Saturday, 20 November 2010

What are the Top Ten Best Online Magazines to Write For?

Writing articles for money is one of the best ways to earn passive income, but with so many magazines to choose from, which should the writer go for? Here is a rundown of the ten best online magazines to generate money from freelance writing.

Earn Money Writing from Home by Writing Articles

The Well-Fed Writer: Financial Self-Sufficiency as a Commercial Freelancer in Six Months or Less
Make Money Writing
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Writing for Magazines Online offers an alternative to blogging or writing for a personal website, as the articles will often rank higher on Google search pages. This is due in part to the size of the site, as it will inevitably be larger than the humble blog or personal website. A system that most often works on revenue share, here is a list of the top ten sites to write for.

Suite 101 Online Magazine

One of the largest online magazines on the Net attracting around 20 million readers every month and rising, and which I write for. Get paid for articles on a host of subjects, from arts education to health and beauty. Articles must be between 400 to 800 words and pass editorial standards. Online tutorials are available to help inform writers on how to SEO their articles and optimise Adsense revenue.

Limited positions are available for featured writers who must write one article per week on a specialist subject for an extra bonus. A friendly and supportive writer’s forum is a plus, as well as helpful editors. As with all online magazines, Suite takes a cut of Google Adsense before passing it one to the writer.

HubPages

Who to Write For
Another opportunity to earn Adsense revenue via online publishing, as well as a cut of Amazon and Ebay affiliation, HubPages is a means for writers to share useful tips, interesting facts, personal reviews or create a fanbase. Writers are able to link back to their own sites if they wish, using HubPages as a sort of promotional space.

Constant Content

Another way to make money writing from home, the writer may create “Constant Content” at will, or sell articles to fulfil a request. Constant Content provides articles for over 10,000 websites, delivered by around 30,000 writers.

Associated Content

Not to be confused with Constant Content, this similarly-named online information resource hosted by Yahoo, enables writers to earn upfront payments from articles which may be posted on Yahoo News, sports or finance. Writers may choose to write on their own topic, or on a subject posted on an “assignment desk.” Payment is tiered to the amount of traffic received.

Ehow

As the title suggests, the writer may earn money online by writing articles on how to do anything from “how to harvest heat in a home” to “how to transfer music from an Iphone to Itunes.” Articles are often formatted in bullet point for quick, easy digestion of information.

Buksia

With an interesting 3-tiered referral system, the writer is able to earn money from articles, as well as articles written by third parties. This means the writer gets paid, and gets paid when referred writers get paid.

Squidoo

A means of making money from affiliate share from writing your own “lens” (a snippet of information or overview on an article, blog or anything you like), or selling your lens to a third party. The writer may create links to a personal website or blog, and get paid for it.

Xombia

Make a Real Living as a Freelance Writer: How to Win Top Writing Assignments
Earn Money Freelancing
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The writer, or “Xombie,” gets paid for indepth knowledge on any subject, which may be in the form of snippets, or longer articles. The revenue share is fifty/fifty. Half the time, the writer gets paid, the other half, Xomba receives the share.

Helium

A means of getting paid for writing on what you know, Helium enables the writer to earn money in three ways: daily revenue share from ads, writing contests and upfront payments for writing commissions. Writers may battle for the top spot or win Helium contests.

Update on Writing for Magazines

Many of these websites have been hit heavily by a series of algorythms, namely Google's Panda, which penalises content farming and articles overly-similar to one another. This means the the ranking of the website has gone down as well as the writer's earnings. Some of these websites are trying to regain former rankings but times are difficult. This is not to say that online magazines will not recover in the future.


Article Income Sources

The writer creates informative content and gets paid via contextual advertising. Like Xomba, the writer gets a fifty/fifty share of the revenue earned, but may increase to 70% depending upon the traffic. Article Income have a syndication network of other online magazines on various themes, including sports, shopping and marketing.

Books on How to Earn Money Writing Online

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

How can I Get a Producer to Read my Screenplay?

Completing a screenplay is only the beginning of a bumpy journey for the screenwriter. The next step is submitting the script to agents, but other avenues can be explored, including screenwriting competitions, professional readings, screenwriting consultancies and workshops, all presenting possible breakthroughs for a good script to get noticed.

Opportunities for Screenwriters to get Produced

Your Screenplay Sucks!: 100 Ways to Make It Great
Advice for Screenwriters
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It can be hard to find a film agent or production company to read a screenplay from an unknown writer, and this ma spur the writer to take desperate measures. This warrants a word of caution to always think twice before parting with too much money for the privilege of getting a screenplay read. Avoid screenwriting organisations that make big promises, or services that have not been tried and tested. I always conduct a Google search to establish if there have been issues with a particular company that may not be revealed within its own site.

Opportunity for Screenwriting Submissions

A good place to start is the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook, which gives good advice on sending a screenplay, what to avoid and a list of agents to contact. Conducting a little research into the submission guidelines and the genre of the film agent is always a good idea.

