A to Z April Challenge – tried it?

 

A[1]
My first 2014 post
is for April, and it will come as no surprise that the A to Z April Challenge is … a challenge held in April using the letters of the alphabet, from A to Z.

Is it free?   Yes.

Is it fun?   Yes.

Is it worthwhile?   Yes.

Have I ever completed the challenge?   Yes.

What is it all about – really?
Essentially, it’s about increasing your presence in the blogosphere. If you have a blog and you feel you don’t have many followers it can be down to several factors.

– You might have an interesting theme in your regular posts, but may not be relating it in an interesting way.

– You may find yourself wondering how to make your topics attract followers.

– You might even be new to the blogging idea and the best way to learn what works is to visit others – and comment.

– Make an effort to become a part of the international blogging scene.

I’ve provided a link if you click on the logo towards the end of this post. Or you can check out the details here: A to Z April Challenge 2016. You might well fancy attempting to complete the challenge this year. If you make the effort to try it, you have nothing to lose, and a lot to gain.

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I heard about the A to Z April Challenge from writer, reviewer and prolific blogger, Damyanti Biswas.

I enrolled on the 2014 challenge and I chose to use the topic of writing as my theme for the month. As always, I had several projects on the go simultaneously, so fitting in a daily post and then reading and commenting on at least five other posts became a real challenge.

Okay, having said all of the above regarding my first attempt, I did enjoy my efforts and those of the other bloggers. My followers increased and I still visit some of those bloggers I met in 2014 during the challenge.

I admit, I am a writer who blogs, as opposed to a blogger who writes.

What does that mean?
It means that for me, blogging is a means to an end. It is an author platform.
For many, blogging becomes a social activity and in several years experience of the international community, I’ve found insights into many areas.

What did I do in my challenge posts in 2014?
As an example, I’ll provide the link here for my final post of 2014:Z[1]

https://tombensoncreative.com/2014/04/27/z-is-for-zoom-in/

Here is the link to my complete challenge profile for the 2014 challenge, which is in my blog Resources for Writers sub-menu:

https://tombensoncreative.com/my-a-to-z-2014/

 

Do I have any advice for those are considering the challenge for 2016?
Yes. I’d have two pieces of advice, apart from suggesting you try the challenge.

1. Don’t use the first topic / theme that comes to mind. List about five things you’re really interested in, and then choose one.

2. Set up a file with the letters of the alphabet, and build a small catalogue of posts in preparation. It’s even better if you can prepare your entire month (26 posts) in advance. All you have to do then is either edit them or have a quick look before posting.

Blogging A to Z 2016Interested?
Why not check it out by clicking on the logo to the left, or if you like, I’ll happily field early questions. Better still is to contact Damyanti directly.

Thank you for reading … and maybe we’ll see each other out there in April.

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Refreshing …

Banner 151115It might not appear so at first, but ‘refreshing’ items for a writer is a wide and varied area of responsibility. Refreshment is important – because it is for the writer’s personal benefit.

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Let’s make a list …
1.     Project list
2.    Website, blog, and social networks
3.    Personal bio and author photo
4.    Book covers
5.    Book supplementary content
6.    Book pricing
7.    Appointments
8.    To be Read (TBR)
9.    Work in Progress (WIP)
10.  Take regular breaks

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1.  Project List                                                      

As a priority, we must strive to maintain separate writing and domestic ‘to do’ lists.

A good way to deal with this is to differentiate between domestic and writing.

Refer to domestictasks,’ but writing ‘projects’.

In the domestic tasks list add in a heading – Writing Projects. To the right is an example of my present Writing Projects.

It’s a good reminder to treat it as a different part of the writer’s life.

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2.  Website, blog and social networks

In my articles I use my projects to give examples, and this is a recurring project for me.

Update one ... update all
Update one … update all

I write an update for my author website every week. I write an update for my secondary website every month, and I write a blog post when a relevant topic comes to mind – like this one.

Remember if you have an Amazon Author Page – update it too. If you haven’t got one – get one organised.

In the last few weeks I’ve completely overhauled my secondary website and it’s had a few compliments. I’ve also given this blog a facelift and consolidated the main menu.

I updated my two Amazon Author pages, and my profiles at Bookbub, Independent Author Network, Google+, Facebook, and Twitter. A few weeks ago I ditched my LinkdIn account.

