Thursday, September 20, 2012

For Writers: Email Presence

When I started searching for publishers a few years ago, there weren't many of them who mentioned having an online presence. I was always under the impression your publisher would help you with your professional presence and promotion when you were signed for publication. In the last few months of reading and research, more companies are requiring writers to have their own marketing plans and online presence; many requesting an established online presence.

Thankfully before this all came about, I jumped the gun and started with my web presence while I'm still penning my book and well before I even started editing. I figured that would be the easy thing to keep up on while I was writing and somehow someone would stumble upon it and think I was interesting enough to follow. I mean, how hard could it possibly be to create an online presence? That's easy! Put it out there and you're gold! Write a bunch of stuff in a blog, post on Twitter and you're set. Easy Peasy. That was before I started actually reading up on a decent web presence and the work it takes to actually keep it going.

A few of the recent articles I've found helpful are from the Undercover Recruiter page. While a lot of this is geared toward job searching, much of it also applies to writing. Since there's a lot of information, I'll probably do a series this week about everything I've gathered. I'm super excited! We talk about email signatures, photo tips, what kind of biography you should have (you should have three), your twitter profile updates and quite a bit about your personal brand.

I'd never thought about the importance of email signatures. As a matter of fact, I figured just my personal email would work just fine. According to the Undercover Recruiter, businesses require a strong email signature not only for those working, but those seeking employment. What are writers if not constantly seeking employment? Submitting manuscripts and queries is a job search. It also serves a double duty in case you forget to put something in your email.

In the article I read, the first thing they stress is a professional email. We get away with a little more since we're artists and not applying to be an executive at Macy's, but it does make sense not to have an email like deadlinemisser at yahoo when you're emailing a potential employer. Plus it would be hard to keep your business and personal email straight. For business, they recommend using your first and last name. Keep the silly names for personal use. They also mention making sure your first and last name are what the email is sent from in your email settings. Clarity seems to be best. I use my first and last name with "writes" after it since, for some reason, my first and last name were already taken. Strange but true.
For the signature proper, they suggest
  • Repeating your first and last name. If your query is long, repeating your  name isn't a bad idea, especially since repetition aids memory. The more times we see something, the more likely it is to stick in our brain candy.
  • Include your email and phone number. This would be okay as long as you weren't using that email to handle fan email as well. Fans can be crazy sometimes, even when you're not well known yet.
  • Website and Blog links. If you're showing a prospective agent or publisher you already have an established web presence, you're already on the way to piquing their interest. Those of us they can clearly see have a foot in the door are more likely given a shot.
  • LinkedIn and Twitter hyperlinked icons- Twitter I definitely agree with. LinkedIn, not so much, but that's a personal complaint with the site. I never use it, so I don't see a point in linking to it. If you do update it, go for it.
They recommend giving it a visual appeal with indents, fonts and other fancy word processing feats of strength. Just don't go too crazy. If your editor's eyes are burned out of the sockets by horrible fonts and colors, they can't very well read your manuscript.They also mention creating a tag line or a catch phrase of some sort. This seems cheesy to me, but in reading further into their tips about your personal brand, I think your personal brand statement might just be the ticket for this if you decide to throw it in there. It's like the little one line blub you put on a business card. Some quirky, quick phrase that sticks in people's mind.

When in doubt, it's best to follow my daddy's K.I.S.S. rule. Keep It Simple, Sweetheart.


Monday, September 10, 2012

For Writers: What's in a Prologue?

Now that I'm back from moving hell and actually at the point of just putting things away instead of clearing space to actually live in, I thought I would sit down and start writing again. Where I left off in that writing course was at a prologue. The original "first chapter" of my story should be a prologue. It includes too much information that should be given as flashbacks or remembrance or the like.

I started editing the prologue before the move. I did a rewrite from what I left in the cuts I did. Now I'm considering rewriting again and doing it from another character's prospective. The more I thought about it, the more I questioned it. Throwing up my finger in triumph I cried, "TO GOOGLE", startling my poor neighbor who was walking past my window.

I pulled up a result from Kirt Hickman in his blog and the advice there seems to fit what I'm trying to do.
An opening scene begins the story that you’re telling.  A prologue conveys something that the reader needs to know, but is distinctly separate from the story.  More specifically, one or both of the following should be true of your prologue:
  • The prologue should take place at a distinctly different point in time (usually before) the story, or
  • The prologue should be written from the point of view of a character whose viewpoint is not used again in the book.
The prologue I'm writing does, in fact, happen before the story and if I write it from this girl's viewpoint, she won't be used again as a viewpoint character later on. She'll be minorly involved in the story, but she won't be a viewpoint character. Writing from Rose's viewpoint will make the prologue more exciting and it will allow me to actually convey the pieces of story I want to tell without having to write through the MC's alien viewpoint at that point in the story. Right now it's just too vague because he doesn't think like we do. I'M bored and it's my story!

I'll post both prologues once I have them written and ask for your opinions.

Never really gets easier

Story time since it's on my mind and I wanted to share and ask a little extra patience.  May 20th. Mary and I are at a local garden shop...