Establish a contact name and expect a long wait. Some literary publishers also accept submissions from screenwriters. The submission package must be immaculate and well presented to reduce the chances of an out-and-out slush pile rejection. A link on how to submit a screenplay can be found at the foot of this article.

Useful Information for Screenwriters

The slog of breaking into the screenwriting market can nurture disillusionment in the writer, as most film agents are reluctant to read anything unless by an established screenwriter. The following alternative contacts are worth trying, the links of which can be found at the foot of this article.

Submitting Scripts to BBCWritersroom

BBCWritersroom is a great first contact for the newbie screenwriter, as the first ten pages are guaranteed to be read. A three month wait is likely from the receipt of an acknowledgement card. A tiered system is in place where a script is passed on to an ever higher contact if it passes on certain merits. Ultimately, the Beeb are looking for originality rather than a perfectly formatted script. A link to a free screenwriting formatting tool can also be found on their site, as well as current news for scriptwriting opportunities.

EuroScript Consultancy

A reasonably-priced screenwriting consultancy that also aids development of scripts for TV and film. This independent UK based screenwriting contact consists of experienced producers, screenwriters and tutors. Screenwriting workshops are also on offer.

Grants for Filmmakers

The writer may apply for screenwriting funding via bursaries for film development, which can be sought from the following contacts:
  • Arts Council England Regional Offices offer grants for scriptwriters within areas of the UK.
  • Writers’ Projects offers grants of a few thousand pounds to Scottish writers.
  • The Scottish Arts Council finds bursaries for Scottish writers who have a passion for writing plays, as well as other literary works.
Opportunities for Young Scriptwriters

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Selling your Screenplay
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The following organisations offer student drama writers to break into TV or film writing.

The BBCWritersroom Future Talent Award for Writers: Partnered with MediaCityUK, an opportunity for fledgling drama writers to submit a drama or comedy script to be professionally read with the chance of production.

International Student Playwright Competition (ISPC): A long-running annual competition for students to submit their play to be read by notable scriptwriters, including Sir Alan Ayckbourn, a prolific playwright, with the chance of having the script professionally read at notable venues and winning a large cash prize.

TC Brian Way Award: Like the ISPC, has been running for many years. The competition offers young talented scriptwriters to be discovered, and the chance to win a large cash prize. The criteria are passion, originality and raising the profile of the issues of young people.

BBC Drama Writers Academy

Writing for TV in the form of a soap episode or a sitcom is often overlooked in preference for that elusive break into writing a feature film, but writing for TV is a lucrative industry and has a bigger demand for new talent. The writer may well do wise to look out for opportunities in writing for TV.

Every year, the BBC provides opportunities for a fledgling writer to write an episode for Doctors, Casualty, Hollyoaks or Eastenders via their Writer Academy event. This could provide possible open doors for the writer if talent is present.

Further Advice for Screenwriters

Sunday, 14 November 2010

How do I Write Funny Lines for my Sitcom?

The definition of what is funny in a situation comedy is hugely subjective. This could cause a creative block for the sitcom writer if trying to please a diversity of audiences. Of course, this is not possible, but what constitutes funny lines for the sitcom sufficient to break into the comedy market?

Funny Dialogue for the Sitcom

The Eight Characters of Comedy: A Guide to Sitcom Acting And Writing
Sitcom Writing
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Writing a sitcom is perhaps the most profitable area of scriptwriting. Little wonder if the pressure is on to make an audience laugh at least 75 times an episode. If you think this is an overestimate, a standard sitcom lasts twenty five minutes and a funny line must be delivered around three to four times per minute. In terms of comedy, a minute is a long time without a laugh. How can the writer dream up funny lines on a regular basis?

Ideas for Situation Comedies

How to Write a Sitcom
An effective sitcom is borne from characters that possess silly, bizarre or obsessive traits, not the location, the event or situation. Authentically funny characters that possess an element of truth will often write the sitcom by themselves, particularly if the writer understands or identifies with them in some way. With two or three such characters, the writer is halfway there.

Funny Lines for Sitcoms

Putting words into the characters’ mouths means getting into their minds. This means being brutally honest about what they might say rather than writing what a perceived audience might think is funny. A script that makes the writer laugh is likely to make the audience laugh and create a unique sitcom.

Tips for Funny One-liners

The lines are not so funny by themselves. The classic one-liner delivered by Friends’ character Ross during a tiff with Rachel “When was I under you?” means nothing by itself. It is the context of what was said before, the build-up, the body language, the timing and the line delivery that makes the moment memorable. In other words, the line is nothing by itself.

Creating Comedy Tension

Creating odd contrasts and conflicts between the characters and the surroundings will make an ordinary line funny. This could be sexual advice from a repressed exec to his 12 year old son, or the conversation a nun might have in a gay bar. Comic contrasts will provide great opportunities for funny dialogue as well as funny one-liners.

