Your heroine has been told that she should never meet a specific man. She is shown a picture of this man and told that if she ever sees him, she needs to turn and walk away as quickly as possible. If they meet, it is the trigger for the end of the world.
Does she meet the man? Does someone try to force them to meet?
If they do meet, does the world end or can they do something to save it?
Does someone try to kill her to prevent her from meeting this man and the world ending?
Your heroine or hero has the opportunity to go back to a moment in time and change what they did (or didn’t do). Do they take the opportunity? If so, what time do they go back to and what do they change?
An author blog is an effective tool for building a community and an audience of readers. You can also use your blog to promote and sell your books. And a blog interacts nicely with your social media posts and promotions.
For example, you might announce a contest on social media and link to your blog where you provide the contest details and offer visitors the opportunity to sign up for your newsletter. We’ll talk about newsletters on a different day.
They too are a great way to provide consistent connection with your reader and strengthen your community. But let’s talk about the biggest challenge romance writers have with blogging…
Let’s take a look at the steps you can take to create your own content plan.
* Study Your Audience – It’s imperative that before you start creating content, you understand who your audience is. Know them down to their income, desires, wants, needs, and more. This is how you’ll know what content to create, as well as how they like to consume it.
* Understand Your Niche – In addition, you need to truly understand your niche so that you can write and educate your audience about it. You’ll need to create content that is engaging, informative, educational and that encourages your audience to interact with them.
* Know What You Want to Accomplish – It helps to also know what you are trying to accomplish with each blog post. Are you selling a book, building anticipation for an upcoming release, or maybe building your email list or social media followers. Know your goal.
* Choose Which Types of Content You Want to Use – You’ll may want to use many types of content, such as text, video, images, and more to keep your audience’s interest. Choose a format that works for you. Later, you may decide to add more variety to your posts.
* Create an Editorial Calendar – Create an editorial calendar to help you keep your content plan organized. You can always add more content as new ideas and book projects are released. To begin, create a plan for the topics you’ll write about, when you’ll publish that content, how you’ll promote the blog posts and the goal for each post.
* Find Help – If you’re not sure how to go forward, read and study the experts. Check out the blogs of your favorite authors. Emulate them. Read about blogging for authors. Here are two great books to consider:
* Repeat – Once you set things up and create momentum, keep it going. Blogging is a long-term commitment that builds over time. Creating content for your blog needs to be something you do on a regular and ongoing basis. Shoot for once or twice a week at first.
Don’t stress if you only have 10 visits to your blog in the first week or two. Share your posts on social media, engage with your readers and followers, and have fun. Your blog will grow and so too will your romance royalties and sales.
Have you noticed that some author websites have a ton of interaction, while others are little more than book advertising pages? Building an online community may be the key to increasing your audience and ultimately increasing your book sales.
Depending on your romance genre, your website community could offer any number of features. You might, for example, have a chat room. Or you could create a members area where members get the opportunity to read short stories for free or be beta readers for new chapters or book projects. Fun, right?
Here are some tips and ideas to help you create more engagement and interaction on your author website.
* Determine What Technology You Will Use – One of the most important aspects of starting an online community is choosing which technology you will use to build it. There are many options to choose from. Base your choice on your technical knowledge, your budget, and what features you want the community to offer.
* Choose the Niche You’ll Focus On – It’s best if the online community you build is based on one target audience and not too widespread. Just like you focus on a niche with your business, focus on the same niche with the community. For example, if knitting is a theme that is pervasive in your stories, or martial arts, you might share knitting patterns or have a discussion board about all things martial arts.
* Create Content Specifically for the Community – Once you have a community it’s important that you create content specifically for that community on a regular basis. Consistency is the key to ensuring that you attract new members and keep the old members satisfied and interested.
* Invite New People on a Regular Basis – You want to have regular new members showing up because it keeps the group fresh and brings in new questions, thoughts, and conversation.
