|1st Quarter Board Meeting: Join the board members for the first quarter board meeting and meet the new Vice President, Sheri Merz-Duff. Contact email@example.com with questions.|
|Your Most Productive Writing Year: In this workshop we will cover setting big picture career goals, breaking them into actionable steps, and how to make progress on them on a day-to-day basis. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.|
|Anthology Submissions Begins: The stories in the next anthology will feature masks of every kind. Explore what happens when we—or our friends, enemies, or lovers—conceal ourselves behind carefully constructed identities. Contact email@example.com with questions.|
Whether you're writing historical novels, contemporary fiction, or even fantasy, research photography is a skill worth developing (see what I did there...). Not only does it help with research, but photos also help writers connect with readers, supplement and inspire blogging content, and provide a library of images writers can use with articles and online.
I've already written a post about the importance of shooting "B Roll" images, but today I thought I'd offer a few tips on getting the most from your research photography.
1. Shoot EVERYTHING.
Those of us who grew up in a time when cameras used "film" and photos cost money to develop and print often forget that pixels are effectively free - and it costs no more to shoot a thousand photos than it does to shoot a dozen.
During my recent research trip to Japan, I shot over 10,000 images (in 3 weeks' time). While you may not need that many images, it's easy to delete unwanted photos after you return - and hard to go back in time to capture things you missed. Err on the side of capturing more, and sort/file/delete when you get home.
2. When possible, use maps & signs for context.
Historical and other sites often give out free maps detailing the location and sights of interest. Shooting a photo of the relevant portion of the map before you photograph the location - or even just photographing the sign at the entrance to the historical or other site - can help you keep track of the photos when you return.
When visiting Fushimi Inari Taisha (Shrine), south of Kyoto, I climbed to the top of Mt. Inari and took almost a thousand photos. To make it easier to remember where I took them, I also photographed the "station signs" that hang at each of the sub-shrines and stopping points at intervals along the route:
So even months later, I know these torii sit just outside Station 13:
Whether I'm working on a novel, writing a blog or article about my experiences in Japan, or simply offering context for a photo I want to post on social media, using the map or local signs to anchor the photos helps me remember where and why I took them.
3. Shoot your subjects from multiple angles.
During my research trip, I stayed in a Buddhist temple and slept on traditional Japanese bedding - a futon with a buckwheat-hull pillow. I deliberately shot multiple photographs of the futon, alone:
In the context of the room:
And from multiple angles:
...to ensure I had the photos needed, for writing research and for blogs about futons and Japanese temple lodgings. Shooting multiple shots from different angles let figure out which photos to use, and in which contexts, after I came home.
(The Takeaway: Don't waste valuable time sorting photos on your trip. Shoot many, and sort them later.)
4. Crop duplicate photos to highlight details.
Taking extra photos of the futon in the temple also gave me at least one I could crop for a blog about traditional Japanese pillows stuffed with buckwheat hulls:
Creative cropping helps you turn one image into several (either by using extras or by duplicating the original and cropping it in different ways).
5. Remember to wait for a "clear" shot without strangers, or to crop (or blur) their images out.
In some countries, it's illegal to photograph strangers or to share their images without permission. Even in the U.S., permission is required in order to use photographs of identifiable people in many contexts (there are exceptions, but "on my author website where I also promote my books" is generally not among them). The solution: crop or blur photos to remove the images of strangers before you post them.
I shot this original image (note that I blurred the faces before posting it) to show the way a temple nestled up against a mountainside:
Here's the same photo, cropped to remove the people:
With a little practice, and a creative eye, it's easy to build a library of research photos that meet a variety of writing and social media needs.
Have photo tips to share? I hope you'll add your thoughts in the comments too!
As Billy Crystal’s character said in Princess Bride, “mostly dead is slightly alive.” You can breathe new life into your older books by giving them a voice.
There is revolutionary growth in audiobooks. The Audio Publishers Association (APA) reports audiobook sales are up over 38% in 2016, and Audible listening is up 35%, The cost to produce an audiobook has fallen to less than $3,000 – sometimes much less. If you use Amazon’s ACX.com, you have an option to share royalties with a narrator/producer without any other upfront costs.
In some cases, such as “The Martian,” audiobook versions are registering three or four times the sales number of the original work. They are, in effect, replacing the text version as the primary version of the book.
