12/24/11

Count Down: 8 Top Websites for Writers

Count Down: 10 Days Until the New Year presents:

8 Top Websites for Writers

I have written on this before so I'll keep this list brief.  I'm going to try not to double up on my previous post or my recent email on ArtsNet by reiterating my favorite blogs or writers-only websites, instead I'm focusing on websites in general.

8)Joe Konrath Blog jakonrath.blogspot.com Successful genre-writing tips and a great list of about 300 recommended blogs as well.
7) Preditors and Editors: http://www.invirtuo.cc/prededitors/ A great website for ensuring you're not getting scammed by a fake or illegitimate editor or agent, etc.  They are being sued right now and are looking for donations to stay afloat, I honestly think it's worth supporting because they will report when agents, editors and publishers act inappropriately.  Take a look for yourself at their website.
6) Book Cover Archive: www.bookcoverarchive.com Search for book covers and the latest trends in the market.  Great for Self-Publishers.
5) Twitter: twitter.com You can follow a ton of people who are in the literary world like publishers, writers, editors and agents.  Each of these people pour out their knowledge daily in short snippets called tweets.  Some tweet often and others once a week, but it's a great way to keep on eye on things.  You can also check out the trends on hastags.  Usually with the pound symbol (#) before a word is called a hashtag.  Some popular ones for writers are: #amwriting, #writers, and #writing.
4) Media Bistro: mediabistro.com A website that give you information about the media publications that are open to pitches, gives feedback on writer-related items, such as how to write a resume as a writer. Worth taking a look at if you want to pitch magazines or large newspapers.
3)Places for Writers: placesforwriters.com Primarily Canadian, it posts when new opportunities to write are presented. I personally don't pitch to competitions because I would rather get published, but they also have a wonderful list of upcoming competitions that some writers will appreciate.
2) Easy Street Prompts: easystreetprompts.blogspot.com A website that posts a single photo everyday as a writing prompt.  Videos are given sometimes too.  Take a look if you're in a slump.
1) Blogger: blogger.com Okay a little bit silly but I've belonged to two other blogging locations before and they were so frustrating to learn and get used to that I never actually posted anything.  Blogger's great because you can use your blogger dashboard to subscribe to RSS feeds.  So, I've got a list of my favorite blogs and RSS feeds linked into my blogger and I couldn't be happier! One site for so much...

I hope you liked this list.  If you did, I'll have another list that's similar later on in this count down.  If you're a self-publisher or are interested in self or E publishing, then stay tuned for 4 days before New Years.  I'll have a short list of 4 great resources for self-publishers or e publishers.

12/23/11

Count Down: 9 Bad Habits Businesses Need to Banish

Count Down,  10 Days Until the New Year Presents...

9 Bad Habits Businesses Need to Banish

Some of my regular 1200 readers might be wondering, why are you all of a sudden giving out business tips? If you are a writer, then part of your job is being in business.  This includes freelancers, those who do business with other corporations or writers that work within a place of business such as publishing houses, newspapers and magazines. Each of these situations you work within a business,  if you're not any of the above then chances are-and knowing my readership- you are a writer who has a day job.

So, for each of your scenarios, I have these tips.

10) You say 'Yes' too much. Inherently the act of saying yes is not a bad thing, the problem arises when you don't know how to say 'no.'  Most businesses or business magazines have covered this at length and perhaps you've heard it.  Sometimes projects look great or they open doors, but you need to ask yourself a couple questions in order to know if you should take the assignment: a) Do I have the time to put in the work on a regular basis above my regular workload? b) Will anything else suffer? c) Can I meet the deadline? d) is there anyone else who could do this project that would do it just as well or sufficiently enough that I don't need to take this on?  Once you've asked yourself these, if the answers are predominantly no, then say No.

9)You try to appeal to everyone. Not everyone can be pleased.  Trust me. If you're looking to market yourself, cutting down your crowd is useful.  Target your marketing or platform approaches and you'll see way more success.  By trying to appeal to everyone, even in a single blog post, you're excluding everyone by having something there that doesn't appeal to them. Be direct and be succinct.  The succinctness will allow people to understand where you are coming from, tells them what your goal is and whether or not the reader can do anything about it.

8) Rudeness.  I face this more than some would believe.  I am originally from a small town and again once more I live in a small town.  When I was a teen I went into a cute store in my hometown and looked at the pretty baubles they had for girls.  While looking at them I asked the lady behind the counter what the price of one without a tag was, she yelled "I don't know," instead of checking.  Then, when I was looking elsewhere in the store, she said: "Listen, are you done yet?  I don't like teens hanging around in my store."  Not only is this rude, it shows ageism in a bad way and proves that the woman didn't know her market.  I walked out of that store and plainly said to her, "See that two-hundred dollar item up there on the shelf?  I was going to buy that for my mother for Christmas.  If you had been nice and helped me earlier I would have bought that for my sister.  Since you've been rude and offensive I'm going to spend my money elsewhere and I'll tell my friends to do the same."  I left and did tell my friends.  I had never been so offended in my life! Needless to say, the store closed before it reached it's first year in business

7) Bad Management.  A lot of chain stores have it, hence why they have a very tough time keeping employees.  There are lots of "types" of bad management. The truth is, many who hire in the retail industry for management positions rarely work that closely with the manager and rarely listen to staff feedback about the manager's performance. For a great article on this and behaviors of managers that suck, read this article "Managing Away Bad Habits," written by the Harvard Business Review.

