Category Archives: The Rebel On Basics

GOALS

Goals by Jill Suzanna Behe

Make a goal, have a goal. Where are you going in life? Where do you see yourself in five-years? Ten? What is it you want to accomplish?

From the eighth grade—when most students get more serious about what they want to do with their lives—I heard these questions from career counselors. One of their more motivational lines? Goal-oriented people are the most successful.

Yes, they are, mostly.

Some peter out after a year or two. Others overdo it, thinking The Goal is the only thing worth living for. Then there are those of us who never really thought about it all that much. Our lives were moving, but there wasn’t a lot to look forward to. We made haphazard five-year plans, but most of us never ventured to think ten to twenty years down the road. What would be the point? Nothing was going to change.

I became what I trained to do in high school. When I graduated, I could type, take shorthand, use an adding machine without looking at the keys, and do basic bookkeeping. A few years later, I joined the Army (that wasn’t even on my two-hundred-year radar), and I was still able to use the skills I’d learned.

The only real goal I ever made was to be a published author … at some point. I often wonder, if I’d made it a five-year, or even a ten-year goal, perhaps I would’ve gotten there sooner. Then again, looking over the early pieces I wrote, makes me cringe.

Maturity has its benefits.

My point, laboriously around the mulberry bush, is that goals really are important. Something to strive towards. Not stuck in a rut. Not lamenting fate. Always moving forward. Always in a positive direction.

My one solid goal was more of a pipe dream, and though it took longer than I wanted to see that goal to fruition, I made it. There were times it seemed too outrageous to believe possible. I almost—ALMOST—gave up the dream, but my inner rebel won that one. Good thing she was in my corner cheering me on.

I am now a published author, times three (at this moment in time). Some days it’s: ‘Holy Cow. I’ve got three books published.’ Other days it’s: ‘COWABUNGA! I’ve got THREE books out there!’

And sometimes I just sit in dumbfounded wonder.

The reality is, I accomplished the goal I’d envisioned all those years ago.

SO, make a goal. Definitive, or not, but make one.

Work towards it.

You have to work at it, otherwise it’s just words stuck on the fridge, or a sticky note on the wall above your computer. Even if it isn’t every day, it needs a precedence, it needs to be fed. You’ll never reach the goal if you don’t. Your fairy godmother (or muse) isn’t going to drop it in your lap. You have to make the effort.

It’s a tough road, the one to the dream. Obstacles will appear, tires will go flat, engines are going to overheat, ruts and rocks will need to be driven around, or removed. Could even get bloody. Don’t let any of it stop you. Nothing worth doing is on Easy Street.

The end result, the finish line, is totally worth it. And the sense of accomplishment is a confidence booster of enormous magnitude.

HOWEVER….

Once you achieve that goal, you need to make another one. Again, to always have a challenge, something to strive for, something to keep you motivated.

Never give up.

Always move forward.

Don’t look back.

The past is passed. It CANNOT be changed no matter how much we want it to, no matter how much we wish it could be. Ifs, could have beens, CANNOT exist in the pursuit of your goal.

May your quest be fruitful, and your diligence be rewarded.

Profitez de votre journée,

The Rebel

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(FDMFTR) Meanderings: There are writers and then there are writers!

THERE ARE WRITERS AND THEN THERE ARE WRITERS!
By Jill S. Behe

There is no best word processing program. It’s all about which one is the easiest to use, and the one we’re most comfortable with. For that reason I use MS Word, but when I write, almost one hundred percent of every project is written out longhand. Typing it into WORD.doc, keeps me on track, and at the same time, lets me do a sort offirst edit. Some people type everything out exclusively, and can’t be bothered with pen and paper. There are even writers who still use typewriters.

While typing, inevitably, a word will come up that the MS WORD dictionary doesn’t recognize. One of my ‘go to’ online sites is Dictionary.com. It not only gives definitions, but a also a thesaurus, and for foreign words, a translator tab. I also have (what feels like) a twenty pound dictionary, and a super thesaurus that I use quite often.

Another good practice, besides looking up words with questionable spelling or meaning, is to remember proper punctuation. Run-on sentences are tiring to readers, especially if the writer wasn’t intending such a long drawn out line. Check, for, comma, placement, and, most, definitely, periods……..and question marks.

Exclamation points should be reserved for very, very special occasions. The less the better, because overuse can deflate the power of the sentence. Besides!!!!!!! They tend to stab a reader’s eyes.

There are any number of self-help books on the how-tos of writing. A good writing handbook should be on the shelf of every writer, but especially one with ambitions of publication. All sentences (according to English class) need a subject and predicate (a what?) … that’s a verb. If VERB is an alien word, a good Basic English textbook may be needed.

But….

Yes, fragments are very commonly used by writers. Use them myself quite often. But not ALL sentences in the work should be fragmented. The basic rules of English should be religiously followed in every piece of writing we allow the public to see. Not only because it makes us look smart, and the story sound right, it ratchets up our integrity in the eyes of editors, publishers, and ultimately, our audience.

Profitez de votre journée
,

The Rebel

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The Rebel on Basics: The Marketing Plan–A necessary evil

THE MARKETING PLAN – A necessary evil
With the changing paradigm in modern publishing, authors MUST become their own marketing team.
by Jill Behe

As with all businesses that want to succeed, a good marketing department is essential. If we, as writers, want to retire on the profits from our royalty checks, we need a great marketing plan. And, unless we find a creative way to let them know there’s a book available to buy, how will Joe and Jane Public know we wrote one?

