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

Monday, September 29, 2008

Impress your customers

“You do NOT work for any publisher. You are not their employee, you are their subcontractor.”
Wow, that sounds cold and harsh, doesn’t it? Really it is not. Let me explain.

Everyone knows that publishing is a business. In fact, some people speak about that with disdain as if there is something dirty about being a business. So let’s change our thinking just a bit. A business is simply an entity that provides goods or services in exchange for capital. That capital is used to pay employees, pay share holders and reinvest in the business. The product that a publisher is providing is a book. Therefore, a publisher is interested in finding a book that will provide a decent return on their investment [ROI].

As writers we are also business owners. We provide the stories. In order for us to keep our business open we need to have investors in our business. We are therefore not looking for a publishing house to hire us, we’re looking for an investor who sees potential in the product we have [our book] and will put up the capital we need to bring that product to the general public.
Why do I want you to shift you thinking to such a cold and calculated approach to our writing?

Am I driven solely by money?


I work hundreds of hours on my stories and I want them to reach people. I have invested thousands of dollars in my education as a writer. What I’ve learned is that understanding that I’m looking for capital to build MY writing business helps me maintain the emphasis on my responsibility to making a marketable product.

Consider the difference in one of your characters. If one is a person looking for investors and the other is looking for a job-how will they approach things differently? They would look for a good match with a proven company who has experience working in a particular field.

By contrast, an employee will focus on “What will you pay me? What will you do for me? Will you please hire me?” This is an attitude of someone looking for a hand out and it comes from a position of weakness.

So by changing the way you look at your writing business you can actually make yourself more attractive to potential investors-and establish long term career rather than a one-time ‘job’ writing.

So on this Monday when you are thinking about how much you'd like to be writing why don't you take that hour they allow you to eat lunch and think about whether it is this job, or your attitude, that is holding you back.

That is some food for thought.

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter

If you'd like to know more about Tiffany's writing Coaching visit her website at www.WritingCareerCoach.com

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

5,935 and counting

When I started this blog September 24, 2007 it was because I knew I needed to grow my platform. At that time I had a core group of people who asked me how to market their writing, and I'd sold a fair number of copies of my Writing Career Coach program, but it wasn't enough. I really had the desire to teach people who couldn't afford my class.

I'd spent more than $2,000 as an apprentice in the Christian Writer's Guild and learned lots.

I'd spent about that much again attending American Christian Fiction Writers.

I'd spent more than four times those combined on my degree.

And I'd spent hundreds of dollars on books about marketing, sales and business development.

I really wanted to help other people by sharing what I'd learned but I wondered what I actually knew. Wasn't it obvious that writer's needed a business plan, balance sheet, marketing strategy and platform development? Didn't time management and calendar creation go with the territory? Didn't everyone already have a solid plan on what to do with the profits from the sale of their writing?

The answers to all of those questions I quickly learned was NO!!

When I realized that at ACFW 2007 [In Dallas] I created the idea for this blog. Within days of returning from ACFW I'd created this blog and started posting.

That was a year ago and not only do I have 5,935 hits [as of 11:25pm Eastern Time on Tuesday 9/23] but that number doesn't count all of my subscribers who have the full blog sent directly to their email address every time I post. When I asked subscribers to visit my blog the day's hit count QUADRUPLED!!

So what I wanted to share with you today is 3 fold:
1. Thank you to each and every person who has taken the time to read this blog.
2. Never assume that what is obvious to you is obvious to someone else!
3. When you are passionate about a topic, others will share your passion.

I'd encourage each of you who read this blog regularly [or who like it but may not read it regularly] to subscribe on the right and have it emailed to you every day. I give special "heads up" emails to subscribers when new things are coming out. And in December I give thank you gifts. [Last year I gave one of my products absolutely free to each subscriber].

So, thousands of hits behind us we move forward in to the second year of the Writing Career Coach blog. I have many plans for the blog including more reviews of books that have helped me build my writing business, links to valuable teaching sites and more product announcements.

As always, I'll share from my heart tips that I've used to grow in to a successful freelance writer.

It has been my pleasure to share this first year with you.

If you have friends who you think might benefit from this blog, feel free to forward my blog to them [of course, no spam!!]

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Do you tinker, or do you write?

So which do you do??

This has really nothing to do with whether you are a "full-time" writer or a "part-time" writer. It has everything to do with your level of commitment to your writing goals.

