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Don’t Sabotage Your Writing Career Before It Takes Off – Part 2

That Single Title Won’t Make You Rich

Here’s the thing, very few authors make money on their first book. In the writing life, a year is nothing. Writing, writing career, published, books, titles

image credit – pexels

You did it. Finally, you’ve published that book. Your sweat, blood and gore went into it. Now it’s time to sit before the fireplace with a glass of wine and rub your palm in anticipation of counting all the dough that will roll in.

This is somewhat embarrassing, but most times our first book and I daresay several titles after hardly causes the Richters scale to shift in our bank balance.

I have to admit that after I published my first poetry book I had high expectations in my bubbly dream world, but soon enough, reality slapped me awake. Quitting one’s hustle and day job was not going to happen quickly.

Anticipating that you’ll be paying bills with your book advance and ROI from your book may not happen by the end of the year or even many years to come.




You might even strike gold and have an agent sign you on, but the challenge of successfully shopping it around and selling it is still a huge probability.

In some cases, when the agent is unsuccessful, they drop you, which is devastating to any writer. As a matter of fact after such unpalatable news, some writers hibernate from writing another word for several years.

Slogging away on a book and revising it for months on end is hard work and the rejections simply make the process discouraging and leaves you with the feeling that you are just wasting your time.

Keep The Slogging Going

Here’s the thing, very few authors make money on their first book. When you read success stories of authors breaking the bank on a first book, keep in mind that there’s a back story. They probably have many years of slogging it out, rejections and many drafts stashed away in their files. If you research the big-earner indies like H.M. Ward, Meredith Wild, C. J. Lyons and co., they have dozens of published books out there.




In the writing life, a year is nothing. Think of several years and write because you absolutely love writing. Write because without writing your life would be incomplete. Don’t write with the thoughts of becoming an overnight success. Even The Stephen Kings and J.K. Rowling of our world had their disappointments before the breakthroughs.

On a serious note, you may need to do something different to earn some income and fill in the gaps while pursuing your writing career.

Whether you are self or traditionally published, till you have several published titles in your kitty, you’re not likely to make enough money to live your dream life.

 

 

Jewelry Focus – Photo Theme

J FOR JEWELRY

For letter J of the photo theme challenge, I chose jewels for obvious reasons – I love jewelry.

Adorning ourselves with jewelry and gemstones have been a part of humanity since before history was written.

The ancient people wore jewelry made of feathers, bones, shells, clay, stones, plants and other materials available to them, unlike what we have in stores today.

photo theme, photography, jewelry, focus

 

We wear them as objects of fashion statement, identity, functionality,  caring for our bodies, religious reasons, status symbol, showing commitment etc.

In some places such as India, they’ve managed to develop such a connection to jewelry that it is a part of their daily life and religion.

photo theme, photography, jewelry, focus

 

We all love the Bling and I believe the beauty in wearing jewelry is in the simplicity of its usage. Maintaining that balance of wearing just enough and not so much at the same time.

 

photo theme, photography, jewelry, focus

 

Jewelry needs not be expensive to catch ones’ eye. They could be cheap and cheerful and pleasing all the same.

 

photo theme, photography, jewelry, focus

 

After over a hundred thousand years of using jewels and decorative items and more than six thousand years of metallurgy and gem processing, we can say with certainty that jewels – in whatever form they come in – will always be a part of people and civilization.

To join the photography theme challenge for practice, check this link and you can find other photo tips here.

 





The Daily Post – Focus

Don’t Sabotage Your Writing Career Before It Takes Off – Part 1

Sabotaging Your Writing Career Before It Takes Off

Writing, Learn Rules, Writing Career, Mistakes, Memoir

image credit – pexels

Yes, we all learn from our mistakes, however, we don’t have to make all the mistakes before we learn. We can equally learn from the mistakes of others.

In the pursuit of our writing careers, there are mistakes that have the potential to truncate it even before it begins. I am not excited to say that I have made a good number of them and still working to dig myself out of my errors.

I am equally ashamed to say that I fall into the category of writers with piles of half-finished stories and essays yet to be polished and sent to potential publishers.

The great thing is that though these mistakes might derail your quest for a while, with the right approach, you can get back on track.

Writing ‘A Pipe Dream.’

I’ve met a lot of would-be writers who are either ‘working on a book,’ or planning ‘to start working’ on one – when they can find the time – and most of them have worked on that elusive book of theirs for years and years that they’ve even forgotten what the story was about in the first place.

