Friday, 7 April 2017

10 Tips for Beginner Writers

Today, I'm proud to host a guest on the blog, Rachel Summers.

Rachel pitched an idea for an article to me. I'm always happy to welcome guests PITCH HERE.

Even as a published author, there are some great tips in Rachel's article, especially for those days when you just can't seem to find the writing mojo...

10 Tips for Beginner Writers


Starting out a career in writing, or just looking to expand on your skills? You can improve your skills quite significantly by learning from the experts, and taking on board some of these simple tips.

1. Be Concise

The title for this tip could have been ‘Don’t spend too much time explaining yourself’. Instead, it is ‘be concise’. By ensuring that you use only the words necessary to fully explain your point, you can keep your reader’s interest for longer. Be concise in your wording, but don’t miss out important points either. 

2. Be an Editor

On some days, writing can be daunting. On the days that you don’t feel like writing, use that time to be your own editor. Spend time going over content you have already produced, checking your spelling and grammar, and seeing if there is anywhere you can simplify what you have written.

3. Have Patience

Writing something you are really proud of isn’t always instant. While the learning process will allow you to write better content, quicker, you will still have to be patient during the writing process. It make take a couple of attempts before you get the piece you imagined, and it could take quite some time editing. This is advice you can obtain from a wide range of writing specialists, including Goins Writer.

4. Write for Yourself

A piece of advice that many people question, is to write for yourself. Even when you are writing for an audience, writing for yourself has a number of benefits. You will become more honest, more open and more thorough in what you write. You won’t need to lie or exaggerate, and you will develop a style that is uniquely you. When you stop worrying too much about the audience and focus instead on writing quality content that portrays the right message, you become a better writer. Writers over at Writer’s Digest swear by this method.

5. Disconnect

Disconnect yourself from social media. That means logging off Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Don’t let these notifications distract you as you are writing, as even just five minutes away from writing puts you in a different headspace and takes you out of your ‘zone’.

6. Create a Workspace

Rather than writing from bed, or in your favorite chair, set up a workspace that is dedicated only to writing. When you enter your workspace, log off your social media and enter the ‘zone’. Writers over at UK Top Writers will tell you just how important this is to write quality content.

7. Read

Someone who doesn’t read will find it difficult to become an exceptional writer. Read the books and articles of people you admire and who you aspire to write like.

8. Practice Your Summaries

When writing a longer piece, it’s important to summarize your points so that you can take readers through a complex journey. Practice your summaries, by writing summaries for shorter pieces, and not publishing them.

9. The Three Ps

The three Ps are ‘patience, purpose and perseverance’. Always remember that patience and perseverance are necessary for you to create good content, but your writing must also have a clear purpose. If a reader is unsure of what you are trying to say and why, they will become disinterested and stop reading.

10. Manage Your Time

It’s important to manage your time and create schedules that you stick to. If you don’t stick to your schedule, you will find yourself missing deadlines or simply taking longer than you need to. Time management is a big part of being a writer.


Rachel J Summers is an experience local newspaper reporter and journalist with a passion for truth and great writing. She also works at UK Top Writers, and has years of experience as a freelance writer and editor. You can find her on Twitter at @RachelJSummers.

A big thank you to Rachel for contributing!

Monday, 13 March 2017

How Hybrid Publishing Can Grow Your Author Career - Interview with Author Maggie James

I've been friends with Maggie James for a while now and interviewed her in March of last year on my Amy Morse Authorpreneur blog about her Self-Publishing Success Story

A year on, a lot has changed for Maggie and she's now planning her next overseas trip to write. I caught up with her recently, as she's just signed a new publishing deal, on the strength of her self-published portfolio and I was intrigued to know how this has changed her approach to her writing career...

1)   Why did you choose to self-publish your books at the start of your career?

While I was working on my first novel, His Kidnapper’s Shoes, written during my time in Bolivia, my intention was to find a traditional publisher upon my return to the UK. 

However, one day I got chatting to another traveller, also a writer. She suggested I look into self-publishing, which I did. The more I delved into self-publishing, I became convinced it was the way forward. It appeared to offer every advantage and no disadvantages. 

Why settle for 10-15% royalties with a traditional contract when you can get 70% with Amazon? I decided I’d give it a go; I released His Kidnapper’s Shoes in 2013, followed by my other books. 

Until early 2016, I had no intention of seeking a publishing contract. In fact, I often told people that should I be offered one, I would turn it down. As you’ll see below, I did just that, in 2014. 

Going Hybrid - Hybrid Publishing for Authors
How things change! 

I wasn’t expecting to receive a phone call one day that would alter everything. More of that later.

2)      Have you been offered contracts by traditional publishers in the past?  

Yes, I have. 
My experience reinforced my conviction I didn't want a traditional contract. 
At the start of my writing career, I self-published four non-fiction books I wrote during my time as a nutritional therapist. 
A publishing company read one and then offered me a publishing contract, saying they believed my writing would fit in well with their catalogue.

