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5 Books to Help You Become a Better Writer

By Scott Lorenz
Westwind Book Marketing

5 Books to Help You Become a Better WriterAs a book publicist, I’m frequently asked to give advice on writing a book. The truth is, there are so many elements that can make a book successful—but one of the most important is that it be written well.

Writing well is the goal of every writer—regardless of where they are in their writing journey. It is also a skill that requires continuous practice. Even published authors continuously work to perfect their craft.

It can be hard to decide what advice is most relevant when so many books have been published on the topic. That said, reading books on the art of writing can sometimes be more helpful than an entire college writing course. The five books that I’ve listed below reveal the nature of writing life and the art of writing well in intimate detail. They offer everything from grammar rules to advice on publishing a book to personal narratives as they teach the ins and outs of writing and what it means to be a writer.

1. On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft by Stephen King. This memoir is a brilliant graphic tale of King’s life, and like all his stories, it does not lack imagination. The book is an invitation behind the scenes to his writing and career. It features moments that shaped King as an author and the various lessons he acquired from decades of practice and publication. It is a masterclass for aspiring writers.

2. The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White. The Elements of Style is considered the gold standard on writing. Strunk and White outline basic linguistic and stylistic rules and instructions on how to write clearly and concisely. They also cover common mistakes that writers make and how to avoid them. This book is a classic for a reason.

3. On Writing by Ernest Hemingway. While Hemingway never wrote a treatise on the art of writing, he left behind passages in letters, articles, and books with opinions and advice on writing. In 1984, Larry W. Phillips compiled these into a book. On Writing is a collection of writing advice from one of the greatest American writers of the twentieth century. Hemingway gives us a glimpse into the psyche and mental preparation of a writer and a clear definition of the difference between good and bad writing. The book is essential reading for any aspiring writer.

4. Several Short Sentences About Writing by Verlyn Klinkenborg. In this book, Verlyn Klinkenborg challenges writers to forget everything they have ever been taught about writing. The author uses a poetic prose style to make the point that the sentence itself is the most essential element of writing, and each sentence should do its share of the work.

5. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott. In this delightfully witty and humorous piece on writing and family life, Lamott addresses the difficulties of writing and getting published. Bird by Bird is an anecdotal work full of wry observations about life and writing. Anne’s lessons are those she has shared in workshops over the years as she covers what she’s learned through trial and error. Bird by Bird is a must-read, for aspiring fiction writers especially.

Today, many books and courses are available to assist writers on their writing journey. Authors have abundant writing resources at their disposal to help them hone their writing skills. I’ve previously written on how editing and proofreading can make your writing shine—and on the power and art of brevity for authors.  If you don’t want to read a book, you can watch the Masterclass courses on writing and receive author advice from some of the best writers of our day. There is a great masterclass by James Patterson on how to write a bestselling book.

The Bottom Line: Regardless of how long you’ve been writing, you can glean tips and techniques from authors who have succeeded in their field. Learn from them.

About Book Publicist Scott Lorenz

Book publicist Scott Lorenz is President of Westwind Communications, a public relations and marketing firm that has a special knack for working with authors to help them get all the publicity they deserve and more. Lorenz works with bestselling authors and self-published authors promoting all types of books, whether it’s their first book or their 15th book. He’s handled publicity for books by CEOs, CIA Officers, Navy SEALS, Homemakers, Fitness Gurus, Doctors, Lawyers and Adventurers. His clients have been featured by Good Morning America, FOX & Friends, CNN, ABC News, New York Times, Nightline, TIME, PBS, LA Times, USA Today, Washington Post, Woman’s World, & Howard Stern to name a few.

Learn more about Westwind Communications’ book marketing approach at https://www.book-marketing-expert.com/  or contact Lorenz at scottlorenz@westwindcos.com, or 734-667-2090 or fill out the form below. Follow Lorenz on Twitter @aBookPublicist. Want help titling a book? Check out Scott Lorenz’s new award winning book: www.BookTitleGenerator.net

 

Authors, Are You in a Writing Rut? Here’s 5 Ways to Get Your Mojo Back!

By Scott Lorenz
Westwind Book Marketing

Most authors I work with are highly motivated and driven. Yet, every now and then even the most prolific authors run into a wall.

Authors, Are You in a Writing Rut? Here’s 5 Ways to Get Your Mojo Back!As a book publicist, I’ve helped many authors fix a current book, focus on their next book, given inspiration, direction or sometimes just ‘pushed’ a bit to move things along.

“A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.”  E.B. White

Most writers have goals they hope to achieve, but sometimes a lack of motivation can impede their progress. I understand that writing is hard. It’s something almost every writer struggles with – even some of the greats often did.

If you’re waiting for motivation to start writing, you might be waiting a long time because the motivation to write is fickle. You need to change the way you think about writing.

