Successful Marketing of a Collaborative Work

By Jennifer Hallmark

**Previously published on the Seriously Write Blog.

Congratulations! You’ve been asked to join a book compilation. Maybe a friend needs your short story that’s been sitting stagnant in that file folder for a short story collaboration. Or perhaps you’ve been asked to write a novella to go with a series on, let’s say romantic suspense. Or maybe like me, you’ve been asked to contribute to a book with nine other authors, each adding her style and character to make the story unique.

One nagging fear floats in the back of your mind, keeping you from sending that email with a resounding “Yes, I’ll do it.”

Marketing.

To many, marketing is the hardest part of being a writer, whether you write novels, articles, or blog. The thoughts of marketing a book that’s not totally yours can seem daunting. It can, however, be done and actually even be enjoyable.

Yes, I said enjoyable.

Let’s take Unlikely Merger, the third book compilation I’d been privileged to take part in. Here’s the blurb:

No longer needed as her father’s nurse, Mercy Lacewell attempts to step into his shoes at his acquisitions firm. That means travel, engaging strangers, and making final decisions—nothing she feels equipped to do. If her best friend has her way, Mercy will simply marry one of the single, available men she meets, but they overwhelm her. So handsome and kind. And so many. Even if she felt obliged, how could she ever choose?

Should she shove all attraction aside and focus on her father’s business, or is God warming her heart with the possibility of forever?

It proved to be a great story. How could ten women and a publisher work together to make Unlikely Merger successful? The key was simple.

Teamwork.

Tracy Ruckman, former publisher at Write Integrity Press, said it like this:

“During our collaborative projects, we stress the importance of cross-promotion. Collaborations give authors a chance to focus their marketing on each other instead of themselves, and their efforts benefit everyone involved.”

It’s the golden rule of book compilations.

Or as it says in Matthew 7:12 in the Message Bible: “Here is a simple, rule-of-thumb guide for behavior: Ask yourself what you want people to do for you, then grab the initiative and do it for them…”

Our contributors invited each other to write blog posts. We shared each author’s social media updates: Facebook posts, tweets, Google plus, and more. We belonged to a closed Facebook group where we encouraged each other, shared prayer requests, and talked about the book.

In short, we esteemed one another better than ourselves. At the end of the day, each person was lifted up and everyone had a good time. Best of all, marketing had become a learning experience that we can carry to our next project.

Which for me was another compilation called Not Alone: A Literary and Spiritual Companion for those Confronted with Infertility and Miscarriage, which released in December of 2015.

It proved to be another opportunity to enjoy marketing. With a team.

The secret of significant and successful marketing.

Click to tweet: The key to significant and successful collaborative book marketing is none other than the Golden Rule. #kindness #marketing

Writing Prompt: Allie stared at the email. They wanted her to write a romance novella for a box set? Did they not realize her love life was…

Research: The Inspired Prompt Way

Research. We’ve spent the month of March dissecting this topic from all angles. From how to start, to research on the road, and current events research, a way to gather information should be coming clear.

I’ve asked the Crew to share their go-to source when it comes to research. Here’s what they said:

Harriet Michael: As a Christian nonfiction writer who writes a lot of Biblical pieces—devotions and essays to a Biblical theme, my go-to resource is Bible Gateway where I can look up passages, do word searches, find commentaries, and find passages in all translations. Here is their link: https://www.biblegateway.com/

Jennifer Hallmark: Sometimes when I write, I just can’t think of the right word so I use an online thesaurus. Even if I don’t find what I need, it often gets my creativity flowing so I can move forward in my writing. Their link is http://www.thesaurus.com/

Kristy Horine: I find the Blue Letter Bible www.blueletterbible.org to be a great resource due to its interlinear concordance, cross references, language explanations, and access to commentaries. It has an app that is free that can be downloaded to your phone.  In addition, www.biblestudytools.com is helpful in the commentary area.

Another source is www.thoughtco.com. This is not a Christian-based resource, but it sure is fun for those strange and unusual questions like if brain cells regenerate, or the difference between racism and prejudice. It is based on the idea that we should be lifelong learners and seeks to teach just that. Plus, it has a really neat daily email you can sign up for. And, for numbers: www.barna.com and www.pewresearch.org

Betty Thomason Owens: I attended a class on researching at the Mid South Conference. The instructor gave us the Library of Congress website. It’s huge. You can find articles, photos, and lots of other interesting studies and stories and books. https://www.loc.gov/  I also love History.com  https://www.history.com/ and the Smithsonian.com https://www.smithsonianmag.com/.

Gail Johnson: I use the Bible, Webster’s dictionary, and the Strong’s Concordance. Also Bible Gateway and the online versions of the dictionary and thesaurus.