Recently I was talking to a few writing friends and I noticed something. Those who spent their entire time talking about all the great things they WOULD do one day, then following them up with all the 'explanations' [a-hem, I call them excuses] why they weren't further along, were the same people who did that the last time we had a meaningful conversation on writing. It seems the only creative writing they do is write out to-do lists and impressive lists of reasons they are not yet published. As you can imagine, they will likely be in the same place next year.

The people who are fairly quiet about their writing are the listeners and learners. They are the ones who are really serious about moving forward and they work at it with dogged determination. They spend time reading and learning the craft in addition to applying what they learned.

What is funny is some of the busiest people are the ones who are working the hardest to reach their writing goals. Many "full-time" writers spend great deals of time THINKING about writing, but they spend very little time actually writing.

I recently asked myself which I was going to be. Was I going to keep hoping and planning with no forward movement, or was I going to set deadlines and force myself to meet them?

I found that when I had to start working more outside of my writing, suddenly I got more serious about my writing. I realized how much I loved to write and I longed to put words on a page.

So those of you who work outside the house...dreaming of spending long days with your stories, don't feel your missing out. It could be that you are more of a professional writer than you know.

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter

Monday, September 22, 2008

Unexpected lessons

I am continually amazed by the opportunities each of us have to learn, to improve our craft and to network with other writers.

In years past I've gone to ACFWs conference. With hundreds of writers, and dozens of workshops, there is never an end to the ability to learn. For the most part, I have NOT attended local writer's groups because I didn't see the benefit in them. [And to attend every conference I was familiar with would simply be too expensive.]

This past Saturday I attended the Northwest Ohio Christian Writer's one-day conference. It lasted 7 hours and had four breaks and a lunch. I wasn't sure what I would learn, but the group was so friendly when I met them recently that I wanted to go simply for the fellowship.

The featured speaker was Kelly Carr, a magazine editor from Cincinnati, OH. I learned a great deal about editing, writing and selling work to magazines.

The most important lesson I learned, however, is recognizing the potential to learn and grow. Despite having written many magazine articles, completed almost 4 full-length novel manuscripts and pitched countless books-I still have lots to learn.

As I sat in the conference I thought of all of you. I wondered how many people I blog to have skipped opportunities to learn. The skill I polished at this one day conference was "teachability". I'm a very teachable person, but it's also a skill each of us needs to work on.

So whether at a conference, when speaking to an editor, or when pitching to an agent, are you learning all you can? Are you remaining teachable? or are you trying to make sure everyone knows how smart you are?

A key to effective marketing is listening to the needs of your customer. That ability to humbly listen begins with having a teachable nature.

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Why are people unsubscribing to my blog? Part 2

Yesterday I shared with you the beginning of an email I sent to a friend who wanted to know why her readership was slipping. Today I'll post the remainder of that letter.

If you didn't read the first half go back and read it here.

I only post 3 days a week [sometimes two] and I've had 5,78 9 hits since I started my blog the week after last year's conference. This number does NOT include my subscribers [because the full blog is emailed to them directly] so these are all new or regular readers who do NOT subscribe. When I asked subscribers to visit my blog for a full week my numbers [hit count] nearly quadrupled for that week. So I'd conservatively put my hits over 10,000. But I know my target market [writers, primarily those who are on the cusp of publication] and I write things that I'm learning that will help them. I also reference back to previous blogs I've written [I may say in a blog "back in November I talked about fear" and then I'll link to that blog so they start reading more of my archives.]

I write all of my blogs on Sunday [or if I have a great idea I'll write ahead] and then schedule them to post the following week. If I see on my calendar I have a REALLY hectic week or two coming, I may post 5 or 6 blogs and schedule them so it looks like I'm still posting daily.

I also know Tuesdays are my highest traffic day, so I try to post my best blogs on those days.

Finally, I don't rely on comments as a gauge of success. I used to do that but then I realized that my regular readers don't regularly comment. It is those guests who want google to see them talking on a "relevant" blog in the comments. I've looked and the correlation between comments and traffic are NON-EXISTENT.

I'm a part of blog rush and have experimented with various catchy titles and try to use "key words" [money, improving, success, building, tough love, mistake] to catch attention and pull people over.

I tried to do it they way you describe, with having others essentially use my blog as a platform...it fell FLAT. I got bored, they got bored, it didn't work. And I even had it on shoutlife where there is a ready audience.

