Wednesday, February 21, 2018

How to Become an Author in Today's Publishing World: P. 1 – Setting the Foundation

An author’s role in the publishing world has changed drastically from what it used to be. Decades ago, the average fiction author had almost zero contact with their readership—other than the fan letters they’d receive in the mail. Authors weren’t expected to understand marketing; their publishers handled it for them. In attempt to land a deal with a literary agent, it wasn’t required that the fiction author already have an established platform. That platform could come after the book was published.

Now, though, authors are expected to wear more than just the writing hat. Most publishers expect to see at least somewhat of an established platform for fiction authors. Oh, and let’s not forget about marketing! Aspiring authors should know what it takes to promote their book once it becomes a published product.

Other factors that play into the probability of landing an agent include: placing in contests, attending writing conferences, publishing articles, etc.

It’s no wonder so many aspiring authors are scared away from moving forward in their publication dreams!

However, it’s not impossible to break into the industry—even if you’re a writer with zero experience and zero platform. The process isn’t as intimidating as it seems. And yes, it can be tackled when it’s broken down into bite-sized pieces.

So, how can an aspiring author go from virtually a “nobody” in the publishing world and stand out in the pile of submissions on an agent’s desk?

In this series, I’m going to walk you through how to become an author in today’s publishing world by presenting the process in achievable steps. That way, you can map out the journey that will lead you to Destination Publication. ;)

Today, I’m going to start by explaining how an aspiring author can begin their journey. What can writers do to set the foundation for their writing dreams?

1 - Write. This one should go without saying. Make it a priority to finish your book and write it to the best of your ability.

What this looks like: Schedule writing sessions into your weekly/daily routine. Create goals, if necessary, to prevent procrastination. The best way to learn how to write a book comes through experience. Once it’s written, find critique partners who can provide valuable feedback, then consider hiring a freelance editor. (Shameless plug: I recently launched a critique service for writers! Click here for details.)

Posts that might help:

  • How to Finish Your Book This Year by Creating Writing Goals
  • 10 Ways to Defeat Writer's Block During NaNoWriMo 
  • 5 Must-Haves for the Writer Struggling to Focus

  • 2 - Research. Research the craft of writing, the publication process, and stay updated on the publishing industry.

    What this looks like: Attend writing conference. Enroll in writing courses. (Check out Serious Writers Academy, Young Writers Workshop, and Write Now.) Subscribe to Publishers Weekly. Stay updated on writing and publishing blogs such as this one. ;) Understand how a book is published. You’ll want to research the writing craft, how to build a platform, and how to market a book.

    Posts that might help:

    3 – Read. When you’re not writing, read books in the genre you’d like to write.

    What this looks like: Carve out time every day/week to catch up on your TBR pile. Read the bestsellers in your genre so you can stay updated on what’s trending and become familiar with genre expectations.

    Posts that might help:

    4 – Connect. Connections will take you far in this industry.

    What this looks like: Find a local writer’s group to join. Attend a writing conference and pass out business cards. Interact with other writers on social media. Join private FB groups for writers.

    Posts that might help:

    5 – Establish your platform and brand. No, it’s never too early to attract a potential readership!

    What this looks like: Set up your social media accounts and decide which ones you’d like to remain active on. Then, create a scheduling plan. As you do this, keep your brand in mind. How do you want to be viewed in the industry? Who is your audience, and where can you find them?

    Posts that might help:

    6 – Gain credentials. In your future book proposal, you’ll need to create a list of writing credentials. Begin building that list now.

    What this looks like: Purchase the latest copy of Christian Writers Market Guide or Writer’s Market Guide and submit articles for publication. (Not only will these publishing credits look impressive on your proposal, it’ll also bring more exposure to you as well—thus increasing your platform.) Enter contests. Enroll in writing courses. (Again, check out SeriousWritersAcademy.comYoung Writers Workshop, and Write Now..)

    Posts that might help:

    Summary: Being a published author doesn’t happen overnight. Even though the process is no longer as simple as writing a good book and sending it off on submission, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming, either. The key is to approach the journey step-by-step. Step one? Build a foundation.

    Then, once the foundation is built, it’ll be time to launch forward and seek publication. We’ll discuss that in next week’s post.

    ~ ~ ~

    What’s your favorite and least favorite step on this list? How do you approach the writer’s journey? What questions do you have that you’d like me to answer in the next posts?


    How to Become an Author in Today's Publishing World: P. 1 – Setting the Foundation @TessaEmilyHall #writerslife #publishing

    Wednesday, February 7, 2018

    10 Entrepreneur Quotes to Motivate and Inspire Writers

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    I've always been inspired by success stories from famous entrepreneurs--Jobs, Disney, Hershey, George Washington Carver, etc. It's amazing how these men had a passion, a dream, and were determined to press forward, despite the obstacles. 

    Aspiring authors can learn a lot from successful entrepreneurs. Just as the path toward launching a business is not an easy route, the path toward publication is often long and filled with discouragement. As we strive to achieve our dreams, let's learn to mimic the traits that successful entrepreneurs possessed, such as ... ambition. Drive. Passion. Perseverance. Discipline. And patience. 

