Darcy Pattison's Blog

August 30, 2015

I talked with an editor earlier this week about my new novel, The Blue Marbles, a sff YA and found that editorial input comes in two forms–and these are so important to finding the right editor for your story.


Positioning in the Market Place

2 discussions that help you decide if this is the right editor for your story. | Fiction Notes by Darcy Pattison


The first thing we talked about was our visions for the story, to see if we meshed. This is very much a marketing discussion. Where does the story fit into the marketplace? Who would read this book? Is this a middle grade or a YA?


Vastly important, you must know your audience because it determines so much of the next question about the quality of the story. If my story is a YA, it means that I need to follow certain conventions of the genre. The protagonist should be of a certain age; he’s got a certain outlook about dating and girls; he’s reacting to family in certain ways. It brings up questions such as should he be able to drive or not? If the story is middle grade, the tone of the story would be very different. The answers to the questions would be vastly different.


Even saying that it’s a YA, isn’t quite enough. Is it a young-YA or is it closer to the New Adult category? In other words, will the tone of the romance involve just a brief kiss or something much more physical.


What happens when you disagree with the editor’s opinion of where to best sell this story? I’ve seen writers struggle with this because they want to write a YA. They read YAs; they talk YAs; they live YAs. But when they write, what comes out is a middle grade. Sigh. It’s frustrating. What you love isn’t necessarily what you can write. (At least not yet.)


YOU want to push the story to a YA; the editor wants to push it to middle grade BECAUSE she thinks s/he can sell the story there.


In some ways, this is a career question and not just an editing-this-novel question. Where do you have the best chance of creating a career for yourself? HINT: It might be different than what you thought.


Writers are notorious for not SEEING clearly what we write. Sometimes, you have an inkling that, well, this might be middle grade instead of YA. But you don’t WANT it to be MG; you love YA. Sorry.


An editor’s strength is that s/he has a pulse on two things: great story writing and marketing great stories. For an editor, those two things must match up. And you, as the writer, must either trust that editor or find a different one. You must also decide if you want a career based on the editor’s positioning of the book in the marketplace. If it’s positioned as a middle grade, can you–do you want to–follow up with a second middle grade? Because careers are built on building a readership who consistently comes to you for a certain type of story.


When a manuscript sells, your first thought is celebration! Yahoo! Your second thought is, “What next?” To build a readership, what story is the logical follow-up. When someone reads THIS story, which of your possible stories would they naturally pick up next and love just as much or more?


This question of the editorial marketing vision for your story is crucial. You must share your editor’s vision for the story. Otherwise–it may not be the best fit for you, your story, and ultimately, your career.


Tell the Best Story Possible

The second thing a great editor can do it help you create the best story possible, given the shared vision.


For me, the discussion had some themes I’m familiar with:


Setting. While my natural world settings were strong, when the story veered into a school–where the YA would be very apparent–I need more work. Setting is crucial to making sure the reader is grounded in your story.


Raise the stakes. The editor suggested a change that would raise the stakes of my story. The reader should always be invested in finding out what happens next, and if you can put more at risk, the stakes pull them through the story.


Emotional resonance. On a similar note, the emotional story should resonate with the reader and impact them in some way.


Everything we discussed seemed reasonable and necessary because we were heading toward a mutually agreed upon goal. Without the shared vision, the specifics of a revision are agonizing; with a shared vision, revision is like dancing with a friend, where you mirror each other’s moves in perfect harmony.

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Published on August 30, 2015 03:59 • 2 views

August 24, 2015

I have a problem in my WIP novel, which is just in the outline stage. There���s a specific illness going around and to SHOW, DON’T TELL that the illness is really bad, an important character must become sick.


But then, I have this sick character, Em. And she���s, well, sick.

She���s become a Damsel-in-Distress, who has no active part in the story. She���s a weak love interest, whose only role is to be sick and provide motivation for the main character.


It���s a good motivator. Jake, my main character, really cares for Em, and he���ll do almost anything to find a cure. From that side of things, it���s working. But Em is still just a sick���and-convenient���character.


