What Would You Do?

148dd0dI was reading a segment of someone’s work-in-progress during my blog time this past week. You know what I’m talking about if you’ve navigated the blog scene very long. Some bloggers use their blog to post segments of their work.

The segment was very interesting and pulled me in to what was happening, but it was also distracting, because of the grammatical errors. I was hesitant at first to mention this, as I didn’t want to give the wrong impression or discourage the author.

I liked what she had written, but wondered if she realized how many errors were in the piece. At this point in my career, I’ve developed what I call a trained eye (for everybody’s work but my own ūüôā ).¬† Errors just jump off the page. I deal with the same thing when reading novels. And while they are few and far in between, yes, many novels have at least one or two errors.

Back to my dilemma. What was I suppose to do? What would you do? I did decide to point out the fact that there were quite a few grammatical errors, but also commented on the interesting storyline and her ability to pull me in. I didn’t want to come across as a know-it-all, you’re not very good at this writing thing, because I’m not, and like I said, I enjoyed her work. I just wanted to make sure she was aware of the errors.

Why? I think it’s partly because my first round of rejections from agents, included a blurb that pointed out numerous grammatical and structural errors. I didn’t realize how bad the submission was, or how perfect they expected it to be. I don’t want this aspiring author to go through the same thing.

She hasn’t responded to my comment, and I’m not sure if she will. I can only hope she took it as I meant it to be taken.

So what do you think? What would you do? Would you want someone to point out your errors or just not say anything?

-Jan R

What Would You Do?

If You Build It They Will Come

if-you-build-it-they-will-come-haha-just-kidding-you-still-have-to-sell-itWhen I started writing this blog, I had no idea what I was doing. All I knew was I needed to start a blog. One of the agents I had queried, told me I needed a platform, and while it didn’t guarantee a book deal, it would make placing my book with a publishing house a lot easier.

So I read a book on platforms from Michael Hyatt and went to the WordPress site. I created my blog and decided to write about things I have learned, and/or had problems with during my journey to being published.

There’s so much we don’t know. So much I still don’t know, but my thought was if I shared information, it would hopefully help others to avoid some of the crazy mistakes I have made.

I was excited when I wrote that first blog. I sent it out to the world and waited anxiously for that first view. It never came. I wrote the second blog and again, there were no views. As a matter of fact, for almost six months, I wrote my blog faithfully with only a handful of views. I could literally count those views on one hand for each blog.

I didn’t know what I was doing wrong. I reread Michael Hyatt’s book and looked at a few articles on successful blogs. Guess what? I finally realized that just because you write and put it out there, doesn’t mean they will come. This is not ‘The Field of Dreams’, you have to do your part.

I began reaching out to fellow bloggers. Like me, they were trying to build their platforms as well. I started visiting the websites of bloggers who shared the same interests that I did. Not only did I gain some great information in the process, but I picked up followers. I didn’t have to ask people to join me. I read their blogs, offered comments on their writing, and they responded by checking my site out and doing the same.  I discovered this was a win, win for all involved.

A delightful surprise, was the friendships that arise from exchanges with other writers.  Totally unexpected.

I have added a block of time to my weekly schedule for reading blogs of fellow bloggers (those I follow, as well as new ones I would like to follow). It‚Äôs not a chore, it‚Äôs fun!!! And you will build your following ūüôā

I would caution¬† that your writing has to offer something. Once those viewers start visiting your site, it’s up to you to keep them coming back.

-Jan R

 

If You Build It They Will Come

Build Your Platform-Now!

imagesSo why do you blog? You have to have a reason. Not many people take the time to type meaningful information or interesting banter without a reason. It’s too much work.

I’m in the middle of a move and was going through old blogs to see what I could recycle, when I¬†took notice of¬†my first blog.¬† It was all about building your platform,¬†which was¬†the motivator for my starting this blog.

Did you know great manuscripts of first time authors get pushed to the side everyday, because the aspiring author doesn’t have a solid platform.

And I’m not saying my first manuscript was great, as a matter of fact, it was full of mistakes. Something a kind literary agent pointed out on three separate occasions. I suppose she saw potential in my work, because she sort of took me under her wing.

I spent a few years editing and rewriting major portions of my manuscript to address issues that she had mentioned-there were many.  I was confident with my work and sent it to her for what I thought was a final review. I looked forward to a request for the complete story. Well, what I got wasn’t a request but a rejection.

The reason had nothing to do with my novel. I had focused so much on preparing it for publication, that I failed to do one of the most important things, build an audience of potential customers. Is it necessary? Unfortunately yes, especially for first time authors.

The agent who rejected me actually apologized for not giving me better news, but said it was really hard to place new authors, especially those who did not have a solid platform. While she recommended that I send it to other agents, she also emphasized the importance of building a platform.

