Friday, November 30, 2007

Ten Tips for writing a blog post

Here are ten tips that help me with my blog writing.

  1. Make your opinion known
  2. Link like crazy
  3. Write less
  4. 250 Words is enough
  5. Make Headlines snappy
  6. Write with passion
  7. Include Bullet point lists
  8. Edit your post
  9. Make your posts easy to scan
  10. Be consistent with your style
  11. Litter the post with keywords

  1. Make your opinion known
    People like blogs, they like blogs because they are written by people and not corporations. People want to know what people think, crazy as it sounds they want to know what you think. Tell them exactly what you think using the least amount of words possible.
  2. Link like crazy.
    Support your post with links to other web pages that are contextual to your post.
  3. Write Less
    Give the maximum amount of information with the least amount of words. Time is finite and people are infinitely busy. Blast your knowledge into the reader at the speed of sound.
  4. 250 is enough
    A long post is easier to forget and harder to get into. A short post is the opposite.
  5. Make Headlines snappy
    Contain your whole argument in your headline. Check out National newspapers to see how they do it.
  6. Include bullet point lists
    We all love lists, it structures the info in an easily digestible format.
  7. Make your posts easy to scan
    Every few paragraphs insert a sub heading. Make sentences and headlines short and to the point.
  8. Be consistent with your style
    People like to know what to expect, once you have settled on a style for your audience stick to it.
  9. Litter the post with Keywords.
    Think about what keywords people would use to search for your post and include them in the body text and headers. make sure the keyword placement is natural and does not seem out of place.
  10. Edit your post
    Good writing is in the editing. Before you hit the submit button, re-read your post and cut out the stuff that you don’t need.

I hope you enjoyed my tips for writing a blog post - feel free to share your own blog writing tips below.

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Writing Competition for Young journalists in EU

Print and online journalists in European Union member countries, candidate countries or potential candidate countries are invited to enter their published work into the European Young Journalist Award. Applicants must be between the ages of 17 and 27. Deadline: March 15, 2008.
Entries must discuss a topic related to EU enlargement or European integration in no more than 2,000 words. Articles must be written in the young journalist’s native language and published between January 1, 2007 and March 15, 2008. A 200-word abstract in English must also be included.

Winning articles will be published on the competition Web site, and the winning journalists will join fellow young journalists from around the world for a trip through the Western Balkans in June 2008. A conference of all the journalists, their mentors and other EU professionals will be held after the trip.

For more information and an application to enter, visit

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

How to Write a Personal Biography

Just about everyone knows someone that has accomplished something incredible in their lives, or knows someone that has overcome an obstacle or just has a great story to tell. And, if you're a writer that has excellent interpersonal skills, enjoys conducting interviews, and has a knack for transposing interviews into powerful content that tells a unique story then you should consider writing a personal biography. A personal biography will allow you to use your creative writing skills to create a unique and personal written history of a person's life. It will provide your readers with valuable insight into someone’s personal life. But, how do you write a personal and unique biography that informs and motivated? In this brief article, we will teach you how to write a personal biography.

  1. Learn everything you can. First of all, you need to learn everything you can about the person that you are writing about. Read any material that has been written about them and interview their family, friends and even their acquaintances. By conducting preliminary research, you will have a clearer idea about their personal and family life, personal philosophies, major life accomplishments, impact on society, historical significance, major obstacles, motivators, as well as other people's perspectives about them.

  2. Select an angle. Next, you should select your angle and then hone in on this angle when crafting your notes. That is, figure out how you would like to present this information in a new and exciting way. For instance, will you focus on their early childhood or adult experience? Will you focus on their career or personal successes?

  3. Conduct additional research. Conduct additional research to help fill in any gaps. This can be done by conducting online or off line research. Again, you should attempt to discover additional information to provider readers with a full story. This new research attempt should be specifically based on your new angle. Review information thoroughly.

  4. Thesis statement. Draft your one page thesis statement, A thesis is a one line sentence which will tell the reader what you would like them to know in a short and concise manner.

  5. Draft your outline. Carefully outline your thoughts with your thesis in mind. Concentrate on the most important aspect of the person's life. Then, put the information into chronological order and make sure that it makes sense.