I���ve given Em some other character problems. She���s adopted and is looking for information on her birth parents. They���ll come into the story and the intersection of these characters will give Em some rosy cheeks of health. Her subplot will be one of discovering who she really is.


But the excitement doesn���t last long enough for her. She has a crisis in her health, which is necessary to get Jake moving. Again, Em becomes a sick, convenient, unappealing and placid character. How do I provide some sort of action around a sickly character?


There are precedents for sick or sickly characters.

Angelic character and how the illness and/or death affect the main characters. In Little Women, Beth dies from scarlet fever. While her health wastes away, she is active, though, knitting and sewing clothes for neighborhood children. Her death is a major impact on Jo���s life, the main character. By giving her selfless acts to perform, it elevates Beth. She���s angelic in everything, never complaining and dying without a lot of fuss. By elevating Beth���s moral character, we understand why her life was important.


Imaginary life. In Paul Fleischman���s Mind���s Eye, a paralyzed girl leaves the real world behind in an imaginary trip across 1910 Italy. Here, Courtney comes alive in her imagination. She and her nursing home roommate, 88 year old Elva, use a 1910 Baedeker guide to catch trains, to travel and to live. It reminds me of a Star Trek episode about Captain Pike, the original captain of the Enterprise, who is injured and in a wheelchair. There���s a forbidden planet, and we find out that it���s forbidden because the inhabitants live a virtual life. On that planet, however, Pike can live a happy and full virtual life, walking and climbing wherever he wants. Like Courtney, Captain Pike chooses the illusion of life over the reality of his paralysis.


Give the sick character an amazing POV voice. John Green���s character in The Fault in Our Stars is suffering from cancer, and indeed, the whole story is about living with a death sentence in your lungs. The narration is from her POV and it���s a distinctive voice.


Entwine the emotions. In My Sister���s Keeper, Jodi Picoult poses an interesting dilemma. A younger sister is conceived for the specific purpose of donating an organ to her sickly older sister. The sisters, though, are both active to an extent and the real success here is how the emotional lives are entwined, just as their fates are interwoven.


Writing Sickly Characters

Sick Character? Give them Bigger-than-Life personality. Here's how. | Fiction Notes by Darcy Pattison


Here are some take-aways for my own writing.


Sick, but not incoherent. A character can be physically challenged or sick, but there must be lucid moments where the character���s life and personality emerge. Em can be very sick, but the illness must ebb and flow. And develop her personality, hopes, dreams, fears, anxieties, dreams, etc. as possible.


No griping. Okay. Em feels lousy. But no one wants to read about a character who complains her way through the actual horrors of the human form when it���s sick. No explicity descriptions of throwing up, other bodily fluids, etc., at least in MY stories. Instead, the sickly person rises above those things and we see her character, not her illness.


Emotional impact. Sick or not, people are invested deeply in Em���s life. They want to be with her and they care about her thoughts, emotions, reactions, etc. Perhaps, she must be even more entwined than usual in the main character���s life.


Action when possible. When she���s feeling good, I’ll give Em as much action as possible. I’ll look for both major and minor actions. Maybe stealing a cell phone and making a forbidden phone call is enough of a physical challenge, while also moving the plot along in some way. Look for ways to add action, arguments, and conflict. Just because she���s sick, she doesn���t get away with an easy life emotionally. Otherwise, where���s the story? Story requires conflict and even sick people in your story must endure the conflict���or there���s no story.


Rescue. Well, it���s OK. Em might need to be rescued. I know, gender roles these days decree that she not be a Damsel-in-Distress; instead, she must be the conquering princess who fights the dragon herself and saves the poor, incompetent prince. But that���s a modern trope that is just as bad as the damsel-in-distress trope. The challenge will be to create a unique, living character without falling prey to either clich��.


In short, sick or not, Em must be a real character. She���s no damsel-in-distress; neither is she the modern woman who rescues the weak men in her life. Instead, she pursues her goals with the same fervor (and whatever physical strength she can muster) as the main character, Jake. It���s a plan.

