5 Basic Things You Learn After Starting To Write Full-Time

5 Basic Things You Learn After Starting to Write Full-Time - www.alliepottswrites.comI haven’t been in my new position as a full-time writer long, but I am already learning a number of things about the process, especially as to how it pertains to online media – like how bad I am at it on this site (in terms of monetization, rapid audience building, or anything else you can think of when you try to come up with ways to actually making a living off writing outside of selling books, which is a whole story for another day), even when the writing itself was good.

For one, I don’t use nearly enough H2 tags in my blog posts, or headers for those not as versed in HTML lingo. Apparently, readers like to see big bold text so they know which words I spent hours upon hours tirelessly crafting are okay for their eyes to totally skip over.

That being said:

Be bold

Readers bypassing lengthy intros will jump directly to the text immediately under the header, so feel free to repeat yourself. Chances are they didn’t read it the first time you alluded to something in the opening.

Explain the benefit in clear and simple terms

You might think you are offering your readers a great value in sharing your story. After all, you are giving the very generous gift of your writing time when you probably should be spending that time on the last book in your science fiction trilogy or … I don’t know … relaxing (I hear that’s a good thing) and asking only that they give you minutes of their time or a comment or two in return. As a result, you might think the benefit to the reader is clear but is it? Is it really?

Don’t forget about SEO

Google and all its AI helpers scurrying about in the background like long, long web pages (as in hundreds if not thousands of words), filled with short, short paragraphs (5 lines and under will do) prominently featuring your primary keyword. They can be difficult to please like that. There are all sorts of other rules to follow for true SEO, but I’m still learning those.

End with a call to action …

Want to connect? Leave your contact information. Want them to sign up for your newsletter mailing list which had never been sold to third parties, and never will be, but also now is forcing you to create this whole privacy policy thingy in order to be GDPR compliant instead of writing a longer post? Tell them. People like instructions. Except for anarchists. But then again, you should never expect to please everyone.

Seriously – comment – sign up – or connect. I love to hear from you.

… but also leave them a reason to come back for more

Until next time.

 

What to do when the cloud is not your friend

Unfriendly Cloud

You take a road trip but aren’t asked to drive. You have nothing but time on your hands as you sit in the backseat for the twelve-hour drive. You are amazed to realize the car is actually quiet. You’d left the kids at home. There are no small people complaining about the need for snacks and a potty break every twenty feet. No arguments about someone’s elbow extending too far over the shared armrest or whose turn it is to pick the movie. You’d almost forgotten how travel, sans children, could be.

You think, I’d better take advantage of this rare opportunity to write. With that kind of uninterrupted time, you are bound to make some significant headway into your neglected manuscript.

You put in your ear buds and start typing. After a few false starts the words start flowing and they are beautiful. You know that deep down these are scenes that are going to somehow survive through editing relatively intact. Thousands and thousands of words later, you press the save button. A message box opens up. Upload pending.

Ah, that’s right. There is no WiFi in the car and you have your word processing program set up to sync automatically to the cloud, a precaution you took after you nearly lost a portion of your previous manuscript to your aging computer’s blue screen of death. You click a few more buttons and shut the computer down. The writer’s euphoria stays with you for the rest of the day. Man, that scene was awesome. You daydream about future glowing reviews. You start actually looking forward to editing if only to bring the rest of your draft up to the same high standard.

The next day you wake up refreshed having actually slept in your own bed once again. After the colossal effort from the previous day, you think today might let yourself off with a light writing day. Maybe catch up on a blog or two, or possibly write a piece of flash fiction for a contest, but first, you want to make sure you sync your previous day’s writing to the cloud.

You open your word processor. A message box opens. “Would you like to sync?”

Yes please, you think to yourself. A progress bar opens. As you watch the bar fill, your eyes happen to notice the side bar navigation. Funny, I am pretty sure there were more chapter headings there yesterday. You scroll down as the file completes its upload. No other chapter headings are shown. Odd. You start feeling bile build in your stomach as you jump to the last page in the file.

“I think I found stairs.”

It wasn’t the glorious last line you knew would keep your readers turning the page. No. They are the last words you wrote three days ago, the last words that were synced with the cloud before your road trip. You’d forgotten the function works in both directions. Fudge (except, like in the Christmas Story, you aren’t thinking fudge).

What to do now?