  6. Freestyle writing. Go for it. Write everything you can about that person. Just let the words flow freely from your mind. Don't worry about structure or format at this point. Remember to be as detailed as you possibly can be.

  7. Edit the personal biography. Make sure that your biography starts off with an extremely interesting statement, a little known fact or some fascinating tidbit to capture the reader's attention and then edit the rest for grammar and content flow. Your personal biography should be interesting and fun to read. Remember that originality counts and that you want to make sure that you capture the essence of the person’s life. This paper should not be a historical recap of when they were born and/or died. It should be power packed with information. Also, ask someone else to proof read your work to make sure that you don’t have any errors.
In conclusion, creating a personal biography can be a fun and exciting writing venture. It allows you to utilize your creative writing, research, and interview talents to create a personal history of someone’s life in a unique way. By following the above tips, you’ll be able to create a wonderful personal biography!

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Nonprofit Grant Writing & Following Directions

We have all probably heard the old adage that “rules are meant to be broken.” However, this saying definitely does not hold true when it comes to the world of grant writing. In fact, many funders say the number one reason that many grant proposals are rejected is because grant writers do not provide exactly what the funders are requesting.

This may be a little frustrating, especially if you are the type of person who likes to push the envelope as far as it will go hoping that it will not fall off the table. But in the arena of writing and applying for grants this course of action can easily cause a grant proposal or application to be placed in the rejection pile. This is another reminder of why it is so important to provide funders with exactly what they ask for.

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Monday, November 26, 2007

Proper essay writing for any circumstance

Most students are lucky enough to never encounter a failed essay mark with a comment like, “This is not a proper essay.” This is most likely because essays are not simply marked based on form or style, but for content. It is your ideas and arguments that are the moneymakers.

Working to improve your essay-writing skills as the vehicle of these stellar ideas of yours will make the transmission of your argument more persuasive and effective. If that alone doesn’t blow your skirt up, think of this: the possibility of gaining an extra 5 to10 per cent on each essay or simply diminishing your stress-level when writing papers.

Improving your writing skills is essential for any discipline. Catherine Briggs, a history professor, notes, “Most professors want to see clear, effective and correct style and grammar.” Regardless of the area of study, learning to write effectively can improve the clarity of your argument thus making it more powerful.

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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Grant Proposal Writing Tips

That's right! We're giving away some FREE SECRETS here - Secrets of How to Write Winning Proposals! From the material in our grant manual, you'll gain valuable insights into the techniques used repeatedly by countless people and companies of all sizes to win government grants, subsidies, loans and contracts. In addition, we're pleased to pass along the following time-tested tips to help you write proposals that are real winners and not just futile exercises in dreaming without accomplishment.

TIP #1. Ensure that your proposal offers a win-win outcome. Your proposal has to clearly indicate how the recipient will benefit from whatever it is that you're offering. This is especially true in making a business proposal to sell products and services, but it is also true in the case of grant-making organizations; they will give higher ratings to proposals that help them meet their objectives.

TIP #2. Avoid making proposals that are simply cover-ups for clearing your debts. If this is your actual purpose (and you'd be looking for a loan in this case), be upfront about it and show how the other party will not only be repaid, but also gain by dealing with you. Even if it's a bank making a loan, the loans officer is human and will want to feel s/he's doing the right thing by lending you money.

TIP #3. If you're looking for a grant, take the time (hours and often days) to research what's available. Applying to the organization with the program that most closely matches your needs makes a lot more sense than sending out proposals willy-nilly.

TIP #4. After doing initial grant research, make an effort to meet someone involved in the administration of the program. This is a great opportunity to get your questions answered by the right people and to get a "feel" for things.

TIP #5. Invest resources appropriate to the proposal you are making. In other words, if you're applying for a $100,000 grant, spend more than a few hours on it. Think about this: some organizations, especially educational, virtually live on grants and they have full-time experts who do nothing but prepare the applications. Can you do better than an expert in one-tenth the time? Unfortunately, some people think they can.

TIP #6. Avoid following sample proposals unless they're ones that have been used successfully for exactly the same program/situation you're in. Successful proposal writing means responding exactly to the specific criteria of the program in question.

The proposal is by far the most critical aspect of the process, so I know you want to use a company who provides you with complete instructions?
It has come to our attention that not all companies are actually providing their customers with a complete Grant Writing Package that they need!

