Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Hit 2009 Hard.

This is the final week of 2008. Every year I look at the final 10 weeks of the year and it seems an eternity until Christmas. Then in a blink they're gone. Two of my kids have birtdays in those last 10 weeks. There are holidays, family gatherings, dance recitals, more family gatherings, snow storms, more family gatherings...and family gatherings.

So as I stand on the edge of 2008/2009 I take a deep breath and prepare to jump in to the new year.

This year I'm hitting 2009 hard. I have a few goals personally and professionally. The final quarter of 2008 has been a preparation time. I feel as if I've been stretching back in to a giant rubber band. All I have to do is lift my feet and the tension of the rubber band will be too much and I will be slung in to the new year.

Spiritually January is a month of prayer and fasting in our church-and I am participating.
Emotionally January is a month where I'm spending more time reading for pleasure.
As Tiffany January is a month where my husband and I are focusing on building stronger relationships in our family [us and our kids].
Financially January is a month I'm working hard to reach specific goals.
Professionally January is a month where I will jumpstart the year with webinars, articles and public speaking. I've never attempted all 3 in one month-so it will be an interesting challenge.

Everyone wants to make New Years Resolutions but few people take the time to prepare for them. Determine what you'd like to accomplish in 2009 and make January your foundational month. For writers I have a mentorship program that lasts 3 months. The first month is $40, months 2 and 3 are $30 each. You receive "Intro to the Writer's Life" and "Creating a platform" [which together retail for $50].

If you'd like a one hour brainstorming/goal setting session it is only $20.

If you need free then read back through my blogs from January 2008 forward. See what ideas you can glean from them. Go to the library and borrow "Writing the Breakout Novel" and "On Writing" by Stephen King.

If you got gift cards then look at my suggested reading list and see what you can find to build your writing business this year.

But determine to do something. Not a New Year's Resolution-but a foundational shift in your writing business.

My first goal for 2009 is to double our readership that subscribes to the blog by the end of January. You can help me with that by telling a couple of writer friends about this blog and asking them to join.

I'd also like to visit 20 different blogs in January. If you'd like to host me on your blog contact me through my website contact page and we'll get it set up.

Make January 2009 YOUR year. We'll have a number of great announcements in 2009 and I look forward to sharing them.

Thank you so much for letting me be a part of your writing business this year. It is my pleasure to share.

And do you have a question? Send it to me via my contact page and we'll talk about it here.

Tiffany Colter is a writer, speaker and writing career coach who works with beginner to published writers. She can be reached through her website at www.WritingCareerCoach.com
Learn more about Tiffany's Marketing techniques on her main blog.
Read Tiffany's award winning manuscript "A Face in the Shadow" on her fiction blog.
She writes a blog for the Christian writer Tuesdays at Writer's Rest.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Don't let yourself use the tired excuse.

I'm tired.

No, really...I'm completely exhausted. After 4 days of running all over the place. After two weeks of snow. After a car accident and something breaking on my car today [Please God, not the axle] I'm tired.

All I want to do is curl up in bed and fall asleep.

But Monday morning brings a business call.
Taking the car to the repair shop.
Work on my latest book proposal [the 5th since September...still waiting to hear on the other 4]
Blog postings
Articles to write.
Work for two clients.
Power points to write.
House Cleaning.
Grocery buying.

What about you? Do you have a to-do list as long as mine? Maybe yours is even longer.

Find something to do to advance your writing. Don't allow the final week of 2008 to end with you regretting your inaction. Write 100 words on your manuscript. Outline one scene on your book. Write a bit of dialog. Connect with another writer. Find out about writing classes. Sign up for my mentoring or find another mentor.

Do something to complete 2008 strong.

I won't allow this blog to be your excuse either. I'll pop my head back in one more time this year and then Monday, January 5th I'll come in to share with you more about coaching, special opportunities for high school students who struggle with term papers and ideas to make 2009 the year you broke out. Whether your breakout is from unpublished to contracted [or published] or if your breakout is a second or third print run. Maybe it is to get an article in a periodical.

Begin to think about what 2009 should look like to you. Then get ready in 2009 to execute your dream.

Tiffany Colter is a writer, speaker and writing career coach who works with beginner to published writers. She can be reached through her website at www.WritingCareerCoach.com
Learn more about Tiffany's Marketing techniques on her main blog.
Read Tiffany's award winning manuscript "A Face in the Shadow" on her fiction blog.
She writes a blog for the Christian writer Tuesdays at Writer's Rest.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Getting a Late Start

I'm getting a late start on my day. The midwest is in a major freeze. I'm wrapping up projects so I can take off Thursday and Friday guilt free. And Christmas is nearly upon us.

I asked a month ago what questions people had for a white paper I was writing about keeping your writing business strong. I had very few questions come in. So after much thought and consideratoin I've decided that this year I will give you "Writing Career Coach: Part 1 Creating a Platform.

So, to all of you who have subscribed to my blog that product [with a retail price of $15] will appear in your email box in about 15 minutes.

For those of you who DID send questions-I haven't forgotten you. I will also send you a free copy of the white paper when it is done.

I'd like to thank you again for your commitment to improving your business by joining me daily on this blog. It is my honor to share with you three times each week. I hope that I have made a positive impact on your life and business.

I will be back next week to share tips to get you ready for 2009! Until then, remember what is important and spend time with those you love [and those who love you].

Tiffany Colter is a writer, speaker and writing career coach who works with beginner to published writers. She can be reached through her website at www.WritingCareerCoach.com
Learn more about Tiffany's Marketing techniques on her main blog.
Read Tiffany's award winning manuscript "A Face in the Shadow" on her fiction blog.
She writes a blog for the Christian writer Tuesdays at Writer's Rest.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Who cares, as long as I get mine!

...honestly, is this the attitude of people today?

Usually I keep the focus of this blog focused on marketing your own business but sometimes as I'm reading things in the industry and I get furious. Today I was reading about the News Guild and their strike with the AP. One line in particular made me furious.

"The Guild said it had opened with a 10 percent wage increase proposal, "but has indicated flexibility at the bargaining table."

I am a writer and I understand the need to make a living and it is hard as a writer sometimes to sell an article for $80 and try to make a living on those but LET'S BE SERIOUS.

Yesterday I found out a friend was laid off from the job he's worked at for 39 years. He was the 3rd person in a single group of friends to lose work in the last month. Then I heard from a newspaper journalist who lost her job after years with the paper.

And the people working for the AP look around and say "Hey, I think I'd like a 10% pay increase."

Now, I'm not an idiot. I know this is a negotiating tactic and they were responding to a rate freeze proposal from the AP, but we need to stop being so obsessed with being able to upgrade every year and realize that there isn't a magic money tree.

I am working on a product that I'll give FREE to subscribers that talk about ways to keep your writing business strong in a down economy. That is because the reality is THINGS ARE CHANGING. The change could be temporary but certain things will never be the same. We can't say "Hey, I want it this way."

It's not viable.

I minored in college in history and I have been frequently reminded of the enclosure acts enacted by Feudal Lords in the middle ages. These acts forced many serfs to face the end of their way of life but it led to the rise of the middle class-and the death of feudalism as an economic system.

That is a pretty brief summary, but it serves to make my point. [If you're interested read more about it in a western civ book...one that isn't revisionist.]

We have decided that we want change without the pain. It won't happen. We can't keep bailing people out by printing worthless currency...just ask Germany.

We can't continue to demand huge salaries for people who aren't working...just ask France.

We need to look realistically at economic situations, recognize that change is necessary and sometimes painful.

And, as smart people, we need to look for the opportunity in the changes. It is the innovators who will find blessing in this tough time.

Otherwise you'll be the people asking for scraps when the market corrects itself again...

Friday I'll be back to my usual, chipper self. Today I had to unload.

I'd love to hear your feedback-just use professional language please.

And if you want that special report I'm writing then click the subscribe link to the right. I will only email it to subscribers.

If you'd like to read the entire article that started this rant, click the quote above. I've linked directly to it.

Tiffany Colter is a writer, speaker and writing career coach who works with beginner to published writers. She can be reached through her website at www.WritingCareerCoach.com
Learn more about Tiffany's Marketing techniques on her main blog.
Read Tiffany's award winning manuscript "A Face in the Shadow" on her fiction blog.
She writes a blog for the Christian writer Tuesdays at Writer's Rest.

Monday, December 15, 2008

About a book

Do you ever wonder how highly successful people are able to accomplish so many things? One way is that they have assistants to help them but that doesn't account for all of it.

I learned in the 8th grade one way people to it-double dipping.

Many times double dipping has a negative connotation, but I think that needs to change if we are going to become more productive people.

Take the topic of today's blog. I called it "About a book". That is a very deliberate title because I'm going to review a book in this blog. Before I do, however, I wanted to share with you how doing this can help you become a better writer.

When I heard that Thomas Nelson was offering a new blog book review program I went to check out the selections. As you know, I am not a person who does book reviews. I am always looking at what is going on in the industry so I was interested to see what books they had.

