Posts Tagged ‘writing tips’

Author Forum: How Do You Choose a Book Title?

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This is the fifth of a multi-part series by guest blogger Ivy Cheng tapping into the expertise of several seasoned Ambassador authors. The first post offered tips on dealing with writer’s block. The second post covered the influence other writers can have on your work, the third discussed managing a writing schedule within a busy life and last week’s post provided insight into starting a book project.

Although we always say never judge a book by its cover, it cannot be denied that first impressions are important. When you pick up a book, the first thing you see is a book’s title and cover. It is important to find a title that grabs the reader’s attention, makes an impact, and also reflect the book itself. That is a lot of expectations heaped on just a few words.

 

Juana M9781620202913-e1414700233650ikels – Author of Choosing Him All Over Again 

I was so honored to be a guest on Elisabeth Elliot’s radio program in 1997. We had begun a writing correspondence and she mentored me through her letters. She asked me to come on her program and tell our story. After we finished taping 3 days worth of programs, she said, “Juana, you know you are going to have to write a book. Call it, “Don’t Dump Him.” I was so busy with 4 young children, and my fourth child was born totally blind and partially deaf. Twelve years went by as I was a dyed-in-the-wool stay-at-home-mother and found motherhood absolutely a calling and delightful (nothing will ever surpass it, no book—no accomplishment—nothing. I left a six-figure income with Xerox in sales to teach my children at home. When we stopped home-schooling after 13 years, I began the manuscript entitling it, you guessed it, “Don’t Dump Him.” After I was blessed with an agent, we still kept the title the same as she shopped for publishers. We decided to reverse the title to make it a more positive statement flipping it to, “Choosing Him All Over Again.”  I’m glad we offer that alternative title, and in the end my publisher chose it. That honored my husband too, for he never liked, “Don’t Dump Him!”

 

From Driftwood to SapphireKathy Howard – Author of From Dishes to Snow and From Driftwood to Sapphire

That’s funny you should ask, because I have no process. Though they are not all published yet, by God’s goodness, I have written three books. All three were different when it came to finding a title. From Dishes to Snow was originally titled ‘The Little Red House,’ but that didn’t pop. Not until I was reworking a scene at the end of the book and the words just came out, did I realize that those words needed to be on the front cover as well. From Driftwood to Sapphire’s title came in the middle of writing it. I knew I wanted the sequel to have the same type of title, so I intentionally thought of driftwood and sapphire and did my best to work it into the story. The third novel’s title came before the first word was typed. Since it has not yet been published, I’ll keep its name a mystery for now. 😉 So, the process for creating a title? For me, there is none. The title shows up on its own time table.

Grace in the Middle

Wendy Duke – Author of Grace in the Middle

Choosing a title is definitely tricky.  I wanted the title to convey the message of the story, but also connect a stranger  to the story when he / she picks it up off of a shelf in a bookstore. I’m drawn to bold titles, lyrical titles, and memorable titles.  You want people to remember the name of the book when they talk about it or share it with others. And the title and cover have to tie so closely together; a strong or intriguing title with a cover equally as strong and intriguing is a powerful draw.

 

An9781620202692-197x306drea Rodgers –Author of The 20th Christmas

I always find that coming up with a title is one of the hardest parts of writing a book, what was your process for creating a title?

I really have no one to credit for my titles except God! Every other title I’ve come up with in my life was a struggle (and really terrible titles, haha), but The 20th Christmas were the words I saw when I opened my eyes after having the dream. A similar situation happened with Caged Dove–I was walking around my house with the laundry basket and that title just came to me. When I looked up Scripture about doves, I had chills–Psalm 55:6 fits my book to a T. I knew there was no better way to begin Caged Dove than with that Bible verse!

 

 

 

Are you ready to start writing your own book? Go and comment on our Facebook page and tell us all about it!

 

Author Forum: How Do You Start Writing a Book?

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This is the fourth of a multi-part series by guest blogger Ivy Cheng tapping into the expertise of several seasoned Ambassador authors. The first post offered tips on dealing with writer’s block. The second post covered the influence other writers can have on your work and the third discussed managing a writing schedule within a busy life.

I once had a friend who told me “everyone has a story, but not all of them can write it.” I think this is a very true statement. Everyone is unique in their own way, and everyone has a story to tell. However, not everyone has the time, patience, or skill to write their story. The ability to write an entire book requires intense devotion. It is a daunting task to sit in front of a blank screen and start writing a book. And so, we ask some of our authors what was the spark that made them write those first few words.