What they are providing instead is a set of general grant writing instructions that were written by the Federal Government and is not very helpful to the average person. There instructions only provide the basics and nothing more.

The Grant Writing Software that we provide in every package gives you step by step instructions on everything you need to know to apply for and receive the grant money you seek!

There are actual Grant Writing tutorials that you use to learn how to write a winning Grant proposal! You'll be able to compare your proposal with successfully written proposals.

Source :

Friday, November 23, 2007

Ten Tips for Effective Internet Article Writing

On the Internet “content is king”, and the real guts of content is the written word. If you are managing a website you need readable text for your onsite articles, for articles in your promotional newsletter or ezine and for promotional articles to be published on other sites or in other ezines. While these writing tasks can be outsourced to professionals, it is also possible for you to do it yourself if you follow a step-by-step process that is outlined in the following ten tips.

  1. In the first paragraph clearly state what the article is about. In standard journalism you would tell who, what, why, when and where an event is happening. In web articles you oftentimes state a problem, such as “how to get good written materials for your website”, and then explain how the article is going to solve the problem “by showing a simple step-by-step approach to writing”.

  2. Organize your material in a point-wise fashion. Before you begin writing think of the points that your article is going to cover. You may not necessarily show the points, as I am doing in this article (calling them ten tips), however, for your own outline of the article you should know what you are going to say before you begin writing. Write down these points and then make sure you include them as you begin the writing process.

  3. Put the reader at ease. You are not writing for a scientific or literary society, but to your peers on the Internet. Write in a simple style and if you introduce new terms, define them for your readers.

  4. Explain your points in short paragraphs. Short paragraphs are easier for the reader to follow. No one likes to look at a long block of solid text. Three, four or five sentences are usually enough for one paragraph.

  5. Don’t be afraid to spill all the beans! Tell your trade secrets! No, I am not crazy, the more you tell, the more the demand you will create for your goods and services. I once hesitated to write an article on “Tips for Writing Meta Tags” thinking, who will need my search engine optimization services if they read the article? I was wrong, the article was widely published and generated several orders for my services. If you give more information, people will understand that you really are an authority on the subject that you are speaking about.

  6. Give concrete examples and personal experiences to back up your points. Tell how you faced a problem and how you solved it. Or give hypothetical examples of the California Widget Company and how its website would, for example need a title tag of “Widgets: electronic widgets from the California Widget Company”

  7. Emphasize the benefits of your product or service. When it comes to selling, it is the benefits that sell, rather than the features. Sure, you are selling garden supplies, home décor, clothing, gifts and jewelry on your website. These are features. But the benefits are that people can get these items in one place without shopping around, that they can save time and money, etc. The gurus of Internet marketing, such as Ken Evoy all say that you should constantly mention the benefits that you offer to your potential customer.

  8. Give resource information to your readers. Give the addresses of websites where your readers can get more information on the subject that you are talking about. These may be your own websites or they can be other resources. In case you are worrying about losing customers, good outgoing links from your website are also helpful to your site’s page ranking and positioning in search engines.

  9. Get another opinion on your article. Show it to your friends and colleagues, and don’t worry if they criticize you, it is better that your friends find the mistakes than your clientele. Always remember, a good editor is a writer’s best friend.

  10. Keep your most important information near the beginning of the article and summarize what you want to say at the end. Editors usually cut things near the end, so keep your most important points and ideas in the beginning of the article. At the very end of the article you can summarize what you set out to accomplish in your opening paragraph.
You may not win a literary prize, but if you follow the steps that I have outlined above you will be able to produce effective written content for your website and for your promotional outreach via your own newsletters and through articles published on other websites. These articles could become the key to success in your Internet endeavors.

Donald Nelson is a web developer, editor and social worker. He has been working on the Internet since 1995, and is currently the director of A1-Optimization (, a firm providing low cost search engine optimization, submission and web promotion services.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

5 Steps to Writing High-Value Website Content

How to create superior web content that leads to more readers, better search engine rankings, and more sales!

I'm going to ask you to use your imagination for a moment.

Think of a topic that interests you. Maybe it's your favorite sport or hobby, for example. Now imagine that you're searching the Internet for information on that topic.