Why a book released years ago should be relaunched as an audiobook:
- Treat your audiobook launch as a completely new way to reach your audience
This is your new baby being born. Announce it with the same enthusiasm as any proud book launch parent.
- Audiobook listeners are a new audience for your book
The explosive growth in listening on smartphones and in “connected cars” is steadily increasing the number of audiobook buyers, especially over subscription services from Audible and iTunes.
- More money from existing content
Your manuscript will only need a few minor changes (refer to “listening” instead of “reading”) to create a new royalty payment income stream.
- There are fewer books in audio in each genre
In each genre – especially Young Adult, Romance/Erotica, and Mystery/Suspense, there are far fewer audiobook titles, making it easier for fans to find your book.
- New reviews call attention to all versions of your book
You can get reviews of your audiobook through services such as AudiobookBoom.com and reviews by genre, such as AudiobookReviewer.com.
- New promotional opportunities
You can create YouTube video trailers using audio excerpts from your book
- Amazon’s Whispersync feature can help you sell Kindle ebook versions
Kindle and audiobook buyers often buy both versions at a discount so they can pick up where they left off in each version.
- Hearing the words you wrote brought back to life can re-energize you to write again
Whether you voice your own book or find a great narrator, you can find yourself motivated to bring life to your next book.
Audiobooks are a wonderful form of storytelling. You have an opportunity to take the words off the pages and give them a new voice, and a new life.
Richard Rieman of AudiobookRevolution.com brings both living and mostly dead books to life. Richard is an audiobook self-publishing consultant, a top Audible narrator, and in-studio producer of authors narrating their own titles. Richard is author of The Author’s Guide to Audiobook Creation, Gold Medal Winner of the 2016 Global eBook Award in Writing/Publishing.
I am not a big believer in your standard New Year's resolutions. They tend to be broad and sweeping statements like: I will lose weight. I will exercise more. I will finish my book. But I am a believer in setting goals, so when I received J.T. Ellison's 2016 Annual Review, I took it to heart.
For the past eight years, J.T. Ellison has been doing annual reviews of her life and work, based on the format first posted on Chris Guillebeau's blog. Here's a link to the actual post entitled "How to Conduct Your Own Annual Review." J.T. notes that his method is incredibly detailed, and she's right. I downloaded the spreadsheet link on Chris' website, and it's daunting. Still, I looked at several of J.T.'s past year's annual reviews, read Guillebeau's how-to, and tackled the job. Here's what came of it—and I expect you to hold me accountable. I am going to detail my goals (just like J.T. did), but I'm going to keep the focus primarily on my work goals (as I doubt most of you are interested in my personal life).
2017 is the year I find balance in life.
For me, sometimes the lines between my work life and my personal life blur, making it hard to juggle all the demands of either. Using the spreadsheet I downloaded off of Chris Guillebeau's website, I have come up with a game plan I hope will allow me to be more productive, increase my visibility as a writer and develop more time for me to regenerate my creativity.
I am most productive when I write consistently for a set amount of time, and I can be easily distracted by social media. I tend to check email and binge on Facebook, Twitter and blogging, which eats up a considerable amount of time. And it isn't an effective use of my social media, marketing and writing time. Scheduling time in each day for writing and then the business side of writing will create a better balance in my professional life. By setting word count goals, defining the purpose for my social media/email time, and defining tasks that will help improve my productivity and profile, I will achieve more success and be more fulfilled as a writer.
On the personal side, by devoting/designating time to family and friends and creative endeavors outside of my writing, and through continued downsizing, de-cluttering and implementing practices that improve my health, I will replenish myself, enabling me to better both at work and at play.
It's easy to give broad strokes (like above), and harder to outline specific goals with specific deadlines. Here's what I came up with. NOTE: this isn't everything, but it's a start for sharing on a blog.
Category #1 – Writing Production
Dedicated writing time. I am most productive in the morning, and I'm only really productive for about 4 hours at a time. Beginning immediately, I plan to devote 4 hours every day, every morning before 1:00 PM, Monday through Friday, five days a week.
Dedicated writing business time. By afternoon I am not as creative. Beginning immediately, I plan to devote a minimum of 2 hours every day, Monday through Friday, five days a week, to answering emails, updating websites, writing and commenting on blogs, perusing and posting to social media sites, in conversation with my agent, publisher, publicist, etc.