Embarrassing Situations in Sitcoms

Awkward situations are often the bread and butter of comedy. Always look for ways to make an embarrassing scene more cringe-worthy, unique or bizarre. One-liners with double meanings can be hilarious if it illustrates repressed emotions hidden innuendoes or secret codes between friends. Acute observation of the everyday or sourcing upon one's own exeriences and putting a spin on it is likely to yield more ideas. Keep a notebook handy for such inspiration.

Secrets to Writing Dialogue for Sitcoms

Writing Television Sitcoms (revised)
Writing a Sitcom
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Create distinction in how the characters speak in the words used, the sentence construction and the accent (to be indicated on the cue). Look for alternative words used if the line is a little flat. A thesaurus is useful for this purpose, but remember a more accurate word is not the objective, as in the case of literary fiction, but a word to make a one-liner funnier. Look at antonyms as well as synonyms.

Contrasts in Characters

Including ordinary or ‘sane’ minor characters in sitcoms is a good way of bringing out the ridiculous qualities of a main character and therefore what he or she is likely to say to greater focus.

If a funny line does not come, never force it. Put the script away or move to another part of the script for now. Sleeping on it or changing the scene might be the answer. More often than not, the scriptwriter just needs to find his or her inner voice.

Relevant Links to Writing Sitcoms

The Beginning of My Screenplay is Boring

The most crucial part of the script is the beginning for it determines whether the rest of the script will be read. However, a tedious build-up promising a compelling storyline may never come if the reader chucks the screenplay in the slush pile by page two. What is the secret to writing the ideal opening scene to a script?

What Film Producers Hate in a Screenplay

The main story could have the plot twists of a cold war thriller and characters with the hidden depths of a Stephen King story, but could all remain unrealised thanks to a poor opening scene. If the story does not grab the reader by page ten, the screenplay is destined for the return post. The most common issues could be the following:
  • Writing a prelude scene or scenes serving to explain what is about the happen in the story.
  • Creating an opening scene serving to introduce the characters or to help the reader make sense of the plot.
  • Allowing chitchat about the weather or similar small talk to leak into the opening dialogue.
  • In literary fashion, opening the screenplay with descriptions of the weather or the street or the inner thoughts of the characters. In such cases, the screenwriter needs to establish the difference between the novel and the screenplay.
Mistakes Screenwriters Make on Act One

The following are also a no-no for sciptwriting.
  • Spending too many pages on the build-up to an event in a bid to surprise the reader by page 11.
  • Conversely, putting everything in the first ten pages, from revelations of secrets to explosions, making the reader feel beaten about the head and the scenes become a blur.
  • Including stereotypical or copycat elements within the opening pages from characterisation (the alcoholic cop) to events (the car crash on New Year’s Eve) unless this is to serve a greater purpose.
  • Of course, grubby pages, typos grammatical errors are banned.
The Best Scene Opening for a Play

If the scene opener to a play or film sinks like a lead balloon, the following suggestions might help:

Look for a scene later in the screenplay and consider moving it to page one. This will inevitably change the dynamics of the play but could open fresh possibilities for new plot twists and better climaxes in acts two and three.

Alternatively, cut out the first five pages of the screenplay and see what happens. Starting a scene as late as possible serves to trim the sludge and the unnecessary preliminaries the reader does not really need to know.

In similar fashion, examine the dialogue and the action description and cut, cut, cut. Cut unnecessary adjectives, adverbs, wordy dialogue (unless it is to illustrate a chatty character). And cut superfluous characters that serve no purpose. Cutting may seem drastic, but it frees up the first pages for more to happen earlier. Aim for lots of white spaces around the screenplay text. Agents like to see white spaces around words of which every one counts.

Tips for Screenwriters on Writing Act One

The first ten pages of a script need not contain violence or shouting to hook the reader. It is often the gaps, the unsaid and the unexplained that turns the pages. Without being annoying about it, make the reader ask questions. Why did that man hide that letter in a box in the garden? Why did the bailiff take everything but that gold necklace? Subtly is often the key to creating a great opening scene.

Tips for Screenwriting Opening

Stamp out mimicry and stereotypes to strive for originality. See what happens if the opening scene occurs in another location, or if a character or trait is replaced by another. A lover’s tiff does not have to happen in a car, try a library. The tension of having to keep quiet could add elements of embarrassment and bottled emotions.

Perhaps the cop hates alcohol on account of an alcoholic father, and he (or she) runs the local AA and uses it to pry into other people’s lives in order to manipulate them. The reader may read on wanting to find out, “why is he doing this?”

A Great Hook for a Screenplay

Ensure the opening scene delivers what it promises in that it must not be the most dramatic or climatic scene in the screenplay. It must be relevant to the story and echo in some way throughout the screenplay. Save scenes with higher stakes until later.

Finally, imagine the reader to be a cheesed off, underpaid and overworked individual who is keen to clock off early. Prior to sending the screenplay, ask the honest opinion of a (trusted) fellow writer or tutor to weed out any issues with the opener. You don’t have to follow the advice, but it might bring forth issues unrealised. Alternatively, put the script away for a few weeks before reading it from an objective viewpoint.