Interestingly, they don’t share their attempts with anyone. They also hardly bother to read guides, blogs or articles that could help to improve their writing career. If you are such a closet writer who fails to show your work to anybody and unable to compare it to what’s obtainable out there, you are living in that highly deceptive fantasy land that your work is fabulous.

For some reason, lots of nonfiction writers think that writing a how-to book, a memoir or an autobiography is easier to write than fiction and this is far from the truth.




Writing nonfiction requires careful structuring — especially a memoir. To slap up a haphazard chronology of one’s life never makes for a compelling reading. I started writing a memoir and in the process of writing my memoir, I asked myself severally  ‘why would anyone want to read my memoir, what value does it have to offer?’ Needless to say, I am still writing this memoir, but rethinking my approach because the first attempt was as boring as ever.

You may need to burst your own bubble that you’re a self-taught writing genius oozing with all the talent in the world and that you don’t need to learn a thing or two about writing as a profession.

As long as nobody reads your work – no, not your long-suffering spouse, mother, agreeable siblings and friends – I am sorry to let you know that those everlasting works in progress of yours may never see the light of the day to make it to the top of the bottom of the bestseller lists on Amazon, New York, and wherever  you fancy, once you wake up and decide to share it.

Your attitude of ignorance might be a good one when you’re taking those first steps of venturing into the writing field when the tendency to self-doubt is at its peak. You create your first draft and learn the rules later because there are times when learning the rules first could be inundating and simply creates more doubt. However, learn the rules and the rope, you must.

If your hope is to publish eventually, spending years in the closet will simply not work in your favour. That sets you up for disappointments and possible scamming – yes, it happens.

There are scammers ready to thrive on your delusions.  Do your research before jumping into the marketplace to avoid the harsh realities of the University of writing hard knocks.

 Quick Tips

Google your interest area to find out how many similar books are out there. Read as many as you possibly can and approach yours from a fresh perspective.

If you do hope to publish your work at some point, you have to pay attention to this field of interest that you’re trying to enter. How do they perform in the market? Who are the target readers in this spectrum?

On a final note, don’t be afraid to get your work out there into the public eye. Criticism can only make it better and you could be delightfully surprised.

Let us know if you have published. What’s your experience been like? Do you plan to publish?  You can share insights in the comments and add titles/links of your published work if you have.

I hope you find this article useful. Check here for more writing tips.

 

Great Self-Hosting Offers and Opportunity

Special Offers, WPEngine, WordPress offers, Self-Hosting Plans

WP Engine and WordPress have May birthdays, and to celebrate they’ve created special offers for you to self-host.

In their seven-year history, they’ve never run a promotion like this for Premium and Enterprise plans.WP Engine Fastest Managed WordPress Platform

It’s an opportunity to test the waters of self-hosting your site. Quit the procrastination. Here are several reasons why I chose WPEngine and why I still fly with WPEngine.

 

Offer 1:

  Get 3 total months free off any annual shared plan.

Offer 2:

Get your first month free on a Premium or Enterprise level plan at WP Engine!

Don't miss your chance to capitalize on these offers. These offers won't be back anytime soon!

As always, feel free to reach out with any questions.

By using any of these affiliate links, we could possibly earn a commission to maintain this site.

Brand For Success – Blog and Writing Tips

Online branding, branding, social media, website, online, blogging, writing,

image credit – Pexels

Online Branding For Success

In this age, online branding is what people see when they search your name. Online branding is the equivalent of traditional ‘Dress for Success or Dress As You Want To Be Addressed.’

You won’t turn up for an interview or that important meeting in your hair bonnet, scruffy bum shorts and cut off T-shirt likewise, your online abode shouldn’t look like a dumping site for rejected literal vomit.

First impressions do count. Google is at everybody’s fingertips and anybody who Google’s you or takes the time to visit your site is a potential investor – maybe as a reader, partner, book buyer, agent, publisher etc.

With all the challenges and variables connected to online success, your personal branding is the one thing that’s totally under your control which you must harness to your advantage.

Maintain a consistent branding across the social media platforms that you use. This shows your professionalism, your confidence in yourself as an author and in your creativity. Your site is your strategic piece of online real estate that must be a hub for your online presence.

When you Google your name and ‘author,’ your website should pop up in the search result, followed by your social media profiles and your books on Amazon, Smashwords or Goodreads – if you are published.

If someone clicks on those links do they lead to your profile? Are your profiles consistent? Do they look professional?