Set specific writing goals. I decided, writing 4 hours a day, I could produce at a minimum 600 words a day, 18,000 words a month and 216,000 words a year. I didn't set any goals for non-fiction, though I think I'll try and track it. It might be interesting to see how much time and how many words I spend writing for blogs, etc. I will not be as detailed as J.T. – figuring out time for writing emails and Tweets, but I figure by tracking word count for blog posts and other things I can quantify, and by tracking my hours spent on non-fiction, I can see if I am giving more weight to the business of writing or writing.
Category #2 – Increase my Writing Profile (In other words, work on my "branding," and building readers.)
With a book coming out in June, I have a lot to do in this realm. I write in two genres (mystery and thriller) and the books and audiences are very different. Figuring out how to best present myself on social media, my website and in marketing materials has been a real challenge. This year my main focus is on marketing my new thriller, RED SKY, scheduled to hit the stands on June 13th. All of the following goals need to be completed by June 13th.
Learn how to better use social media. I will hit up friends, my children, and attend a few writers' workshops and online courses to try and figure this out. My main focus will be on my blogs (I write for RMFW and Rogue Women Writers), my Facebook page, my Twitter page and my website.
Update my social media platforms. I have a nice head shot that has served me well for two years (thank you, Mark Stevens), but I just had some new photos taken for my new book cover (watch for the reveal). To tweak my brand, I need to upload new pictures, new book covers and new links across my social media platforms.
Set up appearances. This gets expensive (figure $1,000 per out-of-town conference and sometimes a bookstore charge for a signing, though usually that's paid for by my publisher). Because it's easy to over-saturate a market, I plan to limit the number of local signings, and do some regional and national outreach.
Set up a blog tour.
Categories #3 to #8 address my personal goals—specifically improving my health through diet and exercise; spending time with family and friends; reducing debt; focusing on creative projects; continuing my downsizing efforts; and planning some personal travel. (I want to go somewhere with my husband to celebrate our 35th anniversary, coming up in April.)
As I said, this is just a sliver of the commitments I have made to myself. I'm optimistic that with specific goals coupled with specific deadlines, I may have a chance of reaching my objectives. Of course, reading J.T.'s 2016 review, it's clear that many things may fall by the wayside. Still, intent and effort count for something. I may not achieve everything, but I know I'll achieve something—and there's hope I will find balance in 2017.
1. transitive verb
to put off intentionally and habitually
2. intransitive verb
to put off intentionally the doing of something that should be done
Origin and Etymology of procrastinate
Latin procrastinatus, past participle of procrastinare, from pro- forward + crastinus of tomorrow, from cras tomorrow
In addition to the above Merriam Webster on-line definition, I suggest to be FEARful of, or UNcertain of how to do something may produce procrastination.
If you need excuses for procrastinating the day of your writing, please use the appropriately numbered item(s) below:
#1 How can I get anything done with such soft, cuddly, cute...well, just watch a few of those puppies and kittens on Facebook and YouTube! Note: That link takes you to 16 minutes of funny cat videos. You'll love it.
#2 Hello? Playoffs? Are you ready for some football?
#3 Tomorrow will be here soon enough.
#4 Good ideas escape me.
#5 I WILL write today. Seriously. I think. Maybe. Then again…
#6 Each time I attempt to write, my ears get cold. Conspiracy? Maybe.
#7 You think you can’t find the time to write?
Amateur author: Dinner took over thirteen hours to make last night!
Amateur therapist: Tell me what you did.
Amateur author: Looked for recipes on Pinterest-3 hours
Confirmed ingredients and directions on other websites-2.5 hours
Made a quick run to Sprouts to pick up missing ingredients-2.25 hours
Rush hour traffic-30 minutes
Quick conversation with neighbor-1 hour
Mixed ingredients while talking on phone-32 minutes
Burnt dinner somewhere between 65 and 165 minutes
Got takeout-1.5 hours
#8 Weather! (Leaves are changing colors/Snowflakes are falling/Flowers are blooming and insects are buzzing…)
Seriously, I met a fellow author at a poetry gathering who told the group, “During lambing, my husband had to rush to town for emergency supplies. (The trip would take him over an hour.) He asked me, ‘Will that give you enough time to write?’”
#9 My finger hurts.
#10 Was carried away with research.
Please see Jefferson County Sheriff’s report #CR17-2333957
#11 Not. My. Fault.
Warning: The following photo, taken April 30, 2016 may be too graphic for children’s authors
#12 What if I spend time and effort on plotting, writing, and then editing but somebody else produces a better book than me?