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3.  Personal Bio and author photo

Here are items that many writers have issues producing. My suggestion would be to read up on the topic, and compose a bio. I have different bios, because I’ve found it useful. One is 50 words – when brevity is required, another is 100 words, which is sufficient to create a good personal writing history.

In my opinion, the bio for a website can afford to be longer, depending on the purpose of the website. A key point to keep in mind is – your writing bio should be clearly about your writing history and accomplishments – it is not about your granny, your rabbits, or your last holiday abroad.

If you’d like your writing to be taken seriously, take your profile and author photo seriously. My bios are both less than one month old, and my present photo is three months old. I don’t go to the extent of a ‘professional’ photo, but I trawl through several recent shots to get the best I can – and in cases like mine, that can be a task!

Practise your bio and give yourself a word limit. Produce two, three, or four so they can be adapted for a variety of purposes. If in doubt, send a copy to a fellow author you trust and ask for an opinion.

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4.  Book Covers 

 Was ... and ... Now
Was … and … Now

If you have a title out there which isn’t performing well, but has had a handful of good reviews, the lack of performance could be down to many things, among which is the cover – if you have any doubt – change it.

A few days ago I changed the cover of one of my books because it was stagnating. Within 48 hours of changing the cover, it sold again.

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5.  Book Supplementary Info

From ToC of Beyond The Law: Retribution
From ToC of Beyond The Law: Retribution

In the back pages of all of my eBooks I have supplementary information which includes: a short bio, and other titles.

We must ensure our bio is updated in all of our work as we produce another title, and we must ensure our latest title has all the others at the back.

Why at the back?

If you’ve published an eBook it will give more of a sample for prospective readers (customers), and the information is irrelevant if the prospective reader doesn’t buy.

This is marketing by stealth.

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6.  Book Pricing

Yes, we all love writing and we’d do it even if we weren’t paid. The flip-side of the coin is – while we can be paid, we don’t want to lose out. I abide by certain simple rules.

I have several titles out there covering a variety of genre and types of writing. I don’t consider myself a household name, so I price my work accordingly. Don’t set a high price on your first book, and don’t think a few five star reviews means you’ve made it and you can ask whatever price you like.

Keep in mind, there are thousands of e-Reader users who only download books which are free, or up to a certain price. We’ve all heard the phrase, ‘everyone has their price’, and it’s no different in the world of eBooks.

A few days ago I amended my pricing across the entire range of my catalogue. Always remember, it’s better to get 100 shares of a low price – rather than 2 shares of a high price.

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7. Appointments

Whether you made them or somebody else made them – keep them. At one end of the scale an ‘appointment’ might be the date you’ve set to promote a book with a low price. At the other end of the scale an ‘appointment’ might be a phone call or meeting with somebody who can influence your success – or failure.

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8. To be Read (TBR)

I’m well known for my methodical approach. Tom's Kindle

On my Kindle I have a TBR – 1, and a TBR – 2. Apart from those, I have a TBR diary/journal which has all of the TBR 1 and 2 listed with genre and author name.

TBR – 1 is my priority list for reading and reviewing. TBR – 2 is my list of titles which I’ve collected as a matter of interest, but I’m in no hurry to get to them. Using my TBR journal I can decide which genre to switch to after a recent read. I tend never to read and review the same genre twice in succession.

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9.  Work in Progress (WIP)

When did you last look at your list of WIP?

I know there are many, who do as I do and work on various projects simultaneously, but we must set ourselves a time to remind ourselves what else we have and any ‘due dates’.

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10. Take regular breaks

Yes, obvious isn’t it – but do you do it?

I work in retail part-time, so many of my days are hard-working, writing days. I enjoy a coffee while I work, but I am disciplined regarding breaks.

On an average writing day: By 7am – I’m already writing. By 10am – I’ve taken out an hour to deal with my first pass on social networking, so I take a 15-minute break (away from my writing). At 12noon – it’s lunch-time (for one hour).

At 3pm – I take my 15-minute afternoon break, and if my head isn’t in another world, I make a second pass on my social networking. At around 6 – 6.30pm I stop for dinner. I make a third pass on social networking in the evening.

Yes, that is the perfect day, but there are anomalies. I have the occasional coffee while I work. I will invariably come back to writing for an hour or two in the late evening, and I occasionally use a ‘break’ to catch up with social networking.

My fuel tank ... and a message.
My fuel tank … and a message.

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So my friends there we have it – we all need some refreshment in our writing lives.

I hope I’ve reminded, educated or inspired in some small way. As always, comments are appreciated and all will be acknowledged.

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