Gregor Connections LLC

Your Book—What Sets Your Message Apart?

When marketing your book, it’s vital you differentiate your work from everyone else out there. Once you know your message, your story—what sets your work apart from others? Better yet, what will bring your work to the forefront and cause it to stand taller than all the others?

Research Your Topic and Working Title

What books are out there with similar messages? Amazon.com is an easy place to find research with their advanced book search. You can search your title to see if anyone has used your title before. It can also bring up similar titles and their publication dates. It can prove interesting to look out how well that book performed in sales.  If you open any title, you can scroll down to the “Amazon’s Best Seller’s Rank” under product details and see how well the book preformed on Amazon. The Copyright Office is another great resource.

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What Sets Your Message Apart?

What do you have to say that hasn’t been said before? Okay, maybe it’s been said before, but you have a new perspective that can bring a deeper understanding. Maybe it’s story you want to share. Perhaps you have some amazing fictional characters the world has never seen just waiting to demonstrate who they are?

Ask yourself the questions a reader will ask when they pick up your book in a bookstore or come across it online.

  • What’s this book about?
  • Why do I need it?
  • What will I learn?
  • What experience can I expect from it?
  • Why should I read it?

The answers to those questions should compel others to notice your book, be drawn to it, buy it and read it?

Your Book Proposal—What Platform Will You Stand On

Years ago, authors relied on publishers for publicity to sell their new book, but these days readers seldom look to newspapers and television shows for the next book to add to their reading list. When publishers look at your book proposal, they look very closely at your platform. They want to know you have the potential to reach your target audience.

You’re probably asking, “But what about my book—the story I want to tell, or the  message I want to get across? Doesn’t that count for something?” Yes! It certainly does. I’m not saying that your platform is more important than what you have to say. It’s certainly lot. Many great authors have delivered a powerful message with little to no platform that put them in the top-sellers list.

Here are some questions to ask yourself as you consider your public platform:

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Sphere of Influence

  • Who are your key influencers? Consider your circle. Who would endorse your book and encourage their sphere of influence to purchase. What platforms to they offer and would they put you on their platform?
  • Who influences you?
  • Who do you influence?
  • Who are your big fans of your work?
  • Who simply joins into the conversation but will hear about it?
  • Where does your work regularly appear? How many people see it?
  • How is it shared? Where does it go?
  • What professional associations do you belong to?
  • What communities do you have a voice into?

Area of Expertise

  • What makes you an expert on your subject? If you have a degree in your field, or extended certifications or training, put that down. If you have personal experience that lends to your authority on the subject matter, that’s great.
  • Why should readers trust you?
  • What makes you believable?

Target Audience

  • Who is the perfect audience for your book? Why?
  • Can you close your eyes and see them? What do they look like? Did you imagine you were talking to them as you wrote your masterpiece?
  • Are their secondary audiences that can benefit from your message? If so, why?

Reach

  • If you had to market this on your own now, where would have the highest response?
  • How do you engage those you expect will respond?
  • Do you have a following? Do you have a website or blog that is interactive? What about an email list? Are you active on social media?
  • What about endorsements, testimonies or reviews, especially from those who are experts on the subject you’re breaking into?

I hope this information is helpful. We’d love to hear your thoughts. Please share your comments below.

8 Ideas to Help You Relax about a Writing Deadline

A client Facebook messaged me, “I’m stuck. I can’t write today. I feel bad about it. I know I’ve got to get this done.”

“It’s okay,” I told her. “You can’t force it. It has to flow freely.” We continued to talk through the portion of the book she was working on. I made suggestions and she made some adjustments. I encouraged her to go out and get some fresh air. Do something different today—away from the computer—and she did!

A few days later, she messaged again, “I’m back on track. It worked. I relaxed and it’s flowing again.”

fashion-wristwatch-time-watch pexels small Sometimes when we write, we feel like we have to force the creativity to meet a deadline. Often those deadlines are self-imposed. We live in a society that expects results. We often put ourselves in the box. Several of my clients are working on their first or second books and have a bit of flexibility in their schedules.