Recommendations

Use same author photo or logo across board your social platforms

Create similar descriptions or about you.

Maintain similar, readable fonts and colours that are easy on the eyes.

Can someone read your profile on mobile devices?

Keep your graphics minimal. Simple and classy trumps messy and over zealous.

Maintain your platforms branding with periodic audits.

Keep your writing stellar.

Remember that the image you project is what the reader takes away.

 

How To Write Scannable Content to Retain Readers Attention – Blog Bytes

How to Write Scannable Content to Retain Readers Attention.

Content, Effective, Attention, Retain, Audience, Scannable, Blog Tips, Skimming, Social Media Strategy

One of the challenges of this age of abundance and overflow of information is that people no longer consume and absorb information like they used to. People pass through your blog, but they do not stop to read your content. It’s the harsh truth but the truth nonetheless.

With the plethora of social mediums and the constant distractions that we have these days, the attention span of the audience keeps reducing because we are all in a hurry.

We are all racing to churn out more posts and keep up with the pace. There are a thousand things beckoning for people’s attention.

This raises the bar for you as a communicator to find effective means of communicating and retaining any reader’s attention (they scan through – only few would read an entire paragraph).




Tips to help keep the attention of skimmers and the hurried gentry.

  • Keep your blog posts brief and sweet: 300 – 750 words
  • Break your contents into chunks and use sub-headings. This way they can skim from one slot to the other seamlessly.
  • Keep your paragraphs between 3 – 4 lines. Space them out.
  • Use bullet or numbered points. It creates an impression of efficiency – skimmers are efficient with their time – and it’s fun to read.
  • Create list posts. They go straight to the point.
  • Use your formatting options effectively and sensibly. Your bold and italics to highlight succinct points.
  • Don’t write your posts in 50 shades of different colours. It’s disturbing to the eye’s and too distracting.
  • Make your posts conversational. Let it flow as if you are having a chat with your friends. It’s not the Daily news that is serious and dour.
  • Add clickable related links to your posts – old posts that’s worth a second eyeballing due to their great content.
  • Encourage discussion Phrase your sentences in such a way that offers the invitation to take part.
  • Shake things up. Now and again, write in long-form – 1,000 words upwards – and write posts that illuminate, disturb or provoke thought.

Check this link for more blog tips.





Content, Effective, Attention, Retain, Audience, Scannable, Blog Tips, Skimming, Social Media Strategy

Leave Them Out – Essential Writers Tips

Leave Boring Parts, Writing Project, Writers Tips, Essential Writers Tips, Good Story,

Leave Those Boring Parts

As an aspiring writer working on that anticipated bestseller of yours, a vital writing tip is not to start writing a story simply because you think that the genre would sell or for the sake of other odd reasons that leaves you struggling to fill the pages with thick, unnecessary prose that would bore your readers to sleep.




As you work on your writing project, make your book one that you would equally find exciting to read. Think of those books that you loved reading. Those one’s you got lost in, then compare them to those novels that you skipped out chunky parts of the book.

What are those parts that you skipped when you read the novels – those paragraphs that had too many words and didn’t add much to the story except more pages? Pay attention to such details and avoid adding such parts to yours.

Check here for more writing tips.




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I, You, We All Love Ice-Cream – Photo Theme

I, You, We All Love Ice-Cream

I am yet to meet anyone who didn’t enjoy this sweetened frozen confection taken as snack or dessert. I love ice-cream and literally have to hold myself in check from indulging far too much.

Ice-Cream, Food Photography, 10 Fun Facts Ice-Cream, Digital Photography, Taking Great Photos Ice-Cream

Some of my fondest childhood memories center around the occasional treat of the frosty delight from an ice-cream truck at Polo park so, between looking for an object to isolate and indulging in a scoop or two of ice-cream as part of photo research for the letter ‘I,’ choosing ice-cream was no hardship.

 10 Fun Facts about ice-cream

  • Ice was made from ice before milk based ice creams started in the 10th century.
  • The industrial production of ice cream started in 1851 in Boston, United States.
  • The World’s largest consumption of ice cream is in the United States. Statistics show that on average one person consumes 48 pints of ice cream per year.
  • The most popular flavor of ice cream is vanilla. After that come chocolate, strawberry, cookies n’ cream, etc.
  • One of the most unusual ice cream flavors is hot dog flavored ice-cream made in Arizona, US.
  • One dairy cow can produce enough milk for 9,000 gallons of ice cream in her lifetime!
  • Most profitable day for ice cream sellers is almost always on Sunday.
  • It takes 50 licks to finish one cone of ice cream.
  • One cup of vanilla ice-cream has 273 calories.
  • Ice cream comes in many varieties: plain vanilla ice-cream, frozen custard, frozen yogurt, reduced-fat ice cream, sherbet, gelato, and much more.