    I've gathered entrepreneur quotes that will hopefully inspire and motivate you to develop these very traits. If there's one in particular that inspires you, I recommend writing it down on a sticky note at your computer; that way, you'll have a constant reminder to keep going.  

    Here are 10 entrepreneur quotes to motivate and inspire writers:

    “I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.” 
    Steve Jobs

    “The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short, but in setting our aim too low and achieving our mark.” 

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    "Don’t judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant." 
    Robert Louis Stevenson 

    “Done is better than perfect.”
    Sheryl Sandberg

    “A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new.” 
    Albert Einstein

    "If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced."
    Vincent Van Gogh

    “The price of inaction is far greater than then cost of a mistake.” 
    Meg Whitman

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    "I would rather die of passion than of boredom." 
    Vincent van Gogh

    “Waiting for perfect is never as smart as making progress.” 
    Seth Godin

    "All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them."
    Walt Disney 

    ~ ~ ~ 

    What's your favorite quote on this list? Are there any that you'd like to add?


    10 Entrepreneur Quotes to #Motivate and #Inspire Writers @TessaEmilyHall #writerslife

    "I would rather die of passion than of boredom." 
    Vincent van Gogh @TessaEmilyHall #writerslife #motivational

    Wednesday, January 31, 2018

    Quick Tips: How to Brainstorm & Research the Setting For Your Novel

    The setting of a story should be treated with much attention as if it were a character in itself. Think of your favorite book--how would the plot differ if it were set in snowy mountains? Or in a dry desert? When a writer accurately portrays a believable setting for their novel, the reader becomes sucked into the story. This should be done in a way so that the story would not be the same if it were set in another location.

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    For example: The setting is a crucial element in the movie The Titanic. It would be impossible to set that story in another location; the entire plot would unravel. People fall in love with books that present well-developed settings and story worlds. What would The Chronicles of Narnia be without Narnia? Or Anne of Green Gables without Green Gables? This is why us writers should never rush the process of brainstorming a setting.

    So, when choosing a setting, ask yourself...

    • What is the mood and theme of this story? What kind of setting—a small town, big city, another planet, etc.—would best portray this?
    • How will the setting affect the plot of the story?
    • Will I use a real location or invent one?
    • What places—including my hometown—am I familiar with? Out of those, which one am I most passionate about?
    • How can I weave symbolism into this setting?
    • How does the setting influence who my protagonist is and what is his/her attitude toward this location?

    Then, once you have chosen your setting, it's time to collect as much information as you can about this place--even if you've invented it. You should know it just as well as your characters do.  

    Here's how you can research your setting: 

    • Take a research trip (if feasible).
    • Watch YouTube videos. Many times, people will give a “virtual tour” of a certain place. As you watch, pay close attention to the sights and sounds.
    • Research the location and its history through various online resources. (Keep in mind, however, that some websites, such as Wikipedia, may not provide 100% accurate information.)
    • Read books about the location, including memoirs.
    • Read the online newspaper of the location.
    • Find pictures via Pinterest. (Make sure to pin them to your storyboard as well!)
    • Interview people who have a connection to the location.
    • Research the city through This website allows you to explore a location and discover its amenities, housing and neighborhoods, population, economics, crime, weather, etc. It will even compare these results with another location as well.
    • Take advantage of Google Earth and its street view feature.

    When researching (or inventing!) your setting, take note of the following:

    • What unique elements can contribute toward the personality of my setting? Have you chosen/invented a town that is popular for its rolling hills? Are there willow trees that form a canopy over a certain street? Farm animals held behind fences? (Cough ... Unwritten Melody reference.) ;) 
    • How do the locals speak? What is their dialect and popular slang?
    • Where is the place located geographically?
    • What is the climate in every season?
    • What is the history of the location, and how has it shaped the setting into what it is today?
    • What is the most popular religion? (For instance, have you chosen a town that's located in the Bible belt of the US?)
    • What are the socioeconomics?
    • What is the atmosphere? Is it a laid back town in the south, where people are accustomed to a slow-paced lifestyle--or does it take place within the hustle and bustle of NYC?
    • What is the popular fashion and hairstyles?
    • Where do people shop for food, coffee, groceries, clothes, ice cream, etc.?
    • What are the significant landmarks and parks?
    • Where do the teenagers hangout?
    • What kind of animals can be found in the location? Plants? Insects?
    • If it’s a small town, what big city is it located near?
    • What are the popular street names?


    The setting of a story should be treated as if it were another character, so make sure to research it beforehand. 

    Then, when you begin to write, highlight on the specific details that will breathe life into your setting. However, make sure that this is presented through the eyes of your POV (Point of View) character. 

    Through proper developing and portraying your setting, you will give your readers the opportunity to become transported into the story’s location . . . and they’ll never once have to leave the comfort of their own home. ;) 

    ~ ~ ~ 

    What's your favorite way to brainstorm and research the setting for your books? 


    Quick Tips: How to Brainstorm & Research the Setting For Your Novel @TessaEmilyHall #amwriting #writingtips

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