Then I saw it.

"The Kingdom of the Occult" by Walter Martin.

What!! Yes. A book on the Occult by a Christian publisher.

And here is the double dip. When I went to their website I was outlining a book. The plot required a great deal of information of the Occult in order to be accurate. [My fiction writing is suspense/thrillers]. When I saw that I could receive this book for FREE and I only needed to give an honest assessment I jumped at the chance.

I was able to:

1. Research my novel [which I had to do anyway].
2. Gain exposure for my blog through Thomas Nelson.
3. Receive a great reference book on the topic of my novel FOR FREE.
4. Have material for a blog. [smile]
5. Potentially get google hits from people looking for this particular book.

So look at the opportunities that are passing your way. I am able to do 5 things at once. Many writers read books and do reviews because they love books. That is great but I can go to the library and get books I enjoy. When I need to research, however, I want to mark that baby up. And I did that with this book.

So now, I hope you will stay to hear my honest assessment of "The Kingdom of the Occult" by Walter Martin.


I wasn't quite sure what I'd think of the book "The Kingdom of the Occult". Typically topics like this are either creepy or overly simplistic. What I found in this book exceeded my expectations. I found a book full of scholarly research in to various facets of the Occult from UFO cults to Satanism, Paganism to the New Age. This book was footnoted and provided detailed overviews of Occult practices by chapter and even showed debate within various cults.

I was surprised by the sheer volume of information and the heavily footnoted references. Since I was reading this as research for a novel I'm writing, having this information laid out systematically made this a valuable reference tool.

This is also useful for individuals in missionary and evangelism because of the strong Biblical foundation of the work. There are charts, maps and headers that make this easy to read and easy to return to.

I recommend this book in the strongest possible terms for its wealth of information, its Quick Facts summary at the conclusion of each chapter, for the 18 page index and 21 page bibliography. If anyone wanted to know more on this topic this is the first place I'd send them. Not only is it dense with material but it cites the sources to allow for further study.

Tiffany Colter is a writer, speaker and writing career coach who works with beginner to published writers. She can be reached through her website at www.WritingCareerCoach.com
Learn more about Tiffany's Marketing techniques on her main blog.
Read Tiffany's award winning manuscript "A Face in the Shadow" on her fiction blog.
She writes a blog for the Christian writer Tuesdays at Writer's Rest.

Friday, December 12, 2008

NaNo Lessons

This year I again participated in NaNo [National Novel Writing Month] and again I did not "win" by finishing a 50K novel in 1 month. What is funny is twice I've written books of more than 60K in under a month. It seems something about the deadline and visibility does something to me.

This brings me to the topic of today's blog. I'd like to share some lessons I learned about my own writing that may help you with yours.

I encourage you to never see something as failure. Everything is a learning experience that will redirect you. Just as no tragedy can destroy you as long as you find a way to come out better on the other side.

So why don't you look at things you HAVEN'T accomplished that you set out to do. See what it taught you. Then use that to become more successful next time.

1. Writing under deadline is harder than writing without one.

I already knew this since I write articles regularly for publication. I find that I can write 8 articles in a single day and then shop them around. However, if I have 1 article on assignment [which was sold on an idea rather than a full MS] it can take me hours to get a few paragraphs written.

2. When you ARE writing under deadline, don't get distracted.

This is the mistake I made this year. I had the entire book outlined. However, as I was writing the NaNo novel I also started researching another book. Normally this is how I keep my creativity flowing. Having the deadline, however, gave me an opportunity to procrastinate and be distracted. So, I didn't finish the book-and I didn't finish my research.

3. Keep moving, even if failure seems imminent.

It is tempting to get overwhelmed and give up when it's clear you won't be able to hit your goal. That doesn't mean you quit all together. You need to keep with your daily word count goal. While publishers don't like the "better late than never" attitude in contracted authors, since you're not really under contract now KEEP AT IT AND FINISH. It's better to be done December 20th because you kept going than it is to give up and end up with another partially finished MS.

4. Don't edit now.

Let your book flow out. It may feel like total junk but keep going. My first drafts are full of notes to myself. [for example I'll put "Make sure reader feels pressure to find the coins."] Those notes will help you edit and build up your story when you go back and do revisions. Those words tell you the tone and feel you had during the creative process. These elements are the "work" portion of writing. You need to focus on the creative portion on the first draft.

So, while I didn't reach my NaNo goal I did reach another one-to always provide you with relevant information that will help you grow as a writer and build your writing business.

Tiffany Colter is a writer, speaker and writing career coach who works with beginner to published writers. She can be reached through her website at www.WritingCareerCoach.com
Learn more about Tiffany's Marketing techniques on her main blog.
Read Tiffany's award winning manuscript "A Face in the Shadow" on her fiction blog.
Read devotions for the Christian Writer every Tuesday at Writer's Rest.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

More on blogger's block

A great comment yesterday on my blog.

I talked about how to get rid of writer's block, but how do you get rid of blogger's block?

I faced this very issue last weekend as I started thinking about what I'd like to teach this week. I've spent so much time working on a current fiction proposal that I didn't have any idea what to share with you this week.

I started thinking about what happens when I have writer's block and yesterday's blog was born.

So the title yesterday wasn't so much the topic as it was my dilemma. What more to share with you.

So when you start to run out of new material for your blog here are some ideas.

1. Go back to the fundamentals.

What is the purpose of your blog. On the Writing Career Coach blog I focus on teaching all of you how to build your writing business. That is my central purpose. I need to keep myself updated on the best ways to help you build your writing business-by building my own first.

So, by going back to the foundation of my purpose I find new material and remember things to help you-like yesterday how to push through writer's block.

2. Read other blogs.

I never suggest stealing information from other bloggers [although you can always quote my blog if you give attribution and offer a link]. What I do suggest is read two or three similar blogs and see if something they say sparks creativity.

3. Comment on other blogs.

This ties in to number two. Sometimes you read something on a blog and you want to comment on what was said. Maybe the person had a great idea. Then talk about it on your blog [always link back to the original blog and give attribution]. Sometimes you'll see me comment on something another blogger said, or an article I read. This is a great way to share information-even if you don't have writer's block. I always encourage you to leave a comment on the person's blog saying "I thought your idea was interesting and I talked about it on my blog today." Blogging can be lonely work. There are days you wonder if anyone cares about what you're saying. These little pieces of recognition can encourage another blogger-and spark interest in your blog.

Tiffany Colter is a writer, speaker and writing career coach who works with beginner to published writers. She can be reached through her website at www.WritingCareerCoach.com
Learn more about Tiffany's Marketing techniques on her main blog.
Read Tiffany's award winning manuscript "A Face in the Shadow" on her fiction blog.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Blogger's Block

This time of year the chaos of holiday shopping, family gatherings and general stress can contribute to writer's block.

Just as in any job, we can't put off our writing simply because we don't feel like putting in a day at the office, so what are some things you can do when writer's block strikes?

1. Read

Take some time to not only read a good book but read things that will help you with your specific project. I am using the holidays to complete research on the book I'm plotting right now.

2. Research markets

In addition to reading and research take some time to find out what the various markets are looking for. I write a fair number of articles in addition to my books so I take this time of year to find markets that I'd like to write for.

3. Edit

What are the things you've been working on? Pull a couple down and mark them up. Even if you don't feel creative enough to make the corrections you can find them.

4. Learn to push through

Sometimes you have no other choice than to push through the writer's block and find the words buried deep.

Tiffany Colter is a writer, speaker and writing career coach who works with beginner to published writers. She can be reached through her website at www.WritingCareerCoach.com
Learn more about Tiffany's Marketing techniques on her main blog.
Read Tiffany's award winning manuscript "A Face in the Shadow" on her fiction blog.

Friday, December 5, 2008


I never cease to be amazed how otherwise intelligent people freak out over speculations!!

For more than a year we have been bombarded by our peers in the media with word about the dire situation in the economy. In fact, most of the people I speak to that are flipping out have actually had NO change in their situations. They simply fear they will because of what someone said....

I've seen it other places too. When budgets get tight one of the first things to go is customer service and marketing. The sales department might try to go in to overdrive offering countless incentives but there are no more free samples that offer an example of the product. The pyromarketing that is so effective suddenly is viewed as too expensive.

These are the worst possible things for us, as writers, to do. When you see sales slumping, cash advances declining and cuts in publishing companies the first response seems to be panic. I've had clients ask me to offer LESS thorough service in an effort to cut cost. I had a family member who worked for a company a few years ago that suffered a downturn in sales. The first thing to go was advertising.

These cycles come and go and the best possible thing to do during these times is to reevaluate your current business plan, make adjustments, learn and then come out stronger.

That is what successful businesses do. They don't panic when they see trouble around them. They adapt. That is why major corporations like the big three auto makers and national banking institutions are having problems. They are too big and locked in to too many habits and contracts to be able to nimbly adjust.