 

Juana M9781620202913-e1414700233650ikels – Author of Choosing Him All Over Again 

The short answer is it was a call from God. By that I mean, that I knew to write it was to be obedient to what He wanted me to do. Knowing that it was God’s will for my life with my husband’s full blessing gave me strength and endurance when the going got rough—and it did get rough. It took me a year and half to write the rough draft, another year and a half to get a Christian agent, then another two years to get a Christian publisher, and finally one year before I held the book in my hand. When the book finally arrived, I will never forget my husband’s prayer with me. We held the book in our hands, and he prayed that if one person could be brought closer to Christ or have a stronger marriage—just one person more complete in all the will of God—it would be worth it. So beautiful to hear the man that I left all those years ago to pray over Choosing Him All Over Again.

From Driftwood to SapphireKathy Howard – Author of From Dishes to Snow and From Driftwood to Sapphire

From Dishes to Snow was written after we decided to homeschool our girls. I wanted to do something that would share Jesus and hopefully make enough money to pay for the kids’ curriculum. I prayed over every writing day, never knowing what the characters would do or say. I had no idea what the plot would be, only that I wanted to use my family’s mountain house as the setting. As a child, I remember hiking, daydreaming about different stories involving our precious mountain. In 2013/2014, I was given the chance to daydream again, only this time, others were privy to those dreams as the story came alive on paper.

Grace in the Middle

Wendy Duke – Author of Grace in the Middle

Encouragement from other people motivated me highly, but I also just had a deep conviction that our story of pain and struggle could help someone else in their own difficult circumstances. I had flashbacks of sitting in doctors’ waiting rooms, alone and scared, and decided to write our story to help encourage people in the same shoes. This has been my greatest desire for this book: to help struggling families deal with the difficulties of having a child with an illness or other traumatic circumstances. King Solomon said our words have the power of life and death, and I wanted to use mine to speak life over people who need to hear life and light and hope.

 

 

An9781620202692-197x306drea Rodgers –Author of The 20th Christmas

My first book, The 20th Christmas, came to me in a dream. I’ve been writing stories since childhood and that had never happened to me before–but I started scribbling down what I remembered and a month later the manuscript was completed! My next book, Cage The Dove (coming this fall), was inspired by real-life events that I went through in junior high, so the story idea has been on my mind for over two decades. God gave me too many signs for me to put it off any longer.

Are you ready to start writing your own book? Go and comment on our Facebook page and tell us all about it!

 

Author Forum: How Do You Manage Your Writing Schedule?

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This is the third of a multi-part series by guest blogger Ivy Cheng tapping into the expertise of several seasoned Ambassador authors. The first post offered tips on dealing with writer’s block. The second post covered the influence other writers can have on your work.

As a college student, I know all too well the struggles of time management. Juggling an internship, part-time job, classes, and still trying to find time to see friends seems like an impossible task. I cannot even imagine trying to find the time to write a full length book, when I am struggling to write all  my class papers! Our authors must have schedules that are just as intense, if not even more! Not all of our authors are full time writers. Many of them hold other occupations, such as teachers and parents. Therefore, we ask some of our authors their methods of fitting in writing in their busy lives.

Juana M9781620202913-e1414700233650ikels – Author of Choosing Him All Over Again 

I wrote over half of my book, possibly more, while our household was asleep. I would begin at 10:00 pm and end somewhere around 2:00 am. The time passed as if it were just minutes. I had to make myself go to bed so I could still do my responsibilities with my family of six.  Once the book was written (took about a year and a half), I edited it primarily in the daytime a couple hours at the time. To do that, I had to turn off email and my phone to “carve out the time.” I had to say no to speaking opportunities (I didn’t get that many, but I couldn’t lead a Bible study or even a small group as a facilitator!) I had to keep carving out the time to edit, which took months. I like to think that I pulled it off without my family even noticing what I was doing by doing it at night and editing it in chunks of one hour here and two hours there—but I hate to tell you that they were rather tired of hearing about my “finishing the book” in the end!

 

From Driftwood to SapphireKathy Howard – Author of From Dishes to Snow and From Driftwood to Sapphire

Writing is not full-time for me, not yet anyway. If the Lord is willing, I would love to make it my full-time job eventually.  For now, though, I fill my days homeschooling my children and writing in between. From Dishes to Snow was written mainly at night, after the kids went to bed. However, its sequel, From Driftwood to Sapphire was written like a full time job, during the days, barricaded in my room for over a month as my family patiently endured a messy house. That was probably easier to do as a writer, but harder to do as a mother. Now that we are on summer break, I hope to find a happy medium as I put the finishing touches on a third novel.

