Deadlines, Platform, Life Commitments, Oh My!

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Have you ever felt so frazzled, you couldn’t find the panic button?

You may even ask, “How could this happen? I’m an organized person.”

Last week as I shuffled through my Writer’s Digest magazines, I spotted the February 2017 issue’s article, “Map Your Writing Time” by Sage Cohen. I gauged Ms. Cohen’s suggestions with how I use them.

Ms. Cohen’s Suggestions

1. Articulate your destination. I prioritize my writing and personal goals every week. I divvy up tasks then enter them on my scheduling template, which already displays regular tasks. I put an * next to writing, platform, speaking, and marketing tasks. On the side, l record future tasks to schedule. If I can, I include some padding. Then I report my goals with an * to my accountability partners.

2.  Make one goal inform another to “allocate your time in a way that delivers the greatest value.” I often use the projects I’m working on as subjects of my blogs. For example, when I did a book signing for my first book, I wrote a blog post from my research and experience. Reviewing that post while I write this one, reminded me of tasks I need for the bookstore signing I’m doing this Saturday.

3.  Set timers so you don’t spend too much time on nonwriting tasks. No problem. I have two devices in my office, but I’ll now use the timers more on nonwriting tasks.

4,  Use nonwriting commitments to service your writing. I always mull writing ideas during long drives to scheduled obligations. I’ll brainstorm my protagonist’s goals on my half-hour drive to my writers’ group tomorrow.

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5.  If you’re repeatedly drawn toward a project that’s not a top priority, consider moving it there. Although I scheduled work on my new novel, my non-fiction kept calling me to finish it ahead of deadline and send it. After reading this suggestion, I’m doing that.

6.  Don’t waste perfectly good slivers of time. I’m writing now while my husband attends an evening meeting.

7. Rise an hour earlier when it’s quiet. I get up at 5:30, but I’m considering 5:00 for a short duration while I’m under two deadlines and know galleys are coming soon for a third book.

8.  Leave notes where you stop working. I suppose I should expand on “STOPPED HERE.”

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9.  Track your time on tasks and learn how much time you need so you’ll know better what tasks and projects you can take on. Good idea, but I don’t have time. :0)

10.  Stop panicking and appreciate the time you have and the progress you’re making in that time. I’ll appreciate my time and progress more. I’m already thankful for a husband who takes over housework so I can write. He’s also taken over some marketing tasks.

Reading Ms. Cohen’s suggestions showed me I do many of the right activities. When I start to feel overwhelmed, I need to forget the pileup and just do what I’ve scheduled.

Writers, are you so panicked you can’t find the panic button? Click to tweet.

What do you do to make your writing, platform, and life commitments mesh?

Automated Editing Tools—Is One Right for You?

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Automated help in editing material intrigues most writers. I looked at six online automated editing tools. I chose the ones that were free or had free options, hoping to buy one that fit my budget and editing needs.

For a nice overview of free and for-sale editing tools, I recommend “INSTANTLY IMPROVE YOUR WRITING WITH THESE 11 EDITING TOOLS” on the NY Book Editors blog.

My Approach to Evaluating Automated Editing Tools

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I entered the same excerpt from an old unpublished manuscript into the free online edit boxes for the following automated editing services:

 

 

After the Deadline

EditMinion

Grammarly

Hemingway Editor

ProWritingAid

Slick Write

Below is what I learned. Remember, I only tried the free options.

These services point us to areas in our manuscripts that may need a second look. When we enter our material into these tools, we’re responsible for what we change in our manuscripts. We must remain in charge.

If we make a change without scanning nearby sentences, we may cause a new problem. For example, the automated program may suggest a stronger word, but the stronger word has already been used once or twice in the paragraph, causing repetitive word usage.

Using two or more free services may catch more problems. For example, passive-writing flags were different among the tools, suggesting they have different criteria for what is passive writing. One service flagged just, a weasel word, the others didn’t.

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The free tools didn’t do well on problems such as missing quotation marks and two spaces between sentences. The grammar and spelling checks in word processing programs are still important.

I liked ProWritingAid best.

 

What I Liked About ProWritingAid

Among other benefits, here’s what I liked about ProWritingAid’s tool.

ProWritingAid states on its site “ProWritingAid never stores, shares or resells your text.”

I can click on 10 tabs: Summary, Style, Grammar, Overused, Readability, Clichés, Sticky, Diction, All Repeats, and Echos, which concentrate on specific tests.

I can look at ProWritingAid’s extensive evaluation of my excerpt in the Summary tab. It offers easy to print, open in a new window, and email options. I like its suggested limits on such items as adverbs used and repeated sentence starts.

ProWritingAid gives a word substitute for a wordy phrase.

It attempts to highlight instances when the writer tells a feeling instead of showing it.