The good news is with technology,¬†it’s a lot easier than you would think. ¬†Google ‚ÄėBuilding a platform‚Äô, and you‚Äôll find all kinds of information. ¬†I would personally recommend looking into Michael Hyatt. He is an author, blogger, speaker, and a¬†former chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, so he knows a little bit about what we are trying to accomplish here. I¬†would also recommend his book, ‚ÄėPLATFORM GET NOTICED IN A NOISY WORLD‚Äô. He provides all the information you need to get started, including websites that¬†assist with the creation of your online presence.

I hope this helps someone out there on their quest to being published.  I chose to discuss platforms in my first entry, because of the frustration I felt after receiving the news from the literary agent. I just didn’t know. This is something I could have been doing while preparing my novel for publishing.

When you start out there are so many things you don’t know. I’ve been working on my novel for over five years now. I actually completed the manuscript in the first year, but then¬†discovered that I had no idea what I was doing. I spent the last five learning¬†¬†how to write a novel¬†and applying¬†that knowledge¬†to my work.

This blog gives me great joy in knowing that I have provided useful information to others on their journey. And it is my hope that I not only build my platform, but help others avoid some of the mistakes that I have made.

-Jan Rouse

Build Your Platform-Now!

I’m Having a Love Affair With ‘Had’!

aid174983-v4-728px-Stop-Saying-the-Word-_Like_-Step-4-Version-2On more than one occasion I have declared¬†my love affair with the word ‘had’. When you use a word so many times it jumps off the page, you have a problem. It doesn’t matter if the word is used correctly or not. You need to find another way to write the sentence without using ‘the word’. In my case that word is ‘had’.

What’s wrong with using the word¬†‘had’ over and over, besides making it an awkward read?

  • If you are using ‘had’ a lot, odds are you have a lot of backstory/info dump, because it specifically details things that happened before the current action. In some circumstances, that can seem dull, or like the focus is in the wrong place. Why spend so much time on something that’s not happening right now?
  • Using ‘had’ too much can also indicate you are telling vs. showing.
  • ‘Had’ is also rather formal. People rarely say ‘he had put on weight’- you say ‘he’d put on a bit of weight’ or ‘he was looking fatter’ something to that effect.
  • If it’s overused to the point that it becomes noticeable to the reader. It is bad.

For this blog, I’m focusing on ‘had’ because¬†it’s a problem word for me.¬†Most of us have them. They could be words like but, although, because, however, that, and if you’re writing dialogue–so(another one of my favorites that I know to look out for ūüôā

To a certain extent, this is a matter of style. Plenty of writers have these little tics. You may find a turn of phrase that you fall in love with, or it may be a word that carries over from the way you speak. As I stated above with ‘had’, only if a word or phrase is overused to the point that it is noticeable to the reader, does it become a bad thing.

Noticing that you use a particular word frequently, is the first step to¬†improving your writing. If you¬†realize you are in the process of abusing a word while you are writing, make some adjustments, but don’t get bogged down for a¬†half an hour trying to decide if ‘your word’ is really necessary.

The best time to work on these tics, is after you’ve written a chunk of prose. Go back through and look for your problem word. You can use the find feature on your computer (Usually ctrl-F or command-F). As you edit, double-check to see if the word is really necessary, or if it can be changed. If you have to, rewrite the entire sentence.

Food for thought. I bet I’m not alone in my love affair with certain¬†words ūüôā

-Jan R

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m Having a Love Affair With ‘Had’!

How Do I Grow My Blog?

blogI’ve followed all the rules for a successful blog. So what’s the problem?

I’ve consistently posted twice a week, and I offer some valuable information that I’ve learned through research or experience.

Howbeit I’m not the funniest¬†¬†writer in the world, but I like to think I’m easy to follow. I don’t use million dollar words, I’m not technical, but my writing is usually grammatically and structurally sound.

I’ve¬†attached Tags to each post. Tags¬†that I thought would attract other people. My thought was, if I could just get them to read a few posts, they would realize I did have something to offer and hang around-become a follower.

Well it turns out, just writing a really good blog and waiting for somebody to show up does not work. You have to actually engage and purposely seek out followers.

How do you do this? I just recently started taking my blog seriously, because I was tired of writing to myself. Yes it was good practice, but nobody wants to have a blog with no followers. It wasn’t quite that bad but close.

So what did I do that tripled my blog following in less than a month? I reached out to fellow bloggers. Like me, they are trying to build their platforms as well. I started visiting the websites of bloggers who shared the same interests that I did.¬†Not only¬†did I gain some great information in the process but I picked up¬†followers. I didn’t have to ask people to join me. I read their blogs, offered comments on their writing, and they responded by checking my site out and doing the same.¬† I discovered this was a win, win for all involved.

A delightful surprise, was the friendships that arise from exchanges with other writers.  Totally unexpected.

I have added a block of time to my weekly schedule to read blogs of fellow bloggers (those I follow, as well as new ones I would like to follow). It’s not a chore, it’s fun!!! and you will build your following ūüôā

So what works for you?  I would love suggestions on how to increase my following.

-Jan R

How Do I Grow My Blog?