Dealing with the Conference Blues

Today I’m going to talk about something that may seem a bit  odd: The conference blues.

“Oh, Tiff. You mean the post-conference letdown?”

No. I don’t mean that at all. What I’m talking about is the  deep sense of intimidation or “not belonging” that I’ve both seen in others and experienced myself at various writer’s conferences. This is something that I was completely unprepared for when I attended my first national writing conference in September 2006.

I was so excited…so prepared…so overwhelmed.

I remember when I got there I’d already been published in two national print publications [Today’s Christian and Charisma Magazine] and I’d also been a regular columnist for a local newspaper. Yet, as I walked around the group of about 300 people a voice in my head kept asking me, “What are you doing here? You don’t belong here.”

The insecurity was so deep inside that I ended up getting up and leaving a group of writers to go hide in my hotel room and cry.

I wanted to list a few things that I’ve experienced and how I’ve been able to overcome them. Even if you’ve never experienced these at a conference, all of us during our writing journey will feel these things from time to time. It is okay. You’ll get past it and be stronger when it is over.

  1. I’m  not as good a writer as [insert person’s name].
  2. When  I [insert benchmark] THEN I’ll be a real writer.
  3. Everyone  here knows more people than I do.
  4. I  cannot believe I spent all of this money and didn’t get [award, requested  manuscript, agent, etc.]
  5. Maybe  I’m not as good as I thought. I should give up.

These are just a few things that I’ve felt [and others have said about themselves to me].  I want you to understand that everyone feels this way at some point. The fact is, it will
never go away if your goal is continual growth. There is a great pastor named Gary Keesee and he says, “If you’re not doing the hardest thing you’ve ever done then you’re not growing.” I’ve found that is true.

On February 2, I had my 36th birthday. This is significant because it was 2 days before my 30th birthday that I had my first ever requested full [that means an editor requested my full manuscript
for consideration]. Three months later I had my 2nd requested full and a year after that I won the Daphne du Maurier award with my 3rd manuscript and secured an agent.

And you still won’t find my name on a novel.

Two years ago that really bugged me. A year ago I was deeply depressed about it.

Today, I am absolutely okay about it. You know why? Because I looked at how far I’ve come. My dream has always been to be a full-time writer earning a living with my writing. Writing Career Coach currently employs three writers and two editors in addition to 3 sales managers and about 3 or 4 subcontractors. I go across the country teaching and speaking to writing groups and to companies/business owners on writing.

My name isn’t YET on the cover of a novel, but I’ve certainly grown from where I was. I was only measuring my success by a SINGLE criteria—fiction publication.

And that is the key to truly enjoying your next writing conference. Focus on the growth areas you may not have noticed. What new connections did you make? Who did you come in contact with? What new writing or marketing skill did you develop and how will it make you a better writer overall.

Instead of defining success as a RESULT why not define it as ACTIONS? See, actions you can control [I have 3 new techniques to improve my writing and one new marketing idea I will implement this week.] Results you cannot always control [I want to have an agent sign me.]

Finally, results are one time occurrences. Simply getting a requested manuscript will NOT always mean publication [in fact, the odds are against you]. But learning how to show rather than tell or how to create engaging subplots will serve you in each and every book you write.

Everyone has a starting point. The most successful writers [Yes, even our beloved Susie May Warren] were once unknowns who longed for someone—anyone—to notice their work. Each of us have to go through the process. Just don’t give up.

And when you see someone who looks like they may be questioning themselves, invite them in to your conversation. The best way to get your mind off of yourself is to get it on someone else.

Tiffany Colter, Special Teams Blogger

Tiffany Colter is an award winning writer whose credits include Today’s Christian, Charisma Magazine, Toledo Business Journal, and regular columns for Afictionado E-zine and the Suspense Magazine where she writes the “Ask your Writing Career Coach” column. She is the owner of The Writing Career Coach and Writing Career Coach Press. Tiffany teaches and speaks on connecting with your target market through written communication at live events and through online workshops. She served as coordinator of The Master Seminars for Chip MacGregor, and serves as a judge for multiple writing contests.

For Tiffany, writing is about a relationship. It is more than stories. More than communication. It is even more than a way to make a living. Writing is about connecting with people and understanding them where they are. As a business owner, making this connection is imperative to the success of your company. Words evoke feelings. They engage your senses. They change you.  http://writingcareercoach.blogspot.com/ . http://writingcareercoach.com/

TEE Explains: Why Do Editors (Not) Hate Writers?

Editors do not hate writers.

Really. We don’t.

Hate is such a strong word. So let’s make sure we apply it correctly, shall we?

We hate misspelled words. Especially when we open a Word document and the word has a squigglyline underneath it that is Word’s way of saying, “Hey! I think you misspelled this word! You wanna’ check this?” And, obviously, you didn’t.

We hate really long sentences that contain enough words to fill an unabridged dictionary and that, if you tried to read it, would cause an asthmatic to reach for her inhaler, and that sometimes, but not always, contain an overabundance of punctuation, but not always. (That example contained 45 words.I counted.)

We hate commas thrown hither and yon throughout your manuscript with no rhyme or reason. Comma . . . maybe now! And . . . now! And now!