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It tries to catch words that should be hyphenated or a homonym (you’re) that is incorrect for the meaning (your).

When I hover over the underlined, color-coded flagged phrases, ProWritingAid, gives possible problems and suggestions for the correction.

 

It caught more of the problems I hoped the tools would flag than the other tools.

ProWritingAid’s free version was very good, but I bought the premium version.

If you’re looking for an editing tool to supplement your editing, I suggest you try out each of the tools mentioned in the post and other services you find in a search.

My search for an automated editing tool among free ones. Click to tweet.

What automated editing tools do you use and why?

Diary of a Book Marketing Plan-Final Entry-Reviews & More

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This is the final series post in which I share tasks and progress on my book-marketing plan for my second book. Gift of the Magpie came out August 15, but all my diary posts share my activities from two weeks in the past.

Among other activities, my prior posts covered my setup, recruiting influencers, guest posting, a book launch party, a newsletter, blog interviews, Facebook parties, Ask David Tweets and a Goodreads Ad.

Today, I share all my promotion activities and my evaluation of each thus far.

Influencers

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Two thirds of my fifteen influencers posted reviews so far. I’m told I need 100 influencers to “gain any traction.” Wow. I’m still asking my faithful few to promote events, such as the multi-author Facebook party. About 25% of my influencers have been super active.

Announcements

Newsletter: A better than average rate of subscribers opened my email (52.5% mine vs. 23.6% industry average). Clicks for the industry average is 2.6% clicks; mine were 4.9%. Hard to track sales.

Email list: I’m working on growing my 280 with people I know are readers. 

Authors Cross Promotion/Reviews

I’ve received requests from 17 readers/reviewers for my book through this service. I sent preliminary emails to make sure the people wanted the Kindle e-book version, and 53% responded. So far, 5 wrote reviews. I’m confident I’ll receive a few more reviews. I like this service; I’m building my email list and relationships with these readers.

Vessel Project

I purchased this service, which keeps my book in front of readers in my genre for a year. Hard to track sales.

Ads

Facebook, Goodreads, and Amazon ads are exposing my book to many people. I don’t know how effective they are for sales, though. My ten-day-old Goodreads ad has had 36 views but 0 clicks. Not so good. But I only pay for clicks, and readers are viewing my book. My publisher has placed an Amazon ad, but results aren’t in.

Ask David Tweets

I’ve published half my 60 tweets. On my evening tweets, I’ve received 0 – 7 retweets and 0 – 2 likes. Ask David suggests I retweet and like my tweets after they post them. Using good hashtags for my audience is important. Hard to track sales.

Guest Blogs/Interviews

Five blogs have hosted me, and two more are scheduled. I enjoyed interaction with commenters. Hard to track, but one sale was verified. My influencers promoting these posts helped me reach more people. Choose blogs that have high traffic. I prefer to do interviews because they better expose the book.

Giveaways

I signed up for the October giveaway for Sweet Romances with Authors Cross Promotion. This will significantly grow my email list with more readers. I’ll give away three e-books. 

Facebook Party

I’ll host a half-hour slot on a multiple-author Facebook party. So far, 48 people are going and 39 are interested. Although its hard to track sales, this gives me an opportunity to build relationships with readers.

Book Signing

After concentrating on online promotions, I’ve now scheduled a book signing at the local bookstore. I sold 11 copies of my first book there, which is around average. My basket giveaway signup grew my email list. I’ve also scheduled a spot at a retirement center’s craft fair.

Book Launch Party

I mailed 120 invitations to my book launch party this week. I’m looking forward to sharing my talks and visiting with my friends and acquaintances.

Conferences

I’ll lead a workshop at the Virginia chapter’s American Christian Fiction Writers Annual Conference – another opportunity to pay forward the help I’ve received, meet people, and expose my book.

Talks

I plan to schedule talks with women’s groups. I’ve scheduled a library workshop for 2018 to promote my non-fiction book on writing, but I’ll also offer this book.

Book Marketing Diary–Final Entry: Reviews & other actual promotion activities. Click to tweet.

Authors, how do you encourage reviews?

Amazon Link

Amanda Larrowe’s lack of trust sabotages her relationships. The English teacher and award-winning author of middle-grade adventure books for boys has shut off communication with friends and family to meet her January 2 book deadline. Now, in the deepest snow accumulation Richmond, Virginia has experienced in years, Camden Lancaster moves in across the street. After ten years, her heart still smarts from the humiliating aftermath of their perfect high school Valentine’s Day date. He may have transformed into a handsome, amiable man, but his likeability doesn’t instill trust in Amanda’s heart. When Cam doesn’t recognize her on their first two encounters, she thinks it’s safe to be his fair-weather neighbor. Boy is she wrong.