You are not restricted to this. That makes this a prime time to adjust, modify and experience EXPLOSIVE GROWTH!! My pastor gave the definition of a crisis as and opportunity for a decision. Your level of success will be a direct result of your reaction to what is happening and your adjustments based on that reaction.

So go to my suggested readings page and get a few of these books from your local library or click through the links to buy it now. Then read them and see how you can make this current crisis your opportunity.

And visit the Writing Career Coach website for products and coaching that will help you with this.

But whatever you do, stop panicking. That is reactionary. By Planning, rather than panicking, you will be in control of the impact of this situation on your family. And you might find this situation as the 'fertilizer that becomes the field where your dreams grow.

Tiffany Colter is a writer, speaker and writing career coach who works with beginner to published writers. She can be reached through her website at www.WritingCareerCoach.com
Learn more about Tiffany's Marketing techniques on her main blog.
Read Tiffany's award winning manuscript "A Face in the Shadow" on her fiction blog.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Naming free online conferences

I need your input!

In an effort to always increase the value for my readers I am going to be introducing a great new feature in the first quarter of 2009.

They will be 15 minute archived audio lessons. They will be posted once a week and will come with a free handout mailed directly to you the day BEFORE the lesson. All of this will be 100% free for participants. The only charge will be for the lessons if you want them AFTER the mailing goes out. They will be $2 and available through a digital download.

In these online lessons I'll cover some of the topics that I teach at writer's conferences and provide relevant information to help you develop your writing business and grow as a writer. Because of their business focus these will also be helpful to non-writers.

So what would you like to call this new feature? I'm open for ideas. Put your thoughts in the comments section. As an exercise put after the title what made you think of this title? Does it have keywords that would be picked up by search engines? Is it a play on words that would intrigue someone? Is it a title you could build off of? Does it relate to the theme of my blog? These are the things that we need to think of as we brand ourselves so practice on my brand.

I look forward to your ideas as well as sharing more details on the format, topic and launch of this new feature. This won't be an informercial, in fact, I'm currently doing research in a number of online resources and books. I will provide bibliographies in my handouts so you can dig deeper if you'd like. Not a bad deal for FREE!!

Have a great week and I'll see you in a couple of days.

Tiffany Colter is a writer, speaker and writing career coach who works with beginner to published writers. She can be reached through her website at www.WritingCareerCoach.com
Learn more about Tiffany's Marketing techniques on her main blog.
Read Tiffany's award winning manuscript "A Face in the Shadow" on her fiction blog.

Monday, December 1, 2008

learning from others in related industries

One thing about running a successful business is that there are so many different things that businesses have in common-especially when it comes to marketing-that it is useful to look at them to build your business. While there are some things that are specific to each industry [like for writers perfecting POV is something an author would need to know but an accountant might not]. Branding, however, is something that professionals in both industries will benefit from.

Therefore, as authors, we can learn a great deal from the music industry and how they have adapted to the recent innovations.

Consider for a moment the iPod and its impact on music [and more specifically cd sales]. While the Time Life Music collection still targets the generation who is accustomed to listening to CDs, the iPod is revolutionizing the way todays teenagers buy and consume music.

Authors are seeing similar online products in ebooks, digital downloads, Sony Readers, Amazon's Kindle and other related materials.

While originally the music industry sought to fight these changes [a la Napster] they eventually embraced the change and capitalized on it. Now I see websites big and small selling music by the song [99 cents per song and up].

Likewise MTV brought out the music video but now artists are using YouTube to deliver videos on demand for any person with internet access. With PDAs and Cell Phones now offering Wi-Fi technology-this is nearly constant.

I remember in jr high [around 1990] that the first ads were on TV for Satellite television. One of the characters for "Murphy Brown" [his name now escapes me] was trying to explain in 30 seconds that now you could watch your favorite movies WHENEVER YOU WANT!! This was followed by increased access to Pay-per-view.

So this brings us full circle...With these new technologies that allow instant access to a book in a Sony Reader, a website that offers instant access to your favorite author and a world wide web that offers instant information.

How can writers follow the lead of music and movies to build their marketing for the online generation?

Tiffany Colter is a writer, speaker and writing career coach who works with beginner to published writers. She can be reached through her website at www.WritingCareerCoach.com
Learn more about Tiffany's Marketing techniques on her main blog.
Read Tiffany's award winning manuscript "A Face in the Shadow" on her fiction blog.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Close the door

In my dogged ear copy of "On Writing" by Stephen King I have marked up countless nuggets of sheer genius. I have never forgotten where he says writing is telepathy [and then goes on to demonstrate it] nor where he tells readers they must master the basics.

Overall, I think I'd like Stephen King, if we were to meet. Not because he is a famous writer but his sense of humor resonates with me. It is more witty than howling funny. He also is "twisty" [like Ted Dekker] and I love trying to braid plot twists in to my stories whenever possible. Sometimes I even get knots.

But today I'm not talking about the genius of craft on deeper levels. I'm talking about those first drafts. While Stephen King's term "door shut writing" is fine I prefer to call it vomiting on paper.

Why would you vomit on paper?

When I vomit on paper I'm throwing the entire story as I see it. A sculptor mushes the clay in to a general shape before getting out the fine tools and pushing and mushing it in to a piece of art. The same is true with our writing.

For those of us finishing NaNo the brilliant piece you just completed is door shut writing. I always discourage ANYONE from showing their writing at that stage. Every single time I break this rule I am sorry. There are times where I think it is simply AWESOME and I have to share my genius or I'll burst.

The only thing that gets bursted is my bubble.

When you are free to simply write whatever falls in your brain [even though I'm a heavy outliner] you are able to crank out word count [throw mounds of clay on the table] and see some general shape.

Then set the MS aside. I usually try not to go back to it at all until I've completed another MS. That gives me time to fall in love with the genius of my writing in another novel [she said with a snicker] and then return to face MS one.

The problem with leaving the door open all the time is you'll constantly edit. Editing is critical. Editing-when done at the wrong time-stifles creativity.

As those of you who have completed the 50K of Nano can attest, when you put your head down and simply WRITE 50K is nothing.

So if a writer like Stephen King has to write a first draft out of the glare of spotlight-I think there's something in it for the rest of us.

Close the door-and see how much more productive you become.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and I'll see you next week.

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter

Tiffany Colter is a writer, speaker and writing career coach who works with beginner to published writers. She can be reached through her website at www.WritingCareerCoach.com
Learn more about Tiffany's Marketing techniques on her main blog.
Read Tiffany's award winning manuscript "A Face in the Shadow" on her fiction blog.

Monday, November 24, 2008

More ideas to reach people

Hello everyone,

Thank you for the questions you've already sent in about ways to make money in this economy. Keep them coming. I'm very excited about the product and want to make sure I'm giving information you can use immediately.

First, a little 'housekeeping'.
Since this week is Thanksgiving in the US I am only posting on Monday and Tuesday of this week on my main blog. I will still be posting Tuesday on Writer's Rest and I'll post Tuesday and Friday on my fiction blog. [To my Canadian readers: I'm sorry I forgot to wish happy thanksgiving to you last month. I try to keep on top of those things.]

Today I'd like to present more ideas on ways to network to build your platform and to learn from others. You will notice I now have my "Tweets" [which are twitter postings] running down the side of my blog. I'm finding that my initial assessment of using Twitter as an accountability tool didn't work as well as I had hoped HOWEVER it serves an even better purpose for me. I am able to immediately tell all of you when I read something that will immediately help your business. It would be like me calling you on your cell when I just learned a new nugget of information or something useful for your business. Think of the potential.

In the last few days I've read two really interesting articles about using Twitter to get jobs. Here are links to the articles.



By following me on twitter you would have learned about this the moment I read this awesome article [11:48am Friday, November 21, 2008] instead of now. How would this article have changed your learning last week? If this article wasn't particularly helpful there could be others. Imagine learning great tips moments after I find them.

And then by following other leaders in the industry you could draw on their wisdom as well. So while it may not always work the way you initially expect [accountability] learning about the benefits of new technology and marketing idea can keep you ahead of the rest.

Tiffany Colter is a writer, speaker and writing career coach who works with beginner to published writers. She can be reached through her website at www.WritingCareerCoach.com
Learn more about Tiffany's Marketing techniques on her main blog.
Read Tiffany's award winning manuscript "A Face in the Shadow" on her fiction blog.
Read her postings specifically targeted to Christian Writers at Writer's Rest.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Making money, now more than ever

You love to write but we all have bills to pay, tummies to feed and charities to support. That means that we can't simply write for the fun of it-unless we have a day job.

Eventually there comes a time where we want and need to earn a living.

I've been doing some reading on this topic and I am preparing a free resource for the readers of my blog. To make this the best it can be I need your help.

I need you to email me questions you have about how to earn money and keep your head above water during these uncomfortable economic times.

Step 1:
Email questions to me through my website no later than December 1. If you have friends who have questions have them submit questions through the website as well.

