Should a Writer Dream Big?

Writing is a discouraging profession. We’re constantly told not to get our hopes up. Getting published is as unlikely as winning the lottery. Then if we’re fortunate enough to be published, we’re reminded that most novels sell less than 1,000 copies. If we do sell more than that, we’re admonished to not quit our day job because very few writers ever make enough to support themselves.

Christian writers have is worse. If they dare to dream big, they’re told they are pursuing worldly success instead of keeping their eyes on God.

Yet Scripture tells to believe that nothing is impossible with God. So what are we to do? We should follow the same steps anyone would follow, writer or not, when God gives them a dream.

Dream Big: Don’t put limitations on God. If you knew that after hard work and perseverance you would succeed, what dreams would you pursue? What dreams has God placed in your heart that are God sized? Every dream will be different. One person’s dream may be for one person to be touched by his writing that nobody else can reach. Another might be reaching for publication. Still another person might be looking for a career in writing that we’ll enable her to quit her day job. No dream is wrong when God is the one who put the desire there. Pray about it and make sure it’s God. But if He placed the desire there, run with it.

Psalm 37:4-5 Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lord, Trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.

Write Down Your Dreams & Visions: After you’ve decided what your God given desires are, write them down. Keep the list somewhere that you can refer to often like the refrigerator. Then work toward those dreams. Do your part so God can do His.

Habakkuk 2:2-3 Then the Lord answered me and said: “Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time; But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; Because it will surely come, It will not tarry.

Do Your Part: God is the One responsible for fulfilling His promises, but you need to do your part. Obey God even when it seems like you’re going in the wrong direction. Work hard to learn your craft and to write what God has given you. No matter how many rejections you get, Don’t Quit! Most agents and publishers admit successful authors aren’t the best writers, they’re the ones who never quit. Do your part, and God will open the doors.

Revelation 3:7 … When I open a door, no one can close it. And when I close a door, no one can open it.

Remember the Results are in God’s Hands: Once you’ve done all you can do, it is no longer your responsibility. Don’t strive to do what only God can do. Our hope is not in the dream God gave us. Our hope is in God. Trust in Him to guide your paths to the place He wants you to be. Whatever happens, God is more than enough.

Proverbs 3:5-6  Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.

Putting God in our Writing

by Carole Brownquestion-mark2 free

As an inspirational writer and author, I had to come to the decision whether I would include God in my books?

  • Should I have heavy scenes with definite doses of conviction on the sinner and salvation transformations?
  • Should I go easy with the above things and hint at or subtly include all things pertaining to God?
  • Should I stick with “clean” writing that shows improvement in my characters?

With these three choices that I narrowed down (for me), I compromised.  I chose to go with light or no mentions of God. Does that sound like I went too far “left” in my choice? Let me explain:

 In my Denton and Alex Davies series, I stick with improvements in my characters. I might mention church or meal prayers, but for the most part, I try to show a positive change in couples or people in this series. I like the subplot to focus on the love (relationship) between couples.

  • In the first book (Hog Insane), the two protagonists, who are married and avid mystery book lovers as well as amateur detectives, learned that give and take is one of the best things in a marriage. 
  • In the second book (Bat Crazy), one of the secondary characters had to realize where her loyalties really lay.
  • In the upcoming third one (Daffy’s Duck), I hope to show a distrustful relationship that has greatly improved by listening. 

Now in my WWII series, my Appleton, WV series and my debut, stand alone book, the God scenes are more real. I like to show acknowledgement that characters see the need of reaching out to God for help. These are light scenes, but there, and, hopefully, real to the reader. 

It was a slow process and one that I battled through writing my first few books, but I finally felt peace over how and how much to bring God into my books, when I decided to go with this decision.

Woman looking at large book

Woman looking at doorway in large book

Will I ever go with the more serious, strong God scenes? Probably not. And, no I’m not ashamed of my God. But I want to reach people who will put up with “some” God in my books and also encourage Christians to read and enjoy my books.

 

Will I ever go with clean, but no God mentions? Maybe. Time will tell on this one. I will definitely have to know the story will hold up for a valuable lesson to do so.

What’s your thought on bringing God into your book? Yes. or No?

Happy Reading!

Overwhelmed…Again!

by Carole BrownBurnout2 free

Once again I’ve allowed too many things to gather in one week than is healthy for me physically and mentally, and probably spiritually too.

