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Photo by Hamed Saber

To put it bluntly: if you’re known, it’s easier to promote and sell your work. It’s a fact that JK Rowling sells more books than Tess Gerritsen, even though in my humble opinion JKR has nothing on Tess. But Ms Rowling gets a lot more publicity and that helps her secure that “Richest Writer in the Universe” spot. Any wanna-be writer who takes their writing seriously should make sure they get as much publicity and interact with as many people as possible. All of them could be potential readers of your books.

The question is how to achieve as much visibility as possible, while still maintaining your regular job, proper contact with your family and still writing your novels. Well I would say good time management skills, ability to prioritize and coffee, but I don’t want to sound like one of those people always giving lectures on business management.

Instead I want to give you ideas of where to start and how in small steps get people to like you and care about your work.

Web site

I feel like stating the obvious. Every writer who is serious about their work should have their own web site.

It’s a place where people can learn some basic information about you (often listed in “About” or “Bio” page) like when did you start writing, why do you like it so much and so on. It helps you establish that, in fact and contrary to a popular belief, you are a human being with a passion.

And when you finally publish your work, your web site is where your readers can easily find all your works no matter how many different publishers you have. I know writers who publish their books with four different publishers and if reader were to follow them to a publisher, they would miss out on all the books published with someone else.

Blog

Nothing helps you to connect like a blog. Regular posts about your life, funny anecdotes, complaints about the recent problems you have with your characters… Blogging can be about everything. Not only you keep writing (and that as we know helps to keep the writer’s block away) but blogging is also a great way of meeting new people and finding friends.

It’s good to blog for the sole purpose of blogging, though. Because if you blog with a secret agenda of selling your books, or ideas or anything, it will soon because an exhausting errand or worse, your readers will realize that your passion is somewhat fake.

Remember it’s okay to create a post “OMG! I got published LOOK!” and put up a link in the sidebar. However mentioning at the end of every post “see this book I wrote buy and review PLZ!” is simply annoying. Not to mention bordering on Spam. That won’t help you start friendly relationships with people who later on could support you and help you solve your plot problems.

Forums

Personally, I find forums overwhelming and slightly chaotic. But that’s because I prefer cozy, little groups of people who know each other well. But I’m a minimalist and prefer to have few small circles of friends than one huge group of people. However even with my personal preferences, I can’t deny, that forums are simply irreplaceable when it comes to establishing visibility for a writer. I experienced the magic when before NaNoWriMo 2007 I posted on their forums a link to my Random Prompt Generator.

If you like the format forums offer before posting, you should pay extra attention to both your profile and your signature. You should use both with caution. Don’t overdo it; there is such thing as “too much”. You’d be surprised how far you’ll get by simply placing a link to your website/blog/newest book. If people like what you write in your posts to the forums, they will follow the link and you don’t need a huge banner there.

Network sites

You know, MySpace, Facebook, StumbleUpon, and Digg. Places where you can friend people, exchange comments and basically have fun. Though I wouldn’t recommend signing up with all of them. That would make you lose your mind. But one or two (preferably ones you are already using) will help to get your name out there.

Remember

Don’t overwhelm yourself. You want to get some exposure online to promote your future work. It can’t take over your life, nor should it take you away from your writing. Self-promotion is something you can do at any given time. So you should make sure you have your priorities straight. Your writing comes first.

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RJ hdr by longristra

As a writer you need to work on your skills all the time. But for your own good, you should try different ways of learning new things. Only if to ensure that your brain doesn’t get bored, because that’s one of the reasons people get Writer’s Block.

So here I provide you with tools to sharpen your ‘pen’.

Blogging

No matter how you look at it, blogging is writing.
While you create your blog entry, you need to go through almost the same process as you do while writing a story.
There’s an idea, execution of said idea and almost immediate feedback.

It doesn’t matter if you write an online journal about your daily life. Or if you post funny comments along the lines of ‘mmmmm waffles’.

However you decide to express yourself and whatever blogging platform you choose; your blog is the best place to try new things and quickly know if it’s working.

When I entered the blogosphere, I started to meet amazing people. But after I became friends with some great writers, I actually started to pay attention to what I write and how I write it. Even more. after meeting people who write and are good at it, I started to push myself harder.

If you compare my stories from now and those I’ve written a year ago, no matter how harsh the critique you’d have to admit there’s a big improvement.

Metawriting

As in: writing about writing. About the process, about the technicalities. It helps you improve in two different ways.

It gives you extra motivation to finish your work.

Every time you post a progress report on your current project, you get that extra ‘kick’ to write more.
When you share a bit of insight, about problems with the plot that you are having, you help your brain to organize everything. By naming the problems you’re actually halfway to solving them.

Not to mention that if to do so, you’re using a platform that allows your readers to interact with you, you’re bringing new sets of eyes that can actually help you put the whole thing in perspective.

Metawriting allows you also to learn more about the workshop

To write about the technical aspects of writing and to do so with a certain amount of authority, you need to thoroughly research the area you wish to post about.

For every piece of my Creative Writing 101 series I spend over 2 hours researching the subject, gathering links and making sure that what I’ve been practicing my whole life wasn’t incorrect.

During the researching process you learn new methods of doing what you’ve been always doing. You repeat the information you already know and ensure that the nest time that particular skill will be needed you will remember the ‘hows’ and ‘whys’.

In most of the cases, metawriting is about explaining something to the readers. Depending on the style you choose it’s also about entertaining them and teaching them something new.

And that particular skill is extremely useful for any kind of a writer.

Academic Writing

Before you start yelling that academic writing is something completely different I hurry to calm you. Yes. I know it’s like two different planets. Or even two different universes. But if you’d commit yourself to writing one academic piece, researched the material and actually wrote it all… Afterwards you’d see how much better you skills are.

Academic writing differs from the creative variety in style, methods of research, vocabulary and the general look. Truth be told it’s easier to create an outline for your thesis than for your novel. To write an academic piece you need to learn how to create long, complex sentences to fit the language, while in your novel it is advised to break long sentences into short ones. The scientific vocabulary used in essays and dissertations might not get used in your stories but as they say ‘knowledge is power’.

How does that help?

It’s something I call learning by comparison. The moment you at least try and dip your fingers into some academic writing, writing a story will seem like something simple. After you realize that the only thing that limits you in your writing is your imagination (and not the paradigm, terminology or anything else), there’s no stopping you.

Feedback and Reviews

This is something I encourage in everybody, not only writers themselves.
People often read the works of others and then move on without a word of feedback. Now, I know that people don’t always have time… But when you read someone’s story with intent to review it or to at least leave some feedback, you read it in a completely different way.
But nobody is telling you to go and edit every story you read. No one requires you to read every story twice. I know how little time writers sometime have.

But if you encourage yourself to read the story beyond the plot and the pure entertainment of it, you will be able to notice the mistakes, the little things that bother you.

And when you notice them, you will be able to acknowledge them and make sure you don’t do the same.
Not to mention that if you actually leave some constructive criticism, other people might return the favor. All in your best interest.

It’s not a secret that we’re more eager to point out mistakes in other people’s doing. The key is to consciously erase the similar mistakes from our own writing.

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