The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and the Business of Publishing

Do you have questions about writing? Publishing?

The Successful Author

Peter Lyle DeHaan has answers, which he shares in The Successful Author. With over three decades of experience as an author, blogger, freelancer, and publisher, Peter will help you on your writing journey.

On this grand adventure:

  • Learn why you shouldn’t call yourself an aspiring writer.
  • Uncover tips to deal with rejection.
  • Expose writing advice that may not be true.
  • Discover how to self-edit, get feedback, and find an editor.
  • Determine if being a writer is worth the effort. (Hint: it is.)

But there’s more. In fourteen chapters, with over one hundred entries, Peter will address:

  • Finding time to write
  • The traditional vs indie publishing debate
  • Whether or not to blog—and what to do if you do blog
  • Copyrights, registration, and legal issues
  • Publishing options and insights

Plus there are loads of writing tips, submission pointers, and a publishing checklist.

Don’t delay your writing journey any longer. Take the next step, and get your copy of The Successful Author.

Be inspired. Be informed. Be motivated to become the writer you’ve always dreamed of.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Writing Tips on Formatting Numbers

Formatting Numbers

Do you have questions about formatting numbers? There are two main rules that apply to writing numbers:

1) Write out single-digit numbers (one through nine) and use digits for numbers for 10 and higher, or

2) Write out one hundred and everything less. Use numbers for everything greater than one hundred.

Some style guides say to write out common numbers and use digits for all others. This would result in:

  • one thousand
  • 1,051
  • one million
  • 999,157

Of course, they’re exceptions and special cases. One example is that if a sentence begins with a number, always spell it. If this looks awkward, rewrite the sentence so that it doesn’t start with a number. In this case:

One thousand, two hundred and fifty-seven people were present . . .

becomes

The attendance was 1,257 . . .

Follow these pointers on formatting numbers to cover the most common situations.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

The Purpose of Blogging: Discover When and Why to Blog

purpose of blogging

Blogging is important, but what is the purpose of blogging? Blogging serves two purposes.

The First Purpose of Blogging: To Write Better

First, blogging can help us improve as a writer, train us to meet deadlines, and encourage us to write regularly. Blogging helps us get better as writers—and we all want to do that.

The Second Purpose of Blogging: Platform Building

The second thing is blogging can help us grow our platform, which all publishers want to see, for it helps us sell books. The platform is even more important for indie authors. Of course, there are many platform building strategies, and blogging is just one of them.

When Not to Blog

The important thing is not to blog just because someone tells you to. Blog if you enjoy it (a third benefit), can sustain it, and can realize at least one of the first two benefits.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

What’s the Difference Between a Category and a Tag on Your WordPress Blog?

wordpress categories

Part 5 in the continuing series on using WordPress for blogging: a platform-building, book-selling tool.

WordPress categories and tags are confusing. They seem to do the same thing and offer similar results.

WordPress Category

A category is like a file cabinet drawer for your posts where you place related content. Categories are general groupings of broad topics. Our site (or blog) should have at least three categories (else, why bother) but no more than perhaps eight (else, it’s too hard to find things).

Each post needs one—and only one—category. Just as you wouldn’t try to put one piece of paper in two folders, don’t assign one post to two categories. (I understand using multiple categories for one post can mess up search engine optimization, and no one wants that.)

Last, never default to “uncategorized.” That’s just lazy and doesn’t help anyone.

Word Press Tag

Think of a tag as a cross-reference tool. Tags can be a subset of a category (like a folder in a file cabinet), transcend categories (like an index), or both. Regardless, their purpose is to link related content. Every post needs at least one tag and can have more, but don’t go crazy. One or two is great, three is okay but definitely stop at six.

In determining tags, consider reoccurring themes or words in your posts. Unlike categories, you don’t need to limit the number of tags you use, but do seek tags you will reuse. A tag used only once accomplishes nothing.

Also, a tag is not the same as a keyword. Keywords are used (or more correctly, were used) to indicate main topics within a post, whereas tags link related posts.

(In case you’re wondering, I wrote many posts on this blog before I understood the difference between tags and keywords, so I have many tags used only once; I will remove or consolidate them – when I have time.)

This blog has seven categories and 231 tags (though once I redo the tags, it will be closer to 50). This post is in the category of “Tips” and has three tags: “blogging,” SEO” and “WordPress.”

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

What Is Your Twitter Strategy? Discover How to Use Social Media

Twitter Strategy

At one time, publishers would be impressed with your sheer number of Twitter followers (or Facebook likes), but now their focus is more on engagement. What is your Twitter strategy to build your author platform?

Are you interacting with your Twitter followers? Do you try to connect with them, and do they appreciate the value of your tweets?

Follow people who share your mindset and fit this perspective, and don’t worry about following back the folks who don’t.

And never buy followers. This accomplishes nothing positive and will cause you huge problems.

Don’t focus on your numbers of social media connections but on the quality of interaction with the connections you have. This is the ideal Twitter strategy.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Self-Editing Options to Improve Our Writing

self-editing tips

Self-editing is hard for most writers, I suspect all writers. We know what we meant to write, so that’s what we tend to see when we try to edit our work. To combat this, try these self-editing options.

To find errors, such as typos, missing words, extra words, and confusing phrases, I use text-to-speech software that reads my words to me. It’s amazing the things I catch when I hear my words out loud.

As far as editing to make my writing better, I defer to a list from Jerry Jenkins, which he posted online, called “21 Self-Editing Secrets that Can Supercharge Your Manuscript.”