Of course, there will always be a plethora of authors—but not necessarily in your genre and with your style and never with the same extraordinary voice.
#13 Insert your own reason(s) here!
May your procrastination be fenced in, and your imagination have room to roam.
For serious procrastinators—or maybe your new favorite character—check out the below links:
Remember: Nobody is just like you—thank goodness—or nothing would get done.
*A special “Thank you!” to Randy at Barnes and Noble Booksellers, 14347 West Colfax Avenue Golden, CO 80401
A Colorado native, Rainey, (writing as L. Treloar), has been a RMFW member since 2012 (or so), and is happy to belong to one of the best critique groups ever: The 93rd Street Irregulars. She has self-published The Frozen Moose, is currently re-editing the first manuscript in a political thriller series, and has entered two contests with her 2016 NaNoWriMo Historical Fiction novella. In her spare time, she enjoys organizing anything from closets, to military family retreats, to rodeos and parades. Along with teaching her cat to retrieve, she volunteers at church and The Horse Protection League. With an Associate degree in Applied Science/Land Surveying, she learned she far prefers words over math.
*The Frozen Moose, a short story is available on Barnes and Noble in e-book.
The new year is a time to look ahead but also a time to reflect. The timing of this column is significant to me because ten years ago yesterday – January 12, 2007 – I sat down to write what would become my first science fiction novel. I finished the first draft in ten days, the second draft in four, and had a completed third draft by the end of the month. I started recording it – a few chapters at a time – in the front seat of my car because it was the quietest place I could find. I released the first episode at Podiobooks.com on February 17th. I made every mistake. I did everything wrong.
I wrote four novels that first year and podcast them all. I had no idea what I was doing and never imagined that I’d be here – ten years later – a full time novelist.
This column isn’t to tell you how great I am. It’s to help lend some perspective on how much the industry has changed since I began. Many think the golden age is over. The people who were in it when it began will always be the winners and there’s no room for the new folks coming along behind. The pool is flooded and it’s impossible to rise to the top.
Yeah. Not so much.
In 2007, the Kindle wasn’t on the market. Self-publishing consisted of Lulu and BookSurge for print-on-demand titles. The price points killed sales. Booksurge – which would become CreateSpace – took a drubbing in 2008 when Amazon tried to get all the POD authors to use only their interface to sell books on Amazon. It’s not that bad now, but the wise POD authors always list through CreateSpace for Amazon these days in order to keep their titles from going out-of-stock, but I digress.
In January, 2010, I signed with a small press to produce my books in text formats. They convinced me that we could do better together than I could on my own. The salient point is that I built my audience for three full years and across six titles before I tried to sell what we’d consider a book. I did it by giving my stories away as free podcasts.
I made a lot of strategic decisions in those years about what to write, where to release it, how to promote it, and what tools and techniques to use to build that audience. It took months to get the first hundred, a year to get the first thousand. By the time I signed with the publisher in 2010, I had a million downloads across all the episodes in all the books and that took three years.
We released Quarter Share just before the Baltimore Science Fiction Convention in the spring of 2010. By then the Kindle was making noise in the marketplace so we released both ebook and paper. That ebook thing was a gamble. In those days selling a few hundred ebooks a year was a Big Deal. We had a release party at BaltiCon and a table where I hand sold a few copies in paper, mostly to the fans who already knew the story from listening. Quarter Share sold a few hundred on release and settled down to about ten a month.
Things stayed quiet until the Kindle Autumn of 2010. That’s the point where the Kindle’s market penetration tipped into the mainstream market for heavy readers. It would be another three months before Kindles became more common with casual readers. In October I became the first author at my publishing house to sell a thousand units in a single month with a single title. Others had sold a thousand across multiple titles, but that was the beginning for me.
By 2012 I dissolved the contract with my publisher by exercising my exit clause, got my rights back and spent a year re-issuing the four titles they’d released under my own imprint. By then I had eight books. Now I’m working on lucky number thirteen and the future’s so bright I gotta wear shades.
But here’s the thing.
The fundamental market has changed, but for the better. Millions of people read ebooks now. Dedicated devices are less common. Tablets and smartphones have taken over. Amazon and Kobo have a presence everywhere around the globe making digital products available to almost half a billion English speakers. The early stigma of self-publishing as vanity press has not disappeared but has become significantly diluted as dedicated self-publishers approach the work professionally in order to produce works that rival – even exceed – the quality of those published by the Bigs.