This week has been stressful to say the least.  Grandson care, writing, appointments, therapy, driving, housework and all that goes with that, battle with faulty internet, inability to get satisfaction with a book cover, events that were scheduled but not necessary for us to attend although hubby and I felt “obligated” for various reasons.

Does every writer take on more than they can handle, or is it just me? I think not. Once again I have to sit down and figure out how to de-stress my life, and I’d like to share that with you today. Unless you’re a permanently organized individual, you might find these ideas helpful. I’m going to:

  1. First I need to sit down and study my upcoming weekly schedules and check off everything that positively needs to stay on my to-do list. These are very important things that should not be put off: a doctor’s appointment for hubby that I want to share with him. An Essential oil meeting that is important to me for various reasons, including my health regards. A promotion evening that is important in marketing my writing. Church, of course. These items are the basic things I know I have to keep.
  2. There were two events going on today that hubby and I felt pressured to attend–not that it was necessary to do so, but by “guilt words” from others. To say the least, we were stressed, and after we’d headed down the road, hubby said, basically: “That’s it. We’re not going to either.” And we didn’t. But we did make a detour for a few minutes alone to have breakfast together. Something we haven’t had time to do for awhile. Reminder, stop scheduling events that are unnecessary for ME.
  3. Writer (Me!), stop allowing unimportant life stuff drain the energy and inspiration from my being. Find the perfect time to write, and get something down. Stop allowing distractions to hinder my writing time. Figure out my best writing time and do my best to stick with it.
  4. prayer freeFor me, I have to take the time to replenish my soul with prayers and reading God’s word and good devotionals. When my soul is at peace, then it’s so much easier to handle all the rest of life.

 

 

Keep life as simple as possible. I KNOW who and what are important to me, so focus on those things and people, and stop being pushed into thingsdog free I have zero interest in. Take breaks. Sit on the porch. Read a book I love. Do nothing but stare at the leaves and sky. Whisper after dark with the one you love whether person or pet. Call someone you’ve neglected. Take a walk by yourself or with a friend or someone else. Do something you really enjoy at least once a week. Plan a vacation: short or long, close by or far away. Smile. Love. Pray. Relax.

I need to remember to stay on track. Only then will I have fewer weeks like this past one. 

Do you have weeks that are desperately hard to get through? What’s your go-to help to prevent the overwhelming?

Wishing you all a great week!

One Thing Every Writer Needs

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

Habakkuk 2:3 For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay.

A Christian Writing Site asked the question, “What do you feel is the most difficult aspect of writing?” Although writers answer this question in different way, I believe the most difficult and most important virtue a writer needs is patience. Patience is what makes or breaks a writer. The writing process take years to learn, and if you go the traditional route, the publishing business is so slow, that grass grows faster.

Perfecting Your Writing: The best authors have applied years of patience to perfect their writing. Editing is an ongoing process for a successful writer, and most writers I know have critique groups or editors to help them improve. Studying writing books and blogs and similar books to yours are also important steps writers in a hurry may miss. If you’re going the traditional route, publishable novels and unpublishable novels sometimes only have a fractional difference in quality accomplished by years of perfecting. If you go the self-published route, don’t make the mistake many make of publishing before you are ready. It’s easy to believe you’re ready before you are. The truth is you don’t know what you don’t know. If you’re unsure whether you are ready to be published, have a published author read you book and ask that author to be brutally honest, or enter it into a writing contest. Whichever route you take, authors who have gone through the process of perfecting their writing before being published are the ones who “make” it in the business.

Write More Books: Some writers spend so much time trying to get their first book published, that they never write any other books. They lack the patience needed to start the next book and the next until something happens. A friend of mine wrote seven novels while waiting for a contract. After she was published, they wanted everything she had written. The average traditionally published author writes 3-7 manuscripts before one is accepted. If you self-publish, consider writing a number of books before publishing the first one. Writing more than one books gives valuable experiance and helps you perfect your skill. Another advantage is that agents and publishers like to sign authors who have written more than one book. It shows the author is serious about his career and his craft.