 

Grace in the MiddleWendy Duke – Author of Grace in the Middle

I work in spurts. During the summer, I am mostly home with my kids, so writing time is scarce, but I want them to see me working hard, so I try to get up earlier than they do and write in the mornings. When they’re in school, my job working in sports ministry is flexible, so I usually take a day a week and spend all day writing / editing.

 

 

An9781620202692-197x306drea Rodgers –Author of The 20th Christmas

I’m a stay at home mom to two children, which means I never had a break until my son started school! My daughter is in pre-school two days a week so, during the school year, those are the days I write. Thankfully, my husband is also supportive, so when I’ve been on deadline he will take the children away from the house in the evenings to do fun activities with them while I write.

 

 

How do you manage your busy schedule? Go and comment on our Facebook page and tell us all about it!

 

Author Forum: Does Reading Other People’s Work Influence Your Writing Style?

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This is the second of a multi-part series by guest blogger Ivy Cheng tapping into the expertise of several seasoned Ambassador authors. The first post offered tips on dealing with writer’s block.

They say that copycatting is the highest praise because it means that the work is worth copying. Shakespeare’s storylines have been taken and reworked into countless new works, and Hemingway’s different writing style changed the literary world. So it raises the question if our authors are particularly influenced by other authors.

Juana M9781620202913-e1414700233650ikels – Author of Choosing Him All Over Again 

I don’t read other people’s work when I am writing other than looking up a quote I am searching for (I also don’t listen to other testimonies when I am writing).  I am afraid that I will copy their style. But don’t get me wrong. Reading what other people have written had everything to do with my writing. I read aloud to my children for 15 years before I began my book. I will forever be grateful to the excellent writers I met during those years whose detailed descriptions inspired me (a math girl, think of it!) to the point I knew I had to write! I agree with the Psalmist who said, “My heart was hot within me, While I was musing the fire burned; Then I spoke with my tongue…” (Psalm 39:3)

 

From Driftwood to SapphireKathy Howard – Author of From Dishes to Snow and From Driftwood to Sapphire

I am a picky eater and I am a picky reader. I’ve noticed I tend to read authors with similar writing styles to each other. Anything outside of that realm, I have a hard time understanding or staying focused. So, yes, I would have to say I lean towards the writing style that I read, mainly because it keeps my attention. To those who like meatloaf, tuna, and chicken – expository, persuasive, and narrative, I admire you. But to me, I’m just a chicken girl – one meat, one writing style. Hopefully one of these days, I’ll acquire a taste for variety.

 

 

Grace in the MiddleWendy Duke – Author of Grace in the Middle

Yes and no. I definitely feel like reading unique writing styles seems to open up the possibilities, break down limitations. Sometimes I try to write in different “voices” just to stretch my own technique. e.e. cummings taught me to use unexpected words to shake things up.  Harper Lee taught me to pay attention to the subplot, to the stories happening behind the center stage. Other authors such as Anne Lamotte, Donald Miller and Jen Hatmaker have all influenced me over recent years. They have very conversational writing styles, casual and funny.  This seems to be the style that feels most like my own voice, so their writing gives me confidence in my own style.

 

An9781620202692-197x306drea Rodgers –Author of The 20th Christmas

Yes, so I don’t usually read much when I’m working on a manuscript. I feel it’s one or the other for me–either I’m reading or writing because I do a better job of listening to my writing voice when it’s the only one I hear.

 

Have a favorite author or unique writing style? Go and comment on our Facebook page and tell us all about it!

 

 

Author Forum: How Do You Break Writer’s Block?

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This is the first of a multi-part series by guest blogger Ivy Cheng tapping into the expertise of several seasoned Ambassador authors.

Anyone who writes, from poetry to novels, even a school paper, has experienced writer’s block at one point or another. Curious as to how to break writer’s block, we asked a few of our amazing authors here at Ambassador International for their methods of finding their inspiration again.

 

Juana M9781620202913-e1414700233650ikels – Author of Choosing Him All Over Again 

“Some people suffer from writer’s block, but I consistently had to deal with the opposite problem. I had way too much content. As I wrote, story after story would unfold and the average reader doesn’t want to read a book over 400 pages! When my beloved mentor who was an excellent writer suggested that I write my story, she had it right immediately. Her name is Elisabeth Elliot. She said to me, “Juana, some people have the problem of irrigating the desert when they write; you will have the problem of chopping down the jungle.” She was spot on.