The reality of publishing today encompasses a variety of paths. Small, productive self-publishers can – and often do – earn more than authors published by the likes of Random House and Macmillan. They get fat and happy on sales numbers that are too small to support any of the bigger houses and some of the small. With reduced fixed cost overheads and very small variable costs people like me can do what most authors were never able to achieve ten years ago. We can quit our day jobs.
It’s not fast. I spent three years just building audience for my stories and five years before becoming a full time author in the summer of 2012.
It’s not easy. I’ve written over two million words across my novels. I’ve tried and failed a couple of times along the way. I’ve had to learn some hard lessons.
It’s not guaranteed. Fiction is still art and art is fickle.
But it is possible if you’re willing to do the work – the real work, not the work you want to do. If you’re willing to stick it out for years, not weeks or months, in order to build the structures, establish your audience, and work it like the business that it is. The life of an author isn't a sprint or a marathon. It's not a race of any kind. There's only one finish line and it's the one we all face. If there's one thing I've learned over the last decade it's that writing is a way of life.
So Happy New Year, RMFW. We're already almost two weeks in. Go write something great.
When last I posted here, my book had been accepted for publication through Kindle Scout, but wasn’t yet available to be purchased. Since then, it’s gone up for pre-order, and then for general purchase. Rankings have been lingering in the five figures, between about 65,000 as the low and 12,000 as the high. I had expected a faster drop-off, but I haven’t seen it yet—the numbers have stayed pretty steadily in that range (of course, I go to check right now and find it at 77K BECAUSE OF COURSE IT IS!). I don’t know what kind of sales that means, exactly, and I won’t know until I get my first sales report, which will be either the end of this month or the end of next.
The process of publication was dead simple. I got some edits back, which were less than painless, then got an email telling me when the book would be available. I was asked if I’d be willing to change the cover, which I did. (You can see the new version right here!) This had to do with the inclusion of a weapon on the original cover. I just found a shot of the same model without the gun (actually, she does have a gun in this picture, but it’s by her side, so it was easy to remove it from the visible portion), plopped it into the original cover, cleaned up a few things, and went on my way. I like the new layout at least as much as the original.
After the book had been out for a bit, I received an email with screencaps of some of the promotions Kindle is doing for the book, which right now consists of inclusion in their “New Releases” newsletter and in advertising sent to Kindle users. Three months after initial release, which was 12-24, I’ll be eligible for a regular promotion. These include pricing promotions, and according to the email, the book has also been nominated for various placement promotions. I’m not sure what this entails, but hopefully it’ll sell me some books. I’m also doing some ad placements myself, as well as hitting social media, etc. I’ve decided to do this on a “drip” strategy rather than a big “splash” strategy, so I’m not flooding all my social media channels all the time. In addition, I wrote two short prequel stories and am offering them for free to new newsletter subscribers.
I’ve found the process so far to be satisfactory. If you’re the kind of person who likes to ask a lot of questions and get answers right away, you might find the Kindle Press approach frustrating. I get the impression they’re a bit overworked and understaffed, but that’s probably true of any publisher these days. They’ve provided all the information I really needed in a timely fashion, and I’m happy to plug along with other things while I’m waiting for people to get back to me, so it hasn’t bothered me particularly. In the mean time, I’m working on those promo plans and, yes, busily scribbling away on a sequel.
Also, the book’s gotten some absolutely fabulous reviews! Reviews came up during the pre-release phase, so that was helpful. People who voted for the book were able to submit reviews and have that star rating all ready for the general release. So that was a good thing, and I like to think it’s helped get sales jumpstarted. Hopefully reality won’t hurt me too hard when my actual sales numbers come in.
I hope sharing my experience with Kindle Scout has been helpful. I’m excited about all the different ways we can get our stories out in front of readers, and this one seemed like it would be fun and potentially snag a larger audience than I’ve been able to find all on my own. If you have any questions about anything I’ve discussed in this series of posts, please ask! And best of luck to all of you working to get their stories out into the world.
Happy New Year, Campers. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas. Ours involved 80-100mph winds and no electricity. We had a daring chicken rescue as well but that’s a story for another time.
Last month we covered some of the sub-genres of Romance - Romantic Comedy, Chick-Lit, Contemporary, Romantic Suspense, Historical, Inspirational. Wow, that’s a lot. We also “touched” - haha, get it? - on the different heat levels in some of the genres.
