The Organized Writer (Part I)

I recently saw a post on Facebook that stated, If you want to know what it feels like inside a womans mind, imagine a browser with 2,857 tabs open all the time.  I think writers especially, whether men or women, can relate to this.  Ideas for stories pop into my head at the most inopportune times:  while Im cooking dinner, talking to a neighbor, or giving my kids their baths.  I am constantly discovering new publishers and agents that would be perfect for my manuscripts, only to not be able to find them later.  How do we writers keep all this valuable information straight?  Enter the white board.  Whenever one of my brilliant ideas pops into my head, I run over to my white board and jot it down.  Then I can forget about it and focus on whatever I was doing.  No need to open my computer and type and save in the appropriate place.  I do all that later.

My white board is located in my home office on the wall opposite from my computer.  Mine is from Fat Head, but they are available at any office supply store.  I use it to keep track of story ideas, agents, publishers, websites, funny words, horse names, deadlines you name it!  I admit, an occasional grocery list makes its way to my white board from time to time.  But that is the joy of dry erase markers.

Are you a writer with 2,857 tabs open all the time?  How do you keep your ideas organized?

Eleven Ways to Support A Friends Book

I recently read an outstanding blog post on WriterUnboxed.com by Chuck Sambuchino (editor of Writers Digest) on how to support an authors book release.  As I make more contacts in the childrens writing industry, Im beginning to meet people who are actually getting their books published.  (How cool is that?)  The suggestions he makes are so simple, yet effective, that I must share them.  I plan on using these methods to help my writer-friends succeed.  Hopefully, the good karma I am putting out there will come back to visit me someday!

To view the complete post from writerunboxed.com, click HERE.   I am sharing my favorite portion of his post below:

Anyone can support an authors book release by doing different things to help the book sell and get noticed. So, in no particular order, here are 11 things — some big, some small — that you can do to support a writer friend when their book comes out:

1. Buy their book. An obvious point, sure, but important nonetheless. Naturally, we must buy new copies of books, not used copies, for the sale to count and the author to get a royalty. So buy new. Heck, consider pre-ordering the book. Publishers pay attention to pre-orders to help get a sense of what titles are getting buzz and attention. Impressive pre-orders help the author.

2. Buy their book for others as a gift. Think of which friends and relatives would enjoy the book/novel. Buy it for them as either a birthday gift or holiday gift. You get to support your author friend and give cool gifts at the same time! Get copies signed if possible to make gifts special. Even people who dont read many novels will still take note if a gifted book is personalized and autographed.

3. Face the book out at bookstores. Simply rearrange a bookstore shelf so that your friends book faces out to make it much more noticeable. (The theme begins: Its all about getting noticed.)

4. When you actually read the book, read it where people can see it. Read it in public. Read it on the subway. Read it in the aisle seat of a plane. Read it on the deck of a cruise ship. After all, dont you find yourself looking at what others are reading when you pass by? I do! And if I see 3 different people in 3 different places reading the same book, will I start to investigate it out of curiosity? Yes. Its all about building public knowledge of something to the point where people are curious and discuss it.

5. Ask a bookstore employee where the book is located. When entering a bookstore, do not look for the book, even if you know exactly where it is. Go to the bookstore customer service clerk and ask them about the book. They will find it in their system and lead you to the book. My hope is that if several people do this at the same bookstore, then the employee(s) will begin to take notice of the title, wondering what all the buzz is about. If youre lucky enough that an employee finally picks it up and reads it, then they might put it in the Employee Picks section or refer it to people who come in and ask Whats something good I probably dont know about? or What book makes a good gift? Let bookstore employees help sell copies!

6. Leave a review on Amazon or BN.com or Goodreads or all. Reviews are still very important. Think about it. If you come by a new book and see it has 2.0 stars on Amazon, would you buy it? On some level, that silly rating does affect me and my decision — and my guess is that it affects you, too. So its crucial that, when you read a book and enjoy it, you leave a review on Amazon or BN.com or Goodreads or all. Those first 10-20 reviews really matter and can set a book on the right path. (Note: You can leave the same review on all sites to save time.)

7. Like the book on Amazon, or Like the authors Facebook Fan page, or both. I heard from a literary agent once that the more Likes a book had on its Amazon page, the more frequent it turned up in Amazons comparable titles elsewhere. Getting your personal friends to Like another friends page is an easy favor to ask, as it requires no money. (Heck, go do some good right now: Open this separate page and Like Brians Facebook page if you have a second.)

8. Reserve a copy at the library. An employee here at Writers Digest Books once told me that if all copies of a book are reserved from our county library before the title came out, the system has a way of noticing this popularity and marking the book as one for more orders. (Also: Use the bookstore method above and ask librarians about the book — simply to draw attention to it and get the title on the mind of staff.)

9. Attend the book release party (if there is one) and bring a warm body or two. This task isnt so much to help the author as it is to help the authors self-esteem. Its lonely to have a book release party or local signing with low attendance. If you already bought a copy, bring that book to be signed.

10. Spread news of the book through your social media channels. When the author mentions it on Facebook, share the news with your social circles and include a small note about what the book is and why they should buy it. In other words, spreading the word by saying My friend got published! is nice — but its better to say, This new book by my hilarious friend is a great gift for dads who are raising daughters. Laugh-out-loud-funny stuff for all fathers to enjoy! See how the second one targets people in a simple-yet-specific way? Do this kind of targeting when you spread the word via Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+, or blogs.

11. If you have media contacts or know people of influence, arrange a connection. This is one of the best things you can do and probably the biggest way you can truly influence the life of the book and the success of the author. If youre married to the cousin of a local news personality, its exactly that kind of connection that serves as a great introduction between author and TV host. If you know a book reviewer at a newspaper in Boston, say so. If your old college buddy now runs the biggest reading club in all of Central California, try and help your author friends book be a future choice in that club. Utilize your network! Chuck Sambuchino

So select a few items off this list and help your writer friends to succeed!  When your book gets published,  youll be glad you did.