Even so, there was a few times I got “stuck.” I found the best thing to do was to put it away, and come back fresh on another day. On occasion I listened to an audio of my story told in front of a live audience. As I listened as if it was someone else’s story, I became re-motivated to go back to the spot where I got stuck and just tell it as if I was talking to one person in the room (and just one person will eventually read it when they hold it in their hand!)”

 

From Driftwood to SapphireKathy Howard – Author of From Dishes to Snow and From Driftwood to Sapphire

When I hit my wall of writer’s block, I find myself putting the manuscript aside for a time. Thankfully, it is usually just a short time, one that I can fill running or playing with the kids for an afternoon. During those less frequent longer times, I push the story out of my head as best I can and live life away from the characters for days or even weeks. Other than normal living, I may read other books or watch movies, stories that show creativity and imagination. When I feel refreshed, I dive back in, headfirst.

 

Grace in the MiddleWendy Duke – Author of Grace in the Middle

I tend to write in spurts: I’ll let thoughts and ideas build for a while, and then spend a few days writing non-stop.  I’m not sure if this is “normal”; it seems to just depend on personality type.  I read several writers’ blogs who carve out a couple of hours each day to write, but I usually need a bigger block of time to really get much on a page.  I’m just not a fast writer, but the more I write, the faster I become.  Reading seems to be the best way to help me generate ideas and be inspired to write. The more I read, the more I seem to want to write.

 

An9781620202692-197x306drea Rodgers –Author of The 20th Christmas

I take breaks–but that means doing something else creative.  I find that reading, watching a movie, or listening to music  often inspire me so then I can return to my manuscript and  the words flow easier and better. I’ve never been stuck on  what to write about–writer’s block to me is more about not  being able to get the right words out or have the story flow in  the best direction.

 

Do you have your own tips for breaking writer’s block? Go and comment on our Facebook page with your methods!

 

The Top 5 Best Places to Write

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Where is a location that makes the creative mind flow, where you can focus on the task at hand? We’ve all searched for our favorite places to do our work. And finding the perfect spot, away from distractions, but perhaps not completely isolated, tidy but not stark, warm but energetic, can seem daunting. Here are five of the best places to write.

Top5 places to write

A Place with a View

A peaceful and quiet setting, overlooking a scenic view – maybe a view of the city skyline, or the rolling waves of the beach. Somewhere that will soothe the soul, but at the same time allow yourself to delve into your creativity.

 

An Unused Room in the House

Of course, not everyone has spare bedrooms lying around, but if you have a guest room  that currently doesn’t have a friend sleeping in it, it  could become your new writing niche! Away from the  distractions of the rest of your house like a T.V, stocked  refrigerator, and more familiar surroundings, a room all  to yourself and your thoughts can really get those words  flowing. You can even tell the rest of the household that  once you pass those doors, the artistic mind is at work and mustn’t be disturbed! (Unless the house is burning down of course.)

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A Hotel Room

If staying at home is still to distracting, maybe going on a retreat to a nearby town (or some where more exotic!) and staying at a hotel for a few days will do the trick! A sparse hotel room, you, your computer, there is bound to be several pages that can be written in there. Plus, if you’re really feeling fancy, get a place with room service and get that ice cream sundae delivered! I hear sugar totally helps with writer’s block.

 

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A Café

Yes, a cliché. But for those who don’t work well in isolation and quiet, a café is really a great place to work. There are plenty of people passing through, coffee is always near by, and there is usually free Wi-Fi too! You can’t beat that.

*Fun fact – J.K Rowling apparently wrote Harry Potter in a café  called the Elephant House. Let’s hope there weren’t any real  elephants in there, or she must have really used magic to get her  work done.


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 The Library

You can’t forget about this gem! The library is a great place to write. It’s always cool and comfortable. It’s a perfect balance between isolation and public. There are people, but they are always (at least most of the time) mindful of being quiet, and you are surrounded by books! How can you not be inspired?

These are just some of our favorites, but anywhere that you are comfortable is a great writing place. We are all inspired by different things, and we all write in different ways. I’m sitting in a cubical as I write this! Find us on Facebook, or click here, and tell us your favorite places to write.