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Published on August 24, 2015 04:16 • 2 views

August 17, 2015

I’ve been reading lots of manuscripts lately and a common problem keeps arising. As a reader, I keep wondering, “Where am I?”


The plot and characters are often interesting, but I’m lost. I need a map to figure out where I am. In other words, setting is crucial to keeping your readers grounded in your story.


When?

Often, the problem is that I don’t know WHEN the story is taking place. This could be anything from what century to what season of the year. The simple detail of a Christmas tree might be enough to reorient me to the setting. Or I might need details of clothing worn in 1492 to understand the setting. Either way, the relevant details must be woven into the story. However, you can often just add a simple phrase to indicate time: early that morning, an hour later, or meanwhile.

Learn the secret of great descriptions! Hint: There are only 5 things to know. | Fiction Notes by Darcy Pattison


Where?

The WHERE question can be much more complicated because it should be woven into the story seamlessly. One writer recently said that she was afraid to bog down her story with lots of description. That fear kept her from adding details that would keep the reader grounded. Novels aren’t screenplays or movie scripts; for those, you expect the production to fill in the blanks. For novels, though, you must play the movie in the reader’s head for them.


Beats in dialogue. This is especially important in dialogue or conversations between characters. Another writer had nice dialogue, but it was all in isolation–talking heads. You must remember that the characters are people who fidget, move around, blunder around or just nod their heads. Of course, sometimes you DO want a section that focuses on words. But even there, the right detail at the right time can emphasize a point, add comic relief, or make the story more believable.



Setting comes alive when you have the right details, usually sensory details. If you were a character in the story, in this particular scene, what would you see, hear, smell, touch, or taste? Description comes down to the careful use of our senses to put the reader into the scene.


Often, I’ll create a sensory details worksheet. Down a side of a page, I’ll write the senses: See, Hear, Smell, Touch, Taste. Then, for each sense, I try to find three details unique to the setting. I’m also trying to do it in language that would be used by the POV character.


Be specific as you do this.

Not: dog

Instead: Pit Bull


Notice that I didn’t say, “Big Dog.” The use of modifiers–adjectives and adverbs–weakens a story. Instead, I search for a more specific word, such as the name of a dog breed. Only after the verb or noun is as specific as possible do I allow myself to add modifiers.


Not: dog

Instead: Pit bull

Even Better: pit bull with a white-tipped tail


Be reasonable. Sometimes, “dog” is enough, depending on the story, where you want the reader to pay attention, and the intended audience. For a toddler’s story, Dog would be reasonable. Mostly, though, writers need to be more specific and avoid those adjectives that work as a crutch, but really add nothing to the description: good, nice, big, small, etc.


A special note on Touch/Feel: Often writers want to translate this into emotions. Instead, I mean this as a physical sensation of touch, usually temperature or texture.


Not: I loved my lunch.

Instead: The chili burned my tongue.


Once I have a list of sensory details, I like to start a scene with a unique detail. I search the imagined setting for something that will make a reader stop and pay attention. Here are some descriptions from the first pages of my Aliens, Inc. Series. The series is for 1st-4th grade readers, and each story begins in art class. Use the links to download sample first chapters to read more.



“Mrs. Crux, the art teacher had put a blue bowl of fruit on each table and said, ‘Paint this.'” from Kell, the Alien, Book 1, The Aliens Inc. Series
“I swiped a streak of red across my paper.” from Kell and the Horse Apple Parade, Book 2, The Aliens Inc. Series
“I bent over the giant state of Texas.” from Kell and the Giants(Listen to the audiobook sample), Book 3, The Aliens Inc. Series
“My hand dripped with blue paint.” from Kell and the Detectives (audiobook sample), Book 3, The Aliens Inc. Series

Balancing Description and Narrative

It’s impossible to tell you how to balance the narrative descriptions, dialogue and action. As an author, you need to learn which area you are strongest in and which is your weakest area. If you consistently get the response from readers, “I’m lost,” then you need to provide more description. Don’t fear the descriptions. They won’t slow down the reader unless you really go overboard. But they can sure LOSE you a reader, if you get them lost. They won’t trust you to tell the story and will stop reading.