* Connect Your Community to Social Media – Social media is the best way to market your online community. You can even start with an online community first on Facebook with Facebook Groups.
* Be Engaging and Caring to Your Members – Your personality will show through if you participate on a regular basis in discussions with the community. Let them see how caring you are.
* Interview Members on a Regular Basis – A great way to add content to the community is to choose a special member each month to highlight and interview. You can do these interviews in podcast form and put them on iTunes as well, for another way to promote your community.
* Interview Experts in Your Niche – A great benefit for your community is to be able to learn from movers, shakers and other experts within your niche.
* Promote Members of the Community or Other Authors – Once in a while allow the members of the group to promote their offers by having a something like a yearly fire sale that enables them to benefit from the entire community sharing.
* Keep the Conversation Going – Don’t let the community fade away. Keep the conversation going. Maybe eventually hire someone to monitor the group and to contribute to the content and discussion – so you can spend more time writing and selling books.
Building an online community can help you create an entire community of raving fans that are not only ready to purchase your current books but who will also stand in line to purchase your new material. They’ll also promote you to their friends, family and associates. It’s a wonderful way to get to know your audience better and to improve product development.
Procrastinating on Your Romance Novel? 7 Baby Steps You Can Take Today
As a writer, procrastination is a dangerous thing. The goal is to engage with your novel, your work in progress, daily. When you take time away, the motivation, the excitement, and the story start to slip away as well.
I understand procrastination. It happens to me every time I near the end of a story. Pushing through it doesn’t require large goals or entire days chained to your desk. In fact, tiny steps are actually better. They’re certainly easier. If you keep these steps in mind before you get started on any writing project, you’ll be able to stop procrastination before it takes hold.
Acknowledge the Fear – Realize that most procrastination is rooted in fear. Mine certainly is. Fear of failure, fear of success, and fear of not being good enough. Many people get so tied up in perfection that they can’t finish anything and never succeed, so that fear becomes self-perpetuating and never-ending. Acknowledge that you’re afraid and own it. But set it aside and work through it. If you can let go of judgment and fear as you work through the tasks, you’ll be able to end procrastination.
Break Up the Project – Your book is a collection of pages, scenes, paragraphs, sentences, and ultimately words. It’s also a collection of steps. You can work through procrastination by working on a sentence, writing a paragraph, or roughing out a scene. You’re not sitting down to write the novel, you’re writing a small part of it. Wrap your brain around that concept and let go of the “whole book” mindset. It’s too much.
Just Get Started – You may not realize it’s that easy, but it is. Our minds change focus when we get started. It’s like that workout you don’t want to do; in the middle of it, you’re perfectly fine with it. And of course, when it’s over, you’re satisfied that you did it. It’s the same with any work that you don’t want to do. Get started, and someplace in the middle you’ll feel differently.
Talk About It publicly – Social media is great for this. Just announce on Twitter or Facebook to your friends, or a special group, that you’re writing five pages or that you’re working on a kissing scene right now and will be for the next 90 minutes. Telling people you’re doing it will help you actually do it. You hold yourself accountable. Use the hashtag #amwriting and start connecting with other writers.
Take Breaks – Get up from your writing desk every hour or so and walk. Move your body and take good care of yourself. Eat right, exercise, and drink plenty of water no matter what you’re doing. It will help keep your mind clear and your body healthy. It’ll be easier to come back to that chapter or that revision if you are clear headed and healthy.
Look for Accountability – If you are having more problems, be sure to find an accountability partner. You can pay for that in a life coach, or writing coach, or you can ask a trusted friend or family member to help you break your pattern of procrastination. Writing groups are excellent for this. There are online groups you can join or local groups that meet face to face. Passionate Ink is an online romance writing group for erotica authors. They’re very supportive.
Reward Yourself – Everyone likes to be rewarded for a job well done. Work in ways to reward yourself that are healthy. If you finish a huge project on time, get a massage or go to a good movie. Have some fun.