Links to Advice on Screenwriting

Friday, 12 November 2010

Create a Convincing Baddie for My Crime Novel

One of the crafts of writing crime genre is conceiving not only a superhero the reader can empathise with, but a  convincing villain the reader finds compelling. Without a great fictional baddie, the crime novel falls flat. What can the writer do to create villains that are interesting, believable and propel the crime story?

Make Your Own Super Villain

A crime story is nothing without a great villain. But some crime writers may find it difficult to create a convincing baddie that moves the story forward. The reason might be that the author might have been inspired by a storyline rather than the characters. To make the story happen, the writer may “people” the plot, simply filling in gaps with fictional human entities that move from one scene to another.

To flesh out the villain character, the following issues may need addressing:

Allowing the subconscious to draw upon stereotypes or stereotypical characteristics during the character conception stage. Examples might be that the baddie has a deep scar on his cheek, has a penchant for graveyards or wears a long trench coat. Such characteristics may have been sourced from real life notorious criminals or fictional villains from classic novels.

Not creating contrast between characters in the story. This does not just mean in “good” or “bad,” but in the body language, the dialogue used or the past the counterparts have inhabited. In this respect, black appears blacker next to white.


An audio sample of my book the Shuttered Room: a kidnapper locks a hostage in the loft. An unsavory deed, but his insecurities are revealed later in the novel.

A Great Crime Story

Not giving the villain a past or a childhood is a big mistake, and will make the actions and motives of the character unconvincing. Creating a character profile questionnaire will flesh out the villain. This may involve inventing a family background, educational history, nicknames, language used, clothes sense, disabilities or eye colour, (even if some of these details are left out of the novel). These strategies will make the villain appear real in the author’s mind during the writing.

Creative Writing Tips for Crime Writing

Making the villain’s thought processes rational given his or her past is a gift. Instilling sympathy for a baddie within the reader will make the villain more disturbing and might spur the reader ask questions about themselves and about why people do the things they do.

No one is totally good or totally bad. Give the villain some redeeming features that will make the villain more rounded. A villain that does nothing but bad things or thinks bad thoughts may make the baddie appear flat rather than three dimensional, and instill apathy within the reader.

In this excerpt in my blog novel, Nora, the heroine, Nancy actually behaves villainous. However, she behaves this way because of a past trauma, as can be seen in this scene describing displaced anger. Here, she deprives a cripple one of his crutches because she thinks he has betrayed her.

Crime Writing Solutions

Adding real depth and complexity to a baddie is possible if the writer looks deep within. Creating an emotional landscape the writer can identify with will generate a baddie the writer can really empathise with. The resultant villain’s motives and desires are better understood and ultimately help to create a character-driven crime story.

An example might be how a divorce might have impacted upon the author’s ability to make friends at school. Projecting the lonely feelings this might have invoked in the writer can be projected upon the villain albeit for a different reason, which might be a childhood spent in hostels due to poverty. Having an intimate understanding of the villain’s emotional core is the key to creating a realistic villain rather than a cardboard cut-out character within the crime novel.

Links to Further Advice on Crime Writing

Thursday, 11 November 2010

How do I Market My Ebook and Make Money?

The author epublishing a novel on the internet may be disappointed in the amount of traffic going to the book and sales might be slow. What can the writer do to increase traffic to the ebook and land more sales?

Ebook Marketing Solutions

Plug Your Book! Online Book Marketing for Authors, Book Publicity through Social Networking
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The novelist may find that publishing a digital novel is quite simple, as free publishing tools on Amazon, Smashwords or LuLu make sharing a novel with the world possible. However, with so much competition out there, the enovel could well be buried beneath millions of other enovels.

The Trouble with Book Search for Ebooks

The potential reader may often have a specific title in mind during a search, such as books by and about celebrities, well-known crime writers and similar JK Rowlings of the world, leaving the obscure self published author high and dry.

However, some readers are not sure what they are looking for, and may put in a general search term for a book genre. This provides opportunities for a lesser-known digital novel to get found. In such cases, the novelist may ask the honest question if the novel fills a gap, is original or offers something most other books of the same genre do not. If not, the novel may need revising. If so, it is time to emarket the book.

Money Word Matrix for Digital Books

Keyword research really is the bread and butter of getting traffic to an ebook, but is quite an exact science. I have therefore dedicated a separate article on how to use keywords for strategic marketing of an ebook (to be found at the foot of this article). Great opportunities for using keywords are in the blurb, write-up, synopsis or story tagline. Creating a blog or website and linking it to the ebook is a must. Write about influences, writing tips, the creative journey of the book and include excerpts from the book to create interesting content for potential readers.

Other free space for authors to sell their books can be found in Amazon’s CreateSpace, My Space, AuthorNation.com; Writearoundtheblock.com and good old Blogger.

Getting an Ebook Noticed

Needless to say, as with any piece of writing on the web, be it article, advert, short story or poem, something that is well-written or original will get discovered in time. Other webmasters will provide backlinks or readers will give good customer reviews, helping the book to get noticed. In this vein, it is just a matter of time. But what else can the writer do to market the ebook in the meantime?