In other words, listen to your early readers. If they are confused about what is happening, your descriptions are weak. If they are drowning in detail, the story will feel slow-paced. Work to find the right balance for your story and your readers. Just be sure they never get lost.

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Published on August 17, 2015 03:01 • 2 views

August 12, 2015

As you know, I’m a hybrid author, with some traditionally published books and some published. I’ve written about the process here on Fiction Notes, and on Jane Friedman’s blog here and here.


Indie publishing, especially of children’s books, is hard. I listen to everything that those who write for adults talk about and try to adjust strategies to the world of children’s literature. And mostly, things don’t translate.


So, I’ve decided to try to bring together those who write for children and are involved with independent publishing or self-publishing.


Indie Kids Books Listserv

The purpose of the group will be to discuss independent or self-publishing as it relates specifically to children’s books: nonfiction or fiction, for readers from birth to 18. We’ll discuss writing, illustrating, publishing and marketing your books. Join the listserv discussion group by sending an email to

IndieKidsBooks-subscribe@yahoogroups.com


The group is just forming–get in on the ground floor!

Pass this along to anyone interested, whether they have books published or are just thinking about it.

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Published on August 12, 2015 06:55 • 6 views

August 10, 2015

Here’s a question about punctuation, with an answer about style.


Which of these is correctly punctuated?


I like oranges, apples, and bananas.

I like oranges, apples and bananas.


The answer is it depends on the style manual that you use.


In school, you were probably taught certain rules about punctuation, and your teachers told you that the rules were the “right” way to punctuate. There were no options, no other ways of working.


The reality is that punctuation conventions are just conventions that people agree upon. Two major style guides ar the Associated Press style guide, which is often used by newspapers, and the Chicago Manual of Style, often used by publishers. To make matters more complicated, often a publishing house will follow a “house style,” that is, they will decide that all of their books will follow certain punctuation rules.


In the example above, the AP style would add that last comma, but the Chicago style wouldn’t.


I like oranges, apples, and bananas. (AP Style)

I like oranges, apples and bananas. (Chicago Manual of Style)


When my first book was published by Grennwillow/Harpercollins, of course, it went through extensive editing. I was shocked and embarrassed by the red ink that came back to me on the edited manuscript. In truth, I didn’t do so badly. They were simply applying the house style to my story. Copyeditors use a style manual as they edit.

Copyedit: Correct punctuation depends on the style guide you choose. And you have options. | DarcyPattison.com



Copyedit According to Style

What does this mean for your story? Well, you have options.


First, you could just write the best story you know how, copyedit the best you know how–and then trust your publisher’s copyeditor to finish the process. It works.


Or, you could study one of the style manuals and stick with it strictly. For fiction, the best option is probably the Chicago Manual of Style. Learning a style guide down cold is technical stuff, and takes focus and an eye for detail; but it can be done.


If you’re self-publishing, you can still choose one way or the other; the difference is that you’ll be hiring the copyeditor and will tell them what style to use.


Personally, I’ll admit it: I don’t have an eye for detail necessary to be a good copyeditor. It would be painful for me to strictly follow a style manual. With each story, I learn more and more about things I should or shouldn’t do; however, I’ll never be perfect. Well, no one will be perfect–see this post on continuity goofs and other errors. But a good copyeditor can get your story pretty close to perfect. I let them do what they do best while I do what I do best, which is to tell a story.


Be very sure: that’s not a copout. I’m not ignoring the issue of punctuation. Writers should take it seriously and know the basics and know when and how they can stretch the punctuation. One of my favorite books for learning basic punctuation is The Art of Styling Sentences: 20 Patterns for Success. Grab a friend and learn a new sentence pattern every week for twenty weeks. Practice the pattern that week by using it in emails back and forth, or in postings on FB or your fav social media channel.


I will always value a good copyeditor! If you’re a grammar witch–I love you! (Just don’t email me about any mistakes in this post.)

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Published on August 10, 2015 03:55 • 2 views

August 3, 2015

A fellow writer recently posed this question to me: Is my mss ready to submit?