The first article you come across is related to the topic you're researching, but it doesn't offer much in the way of value. It's too general and full of pointless "fluff." It makes obvious points that a third-grader could grasp. And it fails to offer any related information or resources.

The second article you come across is much more in-depth. It explains several aspects of your topic with refreshing insight. It is helpful and useful, and it links out to many related articles and resources on the subject.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007


"Writing is hard work- its only easy for those who haven't learned to write."

Writing broadcast news can be divided into two story types. Both types are based on the time it takes to present the information to your targeted audience.

News Features are stories between 3 and 7 minutes long about things that have happened in the past. The ideas and pictures for feature news stories are usually planned out on a storyboard. Writing news feature storyboards envolves explaining how the audio (sounds) and the shots, (visual details) will present the researched background facts and information.

Breaking news and daily announcements are stories that are happening today or in the near future. Breaking news and daily announcements are usually written into a teleprompter to be read on-air by announcers. Writing breaking news and daily announcements involves presenting information in short stories between 15 seconds and 1 minute long. Sources of information may be limited. The information can be incomplete or possiblely inaccurate. Usually, you have a very short time to contact sources to confirm or correct information. A rule-of-thumb that advertising writers use to estimate a story's time is that at a normal speaking pace, 65 words equal 30 seconds.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Law School Offers Writing Competition

BYU Law students have a chance to win cash awards for writing a scholarly position paper in response to the problem presented regarding embryo donation and adoption.

The essay competition is being conducted by NightlightTM Christian Adoptions as part of its Embryo Donation and Adoption Awareness Campaign. Nightlight Christian Adoptions is a licensed, non-profit adoption agency headquartered in California.

The essay competition is a way to create a greater interest in embryo donation and adoption, part of the field of Assisted Reproduction Technology Law, among all law students in the nation. It is open to currently enrolled law students who have successfully completed their first year of studies. Submissions must be the student's original

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Monday, November 19, 2007

Technical Writing Today

The many changes in our technologically oriented society have led some to doubt the value of a liberal arts education and the literary skills it builds — but it has in fact led to a fresh need for them. Writers are in high demand to bridge the gap between the scientist/technician and the average person who uses their wares.

Chip Jones, President of the Atlanta chapter of the Society for Technical Communication, defines technical writing as "explaining technical information in terms that are easy to understand."

After graduating from college with a degree in English literature, Jones went a route familiar to literary types: "I tried high school teaching but decided it was not for me." So he returned to school for a graduate degree.

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Effective writing: The wrong kind of sentence structure is one nasty trick

When Ann Patchett appeared at the Fitzgerald Theater as part of our "Talking Volumes" community book club, she said, "Writing a novel is like doing magic. Writing a novel is faking it with authority."

When Ann Patchett appeared at the Fitzgerald Theater as part of our "Talking Volumes" community book club, she said, "Writing a novel is like doing magic. Writing a novel is faking it with authority."

That got me thinking. When a novelist creates the illusion of reality, it's a kind of magic. In what other ways, I wondered, do writers perform magic for their readers?

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Friday, November 16, 2007

Publish Your Book With An Independent Publisher

There are basically three options for getting your book published. You can try to get your book proposal accepted by one of the industry giants like Penguin or Random House but that’s a tough road. Those companies only work with proven authors or those who already have huge platforms and salivating audiences. Having said that, if you manage to get accepted, you’ll end up with a huge implied endorsement and a ton of indisputable credibility.

On the other end of the spectrum, you could self-publish your own book. The nice thing about this approach is that the only person who has to approve your book is you! If you want to publish your own book, go right ahead. In fact, given the advancements in technology, you can do exactly that and order as little as one book at a time. The downside is that the credibility is far lower than with a major publisher.

These two options seem to be on opposite ends of the continuum and indeed have plenty of differences between them. Luckily, there’s a third category that sits comfortably in the middle. It’s the category of smaller independent publishers and there are thousands of them. They range from very small mom and pop operations to well-established significant publishers. They tend to specialize in one genre or another and often become leaders in their area of expertise.

Soliciting the independent publishers is a great way for a new author to break into the market. Find one that specializes in your particular area and visit their website. They will tell you exactly how they want to be solicited and you’re well advised to follow their guidance. Find out exactly what they’re looking for and then cater your proposal to their specific requirements.