Right Agent/Publisher: If you haven’t given up yet, you’ll earn your patience stripes trying to find the the right agent or publisher – a very slow process. There’s a lot of work involved in this. You have to learn how to write a good proposal and query and research agents taking your type of book. And timing is everything. Many times, it will take three to six months to receive a reply from an agent. And if that reply is no, you have to start all over again. You know you’re making progress when you receive letters from the agent telling you why she didn’t accept it instead of the standard form letter. Then when you do find the right agent, or if you decide to forget the agent and try small publishing companies that accept submissions, you have to wait until you or the agent finds the right publisher. Sometimes, the agent’s contacts won’t work for you, and you’ll have to find another agent.

If an agent or you find a publisher to look at your manuscript, first the publisher will want a full read. You might be elated about this, but pace yourself. Aquisition editors at publishing companies are even slower than agents. Once the editor reads it, she might suggest changes instead of accepting or rejecting the manuscript immediately. Even if she does accept it, in many cases, it will go to committee and might be rejected there because they already have a similar novel or because that type of novel isn’t selling that year. Again timing is everything.

After the First Book is Published: You may think you have it made when your first book is published, but there’s still work that requires patience. Traditional publishers take up to two years to publish a book. Then they expect you to do most of the marketing. Marketing is also a skill that takes time to learn. With each book, you’ll gain more information about what works and what doesn’t. If also takes time to build a fan base. All these require fortitude and constant attention. Once you have this down, your next book might be a flop, and you’ll have to start all over again.

Many give up before all of that happens, but those who wait will reap the reward of becoming a successfully published author.

Do Book Promotions Really Work? Part II

by Carole Brownbook

Yes!

There are two ways to look at promoting books.

  • Discoverability
  • Sales

Both are valuable. Both are necessary to progress as a writer. Only you, as a writer, can determine which you’ll need/want at different times in your promotional periods.

Best ideas to gaining readers and buyers:

  • Capture readers’ attention with your blog posts. Quirky, Eye-catching titles, opening sentences/paragraphs, follow-through information guarantees interest. Some of my posts has experienced the attention, and I do believe the titles have much to do with it. If I follow through with the rest it cinches the interest.
  • Spark interest w/attention-grabbing memes and videos. Nowadays, the attention span of readers wanders if they hit boring information. BUT they love these visual instruments that are well developed and interesting. That draws the eyes. 
  • Well targeted and planned ads that inform and engage with as wide an audience as possible. Always study what marketers are saying. Study others ads. Are they doing well? Sometimes it’s necessary to experiment. Don’t get discouraged if your first one fails to deliver outstanding sales. There’s a learning curve so keep at it until you’ve hit on the right way, the right place, and the best way to ad for YOU.

I want to say here: some will say they have no money for advertising. That’s okay. I’ve been there. But I’ve also learned that if I can’t catch the fish (so to speak) in one way, then I’m determined to do what I CAN do. Remember YOU and your book needs to be discoverable.

  1. Join writing groups. No I don’t participate all the time, and sometimes no time. But they can be valuable to keep your name and your books in front of readers’ eyes. Don’t scorn at the thought. Being discoverable is very important to your books sale-ability.
  2. Participate in Facebook author parties. I’ve been on at least two so far this year and planning one more this month with six other author friends to promote my WWII Spies series book one: With Music in Their Hearts. Remember, you don’t always have to giveaway tons of books. Other items that pertain to your book are fabulous gifts that readers love. For With Music in Their Hearts’ first promotion, I used an older “diamond” studded pin, puzzles, sweetheart chests, etc. as gifts. I had a lot of people attend and lots of interest going around! Also, plan ahead what you’re going to say. I like to have a prepared document w/many items ready to copy and paste. Toward the end share your social and book information too.
  3. website freeOn your blog, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc., share tidbits of your book, your progress in writing it, why you wrote it, a recipe or pattern or something else that will catch attention. Offer small rewards off and on. Don’t throw “buy my book” comments outward too often. Let them get a feel of your book, show them what they’re missing, and they won’t be able to resist! 

More on how to make your books discoverable on the next point. 