THE AGONY OF DECIDING

The short answer is, you don’t know. You can only send it out and see what response you get. That’s agony. You want to be accepted and published, but no one can guarantee that. The simple fact is that manuscripts that sit on a hard drive somewhere will not sell. Even if I said your book is “perfect,” it may not sell. You must test the market and learn from every submission.


Submission: How do you know if you story is ready go submit. Short answer: you don't.  But here are things to consider. | DarcyPattison.com




Here are things to consider as you decide on submission:


Have you done the best job that you know how to do right now? The best you can do at any give time is the best you can do. Don’t send out your weakest effort. But if you’ve worked hard on the story and it’s the best you know to do, then send it. Hope for a sale, but rejoice if you get any feedback at all. That’s what you want: useful feedback. Sometimes a casual comment will trigger a huge change in a story.


Trust your instincts. Too often writers spend years in revision. One attitude the indie revolution has built is that you should trust your instincts, write fast (because time IS money), and get books out. It’s something that traditionally published writers can learn from. You’re a storyteller: trust your instincts.


Do a couple trial submissions. Nothing says that you must send the story first to a hundred agents or editors. Even agents do trial submissions. They’ll often send to a limited number of editors and see what feedback they get. Granted, they GET feedback and you may not. Based on editorial response, the agent may ask a client to revise, or they may do a wider or a different submission strategy.


Consider individual preferences. In other words, your audience in submitting is an individual editor, one by one. One editor said it’s like this. If he likes pullover sweaters–a personal preference–and you sent him the most luxurious button-up sweater ever made, he still wouldn’t buy it because he only likes pullovers. The key, then, is to find the right agent/editor. The only way to do that is to follow likely candidates on Twitter, FB, etc. and see how the conversations go. Then–heck, just submit! You can always revise and resubmit a year later to the same editor, if needed. Go to conferences and get feedback from critiques there.


In the end, I write for an audience. I want to put my book in the hands of the RIGHT readers, whether that’s a kid from Wisconsin, or an editor or agent in New York City. In the end, at some point, you must submit. Or face the fact that you’ll never be published. It’s a painful truth, a painful process. But it’s part of the game. Submit! Today!

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Published on August 03, 2015 03:23 • 1 view

A fellow writer recently posed this question to me: Is my mss ready to submit?


THE AGONY OF DECIDING

The short answer is, you don’t know. You can only send it out and see what response you get. That’s agony. You want to be accepted and published, but no one can guarantee that. The simple fact is that manuscripts that sit on a hard drive somewhere will not sell. Even if I said your book is “perfect,” it may not sell. You must test the market and learn from every submission.


Submission: How do you know if you story is ready go submit. Short answer: you don't.  But here are things to consider. | DarcyPattison.com




Here are things to consider as you decide on submission:


Have you done the best job that you know how to do right now? The best you can do at any give time is the best you can do. Don’t send out your weakest effort. But if you’ve worked hard on the story and it’s the best you know to do, then send it. Hope for a sale, but rejoice if you get any feedback at all. That’s what you want: useful feedback. Sometimes a casual comment will trigger a huge change in a story.


Trust your instincts. Too often writers spend years in revision. One attitude the indie revolution has built is that you should trust your instincts, write fast (because time IS money), and get books out. It’s something that traditionally published writers can learn from. You’re a storyteller: trust your instincts.


Do a couple trial submissions. Nothing says that you must send the story first to a hundred agents or editors. Even agents do trial submissions. They’ll often send to a limited number of editors and see what feedback they get. Granted, they GET feedback and you may not. Based on editorial response, the agent may ask a client to revise, or they may do a wider or a different submission strategy.


Consider individual preferences. In other words, your audience in submitting is an individual editor, one by one. One editor said it’s like this. If he likes pullover sweaters–a personal preference–and you sent him the most luxurious button-up sweater ever made, he still wouldn’t buy it because he only likes pullovers. The key, then, is to find the right agent/editor. The only way to do that is to follow likely candidates on Twitter, FB, etc. and see how the conversations go. Then–heck, just submit! You can always revise and resubmit a year later to the same editor, if needed. Go to conferences and get feedback from critiques there.