I found that honestly [guarded honesty] about things I've learned, the process, my struggles in writing a great book, etc. are what keep people coming. Especially as I work the problem out before them. If I say "I'm having a hard time finding time to write but I've learned that if I get up at 8:30 instead of staying up until 2am, I'm more productive." People comment on that. Then a week later I'll say "Last week on my blog I shared how getting up early was helping my productivity, [link to that specific blog] well I managed to write XXX number of pages since then!! I've also started outlining the night before I'm getting even more done."

Obviously this isn't EXACTLY your target audience. If you're writing to readers, tell about the writer's life in a way readers can relate to. "Many readers don't realize the stages to writing. Some days it can seem like you will never get there but today something great happened....."

or "Readers have asked me how I get story ideas, well, let me tell you about how an idea popped in my head today..."

If you're writing for writers...well, we know how to write to ourselves.

You get my drift.


I hope this has helped all of you. Now, go blog successfully!!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Why are people unsubscribing to my blog?

I have a few really close writer friends and one of them was talking about people who unsubscribe to her blog. She was wondering what it was about her blog that was causing people to unsubscribe. Over the next two days I'll share with you exactly what I told her. I hope this honest insight in to what I've learned will help you.

Today we'll focus on people unsubscribing, tomorrow about how I do my blog.

Dear [friend]

I remember a few months back I posted a tough love blog that was directed as much at me as it was to everyone who reads my blog. I basically said "suck it up, quit making excuses and, if you want to be a writer, WRITE!"

I almost never receive comments on my blog, but on this blog I did. One of them was a woman who said she was about to unsubscribe but after reading that blog, decided not to. She said she was super busy and didn't have time to read so many blogs and mine was about to go.

That was really a wake-up call to me. There are MANY blogs out there that offer book reviews ad nauseum, author interviews and the exact same content as every other site. [I'm not saying this about your blog specifically. I'm sharing what I've learned from research.] If they can find 90% of your content some place else...they will.

Think about the blogs you liked and what made them different. Other than the person's name [fame]. They had content you couldn't find any other place.

Even my friend Nora St.Laurent has a blog with author interviews and book reviews but she really shakes it up and I was so impressed I blogged about it. Her blog is:http://www.psalm516.blogspot.com/ Scroll through the author interviews and see how she makes this different than other blogs. [but don't rip off her idea. ]


That is the first part of the letter, I'll share the rest tomorrow. Think about what I said here and then look at your blog. Does your sole traffic come from people wanting to win a contest? Are they actually reading what you say?

Tomorrow I’ll talk about how I increased the traffic of my blog. I hope to see you then.

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter

Monday, September 15, 2008

Work from home or on the road

One great benefit for many writers is the ability to work from home. We love being our own boss and sitting is comfortable clothes creating a world that exists only in our mind.

The one draw back is, in the real world, there are bills to be paid and writing income isn't always consistent. We also have things to do: grocery shopping, ballet practice with the kids, and other errands. That means we don't have the luxury of simply sitting in front of a laptop all day. So here are two REALLY exciting things I've discovered [ok, discovered is a bit strong...I just found out about them]. I want to share them with you to see if they will benefit you.

First, Work from home. I found this in the spring but before I told everyone about it I decided to try it for myself. It is called ODesk and it is a place that looks for freelanceers. The great things about this is you can find freelance work AND if you need someone to do a job for you, you can put a job out there and people will bid on it. I took on a job that was going to be a few articles and I'm still writing for them. I love it. It took me about a month or two before I secured my first job but I was only checking every week or two. If you have computer skills-beyond writing-there are many opportunities. I'd encourage all of you to at least sign up and see if you can find some work with them. It is a growing market!! And there are opportunities to learn and gain certifications as well. Click this link for all the details.

The second resource I found is for writers running errands. How many times have you been driving and suddenly you have a book idea or you remember that you need to set the roast out when you get home? A writer in a group I know just told us about Jott. This is a service that you can call on your cellphone and leave a message. It then transcribes the message [I'm assuming using transciption software] and emails it to you. There is a free version but even the paid version is only about $3/month. You are able to send emails to people by dictating them over the phone and telling the system to email it for you.