Bonita McCoy: I love  Biblehub.com because it gives you the verse in several translations. I use it for my Beautiful Pieces of Grace blog. Also the good old library for articles for the Inspired Prompt site and my Courageous Writers blog.

Fay Lamb: My research varies on what the subject happens to be. If it is medical, I will look up medical research on various sites, but I also look for journals of people who have undergone medical procedures. I also use slang dictionaries for slang for certain times. I even have a surfers’ slang dictionary.

Tammy Trail:  I tend to look for historical societies. There is a blog I like to catch up with too, Colonial Quills. Lots of historical information there for me. I use the Colonial Williamsburg website also. For writing related information, I love Seekerville.

Carlton Hughes:  Like others, my research varies depending on the subject. I’m mostly writing devotionals now, so usually I’m searching for a specific scripture on Bible Gateway. Blogs like Novel Rocket are good for general advice on fiction writing.

Shirley Crowder:  I use Blue Letter Bible — lots of commentaries, words studies, etc. https://www.blueletterbible.org/

Karen Jurgens: I use Google for whatever I need to know when I’m writing about Paris and other parts of the world. I study maps of the city, and I use reference books I’ve purchased while visiting. For example, I bought lots of historical books and maps of Cayman Island when I vacationed there a couple years ago. I always write about settings I know personally or have visited.

Cammi Woodall: Started in September of 1998, Google is the world’s largest search engine. You know how I know that? I googled it! When you can use your search engine name as a verb, you know you are doing something right. I love other sites like AskJeeves.com or Yahoo.com, but I always come back to Google. In one research session, l learned that the world’s oldest church is the Dura-Europos house church in Syria, arsenic poison will still show up in your fingernails 6 to 12 months after ingestion, and a ten-gallon hat really only holds three-quarters of a gallon. Who knew? Google did! And now I do, too.

Thank you, Inspired Prompt Crew! As you can see, there are research sites galore for the fiction and non-fiction writer. Do you have a go-to site that’s not listed above? In lieu of a writing prompt, we’re asking you to share that in the comments below…

Click to tweet: The Inspired Prompt Crew shares their go-to source when it comes to research for writers. #research #Google

Is it Possible for a Writer to Organize Their Research?

By Jennifer Hallmark

As a writer, one of the pesky problems I deal with is how to organize everything to do with writing, especially research. Whether it’s short stories, novels, articles, or blog posts, groundwork is involved and I need somewhere to store quotes, answered questions, photos, and fact-finding. Is it even possible to keep up with it all?

Yes.

The Inspired Prompt Crew has shared their thoughts this month on how to get started, historical research, current events research, TV and movie research, Biblical story retelling, and character research.

Now that you know how to research for your writing, you need ways to organize. I say ways because there are quite a few options and you need to experiment to find which one works for you. At the moment, I’m using a combination of the methods below. I’m working on the second book in my first series (Book one will release in June of 2019) and book series groundwork is a headache. But I am making my way down this overgrown trail…

(1) Microsoft Word files and documents. I do all my writing in Microsoft Word. I found it easiest to make a main file for my series, then sub-files for each book, and more sub-files within each book such as character birthdays, job information, research I’m keeping though I may not use it in the story, etc. All my groundwork is in separate sub-files that I can easily find. 

(2) Binders. I’m also experimenting with a binder containing only research. That way if I’m tired of sitting at the computer, I can take my binder with me and study, add or subtract notes, and keep the story fresh in my mind.

(3) Hanging folders. I haven’t tried this but my desk has a drawer equipped for hanging folders. This could be a good way to separate research you use in stories, novels, articles, etc.

(4) Scrivener. Scrivener is a word-processing program and outliner designed for authors. Scrivener provides a management system for documents, notes and metadata. I’ve actually bought this program but haven’t figured it out yet. I’m a visual learner so I’ll probably have to sit down with someone and learn hands-on. Many of my friends, especially the novelists, use it and say they wouldn’t keep up with research any other way.

(5) Evernote.  When you go to this site, it says, “Meet Evernote, your second brain. Capture, organize, and share notes from anywhere. Your best ideas are always with you and always in sync.” You can use it with your tablet or smartphone and it keeps up with everything. Again, this is something I’ve signed up for but haven’t used yet.

I hope these ideas will give you a place to start. A lot of my research starts here …

I write longhand in notebooks, run off facts, and pile information until I finally take a day, go through it all, and put it where it needs to go. 🙂

Whatever works for you. That’s the way you need to organize your research.

Click to tweetWhether it’s short stories, novels, articles, or blog posts, groundwork is involved and you need somewhere to store quotes, answered questions, photos, and fact-finding. Is it even possible to keep up with it all? #research #organize

Writing prompt: Instead of a prompt, take one step this week to better organize your research. Download software, buy a binder, or try hanging folders.