In the end, I write for an audience. I want to put my book in the hands of the RIGHT readers, whether that’s a kid from Wisconsin, or an editor or agent in New York City. In the end, at some point, you must submit. Or face the fact that you’ll never be published. It’s a painful truth, a painful process. But it’s part of the game. Submit! Today!

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Published on August 03, 2015 03:23 • 2 views

July 30, 2015

As writers, we put our books out into the world, and they take on a life of their own, apart from us. But sometimes, we get an echo back about what the book is doing, who is reading it and how they are affected. This week, I had one of those incredible, amazing and powerful moments.


Abayomi, the Brazilian Puma


Abayomi, the Brazilian Puma in English. Named an NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book 2015. | DarcyPattison.com
Brazilian/Portuguese version of Abayomi. Released in Brazil Summer 2015. | Fiction Notes by Darcy Pattison


When I worked on the story of an orphaned puma cub from Brazil, the scientists involved were incredibly generous with their time and information. Dr. Marcia Goncalves Rodrigues and Sergio A.P. Ferreira made this book possible. With the publication of the Brazilian translation, they are able to go into the schools with Project Abayomi and do education of teachers and students. Recently, over 500 teachers listened the story of the plight of pumas and other wildlife in urban areas of Brazil.


That’s exciting news, for sure. To see a book travel to a different country and start to make a difference is amazing.


And then, I received this special version of the Portuguese version of the book. What’s so special about it? Why am I grinning so crazily?


Abayomi, the Brazilian Puma, personalized with a signature from the puma himself. | DarcyPattison.comThis book was signed by Abayomi himself. That’s his paw print. Thanks, Marcia and Sergio for allowing me to be part of Abayomi’s story.




Because Abayomi himself signed this book. When the puma was receiving a regular medical checkup, Sergio inked his paw and added his paw print to my book. This is one of those teary moments when you realize that a book isn’t JUST a book. It’s an idea. Pumas face very real dangers from loss of habitat and urban encroachment on their habitat. It’a a small thing to write a book; but a small book can have a huge impact. Thanks, Marcia and Sergio for allowing me the privilege of having a small part in Abayomi’s story. It’s been incredible.


Read More about the Brazilian Corridor Project for Pumas
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Published on July 30, 2015 12:17 • 2 views

July 27, 2015

One of the more popular series I’ve written is 30 Days to a Stronger Author Website. It breaks the process of creating an author website and blog into a series of daily tasks. Theory covers the WHY, WHEN, and HOW. Technical aspects are covered in depth. More important, it gives solid reasons for WHAT, or the content of your site. Learn what readers want on each of these pages: Home, About, Books, News, Contact, Privacy. Get ideas on how to write your first 15 blog posts.


But first you need a site.

Start Your Author Website in 15 minutes flat. Here's how | Fiction Notes by Darcy Pattison


This post will lay out a clear, simple, 15-minute process for starting your website, with lots of visuals. For other details, read the 30 Days to a Stronger Author Website series.


Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you choose to make a purchase. Thank you for your support in this way.


1) Hosting

First, you’ll need to decide where to host your website/blog, or where your computer files will actually live on a server. While some opt for free services, I’ve had a self-hosted WordPress site/blog for over seven years and love the freedom of doing whatever I want on my own site. I don’t have to worry about the terms of service, because I create my own policies.


While there are multiple options for hosting, one of the most popular is Blue Host, which I recommend because of its simplicity and reliability.


Click here to go to BlueHost. This opens a new window so you can go back and forth on the instructions here.

Click the green GET STARTED NOW button.

Your Author Website On BlueHost: Get Started



Next, you’ll need to choose a plan. All of BlueHost’s plans come with one free domain, so there’s not an extra step for registering that–it’s a one-stop service.


Choose Hosting Plan: Author Website



2) Choose a Domain

Authors, you should use your name or pen name for your domain. And get a .com if at all possible. This website is DarcyPattison.com. Sometimes, you may want to create a website for a book, so you can use a book title, if desired. But the gold standard is your name.