It’s not necessary to have a Literary Agent when soliciting independent publishers. Don’t get me wrong. Having an agent is always a good idea. But you do have some additional options when dealing with the niche players and many will accept proposals directly. Most want you to send it to their Acquisitions Editor but I recommend checking with their website before addressing the envelope.

Getting a book advance is less common when dealing with independent publishers. It’s not impossible but I wouldn’t bank on it. The upside is you’ll have more access to the people reviewing your proposal and that’s half the battle. Don’t pester them. They probably get a few hundred proposals each month. But a polite and well placed phone call rarely hurts and it gives the editor a chance to hear your speaking voice at the same time.

Becoming an author is something you only do once. Once you’ve published your first book, you will forever more be an author. And it can change your life, not to mention your career. Don’t waste your time approaching one of the industry giants when your odds of being accepted are significantly less than 1%. Instead, find an independent publisher that specializes in the subject you’re considering and target your efforts accordingly.

Tactical Execution has made a business of helping others achieve their goals. We provide implementation solutions for a wide variety of marketing objectives and all our programs are designed to maximize immediate results. Please visit the website to take advantage of all the free resources available there.

About the Author:

Become a recognized expert. Optimize your website. Explode your business. Tactical Execution provides implementation strategies for immediate results. Claim your free website traffic hotsheet today!

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Tips For Young Writers

Getting published anywhere is a difficult task. The two keys are to familiarize yourself with a publication before you submit work and then to submit your absolute best work that fits the nature of that publication.

We want to publish your work. Take these tips to heart, and you'll be much further on your way to being accepted by Frodo's Notebook.
  1. Revise. Revise three times, then revise three more times. If you haven't spent a month or more on a writing, it's definitely not ready to submit. Put the work aside for at least a few days, then return to it and revise. Only submit truly finished work.

  2. Edit carefully. Your writing stands a much better chance if the editors don't have to overlook careless typos, spelling errors, and grammatical violations.

  3. Use words as they are meant to be used. Capitalize the word "I." Use the words "you" and "are"—writing poetry is different from talking in a chat room: "u" and "r" are unacceptable.

  4. This ain't your diary. When you submit to Frodo's Notebook, you are writing for a large audience of people you don't know. They don't understand obscure references to your personal life, and they don't want to read stuff you wrote as therapy. Writing poetry and creative prose in your diary or journal is a great idea, but writing for yourself is not directly compatible with writing for a mass audience. "I miss my baby/We were great together" is diary material. "Sometimes he barely could stand/to stare at her, she handcuffed/his attention whenever she got hold of it" is on its way to becoming fit for a wide audience.

  5. Be specific. Randomly dumping words on a page and calling it a poem is the equivalent of throwing mud on a canvas and calling it art. Words are meant to be used in certain ways, just like mud (so long as it's clay) works best as pottery. Tell a story—weave a good narrative thread through your essay, poem, or fictional piece. Paint images that the reader can latch onto. Be very intentional and careful if you choose to go abstract. "We ran past the factory where no one worked anymore" and "The windshield reflected the sun/as if it were transfigured before us" are far, far better than "Over there was a dim, vacant, gray factory" and "Cars are pretty cool."

  6. Be wild. Avoid clichés like the plague, as the saying goes. "Night fell" is a cliché—it doesn't conjure up any specific images, because we've heard it too many times. "Night dimmed the village" is new and original, and it works. Be original and fresh. Surprise the reader.

  7. Read. If you haven't read at least twenty poems, essays, or short stories in the past year, think long and hard before submitting a poem, essay, or short story. To be a good writer you must be a good reader.

  8. Rhyme is secondary. Rhyming doesn't make a poem a poem. Lots of other stuff—words carefully used, metaphor, imagery, narrative—do make a poem what it is. If you don't know about meter, then you don't know about rhyme, and you're better off avoiding it. That said, we like good rhyming poetry. Robert Frost, William Wordsworth, and the Counting Crows are amazing poets.