  • Invest the time in making your books discoverable on book retailer sites. Play around with keywords, descriptions and price for your books on Amazon and other retail sites. What words are used with other books in your genre? What makes them stand out? Make sure you have a beautiful (and I don’t mean just romantically) and interesting cover. That’s the first thing readers will see. Some check the back covers to read the book blurb. Write the best you can, get help, critics to look over yours before it goes to print. The first chapter needs to draw in your reader, so hone that baby till it’s as perfect as you can make it. Add videos. Encourage people to follow you so they will be notified when you have a new book out. 
  • Invest money in online promotion. (Again, even inexpensive ones give you some exposure).  
  1. Keep track of what works for you and what doesn’t, and remember, that sometimes you might have to try a certain promotion or ad more than once to see results or realize it’s not working at this time. 
  2. Hopefully, before your book’s published, you will be a member of your chosennewsletter free social media sites. Start your newsletter, decide how often you’ll put it out, and even though your book may not be out yet, give subscribers a glimpse of your writing life, how the writing is going, tidbits of your book, and when the cover is ready, a preview of it. Ask for opinions, offer rewards for being a subscriber, and encourage them to stay with you by keeping them up-to-date on your progress.
  3. Find what avenues of advertising that you can afford and use as many as you can. I suggest once a month do something special for your book, or if you have many, alternate between books. It’s ALWAYS profitable! In different ways, but still profitable. 
  4. Study and keep track of what others use as promotional means. Sometimes, many of them will offer promotions at a discount. Even if you can’t use it now, and it’s allowed, sign up and plan on the date when you can use it. Good author stewardship.

Okay, Now I’m going to share a few places I’ve used and maybe a very few I haven’t tried yet, but plan to in the future. Remember, it’s not always easy to get accepted into their promotional services, so follow their rules and be as pliable as you can. Here goes:

  1. Bookbub. Yes, it’s VERY expensive. Most writers I’ve heard, say they get their investment back and profit from it, lots of downloads, and good results. But do your homework. Realize the costs. Calculate all you need to do to try to get accepted by Bookbub.
  2. Ryan Zee. I definitely plan to use this soon.
  3. ENT. That’s E-Reader News Today. They are great and considerably cheaper. But, again, you don’t always get accepted. 
  4. Ask David is a Twitter service that’s fairly cheap, but seems to produce good results. Check it out.
  5. I’ve heard good things about Book Funnel, but haven’t tried them or even checked them out yet.
  6. Amazon ads and promotion. Supposedly a good thing. Again, I haven’t used them yet, but plan to in the near future as soon as I have time.
  7. Keiki Hendrix (Vessel Project), Paige Boggs (google) and Celebrate Lit (Check out Facebook) are good avenues to use for advertising and promotions. 
  8. Free Kindle Books and Tips (Michael Gallagher) is a good one to try. He has some requirements so check them out.
  9. Books Butterfly, Books Daily (but keep your eye on it to make sure it’s what you want and that you realize additional costs for extra items), Robin Reads. There are tons more, some that give more results. 
  10. Don’t ignore your fellow writers. They can be valuable sources of spreading the word about your book(s). Interviews, blog posts, and simple promotional times help. Endorsements from those YOU’ve helped give an extra touch of sale-ability to them too.

I’vbook notes lists etce done a lot of promoting and studying on the different methods of promoting and haven’t touched some avenues yet. I’ve mentioned only a small portion of possibilities. I’ve tried to keep lists of every method I’ve heard of. It’s a good way to pick and choose what you want to try. You’ll soon find what works best for you and your books.

Do Book Promotions work? Yes,

Why? Because once you have these ideas set up, you can count on them to work 24/7 for you, without you doing much else.

Happy Promoting!

Do Book Promotions Really Work? Part I

by Carole Brownconfused frog free

Yes.

No.

It depends. What I mean is, it’s how you go about it. Today I want to post I few ways that promotions will NOT work.

For instance,

 

 

  • You share a post on Facebook about your ailing dog who needs surgery. You ask dog freeeveryone to buy your books this weekend so that you might use the money for your pet’s upcoming surgery expenses. More than likely, you will sell few or no books. Although your friends and acquaintances may sympathize with your poor pet and your feelings, it won’t be enough. Or…

 

no thanks free

  • Pasting one or more Facebook messages on others’ (especially those you scarcely, or not at all, know) personal pages about your book. No! That page is for friends and others to fellowship and share, not to try to sell your book. It’s a sure way to “turn off” any sales, and very likely will get you blocked–or worse. 

 

  • Unwilling to pay for any or all help, ignoring or downplaying other, more money freeexperienced authors advice or suggestions, especially with the attitude that you have no time for all that malarkey or that you know what is best for your book, etc, etc. Sometimes it IS necessary to spend money to get the best promotion, to study from others who’ve been at the business longer about the right approaches, the right tools to use, so be prepared and humble enough to do it. Don’t believe or go into book marketing expecting it all to be free or simple or that you have all the answers. No one person has!