If you already have a domain, BlueHost makes it simple to switch over; just use the Transfer Domain box.


Choose a Domain: Author Website





You’re almost there. Fill in the form with contact info. Make sure the email is working because that’s where you’ll receive information about how to login.


Fill in Contact Info: Author Website



3) Hosting Package

You have a choice now of hosting packages. I’m always amazed at the affordability of a self-hosted package.


Choose Hosting Plan: Author Website




I rarely add on any of the extras. Some people like the privacy option, but I’ve never found it necessary.


Of course, it’s time to fill in your billing information. Read the Terms of Service and policies and confirm. Then click NEXT.

Author Website: Fill in Billing Info




You’ll be asked if you want upgrade; I usually skip all these. You can always add things later, if you need something. Instead, skip over to your email and find the welcome email from BlueHost. It’s time to look at your dashboard or the backend of your site. Most hosting companies use a CPanel. You’ll want to read more later on CPanel basics, but for now, we’ll cover how to install your WordPress site.


4) Install WordPress

Go back to BlueHost and Click LOGIN at the top.


bluehost-login



Use the info you received in your welcome email to login.

At first the CPanel can look overwhelming (read more on CPanels here), but we just need to install the WordPress that’s listed under Website Builders.

Install WordPress: Author Website



Click on the green START button.

Wordpress Installation Details: Author Website


Click on the website where you want to install the WordPress blog. Usually, you leave the directory blank.


Wordpress Installation Details: Author Website


Your WordPress user information is important. Do NOT use ADMIN. This will be your login information for the site, so create this with care. Click on the Advanced Options and fill in your site information. Don’t worry: you can always change this later. The admin email is also important because this is where you’ll get emails about the site. When you’re sure everything is correct, click Install Now.


Advanced Options for WordPress: Author Websites


You should see a “SUCCESS” status. Wahoo!


5) Log in to Your Author Website!

You should receive an email with login instructions. Basically, you’ll go to www.YourWebsite.com/wp-admin/login (Replace YourWebsite with the name of your site).


Now, the fun really begins. It’s time to create some content and get your site/blog going.


Author Websites: How to Build Your Online Platform




First, you’ll want to customize your WordPress installation, develop the functionality of the site with plugins, and choose a theme that governs how it looks.


No worries! The 30 Days to an Author Website series will walk you through the next few days!

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Published on July 27, 2015 03:42 • 1 view

July 15, 2015


Abayomi Launches in Brazil


Click cover to see the photo gallery.




A complete preview of children's book on Pinterest. | I WANT A DOG by Darcy PattisonNote: On Jane Friedman’s blog, you can read my guest post about a unique Pinterest project. I’ve pinned the entire picture book, I WANT A DOG, to Pinterest as a preview of the book. Read the reasons and how-to’s here.





Social media–what a controversial topic among writers!


You have the social media mavens, who are everywhere on every platform.

And you have those who espouse the WIBBOW test: “Would I be better off writing?”


You’ve decided that you want to raise your social media profile as an author. There are a couple compelling reasons to turn to Pinterest. Yes, Pinterest. I like the way my daughter, Sara, describes the difference in Pinterest and Facebook. She says to look at Facebook to see what she’s DOING; look to Pinterest to see what she’s THINKING about. Other say that Pinterest is aspirational, which means these are things the pinner would like to do. She’d like to decorate her house like this, would like to get this haircut–or would like to read this book.


Only 2 Rules for Authors on Pinterest: Get a business account and fill in every blank. | Fiction Notes by Darcy PattisonThis image was created on Canva for this post.




Your audience is there. Known to be an audience of 80% women, Pinterest is a playground for women on a number of topics: Food & Drink, DIY & Crafts, Home Decor, and Holiday & Events. Photos of interest can be repinned thousands of times–which puts the image in front of many viewers. For example, the image for this Fiction Notes post about villains has been repinned over 19,000 times. Check the widget in the sidebar to see other popular posts on Fiction Notes. (And hey, we always love more repins!)