  9. Only swear if you mean it. Swear words and mature content are all right with us—as long as they are necessary. People swearing for the hell of it is stupid. Likewise, a hardass gangster who says "heck" and "darn it" doesn't work either.
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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

9 (+1) Tips For Writing User-Friendly Content

The content of your website is your #1 sales tool. Pictures, tools, and other fun stuff can be important in making your site visibly and functionally appealing, but it is the content that sells. Well written and user focused content allows your visitors to "find out" more about your products and services, as well as how your company will be able to meet their needs.

Content weighs heavily both in terms of how users interact with your website as well as how visitors (both human and search spiders) are able to determine what you offer and what each page of your website is about. While solidly optimized content is important for search engine rankings, considering the usability of your content is of paramount importance for attaining good conversion rates.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Hot Tips on Resume Writing

  1. What IS a resume anyway?

    Remember: a Resume is a self-promotional document that presents you in the best possible light, for the purpose of getting invited to a job interview.

    It's not an official personnel document. It's not a job application. It's not a "career obituary"! And it's not a confessional.

  2. What should the resume content be about?

    It's not just about past jobs! It's about YOU, and how you performed and what you accomplished in those past jobs--especially those accomplishments that are most relevant to the work you want to do next. A good resume predicts how you might perform in that desired future job.
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Monday, November 12, 2007

Writing the Book on Self-Help : A Publisher's Cautionary Tale

The self-publishing business has come a long way in the Internet era. Literary do-it-yourselfers now have many online resources to tap, and even a growing number of role models. Best-selling authors including E. Lynn Harris ("I Say a Little Prayer") and the pseudonymous Zane ("Addicted") have emerged from the self-published ranks.

And then there is the cautionary tale of C. Ben Bosah, an environmental engineer who lives in this leafy village in central Ohio. Mr. Bosah was convinced that a nonfiction book about women's health written by his wife was a sure-fire hit. So instead of sending "Letters to My Sisters: Plain Truths and Straightforward Advice From a Gynecologist" to a literary agent or to a New York publishing house, he decided to publish it himself. His view was, why share the profits?

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Caravaggio creative-writing workshops

Heritage Malta teamed up with the Foundation for Educational Services (FES) to launch a series of creative-writing workshops earmarked for primary school children, in conjunction with the Caravaggio exhibition, currently being held at the National Museum of Archaeology.

The educational arm at Heritage Malta has embarked on another exciting project together with FES in order to generate more awareness among young visitors on the art of Caravaggio - this year being the 400th anniversary since his arrival to Malta.

The first workshop was held on Wednesday 31 October, within the educational area that has been set up as part of this exhibition. Following an interactive guided tour on Caravaggio, his art and the context within which he lived and worked, students attended a workshop earmarked to stimulate a critical discussion on a related theme. Afterwards, students were invited to write down their own creative accounts related to what they have experienced during this educational visit.

Every Sunday, Heritage Malta is also organising a series of workshops targeted for young visitors, focusing on different themes related to the art of Caravaggio.

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Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Tips for writers: where to submit your fiction work

Once you have completed your fiction manuscript, you must determine your plan of action that will lead you to publication.

You’ve finished the Great American Novel, or short story, or novella. And while it might not be great, you know that it’s good and publishable. Now what?

First time authors have an up-hill battle in finding publication, but the rewards can be immeasurable. Knowing how to begin to sell your manuscript will take much of the guesswork out of what you need to do. Keep in mind though, you’ve finished the creative part of the process. Now you need to put your business hat on and handle the next steps like a true professional.

As you decide where to submit your completed fiction, you have five things you can be doing. Many of these can be done concurrently. First, join a critique group. Then, keep your eyes open for literary agents, publishing houses, fiction contests, and writers’ conferences.

If you do not already belong to one, you need to join a writers group. A writers group is a cross section of people who all write and are willing to critique each other to help advance each other’s writing skills. You can find a group online, at your local bookstore, or by talking to other friends who you know write. These fellow writers will ensure the finished product is perfect. Ideally, the best time to join a group is when you start a project so that you can receive feedback throughout the process. But in this case, it is certainly better late than never to join one.

Next, a literary agent is a professional who will market your book to editors at publishing houses. Agents have relationships with editors and know who might be interested in your project. They are able to use their professional relationships to get your work the attention it deserves. Agents will also be able to steer you away from houses where your project might not be appreciated.

