The Dos and Don’ts of Pitching Like a Pro – From the Writers In The Storm Blog

by Ericka McIntyre

Pitching to Magazines

So you want to write for magazines and websites…great! Writing articles can be an excellent way for authors to promote their work, build a platform, hone their skills, and get paid. How do you start? With a pitch, of course. But how do you make sure your pitches will land the way you want them to? Allow me to share with you some of the wisdom I have gleaned from over twenty years working in media and publishing, most recently as Editor-in-Chief of Writer’s Digest magazine.

After so much time on both sides of the editor’s desk—as a full-time freelancer, and as an acquiring editor – I’m confident I’ve seen the best pitches, and the worst ones. I’ve sent out both kinds of pitches in my own career too!

Here’s a list of some of the biggest OOFs! I’ve seen writers make (myself included). This list isn’t intended to shame anyone—I’m giving it to you so you can avoid making these mistakes in your career.

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Over My Dead Body: Writing Killer Drug Scenes – From The Writers In The Storm Blog

By Miffie Seideman

Ever ended a rough week by killing off one of your characters? Yeah, me too. No matter what people say, it can be cathartic. Even therapeutic. But, for authors with little to no drug knowledge, plot twists involving an overdose (accidental or otherwise) can seem complicated. To maintain credibility with readers, authors should make sure to get at least a few crucial drug-related facts right.

Written well, an overdose scene is a page-turner. But if your character instantly drops dead from an insulin overdose, the thud you hear won’t be from the body dropping to the ground.

It will be from readers closing your book in utter disappointed.

Read the rest of this post HERE.

How To Tell If You Are Writing a YA Novel – From the Writers In The Storm Blog

By Kris Maze

Young Adult novels have come a long way from the classics we read in school.  Novels like S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders and J.D. Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye were first accepted into the newly coined category, Young Adult (YA) in the 1960’s. While YA literature focuses on adolescence and coming of age stories, it can span any genre and follows the rules within those types of writing.

YA also appeals to multi-generations of readers, evolving from the single-problem stories of an after school special to the mega-blockbusters we see today. One thing is for sure: readers of all ages are gobbling up these stories.

Writers today have questions about how this multifaceted category works, and whether their novel is actually YA. Below are tips to help you answer these questions. (Plenty of examples and ways to enhance your current story are included.)

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Fairy Tale vs Reality: A Candid Conversation about Publication – From The Writers In the Storm Blog

by Tasha Seegmiller

Once upon a time, I thought that publishing was a thing where you learn your craft really well, do the work, and then navigate the query trenches.

Once upon a time, I thought that once someone got an agent, the two of them would work together to make the manuscript better and then have conversations about how to submit manuscripts.

Once upon a time, I thought if an editor liked a book, it was like an agent liking a book, wherein they worked out the details of the contract and then proceeded to make the book better until it was publication-ready.

I have since learned that all this is as likely as Cinderella’s fairy godmother, as likely as Prince Phillip winning a battle with an enchanted sword flung toward a raging dragon, as likely as an ogre ending up with a princess who is also an ogre.

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The Highs and Lows of a Debut Author: Thirty-Six Voices, Plus One – From The Writers In the Storm Blog

By Barbara Linn Probst

excited writer

It’s a cliché that becoming a published author is like becoming a parent. The astonishing reality of this new creation, after all the months—or even years—of preparation. The swift change of identity. The joy and vulnerability. 

As a parent by adoption, I’ve always been sensitive to this metaphor, finding it both illuminating and constraining. Unlike some who choose to adopt, I didn’t try every available means to conceive a biological child but switched paths fairly quickly because I believed—and still do—that raising a child was far more important to me than how that child arrived in my arms.

Even so, there were plenty of moments, especially in the beginning, when I heard myself grow defensive—“explaining” and justifying my choice, even though no one had asked. 

It was a bit like that when I decided—after a single agent query that seemed destined to be the “one-in-a-thousand” exception to all the stories I’d heard, until it wasn’t— to publish with a hybrid press. As with motherhood, I had the means and the temperament to take this path.

Bringing my book to life felt more important than how, exactly, it got there. Once out in the world, its fate would depend on its merits and reception, not on its pedigree. Kind of like my kids, now that they’re grown.

My journey has been immensely rewarding, a lot of work and a lot of fun. Still, I couldn’t help wondering if my experience was like that of other new authors. Being a former researcher, I did what comes naturally. I asked.

Read the rest of this post HERE.