You have book covers–which fits the visual medium of Pinterest. Images rule on Pinterest, just like they do for book covers. It’s a natural fit.

Pinterest can become one of the best sources of traffic for your website. I recently looked at my website statistics. I’d been beating the Facebook drum, trying to find an audience; instead, Pinterest referrals had quietly racked up 10% of my overall traffic. For some pages, the percentage is much higher, like the villains post mentioned above. That woke me up; if I was just casually playing with Pinterest and could manage 10% referrals, what could happen if I concentrated on the platform?

Pins keep on giving: repins give your content new life, over and over and over again. You Pin an image to a board on Pinterest. Then, someone sees the image and re-pins it to one of their boards. From that board, it gets repinned; and the process can continue. Pinterest likes to say that, “Pins are forever.” You may pin something this week that gets ignored; but something might revive it in three months or six months–perhaps an appropriate event or current news event. A pin can take off at any time and go viral.


Getting Started

I’m going to collect below some other posts on the basics of Pinterest. If you know nothing at all, this article explains the way the platform works. Once you understand that, there are two basic rules for authors:



Get a Business Account. As an author building a platform, you need access to the goodies available on a business account. You’ll be able to promote pins, create rich pins and much more. Follow Pinterest’s instructions here.

Fill in Every Blank.

YOUR PROFILE. When you set up a social media account, you’ll need to fill in a profile. Please do yourself a favor: fill in every blank possible. The platform didn’t put that data slot there for nothing. They USE the data to help people find you. You want to reach the right audience with the right message, and it’s impossible for the platform to send you those folks if you don’t help them out. They aren’t mind-readers.
YOUR IMAGES ON PINTEREST. Likewise, you’ll need to start paying attention to the metadata (data about the data) for your images. When you load an image onto your website, fill in every blank. The Caption is the only thing optional. And make sure the data you use is useful. For photos, there are three blanks: Title, Alt Text, Description.

IF you have all three filled in, Pinterest will pull in the Alt Text as the description of the image. If there’s no description or alt text, it will use the title of the image as the description.


When uploading an image, the title defaults to the name of your file. So, if your photo is named 123XX.jpg, then the Title will default to 123XXX. Bad news for you on Pinterest. Every time someone repins your image, the description will read 123XXX.


Instead, create a description (500 characters or less) and Copy/Paste that into all three fields. I find that’s the easiest, to just repeat the info over an over. If at some point, Pinterest (or another social media platform) decides to use a different field, I’ll have the description in place.


Finally, you can always manually edit the metadata when you pin/repin. It’s just easier to take care of it upfront.




Comparing the different social media platforms:

Instagram: square images (1:1 ratio), hashtags are the metadata.

YouTube: horizontal images (16:9 ratio). If you’re shooting still images to add to a video slideshow, always shoot horizontal.

Pinterest: vertical images (4:6 ratio), metadata comes from the image’s original upload, or it’s manually edited.


Creating Great Images

This means that you should know where you plan to use images when you create them. My favorite place for editing images for Pinterest is Canva.com. Use their Pinterest template to get the size right; upload your own images or buy one of theirs for only $1; edit as needed. For more, see below.


Links to Tutorials for Pinterest

You’ll find tons of tutorials and classes to help you get up to speed on this platform. Like all social media channels, best practices change often as a platform adds new tools, policies, etc. Be sure to look for recent material.



A simple guide to understanding Pinterest, from Pinterest.
Constant Contact has 10 Things to Consider when you get started, including what name to use for your profile and your boards.
Sign up for an business account, not a personal account. Pinterest’s HELP on Getting Started.
Listen to an “Oh, So Pinteresting podcast” for current best-practices for your profile and boards.

A New Look at Your Pinterest Account OSP 080

Canva’s Guide to creating a consistent brand is great. Here’s a short post that summarizes the info, but here’s a free ebook that goes into more detail (You must sign up for their newsletter to get this.)

Which social media platform do you like best? No. Which brings you the most results: the most referral traffic, the most sales, the most followers, etc.?

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Published on July 15, 2015 20:11 • 5 views