It is important to note that not everyone who hangs a shingle out saying they are a literary agent can be trusted. Legitimate agents almost always are members of The Association of Authors’ Representatives, Inc, or AAR. They make their money when they sell your book, typically drawing fifteen percent from your take. You should not contract with an agent who charges reading fees.

Before contacting an agent to ask for representation, visit the agency’s website to see what kind of writers they represent. Your science fiction project probably won’t draw much interest at an agency that focuses strictly on romance. Another way to research agents is to read the acknowledgements many authors put in the front of their books. If your writing is in the same genre as a popular best seller, read the acknowledgements to see if any mention is made of that author’s agent. When contacting the agent, mention that your novel is in the same genre, but do not compare it more favorably than that. You would never want to say that your book is the greatest thing since “The Firm” or that you are the Second Coming of Stephen King.

When communicating with anyone about your fiction project, keep the drama to a minimum. Never tout your work as the next “Gone with the Wind” or “Farewell to Arms”. That’s for an editor and the public to decide. In any written correspondence regarding your writing, edit, edit, and edit some more. If this writing is sloppy and filled with grammatical and spelling errors, why would a person ever want to read your longer project?

These same rules apply when you begin to correspond with editors at publishing houses. Know what and whom each house represents before you contact them. Again, a house focused on religious fiction will not see the beauty of your erotica novel. To find agents and publishers, invest in “Writer’s Market”, a huge book filled with thousands of publishing houses, magazines, and agents.

Information on these contacts include the publishing house’s name, information on what kind of writing they’re looking for, which editors to contact, and what information they want you to send in. Before contacting anyone you find in this book, verify the printed information by checking out the agent or editor’s website. Things may have changed since the book went to print.

Typically, neither agents nor editors want to see your manuscript in its entirety. A query letter or book proposal acts as your first piece of communication. A query letter is a one-page letter that tells the reader who you are, what your project is about, and why you’re the person to write it. Good and bad examples can be found in “Writer’s Market”. A book proposal offers this same information, as well as a chapter summary and sample chapters. Each publisher and agent is different in what they want to see. The most important thing is remembering that you use every grammar rule you know, keep it neat, and give the reader exactly what they’re looking for.

While you’re looking for an agent and/or a publisher, you can also enter contests to see how your project fares. Contests are listed in writing magazines, like Writer’s Digest. A search on the Internet can lead you to a huge cache of possible contests to enter. Fellow writers in your writers’ group may be aware of contests as they come up. Some contests have fees, others do not. Some offer publication if you win, others offer small cash prizes. But the feedback you receive from the judges could be the information you need to perfect your project and find a publisher. You will need to weigh the pros and cons of each contest to determine what is right for you. If you struggle with writing for deadlines, entering contests might help motivate you, as there is always a deadline.

A final option as you go forward with your finished fiction project is to attend a writers’ conference. These occur year round, throughout the country, and range in time from a few hours to several days. Though they are rarely free, the benefits can be immeasurable. Professionals in the writing world offer courses on countless topics. You may attend a session on writing a perfect query letter, or contacting an agent, or how to craft a publishable fiction novel. Even if you think your manuscript is complete, you can still get ideas to make it even better.

In addition to the classes conferences provide, you may also get the opportunity to be critiqued by and/or meet with editors and agents from around the country. Sometimes these meetings are included with the conference fee, other times they are an additional charge. But the feedback you receive, and the networking that can occur, is worth its weight in copier paper.

The Internet is a good source for information on conferences, as well as writers’ magazines and your local writers’ group. Sometimes conferences are for all fiction, other times for particular genres alone. Make sure you choose one that will appreciate your writing.

You may be thinking the hard part is complete, now that the writing is done. But the fun has just begun. You have so many options of how to proceed with your novel, jump in with both feet and see where you end up!


Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Lack of writing keeps people stumbling: KU VC

Despite several years of experience, the culture of writing is rarely present among local professionals, which is why we lack the abilityto handle unexpected situations, said University of Karachi (KU) ViceChancellor Prof. Dr Pirzada Qasim at the launch of ‘The Day the MountainMoved -International Perspectives on Psycho Trauma’ on Monday evening.