This month, we’re going to finish up with sub-genres. We’ll look at the vast world of Paranormal and also talk about Regency Romance.
• It must be set in England in 1812 (okay you can fudge just a smidge on this - but not much)
• It must be historically accurate for the time and place. It was a time of violence and danger lurked around every corner. The streets weren’t safe. King George III was on the edge of insane and England was embroiled in the Napoleonic Wars.
• It must include kings, and dukes, and lords and ladies and titled nobility of all sorts. And you have to keep them straight and right. Your readers will.
• It must include accurate character names that fit the times. Keep your classes straight and your names fitting.
• It must use the language of the times. Peculiar terms and phrases abound in Regency.
With Regency - the authors writing this sub-genre are well versed readers first.
If you come across the term “Regency-set historicals” think Regencies set in locations other than England. America was fighting a war too at the time.
Want to write Regencies? Read Regencies.
Now on to Paranormal.
Included in Paranormal Romance are Fantasy Romance, SciFi Romance and Futuristic Romance, Time Travel Romance, Reality based vampires and werewolves and such, Ghosts and Angels and Goddesses, and also more sinister creatures of the night.
Fantasy Romance will include the world building common in all fantasy fiction - from complete other worlds to earth realities that have their own rules.
SciFi and Futuristic Romance can include elements of SciFi, Space Opera, etc. The difference between the two is SciFi is outer space based and Futuristic is Earth based.
Time Travel Romance - pretty self explanatory. Might Outlander fit this category?
The term Light Paranormal refers to your ghost stories and angel stories - suggesting that these paranormal creatures are friendlies. Dark Paranormal would be your blood suckers and baddies of every variety. Fairies and leprechauns and selkies and such can be creatures of light or creatures of darkness. You get to decide.
But remember, in all these sub-genres, the key is the Romance. It must be front and center. Any and all of these sub-genres can and do have further categories such as Young Adult and New Adult.
After I finished this list, I realized I’d left out the paranormal I’ve written. It’s a reincarnation story. So there’s another category.
Confused? Don’t be. Just be aware that the variety inside Romance is LIMITLESS. There’s something for anyone who loves happily ever after.
Welcome, 2017! So glad to see you. This year promises to be the best writing yet.
In that vein, I’d like to discuss a problem I’ve been having and hopefully you’ll have advice. Because, that’s what writer’s groups like RMFW are all about. Asking questions of your tribe. And mocking them when they give you bad advice…
So tribe, here’s my dilemma. I’ve been working on a cozy mystery. I sent it to my agent to read, and she suggested we make it more of a general mystery instead of a cozy. Her suggestion for doing so is, to go deeper.
Now that sounds easy enough.
Blinking at the blank page…
What the heck does go deeper even mean? I understand it in the general sense. But how do I make it happen? Does anyone have ideas or tools they use to create more depth and emotion?
So far, I’ve added some additional backstory and description of surroundings. Gotten more graphic in terms of the murder itself.
Most of that advice came from the internet, so you know it’s true.
What say you? How do you make your stories more complex? I promise not to laugh and point.
Volunteering for the workshop proposal selection committee offers a rare opportunity to see all the workshop and panel proposals that are submitted for consideration to Colorado Gold. For the past several years, I have served on this committee, and now in my second year as conference chair, I'd like to share some of what I've learned. When you are exposed to hundreds of proposals over the course of months, it becomes easy to spot the standouts.
A lot of consideration and planning goes into the selection process on the part of the committee and then by the conference chair. Our goal is to ensure we are providing the widest range of classes to suit writers at every level of their career from beginning writers to published authors. As publishing continues to evolve, so will the types of workshops and panels at Colorado Gold.
During the proposal selection process, the committee focuses on the proposed topic as well as the proposal itself. Knowing that your proposal will be one among many, it's worth your time to make sure it showcases your workshop in the best possible way. When putting your proposal together for submission, ask yourself the following questions:
- Is your topic specific, fresh, and unique? The selection committee will always seek proposals on writing craft basics, best practices, how to, and industry standards, but if your proposal comes off as run-of-the-mill during the proposal process, what does that say about your class? There are many ways to talk about outlining, character development, queries, marketing, and publishing as a whole, but if your topic feels stale, it simply won't stand out.