Ice-Cream, Food Photography, 10 Fun Facts Ice-Cream, Digital Photography, Taking Great Photos Ice-Cream



Tips for Photographing Ice Cream

I learned through several scoops and efforts that though photographing ice-creams may seem simple, in reality, ice-creams are not easy subjects to photograph. If you are not fast enough, it melts into a puddle and without proper preparation, your composition will not turn out as you want it to.

Prepare in advance. That scoop of ice cream won’t wait for you before it melts away and except your target is to take snapshots of puddles of melted sweetness prepare your equipment – camera, tripod (if needed) lenses etc – ahead of time when the ice-cream still looks great.

  • Adjust the camera to the settings you need and once you are ready, grab your ice cream, place it in the place that you want and take as many shots as you can for some minutes.

 

  • Always check your lighting ahead of time. Aim for adequate natural lighting as much as possible. Too little light will make your ice cream seem insipid, while flashes can create harshness and shadows to the texture of the ice cream. If you are not using natural light, set the white balance setting on your camera otherwise the ice cream can take on yellow or blue hues. The automatic light balance rarely gets it the way you want it.

 

  • Check your background. Some backgrounds work well with food photography such as wood texture which evokes homeliness. A white background allows the food to stand out without crowding it and it also provides a lot of background light that shows off the food better. A garden backdrop creates a sense of relaxation and contentment while a dark background is also perfect because it allows you to focus on the ice-cream without detracting from it.

 

  • You could try the trick of putting your display bowl in the freezer for at least half an hour before the shoot if you are in a convenient place to do so. This way the bowl for the ice-cream would stay cold for a while and keep the ice cream cold. This would give you extra time to make necessary adjustments before it begins to melt.

 

  • For freestyle photos on the go, have your camera ready for those blissful moments of people and their ice-creams and do remember to ask politely before pointing your camera in people’s faces.

 

  • Take a lot of photos from different angles within the few minutes that you have. This way you will end up with images that are worth your effort.

To join the photography theme challenge for practice, check this link and you can find other photo tips here.



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Quit Worrying Over Losing Subscribers

Losing Subscribers, Subscribers, Social Media Subscription, Reasons, Focus, Email Updates

What’s Your Reaction To Losing Subscribers?

Are you one of those who spends days in angst wondering why a subscriber unsubscribed or do you shrug, smile and move on?

One of the common challenges that bloggers face is losing subscribers.  Naturally, our goal is to gain subscribers, to keep them, and not to lose them and when we do lose subscribers we may feel inclined to know why.

I remember my earlier days of blogging when it seemed as though my eyes were permanently glued to the subscription stats and watching it go up and down was not the better part of how I spent my days. I learned that my focus is better spent on developing my blogging skills, networking to the best of my ability and worrying less about every Harry and Jane that left the scene.

I will categorically tell you that you shouldn’t over think subscribers choosing to stop receiving your updates or following you because worrying over it is not worth the sweat. Instead, concentrate on gaining new readers/subscribers who would stick with your random blather.




Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Worry

  • Note that each time you send out an email update, you would likely have some people who choose to unsubscribe. This an unavoidable part of the process. Even the most fantastic bloggers out there experience drops in their subscription.
  • Remember that people choose to sign up for any number of reasons and as time goes on, as their interests change so does their subscription.
  • There’s also the high possibility that those unsubscribers are passersby who are truly not your ideal audience and they are likely not going to develop better interactions with you.
  • Unsubscribers serve to help you understand your audience better if you choose to explore the reasons why they quit your platform.
  • Just for the fact that someone chose to unsubscribe does not mean that you will have no future interaction with them or that they are not visiting your site now and again.
  • They may follow you on other social media platforms because that particular medium works better for them and who knows as time goes on they may end up subscribing to your updates once again.

In the online world, subscription is not a fixed term – as a matter of humour, it’s not a marriage or divorce and some couples have been known to separate, divorce and passionately come back together 😉

So, when a subscriber leaves in search of blogs more suited to their interest, focus on writing for the readers who wish to stay connected on your blog because these are the ones that help to drive the growth of your blog.