Procrastination doesn’t have to stop you from achieving your romance writing goals. You can control the fear and work through the challenges by taking small steps, planning for procrastination, and pushing yourself just a little bit harder.
Your heroine is out on a sailing trip. Maybe she’s on a charter, maybe she’s with friends, or even a boyfriend. Something happens and she ends up on the boat by herself. What happens? What does she do next? Who does she meet?
As we make our way into 2017 and think about the year behind us and what we want for the future, I’m hearing a lot of people focusing on kindness, positivity, and action.
There seems to be, as there often is this time of year, a lot of personal reflection.
Reflection is great if it teaches you how to move forward positively and productively. Reflection is destructive if you beat yourself up about what you did wrong and get stuck in that mindset.
Reflect On Your Inner Voice
Consider pausing for a moment and think about what you tell yourself about your writing efforts, aspirations, and skills. Is it positive or negative? Do you lift yourself up or beat yourself up?
Maybe it’s a little bit of both.
What if you could use your self reflection to help you take your romance writing career to the next level in 2017?
Reflection and repeatable daily habits…a powerful combination
For me, the only thing that consistently works are daily repeatable habits. That means that my repeatable habits have to be super easy. There’s no way I’m going to be able to sit down at the computer and write 5000 fiction words every morning before coffee. But I can write 250.
And I actually use a creativity planner to help me check off my daily goals. (You can read my review of this planner here).
Of course, habits only work if they support you to grow from where you are at right now in your writing career and mindset. And that takes us back to self reflection.
So, let’s get back to how you talk to yourself about your writing. If it’s positive, congratulations! Keep it up and share your secrets to success in the comments section. If you find that you tend to be a bit harsh when you talk to yourself, then it’s time to turn that around.
Through simple daily habits, you can become your biggest romance writing supporter – and don’t you deserve that?
You should be your biggest fan and supporter. You should believe without a doubt that you are making daily progress on your romance writing dreams and goals. You should believe that you are a good writer and that every day you’re improving your skills. Your writing voice is getting stronger and your mastery is increasing.
I realize that may mean baby steps for you. That perhaps your biggest first challenge is actually being able to say, “I’m a romance writer.”
Reflect on where you are right now in your romance writing mindset. Don’t necessarily take a look at your biggest goal or challenge, pull back a bit and look at what is getting in your way.
For example, if submitting your manuscript to agents and editors just isn’t happening even though you want to submit, then reflect on what is getting in your way. Is it self doubt, time, an organization system, fear of failure or success? Maybe you still believe that writing romance is a hobby and you’re not taking it seriously.
Only you know the answer and it may take some time and self reflection to dig it out.
Once you know what’s holding you back…what do you do next? How do you move past it?
My best advice, and it is advice that I personally follow, is to find an affirmation (yes, an affirmation) that makes you smile, fills your heart with joy and motivation, and resonates with you. It may be an affirmation that has already been created or it may be an affirmation that you create yourself based on your current challenges and needs.
I’ve gathered a collection of posts on affirmations for you to take a look at. And, my go to place for affirmations when I’m looking for inspiration is often Louise Hay, http://www.louisehay.com/affirmations/. Her affirmations aren’t writing specific; however, they cover myriad topics and you may find that they give you what you need.
Where are you right now, today, in your writing career? Have you achieved your goals, dreams, and aspirations? Or is there still some work to be done?
Most romance writers, even those with publishing contracts and advances in their pocket, still have goals and dreams left to achieve.
In my experience as a business owner, a writer, a wife and mom, and as a human being I’ve discovered that one thing really works for me and helps me achieve my goals. That one thing is to take consistent small steps toward an end goal.
Here’s an example, my friend Erica has the goal of publishing a holiday romance novel next year. So, every day she writes 250 words toward that book. Now, Erica is super busy. She’s a mom and she works full time so it really does take a commitment to write 250 words a day. But think about this, after 200 days, she’ll have 50,000 words. She’ll have a book, and that leaves enough time for revisions, edits, and marketing before the 2017 holiday season.