Step 2: Make sure that you are subscribed to my blog. I will give you the deadline soon but the ONLY way to receive this resource free is as a subscriber to the blog. Last year many of you know that I gave out a free surprise gift to people who were subscribed to the blog. I ended up giving the Writing Career Coach: Intro to the Writer's Life as a free gift [the retail value is $35]. This year I wanted to give you a similar gift which is why I will prepare this report based on my research and your questions. I will email it to EVERY subscriber free of charge, not strings attached, as a thank you for your loyalty. I will then offer it for sale for $15 some time in early 2009. [that will be for people who didn't subscribe].

All you have to do to make sure you get the free full-length report is to subscribe through feedblitz using the link on the right. Encourage your friends as well. I will not limit, I will not spam, I will not do a bait and switch.

If anyone who received the Christmas gift last year wants to attribute to the validity of my sincerity, you may do that in the comments section.

For the rest of you, I look forward to your questions and I hope you will encourage other writers to take advantage of this same offer. And those of you who get this full blog sent to your email box every day, you're already on the list. You'll get the full report, just email your questions.

I look forward to reading your questions!

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter

Tiffany Colter is a writer, speaker and writing career coach who works with beginner to published writers. She can be reached through her website at www.WritingCareerCoach.com
Learn more about Tiffany's Marketing techniques on her main blog.
Read Tiffany's award winning manuscript "A Face in the Shadow" on her fiction blog.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Using what you're learning

The vast majority of writers I meet don't use 1/4 of what they learn. I know this because I'm human and until recently I fell in to this trap.

I read and learn a great deal so I always have information to share with all of you but, at times, I enter sensory overload and can't remember what I've read, what I've told you and what I've come up with on my own.

There is so much available information every day how can we possibly apply it?

Well, I came up with a REALLY simple solution. Here are the supplies you'll need:

Looseleaf paper
A three-ring binder
dividers [whether a sheet of colored paper or tabs]
A three-hole punch

I put the articles I have read in the three ring binder [or if I don't print them, I write the link on a sheet of paper]

I divide them by topic so if one is on marketing and another is on running a book signing they go in separate areas. I also name the section.

I hope it is obvious what the 3-hole punch is for.

NOW here is the important part. I take a piece of loose-leaf paper and I write ONE or TWO ideas from the articles that I will implement immediately and one or two for later. I keep that sheet of paper in the front of the binder.

SO Let's say I have an article I printed off the internet called "Marketing ideas that are great". I put it in my "marketing" section of my 3 ring binder. It is the 7th article in there so it it "Marketing 7". Here is what I'd write on that loose-leaf paper in the front:

Marketing 7- Tell three people about my upcoming blog and ask them what questions I've left unanswered.

Then, DO IT.

This helps because instead of being one of many great ideas that flutter away you have a specific course of action to take. Also, once you've done that you can re-read the articles [since they're not lost somewhere in your office] and see if there is a second or third action step to implement.

So try it. See if it helps you take meaningful action on the things you're learning.

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter

Tiffany Colter is a writer, speaker and writing career coach who works with beginner to published writers. She can be reached through her website at www.WritingCareerCoach.com
Learn more about Tiffany's Marketing techniques on her main blog.
Read Tiffany's award winning manuscript "A Face in the Shadow" on her fiction blog.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Measuring your reach

As a writer it is important that you are able to assess the reach of your marketing. Hit counters on blogs may be able to give you a snapshot but it is only a partial picture of your actual level of influence. Today I'd like to suggest to you a few different resources that you can use to help determine your reach. These are only three of the things I am currently doing to determine my reach. Start by using these and see your level of influence.

Google Alerts
This service alerts you when word you specify are accessed. I have mine programmed to alert me for Tiffany Colter, Tiffany Coulter or Writing Career Coach.

How this helps: I have found a number of blogs that have mentioned me. I am able to go and personally thank them [which is simply polite] as well as find out the kinds of blogs/bloggers who find things helpful on my blog. Also, I am able to see whether it is an individual blog or my website in general that is most helpful. This allows me to adjust my blogs to be more helpful to my readers.

Google Analytics
We've looked at this a number of times but this bears repeating for those of you who have not heard of it yet. This free service offers many useful things to the owner of a blog or website. It is VERY user friendly and tells you what pages are most popular, daily hit count, source of those hits and a variety of other useful information.

How this helps: I am able to determine where my traffic is coming from [whether a link on someone's website or marketing I've personally done]. I am also able to assess the strength of blog tours and online e-zines by tracking hits following the release of those blogs/articles.

Search Engines
I go in to Yahoo, google, askjeeves and others to see where I am coming up. I also google things like "Writing Coach" or "Writing Career Coach" to check my ranking.

How this helps: I am able to see what people are first learning about me when they do a search. This varies by search engine so checking a few different places is helpful. You need to know what others are learning about you. You also need to know if your blog is ranking well in search engines on your topic. If not, what can you do to improve?

So, for Monday you have some work to do. Go out and determine your reach. [And write blogs with my name in them so I will come. Laugh. You know I'll be watching!]

Tomorrow we will talk about how to use the information you've learned at all of those writer's conferences, articles, blogs and coaches.

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter

Tiffany Colter is a writer, speaker and writing career coach who works with beginner to published writers. She can be reached through her website at www.WritingCareerCoach.com
Learn more about Tiffany's Marketing techniques on her main blog.
Read Tiffany's award winning manuscript "A Face in the Shadow" on her fiction blog.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Half way through NaNo

You know what I like about NaNo [for the uninitiated that is NaNoWriMo which is short for National Novel Writing Month]? It is actually a pretest to the life of a writer.

Think about it. You send this idea that is ping-ponging in your head off to an editor. They say "Hey, this is cool. We want to buy it." Since you're a multi-pubbed author you are able to sell on an idea. Now you have less than 3 months to get this thing written and edited.

That is what Nano is all about. You have one month [arguably one of the busiest months of the year] to write an entire 50k novel. [Let's be honest, most novels are 80-100k], edit it and turn it in.

That is the writer's life.

Of course, this doesn't take in to account that as a multipublished author you'd likely be marketing other books during this time as well...but that's for another day. So for those of you who are trying at NaNo, whether or not you finish, be encouraged. You're practicing what it is to be a real writer and learning valuable skills in time management. Not to mention you now know Frosted Flakes make a great dinner and the Pizza guy knows your order by address. :-)

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter

Tiffany Colter is a writer, speaker and writing career coach who works with beginner to published writers. She can be reached through her website at www.WritingCareerCoach.com
Learn more about Tiffany's Marketing techniques on her main blog.
Read Tiffany's award winning manuscript "A Face in the Shadow" on her fiction blog.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

It's about moderation

This past weekend when I was teaching in Zanesville the topic of my course was "Getting organized for Greater Efficiency". The purpose of this course was to try to change the way the participants thought of their to do lists, to organize their goals and targets and then-I hoped-they'd take steps to reach those goals.

As I've worked through my writer's path I've had to learn a great deal about moderation. I tend to dream big and hope big. While these are excellent traits to have-they can get a person in trouble. Back when I was a Unit Leader as part of a network marketing business I encountered a woman who'd gone nearly broke selling her products. I'd asked her how in the world that could happen.

"Well, I knew if I bought products at 50% I could resell them at full price. So I took my $1,000 tax return and bought products. That way when I sold them I'd have $2,000 instead of $1,000."

Well, if she'd had an established customer base that would make sense, but she didn't. What she did have was almost $2,000 worth of products in her cupboard a year later.

For writers this is important as well. Once you have this book contract [or leading up to it] make sure you're not spending unnecessarily. You can't assume if you buy 2,000 bookmarks instead of 1,000 you'll sell twice as many books. You must be deliberate in what you do and have a reason for each action you take.

As part of my Writing Career Coach: Intro to the Writer's Life I tell students to think through these marketing ideas before the excitement of the first contract clogs their thinking. While a first book deal has some additional expenses [like establishing a website] also keep in mind the long haul. Can you make things that focus on you or your "brand" that can be used in conjunction with ANY of your book releases? Can you create a product that says "Check out the new release by Tiffany Colter by visiting...." Then you can stick those in books past and present. You can hand them out when you speak [but don't have a book coming out or just released].

And when doing this, spend wisely. This last speaking season I paid $50 for my first set of Cds. I had a series of speaking engagements that would get progressively larger. Once I sold the first set I took out my initial $50 investment and put it back in checking. Then I purchased additional CDs with a bit of the profit. So, by the end of the season I had recouped my initial outlay, sold additional CDs for profit and only have 5 copies left over. If I'd assumed that more CDs=more customers I'd likely have been stuck with a debt and a case of CDs.

So when looking at your marketing budget, use moderation. Know how you're going to accomplish the goal you have and then get it done.

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter

Tiffany Colter is a writer, speaker and writing career coach who works with beginner to published writers. She can be reached through her website at www.WritingCareerCoach.com
Learn more about Tiffany's Marketing techniques on her main blog.
Read Tiffany's award winning manuscript "A Face in the Shadow" on her fiction blog.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Maximizing your writing mood cycle

This past Saturday I was a workshop teacher at the Y-City Writer's Conference in Zanesville, Oh. The Y-City Writer's Group did a great job of putting together a very professional conference and I appreciate all the time and effort they obviously invested in such a great event.