You can also have it retrieve blogs for you and READ THEM TO YOU as you drive. How cool is that!! I'm a busy mom of 4 girls. I can't risk their safety by writing myself notes but using a hands free phone I can leave myself a note on that great story idea, piece of dialog or thing I need to do. And to listen to all of my blogs just like the radio??? Now that is cool. Check them out at this link.

So there are two things to help you save time and make money!! What a great way to start a Monday!!

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Leaders were First Followers

Hey guys,

Look at any successful leader and you will see the sum total of those they followed.

Actually, I guess that is true for all of us. Each of us is the sum total of those we've followed.

Wow, that sounded really philosophical, didn't it?

I'd like to encourage you to join the list of my followers. Look at the bottom right of this blog and you will see the list of my followers.

And I'd encourage each of you to check out the blogs/websites of other "followers". Let's support each other!

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Editing Special from Tracy Ruckman

Hello everyone!!

A good friend of mine, Tracy Ruckman, is offering a special on her full-manuscript edits [up to 80,000 words]. I was so excited by the deal I asked her if I could let all of you know about it.

She is offering a full manuscript critique for only $500. That is awesome. She said for this level of editing it usually costs between $750-$1,000. In fact, most editors I know would charge at least $1,200 for the content edit Tracy does.

Her endorsements are impressive and you can see them at TracyRuckman.com. In order to get this special you must pay for the critique this week [no later than September 12th]. This means if you're working on a project and you want to give yourself some accountability, schedule to have it sent to her and give yourself a deadline.

This is GREAT for people getting ready for a writer's conference. Finish your manuscript and have it edited while you meed with editors and agents. Then when they ask to see your full you can revise with Tracy's suggestions and feel confident in what you submit.

Have a great week!! Tiffany Colter, Writing Career Coach

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Is your Marketing Stale?

Last time we talked about how stale our writing can be but today I want to talk about our marketing.

Has your marketing grown stale?

If you're a published author are you stuck with book signings and book marks to sell your books?

If you're trying to get published are you stuck with blogs that are only read by 8 of your closest friends each week?

Well, what have you done recently to try to learn new ideas? Have you read a marketing article? Have you observed a solicitation letter you received in the mail to look at the structure and wording? Have you looked at what it is about the letter that makes it unappealing? If it WAS persuasive have you considered why? Have you looked at ways people are seeking to get your attention-or your purchase?

I have read dozens of books on business, business development and marketing as well as countless blogs BUT all of them are old by the time the book makes it to the shelf of my local bookstore. So what am I doing to keep ahead of the tide? I'm studying what people are doing all around me.

Now, this will be harder if you simply talk to half a dozen author and find out from them what they're doing...because they're likely all doing the same things. Finding out about a best selling author isn't always the best way either since they already have established their market. The momentum is there and they are building from that.

No, it is better to look at author websites and see what they're doing to promote their books. What are agents talking about on various blogs? Rachel Gardner and Chip MacGregor both have great blogs as does Michael Hyatt. Check out their blogs as well as their website. Do they have their client [author] sites posted on their own website? If so, look at the websites and see what some of them are doing to promote their writing.

This is plenty of work for you over these next few days. If you see any really great ideas feel free to share them in the comments.

And thank you so much for the great comments over these last two weeks. If any of you have missed them, look back over them. There are a few good ideas!

Monday, September 8, 2008

A special limited to the first 46 people.


I am offering a special price on my two current Writing Career Coach products: Intro to the Writer's Life and Creating a platform. You can get a full description of these products on my website, but here is a quick description of what you will get.

Intro to the Writer's Life is more for people who are still aspiring writers. It includes a mentoring component where you can email each lesson directly to me for personalized feedback. I spend a good deal of time on each lesson trying to target my feedback to help you grow as a writer. It is usually $35

Creating a platform is for people who are on the verge of publication or who have been published. It helps build on what I teach in these blogs as well as when I'm at writer's conferences. It is usually $15 and does not include the feedback of the Intro.

BUT here is the special I'm offering to the first 46 people who contact me. You can get either of the products for $10 each. That is a savings of $25 on the Intro or $5 on the Platform.

I will also throw in feedback on the Platform product which would retail for $20.

So purchase one for $10 or both for $20. With the added mentoring for the Platform you are getting $70 worth of lessons for only $20.