Another solution is to find another writer and work out an arrangement where you edit each other’s work. Of course, this works best if you have comparable levels of editing ability and ask each other to edit the same amount of work.

Try these self-editing options to improve your writing and catch pesky errors.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Finding Balance in Writing and Life

Finding balance.

Personally, when it comes to finding balance, it seems something is always slipping, with the areas of writing, work, and life being in a constant state of tension. Yes, there are times where I may go a couple of days keeping everything in balance, but one little bump in the road and the whole thing falls apart.

The key in finding balance is to continually ask ourselves this question about work-life balance and make whatever minor tweaks we can to move closer to achieving a sustainable equilibrium.

Each writer needs to figure this out, to learn what works best for themselves and their situation. Something common to all writers is that the solution requires intentionality and self-discipline.

One thing we can be sure of, if we don’t strive to make balance happen, it won’t.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Finding a Writing Mentor

Do you want a writing mentor?

Many Writers Wish They Had a Mentor

The problem is that those who are most qualified to be a mentor are also the busiest, and the people who have time are usually not as experienced.

If you find someone who would make a great mentor, just ask them, but leave them room to say, “No,” because they likely will. As an option, offer to provide them something of value in return. It could be money, but more valuable might be a service that you could offer in exchange for mentoring. If you’re flexible and willing to give them something in return, the answer might just be “Yes!”

Consider Co-Mentoring

Another possibility is to find someone to co-mentor. If you’re both at the same place in your writing journey but have different strengths and weaknesses, then you can help each other grow as writers. This may be a more viable option.

Mentoring from Afar

Last, someone can mentor you from afar. I read blogs and especially listen to podcasts about writing and publishing. I consider these people as my mentors. I’ve never met them and most of them don’t know who I am, but they do mentor me from a distance and help me write better and publish more effectively.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

Five Things You Can Do With E-Books

Five Things You Can Do With E-Books

There is some writing that we almost never see in printed form, due to its length, content, format, market size, or other factors. When it comes to e-books these are no longer issues.

Here are five things we can do with e-books that we seldom see in print.

Novellas

A novella is a work of fiction that falls into the gap between a short story (under 7,500 words) and a novel (over 40,000 words). Novellas are too long for a magazine or literary journal but too short to meet the physical requirements of a printed book. When it comes to an e-book, length doesn’t matter. With e-books, our work can reach an even larger audience and then be fine-tuned. Click To Tweet

Serial Fiction

We all have TV shows we love to watch. We anticipate the next episode to see what happens next. What about books? Yes, the same applies, but waiting a year or more for the next book is agonizing. What if we can read stories in installments or episodes? Although some magazines do this, it’s not too common.

E-books are the answer. Imagine unveiling a 5,000 to 10,000- word e-book every month or so. Just like a TV show, there needs to be a self-contained story that is resolved and a larger story that advances with each installment. We can include cliffhangers and even write seasons.

Poetry

Although there are books of poetry, they’re not too common—unless the author is famous. Most poets toil in obscurity, with few readers ever seeing their work. An e-book solves that. I’m not much of a poet, but if I was (or when I am), an e-book will be the way to go.

Short Story Collections

Yes, printed books of short stories do exist, but they’re not common and are often anthologies or by well-known authors. For most writers, a printed collection of their short stories is a dream that will go unmet. E-books solve that.

Test Marketing

Most authors have critique partners (who give initial input on a book) and beta readers (who help fine-tune things further), but even so, these readers may offer conflicting advice or may not uncover all a book’s issues.

With e-books, our work can reach an even larger audience and then be fine-tuned. That doesn’t mean publishing junk or half-baked ideas. The e-book needs to be the best we can make it. But if corrections are needed, e-publishing makes them easy to accomplish.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

How to Blog Your Fiction Book

We discussed ways to connect our blog with our book, which works well for memoir and nonfiction but not so much for fiction. While the vision is clear to blogging a memoir or nonfiction work, it’s murky when it comes to fiction.

With fiction, we can’t simply blog excerpts from our book because we will either end up posting the complete book online or leave readers frustrated over gaps in the story. Besides, who wants to read an entire book in blog length sections? Doling out the story is too small of segments, over too long of a time, will fail to engage readers.

That doesn’t mean fiction writers can’t connect their blog with their book. Though I’ve not written a fiction book (yet), here are some blog ideas to consider.

  • Blog about the era: If the novel takes place in a different time, be it past or future, blog about the period. For historical settings, you have researched this thoroughly, so reveal what you’ve learned. For futuristic novels, share about the world you’ve created.
  • Blog about the location: If the story takes place in another country – or another world – give details about the setting.
  • Share deleted scenes: Just as movie DVDs often have deleted scenes, your book likely has scenes you didn’t use. Share these with your fans. Do they wish the deleted scene stayed in the book? The one caution is if you want to save the unused scenes for a sequel.
  • Disclose character profiles: Most novelists write character profiles for the protagonist and antagonist, as well as for supporting characters. It’s rare to use all those details in your book, so share the complete profile on your blog.
  • Reveal more backstory: Often there is background information, which although interesting, doesn’t move the story forward. Blogging unused backstory is one more way to engage readers and build excitement for your book.
  • Post short stories about your characters: Have you ever finished a book and wanted to read more about the main characters? Or perhaps discover more about an interesting but ancillary character? Short stories can fill that need in readers, building interest in the book without revealing too much.

The timing on when to post these ideas varies. Some work great as pre-publication buildup, whereas others lend themselves to post-publication promotion. The key is that fiction writers can support their book with their blog.

Happy blogging.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.

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