We hate it when manuscripts are submitted with notes like this: I know you said a word count of 500 words and this is 1,000 words, but I figure you can cut it to fit.

Yes, yes I can. I am, after all, an editor.

But if you were assigned an article, odds are you were also assigned a word count for that article. And guess what? Word count is not optional. Turning in an assignment with an “I chose it myself” word countis, at the very least, discourteous. At the most, it’s unprofessional.

I could go on, but Susie May and Rachel are shoving me off my editorial soapbox and threatening to make me model a white coat of some sort. My point is this: Editors do not hate writers. Consider an editor as your advocate along the road to publication. You and your editor want the same thing: a stellar book. An editor’s skill is performed by wielding a virtual or very real red pen.

Disclaimer: Yes, I’ve run into, um, cranky editors. Truth be told, I’ve been a cranky editor. But I try tokeep that confined to the privacy of my office. And I’ve also run into (and been) a cranky writer. Moods affect everyone – not just those of us traveling along the writing road with a pocket full of red pens.

Ever felt like an editor had it out for you? Were you able to develop a good working relationship with your editor?

Beth, Special Teams Blogger

Author Bio: MBT’s Skills Coach, Beth K. Vogt provides her
readers with a happily ever after woven through with humor, reality, and God’s lavish grace. Her debut novel, Wish You Were Here, will be published in May 2012 by Howard Books. She’s also written Baby Changes Everything: Embracing and Preparing for Motherhood after 35 for Mothers of Preschoolers (MOPS) International and is a consulting editor for their magazine, MomSense, and a bimonthly columnist for MOMSnext, an e-zine for moms of school-age children.  

 

 

 

Get Your Twitter On!

I’ve already posted on how to utilize Twitter and Tweetdeck on this blog so today I want to talk about how to Tweet effectively. As Twitter has gained popularity it’s become harder to stand out in the crowd. But with a little Twitter Tweaking, you can encourage new folks to visit your site.

First, and MOST IMPORTANT, utilize hashtags. A hashtag (#) makes the letters following it searchable within the Twitter universe—even if the person searching doesn’t follow you. For example, when I tweet about My Book Therapy I utilize two hastags—#write and #MyBookTherapy.

Important Note: When you space, the hashtag ends. That’s why I wrote out #MyBookTherapy with NO spaces.

Second, be creative when you compose your tweets. Avoid the tired old tweet, “Check out my newest blog post.” That—or something—similar is guaranteed to keep new followers away in droves.

Instead, compose your tweet like you would a headline. Here are some headline types to help you get started:

  • Direct Headlines go straight to the heart of the matter, without any attempt at cleverness. A direct Facebook post might read Free SEO E-book.
  • An Indirect Headline takes a more subtle approach. It uses curiosity to raise a question in the reader’s mind. It frequently uses clever words with double meanings. One of my favorites was, Why You Should NOT have a Facebook page. The actual blog post was written tongue-in-cheek about not wanting to promote a product.
  • News Headline is pretty self-explanatory, as long as the news really is news. It might be a product announcement, an improved version, or even a content scoop.  Introducing the New Google Plus.
  • The How to Headline is everywhere—mainly because it works. Just be careful not to work it too much. How to Craft a Perfect Facebook Post.
  • Question Headline must be more than just a question—it must be something your audience is actually interested in. How can Google Plus Help You?
  • The Command Headline issues an order, telling the reader what to do, such as Subscribe to The Write Conversation Today!
  • Another effective technique is called the Reason Why Headline. This is where your popular Top Ten Reasons to … fall.
  • Finally, we have the Testimonial Headline, this works because it provides outside proof that what you offer has value. This is the only headline that uses quotation marks in the title. It lets the reader know this is a testimonial and will be continued in the body of the email.

Third, don’t give away the ending with your tweet. For example, if I was tweeting about a blog post telling writers how to use TweetDeck, I would NOT say:

Use TweetDeck to solve all your Twitter woes. www.thewriteconversation.com

That tweet tells them what to do and completely bypasses their reason for reading my blog.

Here’s a better tweet:

Does Twitter have you lost and confused? www.thewriteconversation.com

It’s all in how you word it—but really, as writers—you already knew that!

 

Edie Melson is a freelance writer and editor with over 16 years experience in the publishing industry. She’s a prolific writer, publishing over 700 articles in 2010. She also has a popular writing blog, The Write Conversation and is a frequent contributor to many others. In keeping up with the leading edge of all things digital Edie has become known as one of the go-to experts on Twitter, Facebook, and social media for writers wanting to learn how to plug in. Her bestselling eBook on this subject, Social Media Marketing for Writers, is available on Kindle and Nook.

As a sought after writing instructor, her heart to help others define and reach their dreams has connected her with writers all over the country. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference and Southwest Christian Writers Studio, as well as a popular faculty member at numerous others. Edie is also the Assistant Acquisitions Editor for ChristianDevotions.us.

Fighting Fear, Winning the War at Home, is Edie’s latest project. This devotional book for those with family members in the military will debut on Veterans Day, 2011.