If you’re looking to make 2017 your best romance writing year yet, consider these romance writing resolutions and remember that consistency is the difference maker.
Write Every Day – Set a realistic goal and follow through. 100 words a day means you’ll have 36,500 words written by the end of the year. Double that and you have a very full novel.
Submit Your Finished Books to An Agent/Editor/Critique Partner – Get experience submitting and sharing your work. It’ll help you improve your writing and it’ll support you to take your writing more seriously.
Join A Writer’s Group That Supports You – Writer’s groups help you stay connected to your writing goals. They also support you to take your writing seriously and to share your passion with others. They’re a terrific learning environment too.
Create A Writing System – Most multi-published writers use a system. Maybe they write an outline first, maybe they write for an hour every morning. Creating a routine helps you develop that consistency required to achieve your goals.
Embrace Your Writing Voice and Style (It’s What Makes Your Stories Unique!) Love your writing voice and embrace it fully. 100 different writers can all write the same story and each one would be unique if the writer remains true to their voice.
Call Yourself a Romance Writer – Say it with pride!
Launch Your Author’s Blog – Books don’t really sell by themselves. You have to market them and you have to market yourself as an author. Create that blog. There is an abundance of top quality resources to help you get started. For example, the Create an Author Website in 24 Hours or Less On Demand Webinar at Writer’s Digest Shop is only $23.
Promote Your Author’s Blog on Social Media – If you have a social media presence, promote your website. If you don’t have social media profiles, consider creating an author profile so you can promote your book and yourself to potential readers.
Carry A Notebook and Pen with You to Capture Writing Ideas – Never lose an idea. They come at the strangest times and the one you forgot could have been amazing.
Get Organized – Use a calendar, use Evernote, use a planner – whatever works for you, but get organized so you don’t lose your writing thoughts, your research, your promotional ideas and your submissions. Your dreams and goals are too important to get lost in the shuffle.
Enter A Writing Contest (You Can Win Money and Accolades) – It’s awesome to be able to tell an agent or editor that you finaled, placed, or won a writing contest. And if you don’t win, and you won’t win them all, you’ll likely get some valuable feedback on your material.
Learn About Self-Publishing – Self publishing is a very real and profitable approach to selling your books. Learn what it’s about and decide if it is for you. Many authors publish both traditionally and self-publish.
Learn About Writing – As a writer you owe it to yourself and your readers to strive to continually improve your writing skills. Plus, it’s fun to learn. So, read a writing book each month, subscribe to writer’s blogs, or listen to webinars and podcasts. There’s so much to learn.
Find Inspiration– It’s all around you. Identify what inspires you and make it part of your life.
Establish A System for Revising Your Drafts – If you have a system for writing, you should absolutely have a system for revision. Otherwise, it can take forever.
Read for Fun – Seriously, there is time in the day to read a few pages in a book and there are so many wonderful books to read!
Make Your Writing Dreams and Goals a Priority in Your Life – Enough said, right? You deserve to make your goals a priority.
Okay, now there are 17 resolutions here to consider, to make your own, and to embrace into your life. The only person who knows which resolution is right for you, and what is going to help you take your romance writing dreams to the next level is you.
A word of advice…
Choose one resolution. Not three, or five, or all 17. Focus on one. Create a plan to make it part of your life. Once you’ve achieved success say for about three months, then you can look back at this list and choose another resolution.
For example, if I was going to choose to make “writing every day” a habit I’d make sure that for three solid months I was able to write every day. Once I’d achieve that success, I might join a writer’s group or take a writing class and work on another resolution.
I’m so excited for what 2017 has to offer. 2016 had its ups and downs, and taught me to speak up, to fight, and to work just a bit harder for what I believe in. What about you?