This is my opinion about subscribers and opting out, what’s yours? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.

Next time, we’ll talk about the approaches that you could start to regain subscribers. For more blog tips, check here.



Write What You Don’t Know – Essential Writers Tips

Writing What You Don’t Know

Writing What You Don't Know, Writing, Writers, Writing Tips, Research

Most times, a budding writer is advised explicitly or implicitly to ‘write what you know.’ I’m not sure which writing guru started selling this idea, but you know what, in my honest opinion, writing just what you know is the most stifling sort of encouragement that I can think of and here’s why I think so.

  • Writing what you know’ works, but if you are seeking to grow as a writer, you would find out soon enough that it’s self-limiting.
  • The biggest part of the fun in writing is making things up. Learning new things. Approaching an unknown terrain and finding the truth in the unknown.
  • Writing the unknown is not easy and comfortable, but it would challenge you. It could probably scare you and you may not even know where you are heading with the story, but the journey into the unknown is always worth it because it builds the backbone of the writer in you.

 

Pushing Your Boundaries

You may not know everything, but you do know a lot of things. Of course, it is essential to take inspiration where you can find it, however, your experiences should liberate your imagination and not restrict it.

Set your imagination loose. If your personal experience constrains a story to the point of it becoming lackluster, then you must emancipate your imagination and sharpen it. That’s your job as a writer to keep your imagination relevantly sharpened.

A lot of times, a writers discomfort stems from subjects about sexuality, race, gender or class. The writer feels ill-equipped to write on such subjects because they are not familiar, they don’t resemble him, so he automatically keeps to writing what he knows and sticks to safer grounds.

When a writer finds a subject intimidating, that’s precisely when the writer should explore it. Write what pushes your boundary. Write what fascinates you. Write what you can’t stop thinking about even if it’s not a safe subject.

Tips to help write what you don’t know

Organize your work

You need to devise an effective means of organizing the material that you get from your research. There are a lot of mediums and software programs such as Scrivener, yWrite, Bibisco, Plume creator, Manuskript used to organize information.

However, you need to choose and stick to one for your project in order not to waste unnecessary time switching back and forth. I have used Scrivener. It’s inexpensive and well supported by its makers.

Be Prepared to Dig Deeper

Don’t rely solely on online research. Plug into Amazon and get a list of relevant books. Look beyond your local library and check out University libraries. You may have to spend a bit to get some specific materials. Listen to local channels or international channels that talk about your interest, read, read and read some more. Check out documentaries relevant to your search and don’t shy away from contacting a publisher or writer directly to double-check information.

Research the source and background. 

Before spending valuable time or money on any material, take the time to research the author and the work on the Internet. Look out for reviews and abstracts of their work, check out their social media platforms Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or website. Your findings would help you decide well ahead of time if the author has the perspective that serves your purpose.

Take note of the little details

You are writing about Africa or India, but you need to know more than the books and articles that you are reading is telling you, use image searches on Google, on YouTube, documentaries and other sources you can lay your hands on. Magnify and freeze-frame the images where possible and study them carefully, the paths, roads, nature, etc. Take note of the date of these images and videos as well as all the publication that you refer to, to avoid attributing something to a period to which it does not belong.

Make your own contacts and tap into others

Google search for related clubs around you and contact them. Consider visiting the place and talk to people. Start asking questions even before you know what exactly you are narrowing down to. People love to talk and they’ll tell you things you could not have possibly imagined. People love talking about their lives, professions, passions and sometimes even their unique stories. This is a free medium that’s fun and offers firsthand unexpected results.




Become an online eavesdropper

Dig into personal blogs, online groups, organizations’ websites, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, etc. For a fiction writer, these are powerful resources, however, always cross check critical facts.

Ask for help from far and wide

Don’t restrict yourself to asking for research information from only people you know. Local tour companies and guides are a well of information about a particular place that you are writing about and you can write an email requesting information about the area or better still a phone call conversation could answer a puzzling question even as far as New Zealand.

In Conclusion

When you want to break out of a writing rut, remember to take a closer look at your past work. Are your characters typically the same? What of the plotlines, time periods and setting? Are they similar?

If you often find yourself writing about characters who are just like you with plotlines narrowed down to your experiences – though there’s nothing wrong with that –  open your mind to discover something new, fresh and fun.

You just might surprise yourself by pushing your pen beyond the edge.

Check here for more writing tips.

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