(*For those of you who have to deliver on deadline on a daily basis, perhaps some of the following ideas will be helpful to you too.)

 

  1. Ask yourself, where is the pressure coming from? If it’s self-imposed, give yourself a bit of a break and step away.
  2. If you’ve been pressing in hard for several hours or days, take a day off. Get out and do something fun.
  3. *If you absolutely need to stay on task, let go of the portion of the writing that is giving you trouble. Select another portion of the project that has a little more flexibility—a lighter side—and focus on that.
  4. Step outside of yourself for a creative idea. Ask a small child what they think about your topic? How would they solve the problem you’re addressing or explain the scenario you need to share?
  5. Freewrite—remove yourself from the topic at hand and write about whatever comes across your mind. This let’s your creative juices flow and takes you out of the box you’ve from which you want to escape.
  6. Do something you enjoy—something that normally inspires you!
  7. Rest your brain—do something that takes little to no thought—a walk, a load of laundry, or call and catch up with a friend.
  8. Talk it through. Sometimes just sharing your thoughts aloud to yourself or better yet, bouncing it off of a friend can get you back on track.

 

Active or Passive Voice – What’s the Big Deal?

Shanna D. Gregor

As an avid reader, I prefer active voice to passive voice. (As an editor, I can’t stand it, but I admit there is a place for it in writing.) Voice refers whether the subject of the sentence performs the action or receives it. Active voice tells the reader what the subject does, but passive voice lets the reader know what action is done to the subject:

  • Timmy put the lid back on the trash can. (active voice – Timmy is the subject.)
  • The lid was stuck on the trash can. (passive voice –the lid is the subject).

apple-bag-collaboration smallYou might be surprised to discover passive voice is not    grammatically incorrect. I think our grammar teachers frowned on the use of passive voice because it bored them to tears to read it.

As a writer, I suggest you choose passive voice when you want to put emphasis on the recipient of the action rather than the doer of the action. This can prove highly effective if you use it selectively to add variety to your writing style. It’s easy to structure you sentences the same way repeatedly and a passive sentence every once in a while can a different flavor to your story.

Remember, active voice offers many benefits. Active voice usually gives more power to your story. It’s a good rule of thumb to use active voice unless you have a very good reason for using passive voice. (For example, use passive voice when you want the focus to rest on what is being done to something rather than by something. The bride’s dress had to be adjusted by the seamstress. The focus is on the dress, not the seamstress.)

Benefits of active voice:

  1. Active voice gives clarity to your words.
  2. It draws a picture quickly in the minds of your readers.
  3. It gives your words vigor and confidence.
  4. Readers seldom stumble through the action within active voice.

Do you have a dream to author a novel, a self-help book or share a message you believe others need to hear, but you just aren’t quite sure how to get started? Check out our Author Mentorship services.

 

 

 

Rejection—Finding the Right Fit

Shanna D. Gregor

If you’ve worked with an editor or submitted articles for consideration in print or online, you’ve no doubt felt the sting of “rejection” a time or two. I recently submitted two different book proposals to a publisher at two different time in the last three months and received a nice but sweet “no thank you,” with each one.

There are numberless emotionlove-pen-bed-drinking smalls that can spring from the words you read in a rejection letter: hurt, disappointment and rejection quickly rise to the top. Yet, I have come to realize my own work is unique and purposeful with a message for an audience I see in my mind. The way I see the audience I’ve written to, isn’t the audience book a particular publisher is selling too. So, I need to step back and re-evaluate.

I’ve decided it’s not that my work isn’t great, creative, heartfelt. I believe it’s a message that needs to be read, but perhaps not delivered in the way in which that particular editor wants to present it. So instead of feeling “rejected,” I take their words to heart – “It’s not a fit,” for them, “at this time.”

It’s kind of like looking for the right box to wrap a birthday present in. You can’t cram it into a smaller box or the presentation is clunky. You can put it in a bigger box but that presents the gift with a lot of added stuffing the recipient might not need or want.