While I was there I was able to sit in on a couple of classes and really learned a great deal that I'm applying to my business immediately. I was also able to meet a very sweet author, Linore Rose Burkard. Her next Regency book will be coming out soon. I thought it funny that in a recent blog I mentioned that I had NO clue what Regency was and then I met a Regency author. I knew her through a local writer's group already, but only by email.

Today I want to talk about attitudes.

Writing is an emotional investment. Whether you're writing fiction or non-fiction, articles or novels there are many different emotional components that must go in to every piece of writing you do.

That means our attitude will will affect what we write. Sometimes it's as simple as creating writer's block. I find that if I'm worried or really angry it is difficult to focus enough to write well. Maybe you have a similar experience?

As I told the group I was teaching at the conference, one of the easiest times for me to write is when I've just sent a project off. There is a sense of completing something great as well as a hopeful expectancy. I can imagine all the editors who will look on my words and wonder how such a great talent is still undiscovered. Smile. [I'm a writer, I think creatively]

The hardest times for me to write is when I'm on the last 30 pages of a novel or when I've just received a novel.

So take a look at your "writing moods" and see when it is that you are the most productive. Make sure when you organize your time that you are doing extra work during those periods when you're most productive. And if there are things that steal your creativity [stress, worry, anger, fear] take steps to eliminate them from your life and from your writing space.

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter

Friday, November 7, 2008

Everything I forgot from college

This has been one busy week.

Between getting ready for the conference tomorrow, keeping up with my NaNoWriMo word count and my regular writing/mom/wife duties...I've done a LOT.

The other reason I've been abel to do so much is I remembered what it was I did in college to be successful.


I am so thankful that I graduated in 1998, before the internet was full speed ahead! Back in the days when I could go 2-3 days [instead of 2-3 minutes] between logging on to the web.

I also took time to write out EXACTLY what I needed to do each day. I made sure it was something that could be REASONABLY accomplished. Then I did it.

I've been a big ball of stress throughout October because of edits that I needed to do on a book. It seemed that no matter how much I did on this silly book I didn't make progress. I'd move 3 pages a day but spend hours at my keyboard. So I went to the UPS store and printed the whole blasted MS out [like I did in college with term papers] and I scanned pages, deleted scenes, added thumbnails for new sections and subplots. I did in 3-4 hours what it took me a month to do on the first 1/2 of the book. Now I simply need to write in the new scenes, tighten the existing ones, and I'm done. I estimate 10-12 solid hours. That is 1/3 what it took me to do the first sections.

I have also stopped THINKING about what needs to be done. Wow, that is exhausting. When I am cooking supper-I cook supper. When I'm grocery shopping-I buy groceries. When I'm with the kids-I play.

That is so much better than doing all those things while thinking about all the other "stuff" that needs done. It was like a giant ax was over me every where I went, waiting to chop off my head.

So, now that you've read my blog [a very important thing to do-smile] turn off the internet and get to work!! When you've scratched everything off your to do list then take a well deserved break and read the next chapter of "A Face in the Shadow" that posted today.

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Reaching Back

One things that is especially fulfilling for me as I move further down the writer's road is the opportunities I have to reach back and pull other writers ahead.

This can be a very lonely profession. We spend hundreds of hours huddled with our computers creating characters and plot lines. Then we tear them apart, rework them, put them back together and start it all over again. I find with each edit that I grow deeper as a person and I grow increasingly self-aware.

I love to teach writing groups because it gives me this opportunity over and over. A couple of weeks ago I taught at the Midwest Dreams Writer's Conference in Mansfield, Ohio. I enjoyed learning from other teachers and speakers but what most excited me when when I was teaching "You wanna be a gonna be?" and I suddenly saw one person after another have an "a-ha" moment. It isn't about ego; it's about adding value to another person's life. If, for only a moment, I did something to improve the life of the people there...WOW. What an opportunity.

Not everyone is cut out to speak, but all of us can give back. If you're new on the writer's path then pair up with another writer at the same place you are. The two of you can learn together. If you can get a writing mentor, find one. But as you start to see results be sure you remember what it was like starting out and always be willing to give back.

I have brochures on my speaking topics that I can mail to members of groups. I speak to writer's groups, churches, mom's groups, adoption groups, parents with special needs, homeschoolers and many others. If you'd like to distribute my brochures to the churches and groups you are a part of email me through my contact page. Give me your name, address[snail mail], type of group you're a part of and number of brochures you'd like [I limit it to 20 but if you need more I can send the file to print additional copies for your group/organization.]

Hope to see all of you at an upcoming conference. Saturday I'll be teaching in Zanesville. Email if you'd like details.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Click the delete button

I've been engrossed in edits at the same time I'm working on my NaNoWriMo novel. One thing I've learned as an author is that we cannot be afraid to click the delete button. One of my biggest time wasters has been me trying to get a scene to fit in a novel-when it REALLY needs to be deleted.

On this current novel I've deleted more than 20,000 words in the last month but the manuscript is within a few hundred words of where I started. That is because my liberal use of the delete button has allowed me the freedom to work in new scenes that strengthen my writing rather than trying to fit a square peg in a round hole.

But I don't advocate simply dumping these scenes! For every novel [or other MS] that I write I have a "deleted scenes" file. So rather than delete I actually cut and paste the scene from one novel and paste it in the deleted scenes file. There have been 2 or 3 times in this current novel where I've realized that a 'deleted' scene could be used in the book with tweaking. These scenes actually strengthened my book by moving their location. Imagine if I'd insisted on making them work where they originally were!

On that same topic I keep books that just "don't work out". 2 years ago during NaNoWriMo I tried to write a piece of women's fiction based on a character from a suspense I'd written. I got 25,000 words in to the book before I realized that I simply was not gifted to write Women's Fiction.

Well, when I was deepening the characters in the MS I'm editing now I realized a scene from that "women's fiction" book would add to my current MS. Glad I didn't delete it.

So, look at your stories like a puzzle. When you pick up a piece that doesn't fit you don't throw it in the trash, you don't cut the edges to force it in to place and you don't give up. You put the pieces back in the box until you find the right fit!

The same can be said of your entire writing career. You can't keep working on the same MS trying to get it it fit. Work on something else and put the manuscript with 200 rejections on the shelf. The day MAY come when it is ready to dust off but, in the meantime, focus on other projects to build your writing career.

Your coach for the journey, Tiffany Colter

Read A Face in the Shadow on my other blog.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Twitting my way to Time Management

I'll admit it, I really saw no point to Twitter.

I heard a few people who did it but many others saw it as a complete waste of time. But suddenly I realized the potential Time Management use of Twitter and suddenly I'm there.

If you Twitter, or are going to start now, add me to your friends! I'd love to keep up with everyone!

So how can a social networking site become a time management tool? Accountability!

How it helps me
I'm going to post on Twitter each time I start a new project. I'm even going to post when I get distracted....Oh MAN is this going to be hard!! I'm going to do this from now until mid-December and then I'll see if my productivity increased.

How it will help you
I want you to see what it is that I do. This will hopefully give you some ideas that you can use to build up your writing business. I'm going to HOPEFULLY set a good example for all of you by showing you how I break up my day to accomplish all I have to do.

The biggest danger is suddenly reading everyone's posting so what I'd suggest is find two or three people who will be your accountability circle and then check their Twitter logs at the end of the day and comment on the whole thing. Otherwise this will just be one more distraction.

In December I'll look over my log and productivity and I'll tell you if it helped or hurt.

So I hope to see some of you watching me [the more people watching me, the better I'll stick to my own schedule. Laugh.]

And remember, I'll have my eyes on you!!!!!!!!!!!

The next chapter of A Face in the Shadow will post tomorrow. I hope you're enjoying the book.

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

What is your writing budget

Today I'm going to shift gears and talk about....the economy.

Not the stock market or the gold/silver ratios or the mortgage crisis. I'm going to talk about the economy of your writing business.

Oh, you mean you don't have one?

Dictionary.com gives seven definitions for the word economy but it is the 3rd one I want to key up on. It says:
3. the management of the resources of a community, country, etc., esp. with a view to its productivity.

Are you managing the resources of your writing business with a view to its productivity? When you pay $1,500 to go to a writer's conference are you taking what you've learned and applying it to your writing. Is there a direct correlation between what you spend on writing 'stuff' and what you earn writing [your ROI-Return on Investment]?

Now all of us have a period of "paying our dues" by submitting articles to magazines, writing things for free and rewriting our manuscript to the point of frustration. But these are all ROIs. You are getting a RETURN on each of your investments when you do this. You are writing, editing, submitting, networking and growing as a writer.

