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7+ tips to revise your rough draft and take your book to the next level. www.cherylsterlingbooks.com

For today’s AtoZChallenge, the letter “R” will show you how to revise your rough draft.

(This post is a revised {a pun!} copy of an earlier blog . I am recycling it for today’s AtoZChallenge. The information is as relevant. 7+ tips to revise your rough draft and take your book to the next level. www.cherylsterlingbooks.comI will show you 7+ tips to revise your rough draft and take your book to the next level).

I’ve just finished the final, final, final edits for Snow White and the Eighth Dwarf. Proofreading it was a long, laborious process, as I wrote 56K of the story last July in a rough NaNo like session. The first draft was not pretty. {Note:This book has been published and is available on Amazon as an ebook and paperback, and Smashwords.}

Let’s face the ugly truth. You’ve spent months, maybe years, writing a book and you have a big, sloppy mess. How do you revise your rough draft, clean it, and make it look good?

Look for inconsistencies.

Did your main character change names, eye color, or gender? Did you mention magic in the first chapter, but no one casts any spells? Does your forest setting change to a desert for no reason? Check your timeline to verify your protag and antag are on the same day. Because of the time involved in writing a book, many details can get lost. Look for inconsistencies and fix them.

Fill in the holes.

When proofreading, fill in the holes of your story. My first draft looks like a tic-tac-toe game.

My first draft looks like a tic-tac-toe game.

I write very fast because I don’t want the bright, shiny light of inspiration to dim. Get the words down, get them down fast is my motto. Fill in the holes later. My first draft is full of XXX’s, my all-purpose placeholder for research I need to do, nameless characters (example from my current WIP: “Name1, Name2, Name3, Name4 and Name5, thank you for coming here today.”), or descriptions that need filling in (example: more here of her physical trauma xxxx.) My first draft is a tic-tac-toe game. Revising is the time to do the research, decide on the names, and fill in the holes. Continue reading “R” is for Revise your Rough Draft—#AtoZChallenge

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Quick writing is a discipline you can learn.

 For today’s AtoZChallenge, the letter “Q” is for Quick Writing

I’m re-running a blog I wrote last July, which dealt with Quick Writing. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

How to write a book faster, 5 quick steps

Quick writing is a discipline you can learn.If you want to know how to write a book faster, you’re in good company. All writers want to write faster. All of them. Even the ones who seem to release a book every other month <cough> Nora Roberts <cough>.

What are some tricks to increase word count (besides the cliché “write every day”)?

I’ve written a lot lately (approx. 15K in 10 days), and I’m not on drugs, caffeine or other stimulants. Here are some of the little tweaks I’ve implemented to change my attitude from “I’ll do it tomorrow” to “I can’t wait to write”.

What I’ve done to increase my quick writing:

Attitude

Attitude is everything when it comes to quick writing. There’s nothing sweeter than being in “the zone” when writing.

Knowing what I’m going to write.

I’m not a pantser. Generally, I know what I’m writing, but I’ve set aside a few minutes before each writing session to jot down what will happen; how it does/does not affect the character’s growth; how it moves the plot forward. I don’t spend a lot of time on this step; it’s a sign on the side of the road, not a detailed map.

Sticking to the larger outline.

I outline on index cards (both real and as Scrivener notes), and I try to stay true to the plan. Knowing where your story is going between page one and “the end” is critical in writing efficiently. Pantsing and feeling out the story may be your preferred method, but to be a success, you have to write and publish often.

Take a break.

Your mileage may differ, but I find a short break after an hour of writing is the best mix.

Remember, it’s a 1st draft.

It’s okay to cheat. I call the first draft the vomit draft. Throw up on the page and clean it up later.

Use xxx as a placeholder for something that needs research later. Every trip to the internet delays my writing. It’s easier to write “xxxtown#1” than to stop and look up the perfect name.

Also, (insert whatever here). As in (insert sword fight/sex scene here) or (figure out how to get them from point A to B later). I don’t use this tool often, but it’s nice to have it available.

Write with my eyes closed.

Nothing stops momentum more than words underlined in red.

No editing.

Waaaaay harder than it sounds, but I try not to go back and start playing wordsmith.

Know when to write.

My optimum time is 2-4 p.m. and anytime after 6 p.m. If you’re so inclined,  go all spreadsheet guru and track when your most efficient times to write are, but you probably already know.

On that note, do keep a spreadsheet of your scene and daily word counts. It’s nice to know my high in the last ten days was 2168. It gives me a target.

Set a minimum daily word count.

At the moment, mine is 1000. It’s an easy target, I feel great once I pass it, and it gives me momentum to continue.

Have an accountability buddy.