I won’t give up. I will find the right fit by pursing other options. My work has a purpose and a place and I won’t let the “no” keep me from discovering the one perfect “yes!”

Stop Autocorrect Editing

by Shanna D. Gregor

I may be telling my age here, but I took typing in high school on the old electric typewriters. I was a fast typist and did really well on my tests after a while because I could realize a mistake, hit the backspace (which also served as an autocorrect button) and correct my mistakes during the tests. It’s like an alarm went off in my brain the instant I made an error: “Typo! Typo!” An unrelenting force compelled me to correct my mistake immediately.

Do you ever struggle with the need to correct and edit your own work as you write? I used to have a huge issue with it, and it crippled my creativity—that is until I learned to let it go!

The desire to get it right the first time around will very likely sabotage your masterpiece. Once you fully accept that the first draft will always need more work, you can relax and let go of the desire to perfect your creation as you go. The compulsion to perfect your work can

  • slow you down
  • stop the creative flow
  • drown your great ideas
  • and often take you down a dead in where you have little to nothing to show for youcreative-smartphone-notebook-typography pexels smallr work.

If you can’t completely let it go, highlight your mistake and even add a comment if you have to so you’ll remember what you want to correct or change, but keep the creativity moving forward.

If you can let it go, then free write for a good thirty minutes or more and then set your writing aside for at least two hours before returning to edit.  You save yourself time and eventually will train your brain for better writing by making your revisions all at one time.

 

Get Started – How You Can Avoid the Myths

Get Started – How You Can Avoid the Myths that Can Hijack Your Project

You have an idea for a writing project and it’s time to get started. Here are four myths many writers often believe that can hijack your project and how you can avoid them.

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  1. Follow the unwritten rules of writing.

When you initially create your masterpiece, don’t get lost in the rules.

You are a creative force that needs freedom to flow as the creative ideas come. (An excellent editor will do that for you later.)

  1. You need a title before you start.

If the title is the idea for your piece, thenthat is great, but don’t let it keep you from moving forward with your idea. More times than not, I find I do my best work when I sit down and freewrite.[1] I allow my ideas for the project to flow onto the page.

  1. The introduction shapes the project.

The reality is your passion for the project is what gives life to the project. Write what you already have in your head first. That way you can write the introduction from a position of strength, with the knowledge of what your reader can expect once you know how the project turns out. This also saves time you would spend staring at your computer screen trying to summarize something you haven’t written yet. It’s a lot easier to go back and summarize afterwards.

  1. Start at the beginning.

Trying to write everything “in order” can become a huge waste of your time. The most important thing is to get the thoughts in your head down on paper. Once they’re written, you can move them around, rewrite and edit.

[1] For more on freewriting see http://gregorconnections.com/freewriting-learning-to-fall-without-fear/.

Tense—Time Traveling with Your Reader

Shanna D. Gregor

I am directionally challenged. I think I was born that way. I feel upside down in a city. I can’t rely on my “gut” feelings to get me anywhere. For example, we recently moved to Indianapolis, Indiana. My husband’s office is just a few miles from the house and I’ve gone with him to the office several times. As we approach the building, I feel like we’re on the wrong side of the road. The building is on the south side of the road coming from our house, but I always want to turn north. North feels south. That’s always been the case. Thankfully I have an app on my phone that tells me where to go, and when that fails, I call my husband for help when I’m forced to navigate from one place to another.

So, imagine someone like me, who is directionally challenged, with the ability to travel through time. It’s a little scary, but as writers we all have that ability to take our readers for a ride with our words. Depending on the tenses you use to take your reader on the journey you are navigating for them, you could take them to the past, present and future all in one sentence. It could make them quite dizzy.

fashion-wristwatch-time-watch pexels smallSwitching tenses within a sentence or paragraph can confuse your reader. Consistent tense gives clear direction to your reader as to where you are and how they can continue to follow you. Here are a few reminders to help you to keep tenses clear and consistent in your writing:

  • Use the same verb tense if at all possible.
    • Inconsistent tense—
      • We were several blocks from the car.
      • Unexpectedly, rain pours down.
      • These sentences begin in past tense and move to present tense.
    • Consistent tense—
      • We were several blocks from the car.
      • Unexpectedly, rain poured down.
      • These sentences are both past tense.
  • There are definitely times when you need to demonstrate a change in time.
    • Before my first child was born, I wanted four children, but now only want two children.