The Best Ebook Cover Design

It is true that most readers judge a book by its cover. Sadly, most authors are not graphic designers and may not afford to commission an artist, but fear not, most epublishers provide free software for the ebook design cover. The following pointers might help the writer with finding the best design cover for an ebook.

Tips for Great Ebook Covers

Although some books mimic the look and design of other successful novels, it is often best to find an original design. This will help make the book stand out from the crowd. Allow the color scheme to reflect the feel of the book. Bold punchy colors might suit a thriller or crime novel. Subdued moody colors might suit a book about family relationships or a sombre thriller.

Images for Ebooks

Avoid cluttering the book cover with too much detail. Less is often more when it comes to a professional finish, which is why many ebooks have plenty of space around the illustrations and text.

Text for Digital Novels

ePublish: Self-Publish Fast and Profitably for Kindle, iPhone, CreateSpace and Print on Demand
click to buy from Amazon
It is never too late to change the title if the author has misgivings. Avoid hackneyed or generalised phrases that does not evoke an image, or those that remind the reader of another book. Original use of words will make the book title memorable or whet the potential reader’s appetite, ask questions or wonder what the book is about. A thesaurus is invaluable for this purpose.

Best Price for Enovels

The customer will expect the ebook to be cheaper than the hard copy version. According to Writer’s Forum, £2 (or around $3.50) is a good price to aim for. This falls within the higher royalty option threshold if the book is published with Amazon.com, which is 70%, a tidy profit for the author.

How to Market Research for the Enovel

Before deciding upon the final look of the book or the blurb, look for any other ebooks that have a similar theme or cover. Watch out for similar titles or use of words. Provide a link back to the personal blog or website that allows customers to leave feedback on the look of the book or any issues that might hamper sales.

Links to Novel Writing Solutions

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

How do I Drive Traffic to My Ebook with Kewords?

Publishing an ebook or pdf book is only the beginning of a bumpy journey for the author, as with millions of other titles to compete with, how can the ebook get noticed and make sales for the author?

How to Make Money from Ebook Marketing

Regardless of how riveting the plot might be, unless the author takes reign of every marketing strategy available to get the digital book seen, the story will remain largely unread. So what can the author do to drive traffic to and make money from an ebook? Well, there are many ways to get interested customers to the electronic book, such as:
  • Marketing the ebook by using keywords.
  • The appearance of the book cover design.
  • The title of the book.
  • The write up, review or blurb.
  • The price of the ebook.
  • And finally, what the book is about.
Each of these elements is quite in depth, and so is covered in separate articles, but a key factor and the focus of this article is good use of keywords.

Making Money from Ebook Sales

Web writers can ascertain search volume and competition of various keywords via Google’s Adwords Keyword Tool (a link to this keyword tool is provided at the bottom of this article). Keywords are essentially words or group of words web writers use in their articles to ensure the page is easily found or highly ranked on Google search results.

To simplify the process, imagine the electronic book is a thriller about a bank robbery. The author might brainstorm words and phrases a potential reader might use to find a book like this. Such phrases might be, crime story, detective fiction novel, adventure crime thriller, bank robbery story, train robbery, fiction about a train robbery, etc.

Keyword Search Tool for Epublishing

The next step is to select relevant and highly searched against keywords from the Google’s Keyword Tool. It takes a little getting used to, but a careful peruse of tutorials means the writer can make good use of this free keyword tool.

If the writer captures keywords within speech marks into the Google search bar, the competition of these keywords will be given. The term, “detective fiction novel” has a global search volume of around 2000, which is quite high, but using this phrase means the writer is competing with other webpages who are using this exact phrase. Google’s search has revealed 182,000 results, which makes this key phrase unsuitable for enovel marketing, as it will be buried beneath other results with the same phrase.

Making Sales from a Digital Novel

One strategy is attaching a few words to a high search volume phrase to bring the competition down. The phrase “detective fiction novel about a train robbery” has no competition and might bring a few visitors. However, the secret to finding the best keywords is to find search queries lots of people are using but are scarcely used by web writers. This is known as the money word matrix. Keyword research takes time, but is worth it.

The Best Keywords for Enovels

The most effective keywords for driving traffic to a digital novel are those that are not vague, such as “crime novel,” but those that are specific, such as, “story about a train robbery.” Use synonyms, such as heist, hold-up or siege. Ensure also that the keywords accurately describe the enovel. It’s no good using words like “mystery thriller,” if there is no mystery in the story. Of course, the writer must include the title of the novel and the writer’s credit so that the potential customer will easily find the ebook again.

Keywords for Ebook Marketing

The author may by now have several keywords and phrases to use for marketing the enovel. The best place for these words is in headings, subheadings, bullet points, hyperlinks and dotted around the body text. Ideal opportunities for a scattering of keywords might be in the novel synopsis, the blurb or enovel description.

