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Diversifying your Platforms: Independent Video, AKA YouTube (Part 3 of a series)

Welcome back for Part 3 of our series dedicated to Diversifying Your Platform!

As we’ve discussed in previous weeks, diversifying your publishing platforms can help an author reach a larger audience that won’t necessarily sit down and read through more traditional formats.

Today we’re going to be discussing YouTube.

What is Youtube?

You may be asking, if you’ve lived under a rock since the 1990’s, ‘What is YouTube?’ It’s simple. YouTube is an interactive independent video distribution platform. Content creators have uploaded a gamut of videos, from recipes, how-to videos, podcasts, sitcoms, and even horror serials.

There are a multitude of ways you can adapt your writing chops to appeal to a wider audience. From spoken-word essays, to reciting poetry, to table readings of your favorite chapters, all are interesting ways to capture the essence of you as a writer and bring it further into the limelight.

Benefits of YouTube:

  • It’s ubiquitous: YouTube is here for good, and it’s everywhere. YouTube has apps on iPhones, Androids, and every desktop and tablet that’s connected to the internet. Don’t happen to have the storage space for the app? Just go to their mobile website.
  • Popularity: YouTube’s subscriber base is huge. Every minute that passes is another 300 minutes of footage uploaded to their database.
  • Genre Range: YouTube has an audience for nearly everything if it’s marketed correctly. Do you write horror? Marble Hornets, or everymanhybrid has you covered. Do you like classical literature? Hysterical Literature is a very NSFW channel/art project where women are filmed reading literature while being distracted. Are you a non-fiction writer? Some of the best channels on YouTube are information-entertainment. You could start your own news channel like The Young Turks; you could talk at length about historical recipes, like Townsends. Wanting to share information on the creepy and the strange? Countless channels are dedicated to explorations of the unknown.
  • Advertisement: Just like with podcasts or Wattpad, YouTube’s services can function as effective advertisement. How many times have you skipped over an article or idly scrolled past a picture on your Facebook feed without giving it a second thought? Videos function as a more consumable piece of media which the viewer can passively absorb when they play it. Adapting a piece of your fiction into a video with dynamic feedback and the ability of comments or other people to craft videos around your videos help advertise your authorial brand.
  • Payment: Not only will YouTube pay you for ads if you get enough subscribers, but if you leverage your channel the right way, your YouTube fame could possibly broker you a book or movie deal. Some notable examples: Consider John Green and brother’s video blog that blossomed into his successful career as an author. Also consider the WOWPresents channel’s hilarious duo of Katya and Trixie Mattel, whose video series ‘Unnnhh’ recently secured them a TV show on VH1.

YouTube also has a few drawbacks to consider:

  • Production Costs: The very act of creating a video in and of itself is more expensive and more time consuming than writing (though, like anything, this varies depending on your individual skill level and your individual familiarity with each platform.) Obviously you need a quality camera. Along with this, you’ll need quality team members to help. You’ll need mixing and editing programs, sample music, etc. The start-up costs for all this can be prodigious.
  • Changing How You Write: Writing a script is way different than penning a short story or a podcast. You have to think about every aspect of your script and whether it’s feasible to you and your budget. Every new character is either a new costume for an existing actor, or another actor for your crew.
  • People Are Hard to Manage: Your crew is more than just two-dimensional characters on the screen. Actors are harder to manage than co-writers. Personality is everything, and whereas in a short story the characters may act exactly like you want them to, personality conflicts can and will occur. Videos, then, are a co-creation process of the entire crew and your role is no longer just writer but director.
  • Audience Engagement: Like all mediums, YouTube videos require a following to continue being relevant. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Consistency is key. A series with a schedule is important, as is keeping up to date on the days you schedule another video. Actively engaging with your viewers and contemporaries by going and tagging their videos, leaving positive comments, creating reaction videos, etc. also helps to cultivate an audience for your channel. It’s important to understand that though YouTube is by its nature more attractive to a greater variety of people, just like any creative outlet, won’t just magically attract viewers all on its own. Cross-promotion with blogs, podcasts, and separate social media platforms can help grow your audience.

Is YouTube for you? That’s up to you to decide. Do the research and think about how your writing and resources can be applied to this new format. If it’s an easy fit, then consider it. If it’s not, consider if you have the time or resources to devote to it.

 

Sources/Further Reading:

www.youtube.com

https://www.forbes.com/sites/rahimkanani/2012/06/04/why-youtube-is-the-ultimate-platform-for-global-social-change/#30b04ec35501

http://s.telegraph.co.uk/graphics/projects/youtube/

Diversifying Your Platforms: Wattpad (Part 2 of a series)

Welcome back for Part 2 of Diversifying Your Platforms!

As we discussed last time, diversifying your publishing platforms can help an author reach a larger audience that won’t necessarily sit down and read through more traditional formats.

Today we’re going to be discussing Wattpad.

What is Wattpad?

Wattpad is a fiction archive. An app, website, and reading/writing platform, Wattpad is a collaborative place where readers can find new stories, new authors, vote on their favorites, and leave comments. Authors can fill out their own profiles, upload cover designs for their book, add separate chapters at a time (good for weekly scheduled writing . . .) and even add interior art throughout the text in each chapter!

Benefits of Wattpad:

  • It’s Portable: Whether that’s through their website, or the nifty app on iTunes and the Google Play Store, it’s good for catching those readers on the move.
  • Reader Reach: Wattpad’s reader reach is enormous. Considering they reached 18 million subscribers in 2013 (per Publishers Weekly), Wattpad is certainly popular for those who are looking to increase their audience.
  • Multitude of Genres: Wattpad has nearly every genre of fiction available, from Sci-fi to Fantasy to Romance.
  • Experience: Wattpad costs literally nothing to upload and many of its functions mirror the skillset one needs to succeed in e-publishing. Preparing a story, cover, and description for Wattpad can help the writer learn more about the whole book design process from the ground up. The skills you develop re: story proposals, manuscript formatting, and overall design are very important for nearly every print and electronic platform.
  • Contests: Wattpad often hosts short story contests for writers. Sponsored by big companies and sometimes by Hollywood movies, it’s certainly a way to motivate oneself to keep up the writing.
  • Advertisement: Just like with podcasts, Wattpad’s services can function as effective advertisement. Do you have a short story you’re interested in giving up to the Gods of Writing as a sacrifice for your readers? Get creative with it. Add pictures. Showcase your writing. Make each chapter a horrible stretch for the reader. At the very least show off your website. Get enough feedback, and Wattpad could possibly broker you a book or movie deal . . .

Wattpad also has a few drawbacks to consider:

  • You’re Giving Away Product: An independent author has to think of their work as their product. Anything you put on Wattpad isn’t going to make you any money up front. The time you devote towards Wattpad, like any other kind of advertisement, is time that will actively detract from your paid work (until, of course, you build up an audience).
  • Audience Engagement: Just like all mediums, Wattpad stories require a following to continue being relevant. Countless advice exists on how to achieve this. Consistency is key: a story with a long schedule is important, as is keeping up to date on the days you schedule another chapter. Actively engaging with your readers, by going and tagging their stories, leaving positive comments, etc. also helps to cultivate a readership. It’s important to understand that Wattpad, just like any creative outlet, won’t just magically attract readers all on its own. Cross-promotion with blogs, podcasts, and separate social media platforms can help grow your audience.

Is Wattpad for you? That’s up to you to decide. Do the research and think about how your writing and resources can be applied to this new format. If it’s an easy fit, then consider it. If it’s not, consider if you have the time or resources to devote to it.

 

Sources:

http://business.financialpost.com/entrepreneur/growth-strategies/wattpads-dreams-of-becoming-the-next-disney-may-be-lofty-but-then-its-come-a-long-way-in-10-years

https://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/digital/content-and-e-books/article/60535-wattpad-grew-to-18-million-users-in-2013.html

Getting Your Book Out There: Distributors, Printing Costs, and Sales Options

 Congratulations! You’ve finished your final round of edits. You’ve had multiple beta readers take a look and tell you how much they’ve loved your book. You’ve got an awesome cover all planned out and you’ve been advertising for quite some time about your next big work. Now you just have to get it out there into the world. I know what you’re thinking: now what? Isn’t that it? Don’t I just get it printed and go?

And that’s the question, isn’t it? Do you just get it printed? What are your plans on how to get it out there? How a distributor markets your book, the ins and outs of their partners, etc. can make or break your book and your budget. Getting your book out there is an exercise on its own, and if you’re self-publishing or partnership publishing, there are a lot of things to consider.

First off, your budget. Consider what you have to spend and how to recoup your losses. There are plenty of cheap and plenty of expensive distributors out there. You truly get what you pay for. But you have to consider that there’s still social media and advertising to think about. If you’re interested in selling your book directly through person-to-person interaction, then paying for a cheaper distributor or printer may be the way for you. If you are heavily relying on a wide network of distributors from different people, then you may want to spend a little money. Most respected distributors or printers will have a list of the places they’ve partnered with. Our advice: make sure you know which partners your distributor works with before you spend the money on them. It’s also very important to research their partners, and see some statistics on each of their audiences and subscriber size.

Secondly, consider carefully whether you’re going for a printed run or an electronic run. (Or, if you’re smart… both.) A print run can be a costly thing. There are plenty of printers who can print a case of a hundred books for a certain price. Consider your needs, and make sure you think also about the kind of selling you’ll be doing. Will you be working and selling online through your social media? Will you be making the festival circuit and setting up signings? Depending on your needs, different printers offer different options, and many distribution companies even offer e-book services as well. Many printing companies also offer a smaller print-on-demand service so authors don’t have to sit on countless copies of their books. This is a nifty service that can potentially save you tons of warehouse storage fees from traditional publishers, and counter-space at your house.

Consider the benefits of your printer very carefully. Some printers (like Amazon Kindle, or Amazon Createspace) are great, entry-level printing options. (Createspace, in particular, is good at saving you some time and money by providing their own ISBN numbers, an easy interface, etc.) Your needs, the level of service you require, and the kind of binding you want are all factors that will influence which print or distributor you choose.

Winterwolf Pro Tips: Make sure you budget everything out before you commit. Double and triple-check every option as far as pricing, services offered, etc. Setting up a quick, free Google Sheet or Excel spreadsheet can help you keep tabs on which offers the best service for your budget.

Reddit Community Resources for Writers

Reddit Community Resources for Writers

Writing is a skill that requires cultivation and continued nurturing. As such, it’s essential that writers learn from and collaborate with other writers. Online writing communities are a great way to find inspiration and improve your craft. Reddit, the self-proclaimed “front page of the internet,” has a wide variety of sub communities (subreddits) designed especially for writers looking to share their vision and learn from their colleagues. The following subreddits are must visits for aspiring and experienced writers alike.

Get Inspired

  • r/imaginarylandscapes – Artists share their incredible visions of faraway places. Get inspired by truly unique images.
  • r/IAmAfiction – In the classic Ask Me Anything (AMA) format, Reddit allows users to pose as fictional characters and answer questions of the crowd. This is fantastic for character development.
  • r/characterdevelopment – Speaking of character development, come here for character ideas and inspiration.

Get Writing

  • r/writingprompts – Read and respond to some truly hilarious and often inspiring writing prompts. You can also share one or two of your own.
  • r/sixwordstories – Can you write an entire story in only six words? Reddit challenges you to post your story here and read what others have to say.
  • r/wordcount – This motivational hub encourages visitors to share their progress and push each other to write more. Come here if you’re having trouble finding the push you need.

Get Reading

  • r/literature – Part of being a good writer is being an active reader. Discuss your favorite book and themes.
  • r/booksuggestions – No sure what to read next? This subreddit has you covered with suggestions for any genre.

Share Your Work and Talk to Other Writers

  • r/writing – This primary subreddit for writers allows writers to share their work and ask each other questions about writing, publishing, and more.
  • r/creativewriting – This serves largely the same purpose as r/writing, except it is specifically geared toward fiction writers.
  • r/worldbuilding – If your writing often takes you to faraway lands, then this could be the subreddit for you. Writers share their creations and bounce ideas off one another.
  • r/oneparagraph – Come here to post a favorite bit of flash fiction or a troublesome passage from a larger work. Ask for feedback or read and help other writers.
  • r/destructivereaders – Visit this subreddit if you’re brave enough to have your work torn limb from limb. Readers will be brutally honest about your work, but you’ll be better for it.

Ask for Help

  • r/grammar – This is your go to spot for all your grammar and style needs.
  • r/publishing – Questions about the process? Want to talk to someone who has been through it? Ask other authors here.
  • r/selfpublish – If you’re inspired to go it alone, this subreddit can help you with questions, resources, tips, and exposure.

Of course, these are only a smattering of what Reddit has to offer avid writers. Explore the community for more creative and inspiring forums. Remember that nothing keeps your talent fresh like an infusion of new ideas and new voices.

Writing Hashtags for More Twitter Followers

Writing Hashtags for More Twitter Followers

You’re committed to promoting your new work on Twitter and to do that, you need followers. You’ve tried everything from scheduling tweets about adorable animals to tweeting quotes from whatever is on the New York Times Bestseller List that week. Still, your followers seem to have plateaued around 120.

The truth is, you need to look at Twitter less as a game where the winner has the most retweets and more like an opportunity to network with other authors and find your audience. If you really try to engage the Twitterverse and show that you’re a genuine and interesting writer to follow, then those followers will start coming in.

Popular Writer Hashtags

Not sure where to begin? Hashtags are a great way to boost visibility while also engaging in writing, editing, and reading communities. What’s more, if you have the Twitter version of writer’s block, then these hashtags will get you started by giving you some ideas for what to share.

Day of the Week Hashtags

  • #2bittues – Each Tuesday has a new theme. Write or share a line from your work that matches the theme.
  • #1linewed – Each Wednesday also has a new theme. Find a line in your current work that matches the theme.
  • #Thurds – This hashtag is designed for newly published authors who want to promote their work. Share buy links on Thursday with this hashtag.

Sharing Your Writing Experiences

  • #amwriting – This hashtag is very open-ended. Talk about your writing day. Discuss challenges, distractions, ideas, and more.
  • #amediting – This one is basically the same as the previous one only for times spent editing instead of writing.
  • #WIP – WIP stands for Work in Progress. Talk about your latest piece.
  • #writerslife – Commiserate with other writers or share your joy of writing.
  • #WritingParty – This general hashtag is widely used by writers on Twitter. If you post something writing related, feel free to add it in.

Offer Some Advice

  • #WritingTip – Offer tips on grammar, style, methods, and more. You’re a writer; don’t be afraid to share your genius.
  • #WriteTip – This is a shortened version of the previous one. Use it in the same way.

Engage Your Followers and Community

  • #WritingPrompt – Offer writing prompts for others to follow. Make them as silly or serious as you want.
  • #WQOTD – This stands for Writing Question of The Day. Ask one, or look for some to answer (and don’t forget to include #WQOTD in your answer).
  • #AskEditor – Editors use this to invite questions. Ask an editor anything about editing and be sure to include the hashtag.
  • #AskAgent – This is the same idea only for agents. It’s a great way to get some of your questions answered directly from the source.
  • #AskAuthor – Now it’s your turn to be the expert. Invite your followers (or potential followers) to ask questions about writing and the writing life.

All Good Writers are Readers Too

  • #FridayReads – Share what you’re reading and talk about your favorite books.
  • #MustRead – Learn about what others are reading and get some ideas.
  • #Bibliophile – Promote your work to readers who are eager to dig in to something new.

If this isn’t enough for you, you can always try the logical hashtags for your genre and style of writing. #Poetry, #Romance, and #History are just a few of the keys you can use to connect with your audience and your writing community.

Copyediting vs. Content Editing: Which One is Right For You?

Copyediting vs. Content Editing: Which One is Right For You?

You spend weeks looking for the perfect editor for your book. You find someone willing to proofread the manuscript for a nominal fee, and you’re thrilled. However, when you finally see that manuscript again, the results weren’t quite what you were expecting. The proofreader only reviewed your story for grammar, typos, and the like. He didn’t offer any suggestions regarding your word choice or even comment on your characters and plot development. You feel a bit misled, like you were expecting a symphony and got only a single violin.

What happened? Well, the truth is,  not all editors are the same. Different types of editors offer different services. A proofreader typically only focuses on the nuts and bolts of your writing. He doesn’t care about your style. Maybe that’s why he was so affordable. Before you dive in and start looking for a new editor, learn about what types of editors are out there and what they will do for you.

Copyediting vs. Content Editing

Typically, most kinds of editing that you will need fall into one of two major categories: copyediting or content editing. Of course, these aren’t the only editing types that you’ll hear about. But other types, like proofreading and fact checking, fall into these categories. We’ve taken some time to break them down and explain what you can expect from each type.

Copyediting

Copyediting focuses on language. That means proofreading, but it also involves style and structure. If you hire a copyeditor, talk to them about the following:

  • Grammar
  • Spelling
  • Punctuation
  • Syntax (word choice)
  • Sentence structure and variety
  • Language clichés
  • Other stylistic choices (like figurative language and formatting)

Content Editing

Content editing focuses on, well, content. In other words, it’s more concerned with what you say than it is with how you say it. If you hire a content editor, talk to them about the following:

  • Fact checking (when relevant)
  • Plot consistency and discrepancies
  • Character consistency and discrepancies
  • Theme development and clarity
  • Effectiveness and consistency of tone / voice

Which Should You Choose?

Ideally, you’d choose both. Copyediting and content editing are both important if you want your novel to be its best. Typically, when a novel goes through the publishing process, it will receive a round of content editing first. This is because content editing will often yield rewrites. Once the content is down, it’s time for copyediting. In other words, once you’re certain the plot needs no revision, you can focus on fixing the language.

When you do find an editor, be explicit about what you’re expecting before you agree on payment. Not all copyeditors and content editors have the same strengths and may omit certain services. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for advice on certain plot elements, characters, or themes. The only way to get the most out of your editing experience is to be clear about your expectations and needs.

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