Proofing help: carefully review your writing for tense consistency. Ask yourself, am I leading my reader clearly. Is it obvious where we’ve been, and where we are now going?

A Writer’s (or Editor’s) Personal “Cheat Sheet”

Shanna D. Gregor

Do you spend time looking up the same words or questions while writing? We all have certain words we have trouble spelling or getting that past, present and future tenses right on some of those words we only use every once in a great while.

One recent example from my own work involved the word decision making. I was working on several projects for a client in which the word decision making was used repeatedly. The challenge was remembering when to and when not to hyphenate the word.

apple-bag-collaboration smallSo, what’s the deal with decision making, and other hyphenated words, you ask? The rule of thumb I use for hyphenated words is if it modifies a noun, it should be hyphenated. For example in the sentence, He serves his company in a decision-making role, the word is hyphenated. When it is a noun, for example, John found decision making difficult, the word is not hyphenated.

So, as a shortcut to save time, when you have to look up a rule, save it in your “cheat sheet.” I save mine on my desktop in a .txt file using Notepad.

The encouraging thing is after you refer to it a couple of times, you’ll remember it and won’t need to look it up.

After the Distractions and Detours

 

After the Distractions and Detours—It’s Time to Put Your Writing Back on Course
Shanna D. Gregor

The past few months have been a major distraction. I found a cross-country move to be a great excuse to step away from my personal writing. That minor distraction became a major detour that delayed my creativity and productivity for months now.

As I look back on it, the journey was the worst move ever. (We’ve moved pretty frequently over the years). There were a lot of firsts that I didn’t think about at first which caught me off guard. It was the first time I moved anywhere without my children (who are no longer children). I didn’t like the empty nest at all. It was also the first time I’d moved without a specific job in an office with coworkers to go to every weekday.australia-curve-desert-5356

There were way too many unexpected construction sites (so to speak), potholes and detours and places where the road just seemed to end. We experienced disappointment, delays and had to very gently navigate every bump in the road—and there were a lot of them. We encountered major detours from expecting to buy a house after living in a hotel for weeks, to moving into a rental home. Our personal things unexpectedly set on a trailer for weeks instead of days. And like a never-ending journey to somewhere unknown, I finally landed abruptly in an unfamiliar neighborhood and unpacked. Once I realized I had time to write, there was no motivation.

If you, like me, were in the middle of a writing project when life interrupted, here’s some great ideas to help you put your writing back on course.

1. Take a moment to ponder some of these questions:

• “Where am I now with my project?”
• Did your life challenge that detained you give you new insight for your creative work or perhaps a completely new direction?
• Have your goals for the project changed?
• What have you learned on your journey?
• Is it possible your time away from the project breathe new life into your work?
2. Reflect on your course.
Where were you coming from?
Is there more than you thought to the perspective for your audience?
How have I changed?
How has my perspective on this work changed?
Am I willing to do something different and out of my comfort zone?
3. Review/revise your goals.
Have they changed or will they stay the same?
• Usually this is a good time to edit your work because you’ve likely stepped away long enough that the writing isn’t as fresh and you can see more from the outside looking in. Make notes using the comments section in word to observe your work so far. Then go back and make adjustments at a later time rather than changing the document in this first edit… if you can. (I’m really bad at wanting to change it as I go.)
4. Recalculate.
• Begin again.
• Establish an attainable but aggressive time line for completion.
5. Avoid distractions if at all possible. Try to delay them as they come up as much as possible.
6. Sit back, relax and enjoy the ride to the end of your writing destination. Read more

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