 

buy icon free

  • This one particularly irks me: following someone, then receiving an immediate reply of “buy my book.” No, thank you. I don’t know you, don’t know your genre, don’t know how you write, if you can write, etc. This is a sure-fire way to get me to ignore you right now, and possibly in the future, depending how often I get such messages from you, delete you from that social network friendship status. 

To recap:

  1. Don’t try to sell your book by begging and asking for sympathy “buys.”
  2. Don’t forget your manners on social media
  3. Stay humble and consider advice
  4. Don’t be pushy with new friends.

Have you seen particular habits that irk you with certain authors? What is your least favorite?

Next month I’ll touch on a few absolute best ways to gain readers and sales for your book. 

Happy Writing!

 

Guest Author Donna Schlachter – 3 Keys to Unlocking the Doors to Getting Published

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

Today, I want to welcome author Donna Schlachter to Word Sharpeners.  Donna lives in Denver with husband Patrick, her first-line editor and biggest fan. She writes historical suspense under her own name, and contemporary suspense under her alter ego of Leeann Betts. She is a hybrid publisher who has published a number of books under her pen name and  under her own name. Her current release, Echoes of the Heart, a 9-in-1 novella collection titled “Pony Express Romance Collection” released April 1. Donna is also a ghostwriter and editor of fiction and non-fiction, and judges in a number of writing contests. She will be teaching an online course for American Christian Fiction Writers in June 2017, “Don’t let your subplots sink your story”. Donna loves history and research, and travels extensively for both.

3 Keys to Unlocking the Doors to Getting Published

By Donna Schlachter

Do you sometimes feel, in trying to get your book published, that you’re rattling at one locked door after another? Perhaps you’re struggling to find an agent, or maybe you’ve been submitting directly to publishers and gotten nothing except rejections. Or worse, silence.

It’s okay. We’ve all been there. Some of us are still there. And we understand that while we trust God to open doors that nobody else can close, and to close doors that we aren’t to go through, we also know that when the door is open, we have to walk through. God won’t drag us kicking and screaming. He’s too much of a gentleman for that.

So what are we to do? Following are three things to focus on as you go through this process of unlocking the doors to publication:

  1. Pray. Seriously. Seek the Lord as to His direction for you. Perhaps He has a better plan for you right now. Maybe He’s holding back on publication because He knows that’s not the best thing for you. I believe He delayed my publication path because He knew that I am an all-or-nothing kind of person: if I got a contract, life in our household would have to stop while I pursued and completed that project. And He had more important things for us to do during that time, including leadership in an international ministry.
  2. Pause. If you’re anything like me, publication has been a main focus for your books, and anything else is second-best. I had to take a step back and ask myself why I wanted to publish a book. Was it to see my name on the cover? To show somebody I had what it took to be a writer? For fame and money? My first book, a devotional, was done as a work-for-hire project and my name wasn’t on the cover. It was in teensy-weensy little print on the inside. Talk about humbling. But this experience made me step back and ask why I wanted to publish. Which brings me to number three.
  3. Praise. Yes, you read that right. Praise God for the gift He’s given you to string together words into stories that touch lives. Praise Him that He is writing the most important story in you right now, long before the written word gets on to the page. Praise Him that He would choose you to be the first person to hear this story. And Praise Him for using you to reach a lost world.

I truly believe that when we put our writing in the proper place in our lives—never above God, never above our spouse or family—then He will honor this calling to write and will reward our obedience. Your publishing path might be traditional or independent; it might be paper or digital; it might be full-time or part-time, but the important thing is that your path leads you—and others—to know more intimately the God of Words. He is the Word, and He has placed that Word in you to give to others.

So go ahead, unlock some doors. You have the keys you need.

You can find Donna online at these locations:

Echoes of the Heart

A mail order bride who isn’t who she says she is; a crippled station master who believes no woman would want him. Can they find love on the Pony Express, or are they doomed to being alone forever?

The Pony Express Romance Collection

9 novellas in 1 tell the tale of love, romance, and deep longings set along the Pony Express trail. Can our heroines find the love they are looking for? Or will the Wild West keep them from their deepest desire?