- Is your topic relevant to the industry's current climate? Publishing is changing at a rapid pace, and authors are savvy to what's going on. If you've presented on this topic before, how have you updated your class to keep it fresh?
- Is your topic positive in nature? One of the goals of Colorado Gold is to pump up our attendees and fill them with the knowledge and information they need to face their writing with a fresh attitude and renewed excitement. A workshop or class that is geared toward the negative or focuses solely on what-not-to-do will have the opposite effect and is less likely to be selected.
- Have you taught before? It's perfectly fine if this is your first proposal and your first time teaching. We welcome fresh talent! But make sure you share your credentials so the committee can see that you're the perfect person to teach a class on your proposed topic. Also, be sure to include enough content in your description and outline so it's clear you know your subject and you're prepared to teach the material. This goes for experienced presenters who are teaching a new course for the first time.
- Are you submitting a proposal for a discussion panel? How do you plan to engage the audience? How do you plan to moderate the discussion? Have you listed all of the speakers? What topics will you discuss that will provide insights to attendees they can use? Is your topic so broad it lacks clarity? So narrow as to limit its appeal? Is your panel audience-focused? A panel heavy with self-promotion won't appeal to attendees who are looking for usable knowledge to apply to their own writing careers.
- Does your proposal indicate concrete knowledge or skills? What do you plan to share with your audience that they can take away and apply to their writing? Be detailed so that the committee can understand what attendees will learn in your workshop or panel.
- Does your proposal clearly state your audience? Is it for Beginner, Intermediate, Professional level writers? For everyone? Is it for published or pre-published writers? If it's geared toward already-published writers, does the content pertain to traditionally published, indie, or both? Does the content of your outline match the expected track level?
- Is your outline detailed enough without being too detailed? This is important! If you submit an outline for your two-hour workshop that contains a handful of five bullet points and no supporting detail, it will seem as though you don't have enough content to fill your time slot. Conversely, if your outline for your one-hour workshop is fifteen pages single-spaced, it will seem as though you might not have a firm grasp on your subject matter or enough time to present all the material. Find a balance that allows you to show what you'll cover, how it will flow, how long it will take, and what attendees will take away.
- Is your outline well organized? A well-planned outline is easy to spot. It shows the main topic, the sub-topics in the order you plan to present them, and shares a bit of the direction your class will take. An organized outline indicates a solid grasp of subject knowledge and information flow, which results in a class that your audience will be glad they chose.
- Have you proofread your proposal and provided all the information requested? This might seem like a no-brainer but think about it. Just like a resume, your proposal represents you during this process. Typos and errors reflect poorly on your proposal. You want to give the selection committee every reason to choose yours over another proposal. Do yourself a favor and submit your best possible proposal.
- What are we looking for? If you have something that you think will be of interest to the attendees at RMFW Colorado Gold, we invite you to submit your proposals regardless of topic. Based on feedback from our conference attendee surveys, attendees have requested workshops and panels on the following subjects:
- Character Development, Character Arcs
- How to Write a Beginning
- Plotting Stories and Series
- Genre-specific Tropes: Dos and Don'ts
- Writing Diversity: Other Cultures, Other Abilities, LGBTQ
- Specialized Knowledge for Writers: Military, Battle, Police, Forensics, Weapons, Foreign Culture, Sex, History, etc.
Author Business & Professional Level
- Marketing & PR
- Networking: How-to, Strategies, New Avenues, What's Coming
- Managing Financials, Taxes, Accounting, Best Practices
- Contracts for Traditional and Indie Published Authors, Dos and Don'ts
- Author Events, Public Speaking, Book Signings, Best Practices
- Industry Insights for Traditional and Indie Publishing
- Indie Publishing, What it Entails, How to Manage, DIY versus Hiring a Team
- Social Media Management for Authors
- Book Formatting
- Book Reviews, How to Get Them
- Audiobook Production, Options, How To
- Cover Design
- Author Platform, Building an Audience, How Tos, Options
- Author Websites, DIY, How To, Options
- Readers: Where to Find Them
- Writing as a Career
This list is by no means complete, but hopefully, it triggers ideas and provides some insights about the kinds of things we're hearing from our conference goers about what they want to see. Proposal Submissions opened January 1 and will close at midnight on April 1. Keep an eye on the conference page, your email, and the RMFW home page for details about Colorado Gold.
We look forward to receiving your proposals and building another fabulous conference for you!