Thursday, 7 November 2013

The Writing Platform - Authors, Alternatives, Books and Blog Tips #TWP13

On Monday I attended The Writing Platform mini fair and conference for writers. I think all writers should go to something like this once a year for an injection of energy and optimism and to be reminded of all the alternative ways of getting their projects off the ground. Alright, so Patrick Hussey did mention that crowd funding was a bit tricky... virtually impossible... don't embark on it lightly... but still, it's good to know it's an option! Just don't expect millions of pledges if you've only got 21 twitter followers. 22 should do it.
'My Writing Life' was the topic of the first panel and I was pleased to hear that discipline plays a key role in the authors' success. Better discipline than luck, right? I learnt that Philip Hensher writes between 6am - 10.30am to avoid interruptions, Nikesh Shukla scribes for two hours before his day job and Polly Courtney imposes a technical blackout in the afternoons to get her words down.

Can we learn to be disciplined? I think so, if we want it enough. It's just hard to know where to start sometimes. Personally I'm a big fan of lists and breaking everything down into manageable steps. Last week I made a timetable with a daily word count target and I wrote more than I'd done in ages without any extra stress. You could even use spreadsheets à la Polly Courtney. 
It makes so much sense to me that Polly uses spreadsheets. She's so productive and her drive is inspiring. She's mostly known for dumping Harper Collins over their 'girly covers' after working through a three book deal with them. What I didn't know until I met her at The Writing Platform is that her first novel Golden Handcuffs was self-published, and it was the success of this book that attracted Harper Collins in the first place. Polly's story is proof that it pays to be pro-active. These day publishers are much more likely to take a risk on a writer if they've already built a readership and gained credibility. For some writers, becoming their own publisher is a step worth taking.
The 'Get Noticed' panel was the last of the day. I was on it because the success I've had as a writer is the result of having a well-developed online presence. Shop Girl Diaries began as a blog, my online novel Spray Painted Bananas has racked up over a million hits on Wattpad and led to me signing with Laura Longrigg at MBA literary agency. I'm a big believer in putting your work out there and increasing your chances of getting lucky.
Nicola Barr, Anna Lewis, Emily Benet, Minna Salami and Donna Hancox
Our panel only lasted forty minutes but I could have gone on for hours, and I do in my Blogging and Social Networking Workshops! In fact, now that I'm not worried about hogging the microphone I thought I'd leave you with a few tips.
You might also want to read To Blog or Not To Blog, That is the question.

1. Decide on a clear concept for your blog -  just because you're a writer doesn't mean you have to write about writing!
2. Consider how your blog might add value to your readers - is it entertaining? informative? insightful?
3.  Be consistent - both in your theme and your voice!
4. Post regularly - once a week is great, once every two weeks might be more manageable.
5. Keep an eye on blogs you like - what do you like about them? what are they doing so well?
6. Visual appeal - use multi media, add relevant photographs, illustrations, videos  
7. Integrate your online presence -  make sure your blog link is on all your social networks and your social networks can be reached through your blog.
8. Spread the word - add your blog link to your email signature, mention new posts in your facebook status, tweet your posts using bite sized headlines and don't forgot word of mouth.

9. Don't spam - tell people about your blog but don't use social media solely for self-promotion. It won't work and you'll get on everyone's nerves. Engage, engage, engage!
My Blogging for Beginners e-book is coming out soon, sign up to my newsletter for updates and news of upcoming workshops.


Robin Houghton said...

Hi Emily, that sounded like a great event, I'd have gone to it if I'd known about it! (Famous last words?) Hope all is well with you. Robin x

Emily Benet said...

It was great and it takes place every year. Follow them on twitter so you don't miss it!
Thanks for reading my blog Robin! :)

Carl said...

Great list of blogging tips - very useful!

Emily Benet said...

Thanks for reading Carl! Glad you found them useful.
I've just launched an ebook Blogging for Beginners which you might find useful!