Again this is only for the first 46 people to email me. To make sure I give the first 46 credit I want you to contact me through my website. Please follow these directions exactly:
1. Email me through the contact page on www.WritingCareerCoach.com You can click here to go directly to the contact page.
2. In the info tell me which you'd like or if you'd like both. You may order up to 3 copies of each to share with friends but no more than 6 copies total.
3. Let me know the version .doc or .rtf
4. The email(s) to send them to. They will be attached documents in email.
5. The email to send the paypal invoice to. The files will NOT be sent until payment has been received through paypal.

I hope that you will not only take advantage of this opportunity but that you'll also use the lessons. Many people I work with purchase the products but don't take advantage of the coaching. Don't do that. Take advantage of this great opportunity. Do the lessons, get the imput, grow your writing business!!

Remember, you can get a full description of the products by clicking this link.

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter

Is your Writing Stale?

As writers we are big on ideas but we can sometimes be small on execution. This is because we start to grow tired of a story before we get to the end. Many of you know the term "sagging middle". This describes the idea that the story starts to run out of steam shortly before the climatic final scene(s).

Another way it can start to get boring is going through endless edits. Believe me, I know what this can be like. I have a book that has been reworked 6 times. This same manuscript has been sent to a professional editor twice.

And still I edit on it. But I'm almost there. :-)

So how do you spice up your writing?

I've done three things to really get past staleness in my writing. I talked about the writing exercise I do in a previous post. You can see that post here.

Second, I go through the "Writing the Breakout Novel" book and workbook on each manuscript both in prewriting phase and after the first draft is done. I find by doing this twice I'm able to relax as I write that first draft. I know that I'll catch it in rewrites and the 'sagging middle' will get cleaned up as well. Both of these books are on my suggested reading list which you can find here. They have a link to Amazon where you can order yourself a copy.

The third thing I do is ask "But Why?" I actually learned this last year at a writer's conference. I was in a class on writing suspense and I gave the premise of my story and a bit about my main character. The writer teaching the class kept asking me "but why?".

I was very proud of myself because I was able to answer the first two "but why" questions. Then we got to the third, fourth and fifth. Suddenly I realized that I hadn't gone deep enough in to my story to really pull out the motivation of the characters...and my writing suffered because of it.

So if you're working on rewrites, first drafts, sagging middles or even a polish-take these steps to strengthen your writing.

Next time we'll look at ways to strengthen your Marketing.

Your Coach for the Journey!!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Local Connection Marketing

There are many ways to use themes presented in your book to create a platform for both your fiction and non-fiction and we have talked about them in the past, but there is another way to market your writing-a local connection.

Think about the area you live in, your hometown [if it is different], hobbies, groups, colleges and other affiliations you have. These can all serve as a way to market your writing to a wider audience.

Here are a few examples:

Contact your old highschool and offer to go in for career day. Then let the town newspaper know you'll be there. A possible story would be "Westside High graduate inspires students to pursue their dreams."

Maybe you are interested in Quilting. You could offer to write something up for your quilting group and submitting it to the newspaper.

Contact the university you graduated from to let them know about your publishing successes. They love having the opportunity to brag about their grads!! Offer to write up an article about your road to publication for their alumni magazine or departmental newsletter.

Think of some yourself now. How could the connections you already have open doors to share your work? This kind of creative thinking will reap major dividends as you publish.

Your Coach for the Journey, Tiffany Colter

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Interesting innovation

Wow, I never stop being amazed by what I learn each day. This weekend I was reading a great book on marketing [more on that over these next few weeks] and I again saw the incredible potential to reach our target readers that blogging offers.

Then I opened my email box and a good friend of mine sent me a video that gave me an exciting marketing idea for one of my key demographics.

Finally, I opened blogger and learned all about their new features that will show who our "blog fans" are.

It occurred to me that there are opportunities to grow and expand our readership passing us by every week. And I had to ask myself "Am I so stuck in what I've always done that I don't take time to take advantage of new innovation?"

Then after that I also had to think what would be MOST beneficial for me. I don't have time to do it all and I really don't have time to change what I do each week. It takes many months of doing something before it starts to really work. You have to build momentum!

So think about the interesting marketing opportunities available to you. Which 2 or 3 are you going to specialize in to REALLY build your platform? Why those and not others?

Then focus on it. Build your brand, establish your base and write that great novel. With the platforms already there you will have a good bit of the work done already and you can roll with what you've started!!

And if you'd like to share some of the great ideas you are using to build your website come tell us. Be sure to include a link and what SPECIFIC results you had. That way we can come check out your blog or website and see how you made it work.