Back to Basics: Types of Classes for Writers

By Jennifer Hallmark

So you want to be a writer. You’ve heard the stories about writer’s block, low pay, long hours, little feedback on blogs, and book sales you can count on your fingers. But you aren’t deterred and excited about your future anyway.

My number one piece of advice?

Learn. Study the craft. Dissect books and movies. Gain knowledge on publishing, editing, and your computer. Immerse yourself in what goes on in the writing world.

There are many classes you can find in schools, groups, and on the Internet about the basics of writing, advanced courses on the craft, and all about publishing, marketing, and online ventures. I’ll make a list below. It’s by no means exhaustive, but I’ve learned a lot with a smaller amount of money than you’d think.

Education-If you’re still in school, there are high school writing courses. College offers writing classes and majors such as professional writing, technical writing, journalism, business writing, creative writing, publishing, and communications. You can also find community education classes through your local Board of Education or college. Many of these run for six weeks or so and can jump-start your career. My adventure in writing began with a six-week writing course at our local Board of Education.

Blogs and/or Websites-For years, I’ve followed blogs and websites that teach an aspect of writing I’d like to study. For social media, I go to Edie Melson’s The Write Conversation.  I read and write for the Southern Writers Magazine author’s blog. The Write Life is helpful for freelance writers. I also follow the Positive Writers and here’s their list of the top writing blogs in 2017. Check them out for the ones that can help you.

Conferences-I love to attend writing conferences to learn, network, and just hang out with other like-minded people. Workshops are offered as one-time learning experiences.

Practicums are smaller classes with hands-on experience offered. Continuing classes are usually a series of studies held throughout the conference where each day expands more on the topic of study.

Writer’s Groups-I belong to two types of writer’s groups. One meets in person monthly, the other is online. I enjoy each group for different reasons. Beside local groups, here are a few national ones: ACFW, RWA,  Word Weavers, and Poets.org.

Writing Coaches or Mentors-During my twelve-year career, I have had some wonderful people mentor me. It’s great to have someone show you the ropes to avoid the pitfalls you can find in writing. Writing coaches can also be helpful, but it’s easy to pay too much with little improvement to someone who says they can help. Research coaches and mentors, looking for testimonials from people or groups you know.

I hope this quick overview of classes will help you find your way through the maze that is a writing career. Come back and visit our blog throughout the year to read about first-hand experiences in writing, marketing, social media, and other subjects of interest.

Click to tweet: My number one piece of advice for writers? Learn. Study the craft. Immerse yourself in what goes on in the writing world. @InspiredPrompt #amwriting #writing

Maze

Remember: Here at the Inspired Prompt blog, our goal is to educate and inform writers, with an emphasis on new and Indie writers. We offer clear, basic information in four areas: how-to, marketing, encouragement, and our “signature” prompts, thoughts, and ideas. We hope to inspire writers/authors to reach for and attain their personal best.

We want to see you have a “significant” career in what you love to do…

WRITE.

Writing Prompt: Sue stopped in front of the cold, metal door and took a deep breath. Her first class and…

  

 

December: It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

By Jennifer Hallmark

Wow. Christmas will arrive in twenty-four days. The physical signs are all around us. Even without a calendar, I’d know because there are things I love and a few I don’t even like about this season that I don’t see at any other time of year.

What makes me happy?

  • Shopping. I like trying to find a special gift to make friends and family smile.
  • Decorations. I enjoy decorating my house, driving around looking at adorned houses, even the way the stores and shops show all their festive colors of the season.
  • Contemplation and prayer. I take time to remember the reason for the season and pray, especially for the less fortunate.
  • Enjoying school days off with the grandbabies. I love spend the night fun and Christmas movie watching.

What makes me less than happy?

  • The traffic. Everyone is out and in a hurry.
  • The endless commercials on television. I tend to use the ‘mute’ button a lot these days.
  • The long lines. Though I tend to be fairly even-tempered, the stores test even my patience level.

I love the holidays. Not so much the hustle and bustle, but the joy and Small Acts of Kindness that surround this time of year. People give, care, and share more during the season of love.

Click to tweet: Christmas. People give, care, and share more during the season of love. #Christmas @InspiredPrompt

One of my favorite events in the holiday season is our Once Upon a Christmas giveaway. This is the third year and the prizes are better than ever for three blessed winners. Make sure you go to Rafflecopter and enter today. Contest ends December 13th.

$25 Barnes & Noble gift card

$25 Subway gift card

$25 Starbucks gift card

Jewelry

And six books:

A Perfect Fit by Karen Jurgens (e-book)

The Whisper of the Palms by Harriet E. Michael (paperback)

The Tilting Leaves of Autumn by Robin E. Mason (paperback, signed)

Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Dating Game (paperback)

Adored: 365 Devotions for Young Women (hardback)

The Reason by William Sirls (Paperback or e-book)