One of the last things I do before I shut down my computer at night is to email my accountability buddy with my daily word count. It might make her jealous, it might prompt her to get her butt in the chair, but it gives me an incentive to continue writing. I don’t want to disappoint her, and I don’t want to disappoint myself.

Employ quick writing because there are other books waiting to be written.

Happy (and fast) writing!

{2017 Cheryl returning from my 2016 blog—insert Twilight Zone music here}

These tips will show you how to implement quick writing into your life. I’m living proof it works. When I wrote the above blog, I was working on Snow White and the Eighth Dwarf. I wrote 57K words in the month of July, 2016, and published it in March, 2017. If I, who used to write a novel a year, can write one in a month, so can you!

Tomorrow’s #AtoZChallenge centers on the letter “R”.

#AtoZChallenge is a blogging challenge that takes place in the month of April.

#AtoZChallenge is a blogging challenge that takes place in the month of April.

If you’d like to continue reading my entries in the AtoZChallenge* and to receive my blog posts, please use the entry form to the right. Also sign up for my newsletter, and you’ll receive a FREE copy of my short story, Mr. Right, Mr. Wrong, Mr. Alien.

Finally, if you know of someone who would enjoy learning more about quick writing, use the buttons on the left to share this post.

*#AtoZChallenge is a blogging challenge that takes place in April (except on Sundays). Participants blog every day around a theme of their choosing, in alphabetical order. Throughout the month of April, I’ll share tips, links, and insights I’ve learned in my writing career.

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Pinterest is one of the most effective but overlooked social media tools for writers and other artists. Pinterest Marketing for books.www.cherylsterlingbooks.com

In today’s AtoZChallenge, “P” is for Pinterest

Pinterest is one of the most effective but overlooked social media tools for writers and other artists.www.cherylsterlingbooks.comPinterest is one of the most effective but overlooked social media tools for writers and other artists.  It’s not all pretty images for bored housewives and soon-to-be-brides.

I’ve used Pinterest for years, back when you had to email an application and wait for approval. I didn’t get serious about using it to market my books and brand until September, 2016, when I signed up for Summer Tannhauser’s Free Pinterest course. Pinterest is an easy, effective tool to add to your marketing arsenal.

The day I completed the five day course, I had 73 Pinterest followers. As I write this (Saturday, April 15th, because I like to be ahead in my blogging schedule), I have 1,241. Quite a leap, yes?

As I’m pinning my blog entries (you do that, right?), and I’m taking part in the #AtoZChallenge in April, I’m pinning daily content from my blog, increasing the number of people who visit my website.

Some of the things I’ve learned:

  • Obviously, set up a Pinterest account.

Make it a business account. Go here for instructions. If you have an existing account, you can convert it in a few simple steps.

      1. Why a business account? You’ll have access to analytics. Over time, Pinterest will show your profile’s growth, who your audience is, and what type of pins they click on. From this information, you can narrow down your audience and tailor future pins to it. You’ll also be able to run Pinterest Ads.
      2. When you set up a business account, you will be asked to confirm your website. This involves adding a string of code to your website’s header section. If you—like me—break out into a cold sweat at the thought of coding, WordPress has a plugin that will make it easier. Install it, add the code, then go back to Pinterest and click on Finish.
  • Set up or edit your Profile

      1. Use a business name relevant to your industry. Add keywords. If you’re Joe Smith and you sell guitars, Joe’s Rocking won’t show up on searches. Joe’s Fine Guitars or Joe’s Guitars for Sale will generate more traffic.
      2. Upload a photo of you, a candid shot with a white or solid color background. It should be one you use on all social media profiles. A face is relatable to your followers.
      3. Add your website URL and a description of who you are, who you serve and what you provide (in a conversational tone, of course). A surprising number of profiles I’ve visited are titled something like “Carol’s Page” and have no description. This is valuable real estate—take advantage of it. Check out my profile page here.
  • Pinterest boards

      1. Set up several boards related to your field.I recommend 10-15. Do a keyword search of your competition and learn what they are using. The tabs below the Pinterest search are rated most popular from left to right.
      2. Board names should include SEO and keywords
      3. The board names should be short and focused
      4. Board descriptions should be two or three sentences, well written and related to the board. Keywords should be near the beginning of the descriptions.
      5. Making a board secret will protect its contents from public view. If you are a business, keep your public boards business-like and hide unrelated pins on secret boards.
      6. Once you have several boards set up, they can be arranged within their rows with a simple drag and drop, moving the most important board into the top position. Followers want to see the most relevant boards at the top and will rarely scroll down.
  • Your pins