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Beyond the Manuscript: Publisher vs. Author Marketing

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Beyond the ManuscriptFor the last number of years I’ve been attending writers’ conferences across the Southeast as a publisher and enjoyed meeting with perspective authors, as I attended these conferences I found a common thread  that many authors although they perhaps had good manuscripts had no real grasp on how to market their book or what to do next.

I recently returned from a conference in Florida where I had the opportunity to share a presentation titled: Beyond the Manuscript: How to Sell Books and Build a Following.

Over the next six weeks I’m going to be sharing a variation of this presentation with you. Whether you’re a new or seasoned author I’m hoping you’ll find this material helpful.

We will be covering:

  • Author and publisher marketing
  • Creating a platform
  • Building your fan base
  • Developing your product launch plan
  • How to organize a successful signing
  • Engaging media on a local and national level

Publishing experts often talk about how writing a book is only 10% of the work an author must do.

To quote Michael Hyatt, former CEO of Thomas Nelson, the largest Christian publisher in the world, “No. A good book does not stand on its own. It is foundational, but it is not enough. In fact, it hasn’t been enough for at least two decades.” (Platform; Get Noticed In a Noisy World, Thomas Nelson 2012.)

The truth is publishing is changing and it is changing rapidly, there are more ways than ever for an author to be published.

  • Traditional publishing
  • Self-publishing
  • Co-Publishing/Partnership Publishing
  • eBook only publishing

There are pros and cons with each of these options and the truth is there really is no longer a wrong or right way to go about being published. What is going to determine the success or failure of your book is what is put into the marketing.

There are two arms to the marketing of any book — the marketing you do as the author and the marketing done by the publisher.

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 PUBLISHER MARKETING

– Retail: a publisher has an established relationship in place with key retail outlets allowing them to place a title in the retailers system and look to retail buyers for placement and promotion opportunities within the stores.

– Distribution: a good publisher will have a strong network of distributors. For ourselves this includes Ingram/Spring Arbor and Baker Taylor which are the largest in the nation this creates title accessibility to almost all book retail outlets in the nation. Outside of national distribution your publisher may also have international distribution that can open new markets that are difficult to reach as an author.

-Media: a publisher’s PR and marketing team will be able to pitch their authors to the appropriate print media, along with radio, and TV on a local or national levels, a publisher will also utilize their online and social media platforms to promote their authors, titles, media coverage and events.

The above is just listing a few of the key marketing elements a publisher can bring to the table.

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AUTHOR MARKETING

As an author your marketing needs to be able to stand alone meaning you are out there promoting and building a fan base and network of direct consumers.

Your marketing must also compliment aspects of the publisher’s marketing. As an example earlier in the year we ran a blog tour for author Carrie Daws’ fiction Romancing Melody, this was something that we arranged as a publisher but looked to Carrie to come along side us and promote the blog tour, pushing links to her followers and being available for any potential interviews.

The big question many authors have is “When does my marketing need to start”?

NOW! The sooner you can make a start the better.

Your marketing starts with your manuscript. If you are still in the process of writing your manuscript or even in the pre-submission or edit phase be thinking of how you can make your content more marketable.

Would someone want to highlight a passage on each page, would they want to share it with a friend? If you write with this in mind you’re going to have a marketable manuscript. Have quotable elements, these can later create sounds bites for media and sales pitches.

You will want to master your pitch. No one else can do this for you, it takes work but when you get a good pitch down and build confidence in your product, you will become the ultimate sales agent for your title.

Your pitch needs to be direct! As a publisher we receive a lot of title pitches with submissions. If your pitch says “My book is for males and females, age 7-99 that like to read.” STOP!! This will not help you on your way to getting an agent, publisher or selling books.

Pinpoint your customer, what are your competitive and comparative titles, what makes your book different? Why should someone want to read it? Think in sound bites. If you’re in the kitchen and the news is playing in another room, you hear a tease for the next story and it draws you out of the kitchen to see what is next. That is a sound bite, that is how you want your pitch to grab people.

Develop an online profile. I will go into this in much greater detail next week as we talk about developing your platform but as an overview your online platform is creating a social hub for anyone anywhere to connect and interact with you.

Thanks for sticking with me. We covered a lot of ground setting the base in this first post. I’d love your feedback, what have you been doing as an author or a perspective author to prepare your manuscript for the market?

Don’t miss out on the latest Ambassador International news!

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In today’s world, it’s hard not to be involved in at least one social media website. At Ambassador International, we want to make sure we reach out to everyone! We are located on some of the top social media websites. Make sure you check out our pages to get the latest book information, helpful writing tips, giveaways, and much more!

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