My experience as a writing career coach has been VERY different than what I've just described. I sell my writing career coach course "Intro to the Writer's Life" for $35 on my website. That cost includes not only the 86 pages of lessons but each lesson gives exercises that people are encouraged to complete and send back to me for feedback. I work very hard to give meaningful feedback on each lesson sent to me. I usually spend between 30-60 minutes reading and responding to each email from each lesson. This is a GREAT value because I charge $15-$20/hr for coaching.

Now, over the last two years out of all the copies of this course I've sold or donated to raffles do you know how many people have actually taken the time to complete all 12 lessons and send them to me?? Guess....2. Yes, two people.

This is what I'm talking about when I say "What is your writing budget". Do you have so much extra money that you are able to spend hundreds of dollars [or thousands] to work with a writing coach, attend a conference buy a book, pay for a class and then do NOTHING with it.

Likewise I have taught more than 2 dozen people in classes through the Christian PEN. Usually in each class there will be 2-4 people who are really involved and participating in the lessons. The remainder of the people will "lurk". They've paid $30-$50 usually for the class and they don't participate.

I've been guilty of the same thing. When I won the Daphne I also won a free class...I lurked.

So we all do it. My question to you is are you done lurking? Are you ready to grab the bull by the horns and really get focused? Learn, apply, learn, apply. When I taught about showing vs. telling did you take the time to look at one of your writing projects, even a page, and see if you could bring it up a notch?

If you are too busy now, then when are you ready to stop wasting time and start really writing? NaNoWriMo is coming up in a few days. Why don't you use that time to DO what you say you want to do?

I dare you!!

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter

Have you gone over to read the latest installment of A Face in the Shadow? Go over and read it from the beginning at http://tiffanycolter.blogspot.com

Monday, October 27, 2008

How much contact is overkill?

Last week I posed a question to a group of writers I know [ACFW]. I wanted to know about their perceived value of newsletters vs simply blogging.

Among the authors who replied to me, most really expressed no real increase in readership since adding a newsletter. The next day as I was scanning through the blogs I regularly read [you can see a list of them here] I found a posting titled "8 Reasons to add a newsletter to your Blog. [read it here].

So now there is a dilemma. A business and marketing focused blog is saying that newsletters are fundamental and authors are telling me that they are ineffective.


Whenever I see a discrepancy like this I always put on my Sherlock Holmes hat and start looking for the reason. After reading the responses to my question, looking at blogs and newsletters I read and reading probloggers blog I have come to a few conclusions:

1. People who aren't getting success with their newsletters haven't quite figured out their market.

This can be tough for writers. We like to talk to each other and share our neat tips [like I do here] but most of our readers will likely NOT be authors [at least not serious ones who are actively submitting to publications]. So how do we appeal to both groups? In many ways, we can't. We cannot expect that people who read our fiction books about Regency Romance novels will be fascinated with the nuance of subplot. Likewise, being a contemporary suspense writer, it is unlikely that I will be fascinated by an in depth piece on costumes of the 18th century. [See, I'm not even sure the TIME PERIOD of Regency books....].

So if you have a newsletter, know your audience.

2. Offer something unique.

You can't simply offer your reheated blogs in newsletter form and expect it to fly. Being a full-time writer involves a great deal of time and effort. That means that if you are going to send out a monthly newsletter you need to take the time to offer content that is unique to your readership. You may have some cross over between newsletter readers and blog readers but, for the most part, you are appealing to two different groups.

One way you can maximize your time is to mention blogs that might be of interest to your newsletter readers and only offer them on the days you release your blog. That way both readers will meet on those days. [This is a variation of the theme for points 1-3 on that blog]

3. Overkill

And now we come back to the title of this blog. Consider whether you really have ENOUGH information worth sharing to support a blog and newsletter and website...and...and...and...

Don't simply get a blog and a newsletter because everyone else has them. Invest a bit of time to decide what your real goals are with these marketing ventures. What do you hope to accomplish? How can that goal best be met?

I like blogs because I can give up to the minute information but I have found that, despite my huge amount of visiting traffic, I'm daily looking for new 'customers'. That is because many people come to read one or two blogs but only a very few come and read every single blog posting. I can honestly say that, despite LOVING the blogs I read, the only blog that I read EVERY SINGLE time it posts is Chip MacGregor's blog. I think there are a few reasons for that. First, Chip doesn't post that often. About once every week or two. Second, Chip has been in the industry, a-hem, most of my life. [Chip, if you read this, sorry]. I know that he knows his stuff. Third, he is honest almost to a fault. He doesn't sugar coat things and that makes it easier for me to plan my business. But Chip is a unique case.

Some of the people I've seen who have the greatest success in building and keeping a newsletter subscription are people who frequently go out and do speaking. As they're meeting new people they are constantly adding to their newsletter roles. I get Randy Ingermanson's newsletter every month and read it cover to cover but I'm only able to hit his blog periodically.

Final thoughts

I think I've shown through my own reading habits why having a blog and a newsletter is so important. I'd even suggest that someone who speaks/writes to a variety of groups that they have several newsletters because each market would have different needs.

So how much time are you spending marketing yourself like this? Are you effective? The results will speak for themselves.

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter

Read the novel A Face in the Shadow FREE at http://TiffanyColter.blogspot.com

Thursday, October 23, 2008

It's not what you think !!!

...we all know writers must first be readers, and this blog talks all about about that. But it's not what you think!

What I mean today is that you not only need to be reading books in your genre, and in other genres, but you need to be reading information that will help you remain informed about the industry. Up to the minute information.

So, what are you reading to keep posted about events in publishing, the market, developing craft, ideas to improve your plot lines....

There are a few great resources for you online. First there is Publisher's Lunch. They email me things periodically and I enjoy scanning them to learn about what's new that day.

Next, I'll say it again, make sure you're reading blogs by people who are in the industry. I use my "follower" option on my dashboard at blogrush. This allows me to quickly skim the blogs I read most. I can see what is being written that day and a few sentences of that blog. If I see something helpful I jump over to the blog and read the whole thing.

That is exactly how I stumbled on this great blog by Chip MacGregor where he talks about Paulo Coelho giving away...and ending up with 100 million books sold. [If you haven't stumbled over to my free book online "A Face in the Shadow" you can click through here.] I was pretty excited to see I was doing something a wildly successful author has also done. And I came up with the idea not knowing that he did it.

Then I found out about this great idea for revising your work. Jenn talks about what to do with her "Editor Notes" but I think we authors can add some of these ideas to our own self-editing. Like the idea of outlining in revision stage. I actually do that myself so that I can braid in deeper characters.

Rachelle Gardner is a literary agent who always has GREAT information to share. I read her often.

Do you notice that I am heavily influenced by agents? Why might that be?

Also, are you reading Publisher's Weekly? Writer's Digest?

Finally, if there is a magazine you want to submit to are you reading sample issues to get a feel for the tone of the publication?

So, while writers need to be readers we also need to be informed.

By getting wisdom from key players in the publishing industry we can not only learn, but we can use their wisdom [and sometimes conflicting opinions] to develop our own long term publishing strategies.

Just as reading great books helps us develop our craft, reading great industry voices and resources will help us develop our writer savvy.

But decide who you will read and why. Don't just chase down interesting stuff. Have a reason for each blog your visit. Have take away value....or stay away!

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter.

Visit my full line of writing products at www.WritingCareerCoach.com
Read my full manuscript at http://tiffanycolter.blogspot.com

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Engage your reader by relating to your reader

Have you ever read a book and screamed to the character "No, don't do that!!" Why did you do that? It's because you were so pulled in to the book that you cared for the reader.

Not only that you had experience from life that told you they were making a mistake.

As you know from reading my blogs on movies, I learn about craft from some non-writing sources. That is true for today's blog.

I heard a song when I was surfing through stations recently and was intrigued. It is "Because of you" by Kelly Clarkson. Many of my characters have been hurt and thus have a very difficult time relating emotionally to people. They throw up emotional walls.

But how do we convey that in a book?

That is what we have to learn as writers. I'd like you to go to this youtube video of Kelly's for the song "Because of you" and really look at what the story is about. You hear the words. You feel the emotion. You see the package.

In less than 30 seconds...actually more like 5...I immediately relate to the characters. Go watch the video now. I'll wait. We'll discuss it here below.

Okay, how did you feel about that poor little girl? [The younger 'Kelly Clarkson"] My heart hurt for her. What in the pictures did you see that showed you that her dad was preoccupied with his own issues?

What about the mom?

How do we see that she was trying to smooth things over between her parents?

How did we see that there were problems in her parent's marriage?

How did we see her parents divorced?

How did we see that "Kelly" was determined NOT to make that same mistake?

Now watch the video again but this time mute your computer. You have no words but yet the entire message is being communicated to you RIGHT!

THAT is showing rather than telling.

Now turn the music back on. The words don't coincide with all that is happing but rather summarizes. Like interior monologue. We get the emotional reaction to the physical events.

That is what you need to do in your writing. You need to let the reader SEE what is happening and then react to it emotionally by the POV character's reaction to it.

So does that clear up Showing vs. Telling?