      1. Pins should be a mix of  relevant, useful content from others and original content from your blog. An 80/20 mix is recommended.
      2. When repinning from others, it’s okay to customize the description to something stronger. Don’t use hashtags except at the end. Pinterest’s Smart Feed gets confused with hashtags and will drop any description after them. I use them at the end as my pre-scheduled pins which also post on Twitter (more on this later).
      3. Add a CTA (Call to Action) in your descriptions, such as “Click through to check out XYZ” or “Win a Free XX by visiting.”
      4. Pin only what your audience will like. Until your analytics kick in, take ideas from your experience and your competitor’s boards.
  • Your Images

    1. Add video. Video is a growing trend and makes your audience feel connected. Search YouTube, DailyMotion and TED for videos related to your field, or start your own channel.
    2. Use bright colors with good resolution
    3. Use text in a clear, easy-to-read font on your images to tell your audience what they’ll find when they click through to your site.
    4. Pin vertical images rather than horizontal ones for maximum sharing. The ideal size is 735 X 1102:
    5. Use a vertical, longer image on Pinterest for maximum sharing and pinningShort, horizontal images do not get as much exposure on Pinterest as longer, vertical images

Which will get more shares and pins on Pinterest?

Any other tips?

Yes! By adding Twitter and Facebook to your social media settings, you can simultaneously post to them. How? Go to your Pinterest settings, click on or scroll down to Social Networks, and click Yes on Log In with Facebook, and Connect with Twitter. Say Yes to the usual approval questions. The next time you Pin something, two little boxes appear below your pin: Post to Facebook and Post to Twitter. By checking them, your pin will also appear there. If you use BoardBooster, the posts will appear when it schedules them. I find this a win-win. I don’t have to be on all three networks to appear as if I am!

If you have a business account, you can set up a Showcase. In Settings–>Profile, edit Showcase. Pick five of your most favorite boards and save. A rotating slideshow of those boards now sits at the top of your profile. It is the first thing visitors will see, and you control their first impression by your board choices.

When commenting in other social media, and an opportunity arises for you to mention Pinterest, use the word Pinterest as a hyperlink to your profile page.

Add a save to Pinterest rollover button on your blog’s images. Check out the instructions here. The same instructions are valid for adding a Pin It button to your website.

Add a Pin It button to your browser’s toolbar. When you visit a site you’d like to share, you can pin it on the fly.

Revisit your boards and delete under-performing pins. BoardBooster‘s Pin Doctor will look at your board pins (for a penny a pin) and tell you about broken, missing or suspicious links, slow websites, and duplicate pins based on the same image or same links.

What else?

Join Group boards. I’ll admit I’ve neglected to do this, but it’s on my list. You’ll gain a larger audience for each of your group pins. Check out pingroupie.com for suggestions on where to find a group board that fits your needs.

Pin often. Just like other social media platforms, Pinterest is a moving target. What’s pinned is not always seen. By using tools like BoardBooster and Tailwind and posting 20-30 times a day, you’ll be seen as the expert in your field.

Schedule your pins when your audience is most likely to view them. There are many reports available about when to post. I used to schedule by them until BoardBooster’s analysis of my audience told me my peak times were not East Coast 8-11 p.m., but local time 10-11 p.m. I’ve adjusted my pinning times, adding in the later period. I try to pin consistently throughout the day to catch as wide of an audience as possible while still catering to my core fans.

Not all pins need to be new content. When I’m pressed for time, I’ll search my existing boards for high-repin content and repin to the same board or its twin secret board. BoardBooster has a looping feature that will automatically do this for you, but I like to give my audience proven content.

Be sure to pin YOUR blog’s content. If you don’t advertise your product (whether it’s your services, a physical product, you, or a digital product like my books), who will?

I can’t think of anything else from my notes or experience. Pinterest is an awesome tool to target your ideal follower. I highly recommend taking Summer Tannhauser’s Free Pinterest course to learn more. I can attest to the rapid increase in my Pinterest followers.

Tomorrow’s #AtoZChallenge* will focus on the letter “Q”.

#AtoZChallenge is a blogging challenge that takes place in the month of April.Blessings until then,

Cheryl

If you’d like to continue reading my entries in the AtoZChallenge* and to receive my blog posts, please use the entry form to the right. Also sign up for my newsletter, and you’ll receive a FREE copy of my short story, Mr. Right, Mr. Wrong, Mr. Alien.

If you know of someone who would enjoy learning more about Pinterest, use the buttons on the left to share this post. Thank you.Pinterest is one of the most effective but overlooked social media tools for writers and other artists.www.cherylsterlingbooks.com

*#AtoZChallenge is a blogging challenge that takes place in April (except on Sundays). Participants blog every day around a theme of their choosing, in alphabetical order. Throughout the month of April, I’ll share tips, links, and insights I’ve learned in my writing career.

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