The first goal of every serious writer is to have their work published. The second is to be on the Bestseller list.

An independently published author has to work harder to get the same exposure as one published by a legacy house. Consistent perseverance, dogged determination, and creative marketing strategies are all necessary to call attention to their work.

Traditionally, big houses used signings, book tours, and radio interviews to keep their authors in the spotlight. More exposure, more sales, more money.

But not anymore.

Cutbacks are everywhere.

Nowadays, especially with the launch of the Kindles and Nooks, and e-book availability, signings and tours are rare and expensive … hell, they’re all but gone. Publishing houses aren’t forking out the dough for them, anymore.

So, what can we, as individual professional artists do?

Several things come to mind:

Social Media:

These sites are attracting more and more people, and are an excellent (and necessary) way to spread the word. Friends tell friends, family tells family, and so on and so forth: blogging, guest blogging, and virtual book tours, posting, texting, and tweeting.

But, that’s not enough.

A personal Website:

Where do you go when you want to find out about your favorite author? You go to their site, or one that their publisher has set up.

Your fans want to know about you, too. There are a lot of different sites available where setup doesn’t require a college degree to understand the instructions. Perhaps a friend or family member has the knowledge to build one for you … and not demand your firstborn as payment.

Business Cards:

What? Really? How better to advertise? A business card, with the title of the book, author’s name, and author’s Website. However, phone numbers and home addresses are not pertinent information on this kind of card.

VISTAPRINT is a very good site for reasonably priced cards. They also offer an array of other marketing tools: pens, mugs, T-shirts, postcards, etc.

Pin them on bulletin boards (libraries, grocery stores, banks, Laundromats, Post Offices, and college campuses, to name a few). Slip them into the envelopes with the utility bills, holiday cards, letters, anything sent in the mail that will reach someone otherwise unreachable.

Leave them at the table at restaurants, or at the cash register.

Pass them out to strangers at the mall, at the gym, on the street, at the store, at work.

Bookmarks:

Can be left in doctor’s offices, businesses, and don’t forget to ask the local librarian for permission to leave them at the front desk. Anywhere. It’s an old-school technique, but it’s real and tangible, and a heck of a lot of fun passing out.

Internet Media:

Record a reading and post it on YouTube. Make a video with a few friends acting out a scene from the book. There’s also any number of independent Internet radio stations with shows dedicated to various types of genre fiction: mystery, thriller, spooky, etc.

Libraries:

Talk to someone at the local public, college, and/or high school library to set up a reading. Ask to speak to a high school English (Communications Arts) class, a writer’s critique group; if you’ve put out a book and made even a single sale, then these people want to hear from you.

Book Stores:

Call or visit your local brick-and-mortar indie stores and arrange for a reading, or book-signing, or both. Make sure to have some books on hand for patrons to purchase on site.

Ask the manager if it would be possible to stock a few on his shelves.

Performance Art Venues:

With this area of marketing, no, one doesn’t have to get in the nude and roll around in Jello.  On the other hand, bravery is still a must.  Look for open mike opportunities, places–such as coffee shops, street diners, and even local Saturday markets–where people, artists and musicians and other performers are welcomed to deliver poetry slams, book readings, etc.  Often these places have no problem with artists handing out (or selling) their wares, such as chap-books, works on CD/DVD, or actual books.

Write:

This should be a no-brainer, and shouldn’t be a headache for writers, but often it is. Tough. Write anyway: putting up book reviews on Amazon (this is a biggie, and a great way to get noticed, to network with other writers, and to garner book reviewers for yourself when you’ve work available), post in discussion groups, leave comments on author blogs, follow your fellow writers’ posts, and then respond to them, and with more than just a quickly typed “lol.”

And when you write, write well, ’cause you want your writing to be read, and understood, and enjoyed, and RESPECTED, remembering that whether it seems like it or not, every time you put words down, you’re advertising your name and your brand.

Sounds like a lot of work.

Of course. But anything worth doing, is worth doing to the best of our ability.

Right?

Right!

And this list of marketing prompts is just the start. Get on the Net and troll for ideas. Learn about Kindle publishing, about Kindlegraph. Find out who J.A. Konrath is, and why you should know what he has to say. Get onto Facebook and send “friend requests” to your favorite authors, indie and legacy, and when the time’s right, engage them in conversation. And don’t forget to thank them for their advice. Look for and download e-books on marketing, and self-promotion. Many are free. Make Google your friend.

And sometime between all the chores, don’t forget to work on that piece of flash, short story, novella, novel, blog post, or magazine article. Develop and grow your list of contacts, expanding your mailing list, and your network of fellow authors. Populating Websites with decent content, month after month, can be a nightmare. Often authors will absolutely welcome a well-written piece, and will reciprocate when you need one for your site.

Success or failure doesn’t rely solely on the publisher anymore, and shouldn’t be expected. Being in control of how poorly, or how well our book sells is on us. Everything possible needs to be done to get the word out that we have a published book available.

No stone unturned.

Now get going. There’s a to-do list to hit.

The Rebel has spoken.

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