I'll see you later this week. I hope you all have gone over to read A Face in the Shadow. It is 100% free with no sign ups.

Monday, October 20, 2008

What is this blog doing right?


Over the last four weeks I've suddenly noticed a surge of non-subscriber traffic. That means that people who do not automatically get the blog sent to their mailbox through feedblitz are coming to this blog in increasing numbers.

I've seen a large number of you [74 in the last 11 blog postings] have come through seeing my blog listed in the BlogRush window on the right.

But how are the rest of you finding this blog?

What has made you come back?

Please, don't be shy. Share with the readers [and me] so that we can all learn what it is that attracts new traffic to our blogs. If someone told you about it, let us know that too.

I'd love to know what I'm doing right so that everyone else can implement these tools to grow their own blog traffic numbers.

And those of you who have recently found us, thanks so much for coming over. I hope that you'll subscribe to this blog as well as my fiction blog.

See you tomorrow.

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Did you just let that opportunity pass by? Part 2

Last time I talked about how I realized a few things were blocking my opportunities or I was distracted from them. We talked about how planning my writing projects and having a long to-do list helped me accomplish more than I had previously. Today I'm going to talk about how focus and confidence can help you maximize your time and take advantage of opportunities you otherwise wouldn't.

3. Focus
This ties in quite a bit to last time with the planning. When you have a plan you know exactly what projects you're going to work on. This helps as you mentally prepare to sit down and write. I need to be in a completely different mindset to blog than I do to write fiction.

So how does focus tie in to taking advantage of opportunities? When you are working on multiple opportunities [or when I get ideas for cool stories] it is crucial that I maintain focus. It is easy for writers to get distracted from their primary goals-writing stories. This is even more true in the days of the internet where there is an ever present excuse for jumping online to conduct a bit more 'research'. Before long you've spent an hour reading the newest headlines, checking out the political polls and responding to a few emails.

But this focus also goes beyond these obvious distractions. What about that saggy middle of your manuscript. You know where you want to be at the end but right now that ending is 30,000 words away and you've run out of things to say. How do you maintain focus during those times. If a person is going to have any level of success in writing there will come a time when they will sell a concept to a publisher without a completed MS. What if you've been paid on this MS and you can't put words to page? What an awful feeling.

That is why you must take the time NOW, before you're published to learn the skills needed to push through writer's block, distractions, barriers and sagging middles to produce consistently well written books.

4. confidence
This is a subtle one that I've only recently discovered. It is MUCH more difficult to write when your confidence is shaken. I find the BEST time to write is right after I've sent a proposal off to the agent. At that moment anything is possible. I can fantasize about the bidding war that will ensue over my manuscript. I can dream of every one of my projects being picked up at once and then being offered huge cash advances. What about after spending a day writing up four article queries. I'm jazzed. They're off. I could be on the verge of breakthrough and national stardom. So with those dreams in my mind I go off to my writing cave...and write.

You know, I'm feeling pretty excited right now. I'll be teaching if two days at the Midwest Dreams Conference in Mansfield, Ohio. I will [hopefully] be meeting some of you there! I have written all of my blogs for the week so that has been scratched from my to-do list. I feel inspired to go write. How 'bout you?

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Did you just let that opportunity pass by?

We hear a great deal about taking advantage of various opportunities but do you?

I was thinking back over this last week [a rather productive week] and I began to wonder why I was able to accomplish so much in that week but other weeks had resulted in little or no word count. What was it that caused me to miss the chance to develop as a writer. Here are a few things that I realized separated productive from non-productive weeks.

1. Planning
The first thing I realized was I needed to know exactly what my word count goal was for that week if I was going to get anywhere. Can you believe that in 2 weeks I was able to put together 2 book proposals [with sample chapters, from scratch], work more than 25 hours outside the home, homeschool 4 kids [one of whom is special needs], take a full day off to play with my kids, add nearly 10,000 words to a manuscript, write over 2,000 blog words AND perform all the functions of a SAHM [stay at home mom] all without stress?

Really, I did. then I looked at the previous weeks and realized that the only thing that was different between the two weeks was I had a calendar that listed what needed done each day. I compartmentalized my time, focused on each project until I'd reached the daily goal and then I stopped. That meant I cut back on the email time, I spent time with my kids after working and I didn't waste time. The great bonus was I realized that since I KNEW what project I was working on the next day my mind began churning ideas as I went about my housework and other tasks. When I sat down at my keyboard the two hours I had produced lots of words.

2. Long to-do list
This ties in with the previous one. I have found that every time I get REALLY busy, I get more done. That means that when I have a week where I have to work 4 days, run the kids to dance, grocery shop and help out at church...I don't waste time. Sure, I groan when that alarm clock chimes 1 1/2 hrs before everyone else's in the house-but I also go to bed knowing I've accomplished a full days work. I also find that the excitement of crossing things off gives me more energy than any coffee!

Next time I'm going to show the link I found between focus and confidence with productivity. See you then!!

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter

Monday, October 13, 2008

Building the layers in your writing

A recent email from someone has inspired me to begin sharing a bit more on building craft on this blog. Typically I try to focus on marketing writing and reflections on the writer's life, but this person's comment took me back to my early writing days.

I remembered when I couldn't seem to get the hang of creating a scene. It felt flat without any real interaction between the place, the character and the reader. Then I read a book where the exact same moment was lived through the eyes of three different characters. In that instant I realized the power of POV to develop the location of the story as a character. In the book I read there was a hero, heroine and bad guy all approaching a clearing in a woods. This may seem cliche but try creating it in your mind.

Think about the different fears, expectations, goals, and 'baggage' that will influence each person's perception of what is happening there. I'm going to paste below the example I shared with my new friend. We now join the email, already in progress:[laugh]

...give a physical reaction to an emotional one. Imagine a lady is walking in to a dark cabin after getting lost at sunset in a woods.

"She stopped just inside the door of the old cabin. Cobwebs crackled as she pulled them down with a stick and twisted them around and around like the cotton candy man of her childhood. Only this place wasn't a carnival and the white strands balling up on her stick were flavored with dread."

Physical=hearing the crackle of cobwebs.
Emotional= contrasting this terrifying moment with something from childhood.
Physical=flavor of cotton candy
emotional=flavored with fear.

This is not a perfect example but rather a rough draft. I want you guys to try to build off of this. Let's have fun. Take the scene and build on it. Give us more sensory detail. Why is she in the woods? Escaping a bad guy? Broken down car? Because she's mad at her husband and she's run to the cabin of her childhood to think?

If you have your own blog and want to build on this then tell us in the comments [with a link] so we can all come see it and comment. If you don't want to do that, then edit this piece and put it in the comments of this blog so we can all see the creativity of each other. Don't be shy!! Let's have fun!!

Tomorrow [Tuesday Oct. 14th] Tiffany Colter Fiction launches with the first chapter of my Daphne du Maurier award winning Manuscript "A Face in the Shadow". I hope you all will subscribe to have each chapter sent to you, that you'll spread the word about it and that you'll enjoy reading it.

So, I'm off. I'm teaching at the Midwest Dreams writing conference Saturday, Oct. 18th. I hope to see many of you there!!

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter

Friday, October 10, 2008

Driving Traffic to your blog

Do you have a blog?

If you do then, depending on the goals, you'd like to increase traffic to your blog. I have spent some time this week reading a variety of articles, blog postings and other materials to find out new ways to bring traffic to our blogs, websites and articles.

I've put together a few you might not have thought of before, and some you have. Try these and then we'd love to hear back from you and find out what has worked for you.

1. Blog Carnivals
I am a huge fan of blog carnivals. They bring over people who are in your target readership [assuming you do them right] and they helped me reach a much wider readership with my blogs. The key to blog carnivals is taking the time to READ THE REQUIREMENTS, DEADLINES AND THEME. These can be a very time consuming way to spread the word about your blogs, but it is worth it. If any of you run a blog carnival and would like submissions from our readeship, leave your info in our comments.

2. Follow
I talked about it a bit a week or so ago. Blogger now has a feature where you can follow others. The added benefit is that people can see you and might investigate.

3. Blogrush
You can see the theme list on the right side of my blog. Click through and join. It may take some time before you show up on thousands of blogs [like I do every week] but I have had a number of people subscribe to this blog recently as a result of seeing me through blog rush. As an author, the added bonus is you learn to write catchy titles based on what people click through to read.

4. Leave comments
I had heard of the value of leaving meaningful comments on other blogs for potential customers but had never really thought about it as a source of traffic for my blog. Now when people leave comments on my blog I will sometimes go to theirs and thank them for their comment. I do this first, because it is nice. I believe in saying thank you when a person pays you a compliment. What I didn't realize until recently is the number of times someone will see my comment posted on another person's blog and come over to mine to find out who I am.