The Power of Pronouns — Part 1 – From The Writers In The Storm Blog

by John Peragine

Some of the smallest words in English (and other languages) are pronouns, but they have a profound impact on meaning and emotions. Using them well in our writing is a powerful shortcut to help our readers.

Pronouns can be proclamations of our psyches to the world, about how we feel about ourselves and others around us. Pronouns can bring us comfort and they can bring us pain. Pronouns can drive us to rage or drop us into tears.

Pronouns are declarations separating us from them. They can bring us together. And they can accuse them.

Sit with this simple sentence for a moment:

Look at what they are doing to my city.

More than likely when you read that sentence, your inner voice reacted. How did it make you feel? What did it make you think about?

Consider this sentence below and notice what changing the pronouns does to the tone, feel, and imagery.

Look at what we are doing to our city.  

Pronouns are debated in Washington. Laws are made surrounding them. The usage of the right pronoun can make us feel included. Conversely, the misuse or misattribution of a pronoun can be used as a weapon.

It is for these reasons that the proper use and care of pronouns should be given in our writing. All our writing: articles, books, emails, and social media. As writers, we have a responsibility to use pronouns with the highest level of ethics and personal moral standards.

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The One Question You Need to Ask to Boost Your Readership – From The Writers In The Storm Blog

by Colleen M. Story

Have you heard of the Aesop fable titled, “The Peasant and the Apple Tree?”

It goes like this:

“A peasant was cutting down an apple tree despite pleas from animals living in it. He stopped when he found a hive with honey. The Tree is now doing fine!”

All of us are very much like that peasant. When we see something that interests us, we stop and pay attention.

We need to remember this when building our author platforms. I’ve found there’s one question that helps me gain readers perhaps more than any other:

“How can I benefit my readers’ lives?”

When you can answer that question succinctly and clearly, you have the key to a successful author platform that will draw readers your way.

Selling Books is Hard and Only Getting Harder

Marketing remains the most difficult part of the writing life for most writers. The odds are against us. In 2018, Bowker reported that for the first time, more than one million books were self-published, which was an over 40 percent increase from the year before. That’s in just one year. And it doesn’t include the traditionally published books.

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The 8 C’s of Character Development – From the Writers In The Storm Blog

by Jenny Hansen

Every writer strives to create characters who leap off the page as unique, compelling, fully-formed people. We spend hours, days, and sometimes years to make them believable.

Recently, I attended a day job webinar that gave me new tools and perspectives for fiction. (I love it when that happens.)

The course detailed the eight characteristics every person needs to successfully navigate this “adulting” thing and realize their full potential. Here are my thoughts about tweaking these traits to help our own heroes and heroines as they journey through our stories.

Meet the “8 Cs”
We want our characters to be whole by the end of the story, or at least whole enough to fight another day. The list below, shared by a long-time social worker, contains the qualities people need to be fully actualized [aka happy], and some exercises that will help them “get there.”

The conundrum of happy characters often lies inside the artist. Most creative spirits are forged from adversity. As Richard M. Nixon said, “The finest steel has to go through the hottest fire.”

We want to put our characters through these hot fires of hell. We need to hold them to the flames to keep readers reading. But most writers also want their characters to find happiness by the time they write The End. It’s especially difficult to keep our eye on the happy prize when the world around us is chaotic.

How do you mess with a character’s happily-ever-after under these circumstances?

Meet the 8 Cs:

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The Strategy that Leads to More Book Sales – From the Writers In The Storm Blog

by Penny Sansevieri

There isn’t a secret formula for executing the perfect book launch. There are numerous factors in play that are constantly changing, from news and popular culture, to the publishing industry, to what just plain work in marketing and promotion. But the real “secret success strategy” to book sales is very straightforward: give readers what they want! The challenges arise because reader expectations are a moving target.

As authors, it’s important to be flexible and adaptive to these changes and have a clear idea of how they play into our own marketing plan.

But while change is inevitable, there are still some key strategies I’ve tested and one, in particular, I want to share today. Though it won’t guarantee success, it has worked well for me and the authors I collaborate with, and I hope it can help you too.

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More Thoughts on Growing a Fertile Author Platform – From the Writers In The Storm Blog

by Eldred “Bob” Bird

Most authors spend more time than they expected pondering their author platform. With the world slowly beginning to open up again it’s time to look at the other side of the coin—the Offline Platform. Take a look here for a refresher on what makes up your Online Author Platform in Part 1. If you are ready to reconnect in person there are plenty of opportunities to grow your brand.

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