If sales of the ebook remain slow, the author can always go back and make amendments to the keywords used, or change them altogether. Driving traffic to a web page via keyword strategies is often one of trial and error.

Relevant Links to Ebook Marketing Strategies

How do I Publish My Novel as an Ebook for Free?

An author wishing to self publish a novel online is able to emarket the book to a wide audience with free publishing tools to different channels. A great way is epublishing through Amazon.com.

Online Book Publishing Companies

The Well-Fed Self-Publisher: How to Turn One Book into a Full-Time Living
click to buy from Amazon
Most authors would jump at the chance at having a published novel on the bookshelves, but sadly, this is difficult to achieve. But the past few years has seen a revolutionary power shift in the author’s favour. Ebook publishing companies such as Google Ebooks, LuLu, Smashwords, XinZii and, the focus of this article, Amazon.com have made publishing tools and resources available to the author.

Amazon contains a host of publishing options via their CreateSpace, explored on a separate article, which includes the option of publishing the novel as an Ebook on their Kindle bookstore, or through print on demand.

Ebook PDF for Novels

Once the novel has been edited to perfection, the writer may use Amazon’s free publishing tools to create a digital book. A file format that is widely accepted is PDF. PDF can be read on many digital platforms, such as Kindler reader, Ipad, Sony Reader and Adobe digital readers.

PDF also retains much of the original look of the word document regarding fonts and layout, but also allows embedding of navigation software. Free downloadable PDF software for writers can be found on Microsoft.com/downloads.

Ideal Page Size for Electronic Books

Some digital readers allow pages to be displayed side by side, others as one page at a time. This many make it difficult for the author to decide on the page size, format and fonts. Of course, this is down to personal choice, but ideally, select portrait mode, A5 which is 140mm wide by 210mm high. Leave at least 20mm margins around the page.

Best Font for Online Books

Keep the fonts simple and consistent, and avoid those that are hard to decipher. Arial, Georgia or the well-used Times New Roman is perhaps best. 12point will make the page easy to read. Think carefully before deciding to choose justify, as lines that contain few words can look unsightly if they are separated by large spaces between. Avoid numbering the page on the file, as the reader will automatically generate page numbers for the ebook.

Ebook Cover Design

If the author is adept at painting or design, all well and good, but may have the option to commission an artist, or use Amazon’s online cover designer. The great thing about this is that creative control remains with the author. In many cases, potential customers judge a product by its package, and this is certainly true of books. Avoid cheap garish colors. Prefer an evocative book title and avoid clich├ęs or overused phraseology. Endeavour for a book cover that stands out from the rest.

Ebook Royalties

Aiming at Amazon: The NEW Business of Self Publishing, or How to Publish Your Books with Print on Demand and Online Book Marketing on Amazon.com
click to buy from Amazon
Amazon offer two pricing options for the ebook: The first is the 70% royalty option, for ebooks within a low price threshold, the other is 35% royalty for ebooks within a higher price range. It is worth bearing in mind, that the enovel may attract more buyers if it is low in price.


How to Publish an Ebook to Amazon

The Author has three requirements prior to uploading a book to Amazon: The complete book, saved in a PDF file, the book cover and the price. Creating a digital novel is made easy through Amazon’s publishing tools. This entails uploading the book to Amazon and previewing it for formatting errors. Upload the book cover or use Amazon’s online cover designer, and then decide on the pricing. It is all quite easy. The hard part is marketing the ebook to get it seen.

Links Relating to Marketing a Novel

Sunday, 7 November 2010

I Wish I could Self Publish My Novel for Free

Self publishing a novel for nothing is possible through Amazon’s CreateSpace program which enables the author to produce a book, get it published, have the book printed on demand or as electronic book. The costs are deducted from the royalties at source, leaving the author with a tidy profit with no outlay.

Make Your Own Book through Amazon

Self-Publishing with Amazon's CreateSpace: A Resource Guide for the Author Considering Self-Publishing
click to buy from Amazon
Amazon’s CreateSpace is a hub of free online publishing tools that enables the writer to publish, sell and distribute books through Amazon. The CreateSpace account means the writer can sell books through three different channels. These are:

Online Ebook Marketing

Amazon’s eKindle Digital Text Platform, an ebookstore for customers who prefer to view a book electronically via a Kindle, Ipad or other electronic book reader. Epublishing a book this way costs the author nothing and makes the book easily available to readers wishing to save money on hard copies.

The system also allows the author to display sample pages of the book on a personal website or blog with a direct link to Amazon, streamlining the customer experience.

Print on Demand Self Publishing

Another way to market a novel to millions of potential customers is through Amazon.com. A “look inside” feature enables the customer to view a sample of the book prior to purchase. If a hard copy is ordered, Amazon is able to print books singularly via Lightning Source (a huge print on demand company), dispensing with the costs of producing a book in bulk.

Expanded Distribution Channel

For a small fee, the author may upgrade the Createspace account to “Pro Plan.” This enables the author’s book to reach other channels beyond Amazon.com and Amazon’s eKindle store. The expanded channels include libraries, educational institutions and bookstores across the US. Again, print on demand is utilised.