5. Leave comments: part II
The other thing about leaving comments is going to the blog/website of someone who is talking about a topic that interests you or that pertains to the topic of your book. As you become a part of that blogging community there will be interest when you let them know about the book or article you wrote on their topic. Recently Rebeca Seitz wrote a book with scrapbooking as a main theme. She is an avid scrapbooker so not only did she appeal to writers and lovers of her genre, but people with an interest in scrapbooking. You can generate the same kind of interest in a topic of your book that will attract people who might not otherwise read it. The same with your blog.

6. Other
I'll talk about it more this month but NaNoWriMo [National Novel Writing Month] has become a sensation and is another way to get to know people regionally who write. Last year I found a writer's group less than 30 minutes from my house [I live in the country so that is like 5 minutes for a city person. :-) ] These are not huge marketing opportunities, but they do introduce you to other writers in the area who might help generate buzz about your project, your writing in general and your blog.

Here is where you'll find my profile. If you're going to take a shot at writing a novel in November with NaNoWriMo then make me one of your friends.

So go out there and get noticed!!!

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Friend or Groupie?

A funny thing happens as you begin to grow as a writer. Friends you meet along the path to publication begin to get published. Some of them really breakout and become award wining writers. Some achieve significant levels of fame.

And you realize that you're friends with a famous person.

This has begun to happen to me and to be honest....It doesn't make me feel any different. I don't feel like I'm super special nor do I expect special favors from my well known friends. They are just people. I begin to realize that as fame grows so does the need to have true friendship.

Because a new kind of friendship appears with fame-groupies.

Of course I don't mean literary groupies that follow your book signings in a big white van, what I mean is people who suddenly want to get something from you. They no longer see you as a person but rather a path to their own success. They want to be known as "The friend of [famous person]" rather than being content to be a silent supporter.

I share this with you for two reasons. To protect you from groupies and to protect you from becoming groupies.

Make sure that you always evaluate your motives for creating a friendship with someone. [whether famous or not] Is the friendship motivated by your desire to advance your career, get a possible endorsement or to meet their agent? Or is your motivation simply because you share common interests. Do you feel the need to namedrop? Do you want to be seen with certain people?

This may not speak directly to marketing but it does speak to the character of you as a writer which is even more important than marketing your book. A bad reputation can destroy even the greatest marketing plan. So be sure to examine your motives.

Later this week we will talk about ways to drive traffic to your blog. Hope to see you then.

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter

Monday, October 6, 2008

Write it down.

Do you have a system for recording great book ideas? What about marketing ideas?

I have a system but it needs a bit of refinement. I usually write ideas down in my calendar or planner and use that to keep track of things. I learned tonight when I sat down to write my blogs for the week that this is really not very effective.

See, as writers we need to be readers. We need to keep on top of many things: story craft, marketing and publishing trends just to name a few. I often find that as I read wonderful ideas come in my mind. As I'm reading on story craft I'll have ideas for a book I'm writing or even an idea for a new book.

When I read books, articles and blogs on marketing I think of things to share with all of you.

That happened to me last week as I began to devour a new book on marketing. I suddenly began to have a-ha moments that I wanted to share with you, but they fluttered out of my mind because I didn't write them down. Don't worry, they're not gone forever. I just need to reread all those things.

So what is my marketing lesson for you today? Write it down!!

Get a notebook and have a page for websites with great information that you'd like to read. Have a few other pages where you write the addresses of websites that impress you with their style and layout. Takes notes on what make them appealing to you, the reader, and how you'd like to get that same response from people who visit your website.

Have a section for marketing ideas you think are really. One part should be ideas you've seen people do. A second section should be unique ideas you've come up with.

Be sure that you keep your notebook neat so you can quickly retrieve information. Messy notebooks are about as good as having no notebooks.

And then, implement what you've learned. That is what I am doing by offering my full novel. I have a few subscribers already and I hope to have many subscribers and followers soon. The first chapter will go up in less than two weeks.

I learned this from another author. That person posted a first chapter that so excited me that I couldn't help but gush about their fiction. If you'd like to check out that blog use this link here. Also, if you have a blog or website please spread the word.

I'll see you tomorrow.

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter

Friday, October 3, 2008

Fundraiser for uninsured Lymphoma Patient

Happy Friday

As many of you know on November 10, 2005 my husband found out a "arthritic knee" was a 12 cm tumor in the bone marrow of his right distal femur. Initial reports suspected Osteosarcoma, a rare and aggressive form of cancer. However, in mid December biopsy indicated he had Lymphoma [initially staged at IV, YIKES, then reclassified to I-AE.] He was 29 and we had 4 small kids.

Well, yesterday I found out about a raffle for a Lymphoma patient who is 29 and uninsured. An editor friend of hers has raffles for full edits, partial edits, query letter edits, books...on and on. They even have Children and YA edits to raffle off.

They are trying to raise $6,000 so she can get a PET Scan. This is VERY important for Lymphoma patients.

So, if any of you would like to enter the raffle for edits [a full edit, that would usually be close to $1,000 is only $20/raffle ticket] then jump in. The tickets are between $5-$20 depending on what prize you're trying to win. Full details are here.

And if you have any encouraging stories of cancer survivors, please share them in the comments to encourage others.

My hubby is now 2 years cancer free!! And I'm so thankful.

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter

Thursday, October 2, 2008

I am dropping my hourly rate, you should too

Yep, I'm dropping my hourly rate and I suggest you other freelancers do the same.

I have been considering for a long time whether I should continue to post an hourly fee on my website. To be honest, I'd freak if I saw someone charging $15-$20/hour to edit my stuff. I would quickly think about how many hours I'd have to work at my part-time job in order to pay for that edit....

And, as you know, I'm always trying to maintain a customer focus without undervaluing my services. I mean, honestly, I have THOUSANDS of dollars invested in the knowledge I've acquired. I've spent years studying techniques, reading books, attending writer's conferences and learning how to market.

So I've decided I'm going to drop my hourly rates and simply charge by the package. Look at this from a customer perspective for a minute and see how you react differently to these two statements:

I charge $20 per hour
I charge $25 to do 16 pgs or 4,000 words, whichever is longer.

Obviously it is easier for a person to say "Okay, I'd like you to edit the first chapter of my book, it is 30 pages long so that will be about $50 [actually it would be $40, but you wouldn't know that]." If they go to my website and see $20/hour...AHHHH sticker shock. How many pages does she read an hour. How much will it cost me.

Taking it, again, from the customer's POV it also allows for budgeting. Despite what people may think, I'm not made of money. :-) I have a strict budget and when I need edits I only have a certain amount I can spend. I've had to tell people "Only edit up to $xx"

This applies beyond editing! Consider the power of words and perception. How will it impact your readers? It will depend on where they're coming from.

Now consider your craft, how will characters see things differently based on their position in your book. If you have someone in your book who honestly has NO money, NO credit, NO job, NO NOTHING trying to come up with $25 for a bus trip home might as well be a billion dollars. On the other hand a person living paycheck to paycheck may simply wait for payday. Finally, someone who has savings could go get the money [but maybe they don't want to. Maybe they resent dipping in to savings]

Think about how each person in your book will respond differently to the same scenario. Think of the emotional implications of this. Consider how you can use this understanding of human nature to effectively market.

And if you just got home from conference and an editor or agent wants to see your first chapters, you now know that you can get your first 30-35 pgs edited by me for $40. Just contact me through my website. I can have it done for you by next week.

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I'm buzz worthy so give me your input!!

Well this is pretty cool!

A couple of weeks ago I blogged and told you all about Odesk. It is a great way for freelancers like us to find work and begin to build a steady income.

Today I received an email from Odesk saying that I was "buzzworthy".

Okay, I'll admit, I thought it was spam. What in the world did they mean I was 'buzzworthy'? I read the email and found out that they saw my blog and thought it was great. [See the newsletter here] They are giving me a free t-shirt.

Well, I'd like you guys to help me decide which shirt I should get. There are three to choose from and I'm horrible at making decisions!

So go to Odesks store by following this link and then tell me which one you like better:
* Making Geeks Rich and Famous
* Super Geeks saving the world
* Saving the world, one job at a time.

I always saw myself as more of a dork than a geek. I never seemed to have the tech savvy to pull off geek, but clearly I have been promoted!!

So make your voice heard, check out the T-shirts and post your favorite in the comments section.

And two more things

1. I will be posting the ENTIRE manuscript of my award winning novel "A Face in the Shadow" on my new blog Tiffany Colter Fiction. I will post twice a week, each posting will be one chapter. I have posted the back cover copy [story description] on the blog and you can link to it here. Subscribe to the blog and the entire chapter will be emailed directly to you each time I post. This is the story that won the Daphne du Maurier award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense in 2007.

2. If you'd like to sign up for Odesk and find out more about earning money freelancing click this link. It is free to sign up and it easy to navigate. You can check out the website I wrote content for by following this link. I found this job on Odesk. It started out as writing a couple of articles, but they liked my work, so it grew! The articles don't have my by line but I wrote more than 20 of the articles and you can see my bio under the link to the contributors.

Don't forget to vote for your favorite T-shirt!! I'll order it the end of this week and let you all know what I chose.

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter