Overwhelmed with information? My top five author ‘go-to’ places

sponge-naturalIf you’re anything like me you will be soaking up as much information as is humanly possible related to all things author/writing/promotion/marketing.

Right?

The problem with this is that my head is so full of stuff that I can’t remember which bits came from where and then I usually forget something really important along the way.

This started me thinking about which resources I place the most value in (across the disciplines) and I came up with a kind of ‘top five’ which I thought I’d share here. I’m not guaranteeing you’ll find everything you need to know but for me, they’ve all been hugely beneficial.

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Online courses and learning:

To learn all about social media and digital marketing (and loads of other stuff) visit Shaw Academy. They are the ‘largest live educator on the planet’ and deliver their courses via easy to access webinars. At the end of each course you can earn a diploma which gives you credibility on your CV – plus, you’ve gained the knowledge.

The courses can be expensive but Shaw Academy partner with Groupon and you can often get discounted or even free offers from there. Occasionally you will find an advert for a free course on Facebook or by visiting the MOOC home page.

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Blog:

The blog of Anne R Allen is a hugely valuable resource for writers. As well as covering all of the usual topics, she also unpicks thorny issues such as the new Amazon reviews system which is something we all need to be on top of when we are trying to get our books higher up the Amazon ladder.

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Design:

To design blog/social media headers, posts, advertisements and promotional materials, then head to Canva.com. Here you can sign up for free and design whatever resource you need. You can upload your own images or Canva will license images for a small fee. Once your project is complete you can save it as a print-ready pdf which works with many of the online publishing companies (for promotional materials).

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Magazines:

In the UK we have two fabulous writing magazines, namely Writing Magazine and Writers’ Forum. These are both packed full of advice as well as offering competitions and writing opportunities. You can get the latest information from the writing industry and, if you’re lucky, win a break to a writer’s retreat. These can be expensive for a subscription but if you do what I did and ask for it for Christmas and/or Birthday, then it doesn’t cost you a penny and is well worth it.

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Editing and Cover Design:

Although I want to keep them all to myself, it’s only fair to share the talents of both my wonderful editor and talented cover designer.

For editing I use Esther Newton who I cannot recommend highly enough. She has been a huge source of encouragement to me and I know that with her support I am going to produce the best novel that I can.

For cover design I’ve had the privilege of working with Rachel Lawston. If you visit her website then her credentials speak for themselves but in terms of managing to make sense of my rough ramblings, she has been amazing.

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So there you have it – my thoughts and favourite resources from this crazy world of writing! Hope you find it useful.

Do you have any favourite resources?

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Why beta readers are so important

Helpful tips and advice on a yellow office noteWhen I first started writing I had no idea what a beta reader was. I didn’t even know the term existed yet it was one of those things that I discovered along the way. Now they are a vital part of my writing life, confirming to me that a novel is not just about the author, it is a collaboration – a collaboration that involves much hard work and dedication from everyone involved.

For those that may not know, a beta reader is essentially someone who reads your book prior to publication. Depending upon who they are and what you need, sometimes they will read in order to provide you with an early review on Amazon (or similar) or on other occasions they will give you structured feedback from a reader’s perspective. This time around I have been fortunate enough to have some brilliant beta readers who are all giving me constructive criticism.

At first, when we receive any kind of criticism of our work, it is hard to hear. Even though it is impossible – even for bestselling authors – there is a small part of us that would rather like our first draft to be perfect. Right? Yet the reality is far from that. Even if our draft is on second, third or fiftieth phase, it will still be in need of a professional edit and valuable feedback from readers.

Having just received some early feedback my initial reaction was to feel a little dejected. It didn’t take long for me to convince myself that I had no talent and was wasting my time and then suddenly, a light went on. I don’t know what happened but in amongst all of that self-pity I finally realised that the structured feedback was brilliant. Genius. It was exactly what I needed to hear because it meant that I had a chance to improve my book before publication and what writer wouldn’t want that opportunity? Not only that, it gives me direction that I can feed back to my editor allowing necessary changes to be made before publication. Turning it around I am now devouring their comments and listening avidly to their concerns because it means that when I get to publication, I will know that I’ve given my book the best chance that I possibly can.

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I am truly honoured to have some amazing beta readers and now, as I sit here and type this, I could not be more thankful. They are putting their lives aside for a while to help me on my journey and if nothing else, that is truly humbling.

Thank you beta readers. You know who you are.

(I have friends, family and fellow authors reading for me but if you are looking for readers, asking via your blog is a really great way to find them.)

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