Books on Demand for Self Publishing

In order to self publish a novel with Amazon’s CreateSpace, the author has three basic requirements. These are:
  • The complete novel. The file needs to be saved as a PDF for upload onto the Amazon site.
  • A book design cover. This may be provided by the writer, a commissioned artist or obtained from the Amazon design cover software.
  • A sales price of the book. This can be worked out via the Amazon’s online calculator.
  • If listing a novel through Amazon.com, CreateSpace will allocate a free ISBN for the book.
Authors’ Guide to Amazon Self Publishing

POD for Profit: More on the NEW Business of Self Publishing, or How to Publish Your Books With Online Book Marketing and Print on Demand by Lightning Source
click to buy from Amazon
Special features of the CreateSpace publish a book are as follows:
  • A book cover designer that the author may utilise if the author is unable to produce one.
  • For a small fee, online consultants to help the writer with editing marketing, design and selling.
  • Functions that enable the writer to price the book via online calculators for book size, number of pages and matters of color illustrations within.
  • Amazon’s royalty calculator that enable the author to work out the profits of each book. In the case of ebooks, the writer may choose between the 70% royalty option (for digital books within a low price bracket) and the 35% royalty option (for ebooks above this price bracket).
  • A free ISBN generator.
  • Professional binding’
  • Laminated book cover for print on demand books.
  • The option of printing on cream or white paper.
  • The option to publish in different languages.
  • A supportive forum.
Self Publish a Novel for Free

Amazon’s CreateSpace enables the novelist to self-publish a novel easily and at little or no cost through three different channels. Amazon’s features make the process of cover design and book marketing easier than the conventional route of finding an agent, producing the book and distribution. Instead, Amazon.com enables the customer to purchase the novel as a digital book or as a print on demand. The author can also make further sales beyond the Amazon threshold when upgrading the CreateSpace account.

Relevant Links Relating to Self Publishing a Novel

Saturday, 6 November 2010

My Situation Comedy Isn’t Funny

Writing a situation comedy requires a specific set of skills that enables the story to unfold in a limited time period and in specific settings. But creating comedy should come from the writer’s heart and not follow rules. How does the writer create the ideal sitcom that is guaranteed to get laughs?

Creative Writing Tips for a Great Sitcom

How NOT to Write a Sitcom: 100 Mistakes to Avoid If You Ever Want to Get Produced (Writing Handbooks)
click to buy from Amazon
The parameters for writing a comedy soap are pretty well set in stone. Each script should have a running time of twenty five minutes with five minutes break in the middle, and have two studio sets and perhaps two or three minor sets. Most of the action will take place in one setting, perhaps a living area or a place of work. Formatting a situation comedy is essential to getting it read. Link to a free formatting tool for situation comedy can be found at the foot of this article.

How to Write Comedy Scripts for TV

This is all well and good but, a great TV comedy is one that should be character driven. It is not good to make assumptions about what is funny and then simply fill it with people. It is the people that makes a comedy funny, not the situation, props or a way of life. With the right characters and comic tension, anything can be made funny, even estate agents or undertakers.

Original Comedy Drama

The script writer may create great funny characters only by an intimate understanding of what makes the characters tick. This will mean putting a little of the writer in the character. Intimate understanding and empathy with the character will show in the writing. Completing a character profile questionnaire (see link at the foot of this article) will help create quirky characters with unique drives. Great characters that have real comedy potential may have the following qualities:
  • Characters that the audience can identify with in some way, for a perceived failing or odd quirk, such as The Office’s Davie Brent’s narcissistic need to be liked by everyone.
  • A character with silly notions about the world, such as Basil Fawlty’s need to get ahead of an imagined system that is out to get him.
  • Comic contrast with another character, which can be seen between anal Rimmer and loutish Lister in Red Dwarf.
  • A situation that presses buttons within the characters that make them reveal themselves in a ridiculous way and having unforeseen circumstances. Opportunities for this can be found from a location, event or series of events.
Tips for Comic Writing

The Eight Characters of Comedy: Guide to Sitcom Acting And Writing
click to buy from Amazon
Never write a comedy to fill an imagined industry need, but for oneself. Plumb the depths of past experiences to make the writing authentic. Relate a situation that may have really happened and dress it up, make it more embarrassing, cringe-worthy or ridiculous. Imagine the worst thing that could happen to a character and turn the thumb-screws a little more for comic effect. This does not always mean being heavy-handed, but subtle. Express a truth in a warped way. The most important thing is to be original. The industry always needs originality.

Make Money Writing a Comedy Script

During the redraft, think about the target audience. Is it meant for young audiences, such as Gavin and Stacey, or is it a cosy type of comedy soap, such as Not Going Out? Is it intended for the well-seasoned viewer, having a cynical view on life such as Lead Balloon? Thinking about the market will make the script easier for agents to pitch if the comedy writer encounters a lucky break.

