpose your material for a different audience. Plan another edition of your book for a different audience than the original book. Remember the Chicken Soup for Teen-Agers, Prisoners, Mothers and so on sold better than the original Chicken Soup for the Soul. The original book was for a more general audience. Find out how you can target your audience even more and you may discover a better selling market within a general market.

If you don’t change your thinking, your book could end up being a tiny drop in the scheme of life. Instead plan a wildly successful series of books and make the splash you’re destined to make. You may feel you can’t dream that big. No worries; start with the simple tips above. Expand your thinking. Dream a bigger dream and write your single book into a plethora of books. I look forward to seeing your name in print many times.

About the Author

Earma Brown, 12 year author and business owner helps small business owners and writers who want to write their best book now! Earma mentors other writers and business professionals through her monthly ezine “iScribe.” Send any email to iscribe@bookwritinghelp.com for free mini-course “Jumpstart Writing Your Book” or visit her at How to Write a Book.

http://www.bookwritinghelp.com/

Writing My Book: Listen To The Critics

Listen To The Critics

Back in 1999, I wrote my very first self-published book. I wrote it in Microsoft Word®, then took it down to Kinko’s to be copied and bound. I sold several of those books without one ounce of feedback, good or bad.

Then a retired minister contacted me; he told me the book was good, but could be so much better. It was hard hearing his constructive criticism but I listened. I made the changes as fast as I could and then I sent him a complimentary copy. He emailed me immediately, ecstatic that I had rewritten the book because it was exactly what he needed. In fact, he was so thrilled with the new content that he offered to pay me for the second copy. (I declined his offer.)

I stopped printing and began selling the e-book version. The e-book began to make more money and word of mouth spread.

A few years later, I received an email from another gentleman who loved the e-book but felt it was lacking information. I asked what he felt was missing and where he was having trouble. He emailed me back some specifics. Once again, I went to work to improve the material in that e-book and sent him the finalized draft. A few weeks later he wrote back to tell me that the e-book was a hit! In fact, he was praising it all over the Internet and had received several job leads because of it.

Had I insisted my e-book was fine just the way it was, I would have made a few hundred bucks a month, but thanks to the feedback I received and my willingness to improve my book to meet the needs of its audience, I now sell over $1,000 per month of that very e-book! (And that is all by word of mouth…I have yet to pay for advertising for that e-book.)

So how do you go about getting feedback? You ask for it!

1. Include a questionnaire with every item you sell. Provide a multiple choice or fill in the blank survey.

2. Send an email to every customer who provided you with an email address. After three weeks from the date of purchase, send your customer an email asking for feedback on the product/service purchased. In exchange you will enter his/her name into a drawing for a prize at the end of the year. (Make sure you have your drawing rules and disclaimer in the email or a link back to a web page on your company site.)

3. Send a sample of your product to trusted friends, colleagues, and/or business associates and ask for their honest feedback. (Remind them that you’ll return the favor.)

4. Hire an outside company to get a survey going.

Sometimes, we don’t know everything and listening to feedback from our customers can improve our bottom line if we’re willing to improve our product or service.

About the Author

Alyice Edrich
Available for Hire
www.alyiceedrich.net
www.thedabblingmum.com