The book has been edited and compiled by senior psychiatrist Dr Unaiza Niazthrough the platform of the Institute of Psycho-Trauma Pakistan and published by SAMA Publications.

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Monday, November 5, 2007

Journalist's new book offers top tips for freelance success

Journalist Linda Jones is sharing her top tips for freelance writers in a new book.

Linda has enjoyed a 17-year career in journalism, after training with the Wolverhampton Express & Star and these days is director of the Midlands agency Passionate Media. Her new book is called The Greatest Freelance Writing Tips in the World.

She has worked as a news editor on UK regional papers, an editor of an English language title in Russia and now contributes to publications including The Guardian and Press Gazette.

“The title is light-hearted as it’s part of a much wider series, but I can definitely say the tips have worked for me…that’s why they’re the best in the world,” says Linda, of Cheslyn Hay, Staffordshire.

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Friday, November 2, 2007

Author shares writing tips including rejection letter

Briscoe Junior High sixth grade students had the opportunity to hear Rick Riordan, author of The Lightning Thief, The Sea Monster and the recently released The Titan's Curse, speak about his experiences as a writer.

Standing in front of the forum of sixth graders, Riordan did not address them like the noted author that he is, but like a teacher in front of his classroom. Which undoubtedly came easy for Riordan, since he spent 15 years as a classroom teacher earlier in his career.

The day's lesson was about setting goals and achieving them. To begin, Riordan dissolved the illusion that he has always been a literary hit. “Did you know the first thing I ever wrote was rejected?” he said.

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Thursday, November 1, 2007

Newsletters — 15 tips on writing, editing

A newsletter is the paring knife of communication tools. It seems simple and is easy to take for granted. Handled well, however, it's a highly capable tool.

  1. Keep your strategic audiences in mind, always.
    What is relevant to them? What is important?

  2. Effective management involves planning and influence.
    Develop a publication structure, an editorial calendar and written writers guidelines.

  3. A newletter must be sustainable.
    Be realistic about the amount of content you can consistently produce.

  4. Begin with good basics and build on solid ground.
    The most basic newsletter should have a few lead stories, shorter news items, and a message from your leader. A more developed publication might include features, departments, columns, an editorial, cartoon, in-house news, news tidbits, regional round-ups, etc.

  5. Deadlines are sacred.
    Build in a safety cushion to allow for unexpected delays.

  6. An editor, like a captain, needs to know where the ship is going.
    When dealing with writers, negotiate topic, length, treatment and deadline before assigning an article. Include important sources and the key questions which the story will address.

  7. Offer feature writers a byline and an author's note.
    Writers gain exposure and your publication gains credibility.

  8. Be concerned about how your newsletter reads before you worry about how it looks.
    Attractive graphics can obscure important content needs. Relevant and well-written content should be able to stand on its own, even as plain text.

  9. If you're doing an emailed newsletter, 'clean and simple' spells 'effective'.
    Keep it to plain text. Be concise, and put an 'in-this-issue' outline at the top. The footer should have complete 'subscribe' and 'unsubscribe' information. You should archive back issues, with an annotated index, on your website.

  10. Good writing and good editing require direction and hard work.
    Your copy should sing rather than drone. It should ring when tapped. Write compact copy in the active voice. Edit for clarity, conciseness, jargon, length, correctness. The bottom line is your readership; give them top priority.

  11. Lead with strong items that have broad appeal.
    Learn from the best daily newspapers: "People decide within seconds whether or not to read."* Your editorial or a message from the CEO should have a regular spot after the lead items. In-house or more parochial news should have a regular spot much further in. This gives you the best chance of competing for attention, while those familiar with your newsletter know where to find what they want.

  12. Learn the distinction between simple information and a story.
    Information comes to life as a story when someone talks about it. Try to cite sources as part of the way you do things.

  13. Any successful newsletter depends on plentiful and reliable sources.
    Consider an acknowledgment box that lists everyone who contributed to an issue. This will reward people for helping and encourage others to participate.

  14. Look for reader feedback, always.
    Watch to see how people scan your publication. Talk with a new sampling of readers after each issue. Do a formal readership survey on a regular basis. Track what's happening.

  15. The true test of performance is behavior.
    You'll know you have an effective publication when your strategic audiences clip and save articles and when people are eager to write for it.