6) Lack of Enthusiasm.  Having worked for Starbucks, their motto for employees is to "Create an Enthusiastic Experience for Every Customer, Every time."  This is quite high-reaching, but it works.  Most employees, which they may not always be thrilled by the prospects of working in a coffee shop forever, they certainly get swept off their feet in the training process which included enthusiastic management. (That's a nod at the previous number too.) If you don't like what you do, or you don't "feel" like getting out of bed to go to work, it's time for a career change.  Seriously. If you think, "Well, I just need to get more experience," or "I need to work here a full year or I'll look like a quitter," fine.  But, make yourself a promise to look for and apply for jobs you think you'd love as they come up.  There's no harm and the potential employer won't contact your current one until checking with you, or you can include it in your cover letter.  If you are a writer and don't like what you do, perhaps you need to change genres or audiences.  If you're writing for a beauty mag and you're slugging through the work, consider getting a job at a newspaper and writing your book on the side. 

5)Lack of Phone Etiquette. Too many times I call somewhere and the person is yelling at me, or answers with a "Yeah?" and I wonder: They want me to do business with them?  Nope, ain't going to happen!  You see, if they are that sloppy with their potential customers, how sloppy are they going to be with current customers.  I usually feign a "Sorry, wrong number," and then hang up and try their competitors.  Also, I can't stand automated phone lines.  If you only have ten employees and your phones don't automatically go to a receptionist, you're losing customers guaranteed.  I know because I hang up.  If I have to press a button to contact a human being, I press the hang up button and then I dial their competitor's number... noticing a pattern? Bad phone etiquette is hard to recover from because it's so easy for someone to lie to you or just hang up if they don't like what they hear, so be sure to mind your P's, Q's, don't slam the phone to hang up and turn your volume down.

4) Review Ignorance.  If you business is listed in the white or yellow pages of a phone book, then it is listed in that phone book's listing online.  If that is so, then you are capable of being reviewed.  I don't know why more people don't know this fact.  If you get a bad review on an important site, then you are hooped my friend. Even towns as small as Whitehorse have a review outlet, consider Yukono. http://yukono.com/  And, for the love of God, do not write a counter review by yourself.  It's so blatantly obvious to an actual or potential customer that it'll put them off for sure.

3) Habitual Ruts.  Most people have their own personal routine of how they pick out their outfit, for example.  Many businesses have a routine of how to enroll new customers, how to handle clients and case files and who to turn to for such and such information.  These need to stop.  These are called habitual ruts and when an office or business develop the same standard greeting in every year's Christmas Card, then it's time to make some change.  Perhaps reversing roles in the office for a day, perhaps getting employees to stop approaching others for information and making that available to them instead in a form of report or resources list is a couple of ways that a business can stop its dependency on habits.  Reason being that clients or customers can see the habit.  How many times have you gone to a dentist or doctor's office and the secretarial assistant hands you forms without a smile with a pen and motions (silently) to a chair. Repetitive much?  That's right, it's off-putting.  It's the same thing in any form of business, watch your habitual ruts.

2) Poor People Skills. Just like rudeness, poor people skills gets around.  Why? Poor people skills is not outright rudeness but it can be perceived as such. Also, your people skills are what's going to persuade others to partake in your business as a client or customer.  If you don't know the powers of persuasion, just look at Cleopatra and Julius Cesar.  That woman was persuasive and it saved her life, for a time. I've met new business people or individuals who work and wonder why they don't get raises or promotions and they whine about their lot in life.  Then I suggest, why don't you smile when you talk to clients?  I usually get this reply from them, "I'm not a people-person, and I don't like helping people." Well, then change jobs honey, because you are not doing well at this one.  The point is, your livelihood depends on your job and your success-people pleasing is a must.

1) Procrastination. The number one bad habit, for many good reasons.  First, most put stuff off because they believe they have lots of time.  So what?  You have lots of time? Put it to good use and get that project off your table before the next one, or worse-an emergency project- hits your desk leaving you with too little time to complete the project well or at all.  When most projects are put off until the last minute, it's obvious to the reciever and if you're working in a team, you've got people counting on you to bring the quality not just a "finished product."  Finishing school for young girls wasn't meant to kill them, as finishing as a verb would imply.  No, it would finish them.  Like a varnish it would polish them up and make them not only a good wife, but the best wife and woman they could possibly be in their instance.  Many cultures had this not only for women but for men too. Every project you put out should be something that's Finished; it has to be something you would be proud to put your name on it, because finished product is what sells to potential clients.

I hope this list was enlightening. Until tomorrow!

12/22/11

Cout Down, Ten Synonyms for Writers

Count Down: Ten Days Until The New Year presents...

Ten Synonyms for Writers

10) Ink Slinger
9) Scribbler
8) Contributor
7) Essayist
6) Poet
5) Editor
4) Author
3) Litterateur
2) Transcriber
1) Wordsmith: My personal favorite and my slogan.

Yes, yes.  Some are more specific, but nonetheless, it gives you ideas as to directions to take your writing, at least if you're unsure of your writing's future or if you're seeking a writing career, no?

10 Days Until The New Year

Hello everyone,

In preparation for the new year and all of those resolutions sure to be made, I have decided to do a Ten Days Until New Year's Eve count down.  I think this would be fun.  Later tonight I will post the first article. Stay Tuned!

Amanda

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Yule and hope everyone had a great Winter Solstice!