How to Write Funny Dialogue

Writing funny dialogue is another matter and is covered in more detail in another article on this blog. Needless to say, dialogue forms the bread and butter of comedy writing and involves several elements, including:
  • Timing.
  • What the characters do not say.
  • Delivery.
  • The body language whilst the line is being delivered.
  • The context of what is being said.
  • What had been said previously.
  • The language (slang, dialect or idioms).
A funny character-driven plot containing characters the writer intimately identifies with will often write itself. Natural dialogue often comes from instinct and close observation. But dialogue should capture the essence of real life dialogue, distilled and concocted to best effect. Less is also more. Putting it tersely or using a few witty one-liners never does any harm to a funny script.

Writing a Situation Comedy

Writing a funny script cannot be done to order. It must come from the writer’s heart and contain a mote of truth, albeit a warped version. Funny characters will often contain contradictions and bizarre quirks the writer can identify with. Drawing upon past experiences and dressing them up is a great way of conceiving funny scenes for the sitcom.

Links Relating to Writing a Sitcom

Friday, 5 November 2010

Write a Novel in Thirty Days Tutorial

Writing a novel in a month may seem insane, but the national writing month’s target of 50,000 words in thirty days is a challenge many writers welcome. Not only is it a fun activity, it also leaves the writer with a first draft of a novel almost in an instant. But what strategies can the writer use to ensure that a novel has been written in a month?

Best Nanowrimo Tips

National Writing Month, or Nanowrimo, as it is also known, occurs annually every November. Thousands of writers take part, bringing a feeling of a collective experience for a pastime that is usually a lonely one. Blogs, forums and books have been written on this writing event. But the writer starting out may need some practical and concise advice on how to write thousands of words every day for thirty days.

The following practical writing tips may help:

Support for Writers During Nanowrimo

Give some notice to family and friends that you intend to write a novel in a month. Seek understanding and support. Clear the diary of events and commitments if possible. Take some leave from work. Plan ahead to grant as much breathing space and support for writing as possible.

How to be a Productive Writer

Writing takes energy. It might not be the same as jogging or weight lifting, but in excess is exhausting. It is a good idea to keep fit, prior to and during the writing challenge month. Regular exercise of the favoured kind will help keep the brain alert and productive. This could be in the form of an early morning swim, a walk during lunch break or an evening cycle after work. Writers who have to fit writing with family commitments or work will benefit from anything from ten minutes.

A balanced diet is great for the brain. It is well known that grey matter has the greatest need for carbohydrates. The complex kind are best, this includes wholemeal pasta, oats, buckwheat and spelt bread. Fish oil capsules can do little harm as it contains essential omega 3. Getting regular sleep will also help brain function.

Anti Procrastinating Program for Writers

With the body and brain in tiptop condition, the writer can make best use of the little time available during the writing month. This means planning ahead. It is a good idea to have some idea of what the novel is about prior to National Writing Month. This means knowing how the novel begins, the key scenes, climaxes and how the story might resolve. Completing fiction character profiles means that the novel fares a better chance of evolving into a character-driven plot, which will make novel easier to write.

Nanowrimo Success

The first paragraph to a novel is like oiling the writing wheels. Think about this before November first. Once the pen starts to flow, don’t look back. Just keep writing. The following writing exercises are essential to getting 2000 words per day written minimum.
  • Use good quality writing materials: Sharp HB or B pencils, erasers, sharpeners and smooth paper. Pen is not ideal, as mistakes have to be scribbled over and rewritten which could make the writing harder to follow.
  • Take the writing materials everywhere with you, either in a bag or dotted about the house. Write whenever time or situations allow. This includes in the car, waiting for the bus, whilst the kids are in the bath, in the garden and even on the loo.
  • Never look back. Editing can wait. Don’t worry if the right word has not been nailed. Get the story down and keep looking ahead.
  • If the flow of writing starts to stodge up, get up and walk about. Run up and down the stairs, go for a quick walk to get more oxygen to the brain. Teachers use this kinaesthetic strategy to keep students alert in class.
If the urge to write takes you, do it. This may happen in the middle of the night or early morning. Take the opportunity but take care not to burn the brain out.

A Thirty Day Novel

Writing thousands of words every day will be easier some days than others. Accept this. The writer may find the flow comes easier as the month progresses, but may hit brick walls. Writer’s block is the curse most writers dread. If this happens, write anything. Skip the next bit and begin on another part of the novel. No one said the novel had to be written from beginning to end.

Novel Writing Organiser

Some writers find keeping track a good idea. If typing on a computer, opening ten files consisting of 6000 words each may seem less daunting than opening one huge file that needs 60,000 words to fill. Small goals can be achieved quite easily. Ticking off every thousand words will give the author a small sense of achievement.

If the novel starts to fall behind schedule, ensure the next day or few days are clear for catching up. If the novel is ahead of schedule, don’t get complacent. Keep going as though the novel is on track.

Relevant advice on writing novels quickly can be found on the following links.

Novel Writing Exercises