She’s a member of numerous professional writing organizations, including the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, The Christian Pen, The Christian Writer’s View I and American Christian Fiction Writers. She’s also an assistant copy editor for the Voices E-zine, a publication of My Book Therapy and a part of the My Book Therapy Special Teams Blog and The Social Media Coach for the My Book Therapy Core Team www.mybooktherapy.com.

Married 30 years to her high school sweetheart, Kirk, they have raised three sons.

 

You are what you read: A tip from the Writing Career Coach

Many times people underestimate the value of spending time reading to get information for every area of their life and business. I’d like to hone in on business, marketing, and business growth. Remember, writing is a business, selling is a business, all of us are salespeople, all of us can apply this to our daily business growth. These are the principles I’ve applied to Writing Career Coach to grow my business exponentially while other businesses contracted, particularly in the publishing industry.

1: Don’t NOT read a book simply because you can’t read the entire thing. Confucius said “Every journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” It’s true. Every journey in writing and business begins with the first step. Whether it’s a new idea for a marketing strategy, a new idea for a story, or a dream of some place you’d like to be. If it’s a problem you realize it needs to be solved. The same is true when you’re learning new principles for your business. You need to begin by looking at books. However, all of us have been intimidated by having too much to do and not being able to take one more thing in. Don’t let this stop you from reading books.

What I’ve found is that reading only a page or two, even if that’s all I can read in the entire day, the book will usually give me one or two good ideas that can help me to grow my business, or help me refocus my thinking to develop my business. Remember, if small words were useful than blogs would not be as big as they are. If you needed 50,000 words to convey an idea articles would be defunct. The reality is we can really learn a lot in short sound bites. Never decide that you are not going to anything because you can’t do everything. Go to books. Get a variety, get a few on CD and just listen to them. Scan through them, look at them, even if you’re only looking at the Table of Contents.

Remember, when you incorporate this with the idea of applying new ideas and adding action steps, any amount of information can substantially help you grow your business.

Take these things that you’ve learned and grow them. Use them to develop yourself as a writer and a business person. Grow your company, build your team, expand your reach, and solve more problems.

2: Apply one or two new ideas.  Take, for example, “Good to Great” A wonderful book by Jim Collins. But it’s a very long book. I read it twice. The reality is there’s no way I can apply everything in there. However, key concepts in that book completely changed the way I viewed my business. Although I didn’t get to finish it the first time, when I listened to it the second time and re-introduced myself to the ideas and concepts I was able to, again, shift my focus, change the way I viewed things, and that new perspective has a greater impact.

Think about this. The person that you are with, it is not just what they say it’s how you respond to what they say. Our parents may say, “I think you’re great”, but it’s your belief that they believe that, that really impacts and changes the way you view yourself. If someone says oh, I think you’re great, but they say it with sarcasm, obviously you’re not going to take that as seriously and it’s going to have a very different impact than if somebody says “I think you’re great!” and you know that person loves and cares for you.

Why is that? It’s your reaction, the way you internalize the information. The same is true when you’re reading. Applying it, internalizing it, and reacting to it are going to have a huge impact on the growth and development of your success.

3: Read all over the place. When I began as a fiction writer I was reading a lot of non-fiction, which is kind of funny. I wasn’t reading novels very much. I’d only read one or two a year. I really enjoyed reading self-help, personal growth kind of books. I also liked reading biographies and history books. What happened is my interest in the biographies began to transition me to business and leadership focused books. Those in conjunction with the fiction I was now reading as I developed my craft was the birthplace of Writing Career Coach. The fact that I read in so many different areas and tried to apply those thoughts and ideas to my life and business that I was able to grow and adapt the way I did.

Look at your own life. What kind of things are you reading? If you are a fiction writer, are you focusing only on books in your genre? Are you taking in other areas? I have teachings on how reading books outside of your genre will help you develop more well-rounded characters. If you’re a business owner trying to think of a stronger marketing strategy, are you only focusing on reading marketing books? If you’re only focused on those you’ll be doing everything that everybody else is doing. You need to expand your vision and look at other areas to see how other people are doing it, who may not be “marketing professionals”. That’s where innovation is born.

To summarize, you are what you read. Whether it is fiction or non-fiction, personal growth or leadership, no matter what you’re reading all these things will impact you. If you take those thoughts and ideas, even if you’re only getting partial thoughts and ideas, and apply sound bites, if you will, to your business and life, that creates the subtle, incremental changes that over time will create a huge impact.

Let me leave you with this thought. What’s the difference between changing the way you eat and going on a crash diet? The diet may suddenly change things and bring great results instantly, but they’re not long term. On the other hand, eating healthier and replacing things with healthier choices, will over time make you healthier and you might lose weight and gain muscle at a slower, steady pace, but it’s maintainable indefinitely. The same is true with your business. Many people try to crash diet their business to success with a get-rich-quick mentality, but by introducing healthier changes, smaller options to their business, they are creating a long-term growth trend which over time allows for a more solid base and higher projections in the long run.

Tiffany Colter, Special Teams Blogger

Tiffany Colter is a writer, speaker and writing career coach who works with beginner to published writers. She can be reached through her website at writingcareercoach.com.