  1. Click on File>Recover Unsaved Version.
  2. Stare at the resulting message box declaring no unsaved versions while remaining in denial.
  3. Open up every single file folder remotely related to your document in search of anything at all with the word Backup in the name.
  4. Finding nothing, go online and search for any hacker tips out there that might allow you to somehow recover previous keystrokes.
  5. Whimper as you realize you are in over your head.
  6. While remaining in denial, notify your loved one of your tragedy on the off-chance they might be able to somehow wave a magic wand and bring your work back.
  7. Cry.
  8. Pour yourself another cup of coffee.
  9. Consider if it would be okay under the circumstances to spike said cup of coffee though it is before 9am.
  10. Consider throwing up.
  11. Return to the manuscript while giving yourself the whole, you wrote it once, you can write it again pep talk.
  12. Remind yourself that you are a terrible liar.
  13. Cry some more.
  14. Recognize that the diet is ruined and eat a cookie.
  15. Write something entirely different, maybe an attempt at a blog post so that others might share in your pain; someone, at least, ought to be laughing.
  16. Return to the scene of the crime (because that is what it is, cloud, that’s what it is!)
  17. Stare at your cursor.
  18. Sigh.
  19. Drain your cup of un-doctored coffee (pat yourself on the back for remaining strong).
  20. Start writing once more.

 

My top secret 2014 performance review

It’s that time of year again. Time for me to sit down and analyze the performance of staff at the day job in painstaking detail. I look forward to the process as eagerly as they do. Who doesn’t love to see in writing the ways in which their work can improve even if the words are no real surprise? I know I sure do when it’s my turn. That’s totally why I’ve been having a virtual argument debate with my editor’s notes over the last several weeks.

One of the biggest upsides about being an independent author is the ability to be in control of everything (except forcing people to buy your book). I’ve often heard it compared to going into business for one’s self. We are the authorpreneurs! YAY!

So, if this is truly a business and not just a hobby, perhaps it is time to schedule a performance review with my staff.

Please come in Allie.  Would you shut the door and have a seat?

Now, I’ve been looking at your annual report and while you’ve done a great job gaining additional exposure on WordPress when comparing 2013 to 2014, but you haven’t pulled in nearly the numbers as some of your counterparts at other firms. Why do you think that is?

Hmmm…. Likely it is because I am terrible at writing eye-catching titles.

How can you improve this?

Phone a friend? No? Well then maybe I will start trying out some of the hundreds of catchy title formulas out there in 2015 and see how that works out for me.

Well that can’t hurt. Seriously, your titles have been atrocious at times. I mean ‘Is that a fire hydrant or a really odd garden gnome?‘ Really?

Umm… we agree, that wasn’t my best work. In my defense, I had spent on my creativity on content that day. The tank was dry.

What about social media? What are you doing to improve your exposure in that area?

I’m actually advertising my blog less on Twitter, and interacting more. I told myself that for every tweet I send out, I would find at least four by others to favorite, retweet, or reply to.  I’ve made some really enjoyable connections and now I barely pay attention to my follower count, and yet on the occasions I do, I see it continues to grow.

How about Facebook?

Facebook doesn’t always show my updates in feeds, even if a person has liked my page. There is little I can do there except hope that the handful of people who actually see my updates feel like sharing them with their network. Therefore I don’t see myself spending more energy there than I already have been.

Looking over your other marketing efforts, I see that you tried out a number of things early in the year like paid ads, a Goodreads giveaway, and review exchanges, but your efforts dropped off mid year. Are you planning on trying any of these things again this year?

I ran a second Goodreads give away toward the end of the year when An Uncertain Faith was re-released as well as a free promotion of the book. I used paid ads at the beginning of the year and didn’t use paid ads at the end. Interestingly enough I received an almost identical number of entries in the Goodreads give away each time with about as many resulting reviews. So no, I don’t think I will be using paid ads again.

What about the review exchanges?

I learned that review exchanges are not for me. I’d rather my book was reviewed by someone who was interested enough in my blurb or my blog to pick it up rather than someone who is just reviewing it because they feel obligated to.  I worry too much that my book might get lampooned or insincerely praised just because of how I liked theirs. It feels like being in an old Western gun duel. I am however making a point of reviewing the books that I’ve picked out of my own free will more often.

Let’s address the elephant in the room. You know that the best way to be successful in this business is to release more books. Why then is your second project taking so long to release?

I could blame it on a number of things. My day job changed mid-year. I had to make significant changes to the structure, etc. But I boils down to one thing. I forgot how to properly manage my time. I’ve already taken major steps to address this. Now I only have a few chapters left to rewrite before it can be sent out for another round of complaints critique. I’ve also entered a few short story contests. Hopefully as a result I will have something else out there with my name on it in 2015.

Do you have any questions for me?

Will I be getting a raise this year?

You didn’t tell me you dabbled in writing humor.

Is that a no?

Good luck with the contests.

Mock report card

All type and no play make Allie an out of shape girl