3)      Why did you accept/not accept it?
I needed little time to reject the contract they sent to me. 
While I was flattered to be approached in this way, the terms were terrible, and I couldn’t see any point in signing it. That’s the problem with old-style publishing contracts; they’re biased towards the publisher and offer little financial incentive for authors. 

4)      What made you consider this publishing contract?
The first contract I signed was with Lake Union, one of Amazon’s publishing imprints. 
Unlike the other one, it offered much better terms. As we know, Amazon operates differently! 
I can’t go into details about the terms of my contract, but they are much better than you get with traditional publishing deals.

So how did this come about, given I wasn’t seeking to land a book contract? 
Well, one afternoon I received a phone call from an acquisitions editor working for Lake Union in London. She told me how much she had enjoyed His Kidnapper’s Shoes, and that she was interested in exploring ways in which Lake Union and I could work together. 
Over the next two weeks we swapped emails and spoke again on the phone, culminating is her offer of a two-book deal to republish His Kidnapper’s Shoes and my latest novel, After She’s Gone.

I decided having Amazon’s mighty marketing muscle behind my writing career could only be beneficial. 

So far I have no regrets.

5)      How does it differ from the process of self-publishing?

One benefit of self-publishing is that authors keep full control over their writing career. That isn't the case with my contract; Amazon retains the final say over my book titles and covers. A major plus was that I experienced the benefits of working with a top-notch editor. I learned a lot from her. 

6)      What has been the best part of the experience with the publisher? 

I’ve found it a joy to work with a publisher where things happen on schedule and as expected. 
It's still very early days; ask me again in a year! 

I can’t predict how my books will do under the Amazon contract, but I'm optimistic. 
Everyone at Lake Union is friendly, helpful and approachable. That means a lot. 

7)      What has been the worst?

A minor gripe is not having much say over my books’ titles or covers. 
Having been used to having full control over every aspect of my writing, it's difficult for me to relinquish it. 

8)      Will you self-publish in the future or would you only accept a traditional contract? 

I've now accepted a second contract, a two book deal with Bloodhound Books, another digital publisher like Lake Union. 
They’ll republish my novels Guilty Innocence and The Second Captive later in 2017. 

I based my decision on their impressive marketing record and the favourable reports of my friends who have signed contracts with Bloodhound. 
Marketing is not my forte; I try my best but I feel my writing career can benefit from my contracts with Bloodhound and Amazon. 

As for self-publishing, I'm still a big fan and continue to see it as a very positive step. 

It's too early to predict how things will go with Amazon and Bloodhound, but I’ll probably end up being a hybrid author, with some of my books signed up to publishing contracts, and the rest under my control. We shall see!
9)      What top tips would you offer to writers wanting to pursue the traditional route? 

I'm not sure I'm qualified to offer tips, because my journey towards a publishing contract hasn’t been a typical one. 

Neither Amazon nor Bloodhound can be considered traditional publishers; their approach is skewed towards digital books, which is why their terms are far more advantageous for writers. 

If an author chose to pursue the traditional route, I'd encourage them to do so. 

It's for each writer to decide the path of their career; just because I champion self-publishing doesn't mean it's right for everyone. 

Many authors struggle with technology, so formatting digital files and maintaining a social media presence would be difficult. 

The one thing I’d say is that there is no downside to self-publishing. 

Some authors take the view that once you self-publish, you’ll never land a contract. 

As my experience shows, this is not the case. 

All my books under contract or which soon will be have been self-published, and it’s been no barrier towards being picked up by Amazon and Bloodhound. 

10)   How will this change your career goals for your future writing?

I'm not sure, but by the end of 2017 I’ll have more of an idea of how Amazon are performing with His Kidnapper’s Shoes and After She's Gone, and I’ll have Bloodhound Books’s figures for Guilty Innocence and The Second Captive. 

Despite having been a full-time novelist for over two years, and it being four years since I published my first novel, I still feel very much a newbie at this game. T

hat means my writing career could go in any of several directions! Like my latest book, it’s a work in progress!

Thanks to Maggie for sharing her story and tips!

Maggie James is a British author who lives in Bristol. She writes psychological suspense novels.

Before turning her hand to writing, Maggie worked mainly as an accountant, with a diversion into practising as a nutritional therapist. Diet and health remain high on her list of interests, along with travel. Accountancy does not, but then it never did. The urge to pack a bag and go off travelling is always lurking in the background! When not writing, going to the gym, practising yoga or travelling, Maggie can be found seeking new four-legged friends to pet; animals are a lifelong love!

Find out more about Maggie's work and connect with her here:

Have you got a story to share? I'm always happy to accept pitches for interviews and guest blogs from business-minded writers with some great tips and advice to share - PITCH HERE