I’ve put together these five remedies that can help you stay motivated:

  1. Daily repetition and routine. In his book What I Talk About When I Talk About Running, Haruki Murakami mentions that when he is writing a novel he gets up at 4 am every morning and works for five to six hours. He keeps this routine every single day without variation.
    If you’re an aspiring writer, you have to dig deep and find the drive to write every single day. Repetition is essential for forming daily habits. It helps to set time aside for writing each day and to stick to it. Writing needs to fit into your life in a way that suits your circumstances. Commitments in your life like school, work, and hobbies will fill up your whole day if you let them, so it’s necessary to commit to a regular time where you just sit down and write. The key is to write consistently – only with repetition will you be able to make it part of your routine.
  2. Read something different like Poetry or a Business book. Reading will help turn on your creative engine and provide a source of motivation for your own writing. How often have you read a good piece of work or come across a beautifully written passage and thought to yourself, I would love to write like that. Good writing by accomplished writers can be deeply inspiring.
  3. Remember why you started. All writers write for a reason, whether it’s to express themselves, create something meaningful, help others, or entertain. The purpose behind the writing drives the writer to produce meaningful pieces of work. Periodically ask yourself why you want to write – this can help remind you of your writing goals and why it’s important to you.
  4. Do something exciting. Take a hot air balloon ride; take surfing lessons, go sailing on a barefoot cruise for a week in the Caribbean where you are part of the crew doing the work. When you’re focused on sailing your subconscious mind will help you get free of things that trap you in the rut.
  5. Meet your fears and conquer them. Can’t stand heights? Learn how to skydive. Don’t like to go underwater? Learn how to scuba dive. Don’t like raw fish? Eat some sushi. Force yourself to do something you don’t want to do. You’ll be better for it.

I recently came across a great article by Robert Lee Brewer on the New York Times bestselling author Christina Baker Kline, where she shares insights into the writing process of her novel: The Exiles. Christina shares some valuable advice to other authors on persevering when things get difficult: “Forge ahead through the hard parts. With every novel I’ve written, I come to a moment when I want to give up…The only thing to do is inch ahead little by little. There’s a quote I love by Honor Moore: “If you don’t put it in, you can’t take it out.” If you don’t get something on the page, you won’t have anything to work with. That advice has saved many a writing day—and many a novel.”

The truth is that no writer is always motivated to write, but it helps to make writing part of your daily routine and to regularly read books that inspire you. When you feel unmotivated and stuck, remember why you started in the first place.

I’ve written a few related articles for authors and provided writing advice for aspiring writers. If you feel like you’re stuck in a writing rut, check out this article on great author resources available online to help you generate ideas. I also wrote this one on attending writers’ conferences, and another helpful article on how book fairs or festivals can be a way to meet people who can give you valuable advice on your writing.

The Bottom Line: Waiting for inspiration to strike won’t help you achieve your writing goals. Take action and motivation will follow.

About Book Publicist Scott Lorenz

Book publicist Scott Lorenz is President of Westwind Communications, a public relations and marketing firm that has a special knack for working with authors to help them get all the publicity they deserve and more. Lorenz works with bestselling authors and self-published authors promoting all types of books, whether it’s their first book or their 15th book. He’s handled publicity for books by CEOs, CIA Officers, Navy SEALS, Homemakers, Fitness Gurus, Doctors, Lawyers and Adventurers. His clients have been featured by Good Morning America, FOX & Friends, CNN, ABC News, New York Times, Nightline, TIME, PBS, LA Times, USA Today, Washington Post, Woman’s World, & Howard Stern to name a few.

Learn more about Westwind Communications’ book marketing approach at https://www.book-marketing-expert.com/  or contact Lorenz at scottlorenz@westwindcos.com, or 734-667-2090 or fill out the form below. Follow Lorenz on Twitter @aBookPublicist. Want help titling a book? Check out Scott Lorenz’s new book: www.BookTitleGenerator.net

 

How Authors Use Instagram to Sell Books

Find out how Instagram is helping authors increase visibility and earn more money.

By Scott Lorenz

Westwind Book Marketing

How Authors Use Instagram to Sell Books

How Authors Use Instagram to Sell Books

Instagram has over 1 billion users. So it’s no surprise that many authors are using the platform to sell their books. With an established Instagram account, they’re able to build strong relationships, drive interest, and boost sales.

If you’re an author who would like to use Instagram to your advantage, check out the Instagram accounts listed below. Follow them and engage as you like. They can give you a good idea of how authors are using the one of fastest growing social media platforms.

1. James Patterson (@jamespattersonbooks)

The New York Times bestselling author of The Kennedy Curse and The 20th Victim loves to repost pictures of children enjoying his books. His account is also full of giveaways, announcements about upcoming releases, and inspirational quotes he lives by.

2. Dan Brown (@authordanbrown)

Dan Brown posts about his virtual storytimes as well as photos of his life in New England and yellow lab, Winston. He also features occasional quotes from some of his top books like The Lost Symbol and The Da Vinci Code.

3. Janet Evonovich (@janetevanovich)

From the moment you look at Janet Evonovich’s Instagram, you’ll notice plenty of color. She fills her profile with bright and cheery photos of Hot Six, Twisted Twenty-Six and other recent books she wrote. There’s also a lot of details about book signings and new releases.

4. Malcolm Gladwell (@malcolmgladwell)

Malcolm Gladwell’s latest posts are all about his book Talking to Strangers. His Instagram is also packed with photos of him on Jimmy Kimmel Live, NPR Radio, Book Tube, and other places he’s been interviewed.

5. Jon Krakauer (@krakauernotwriting)

While Jon Krakauer’s posts of his political views, travels, and adventures are interesting, his catchy description is particularly noteworthy: “I write books for a living. Been toiling in the writing factory for more than 35 years. Not writing is way more fun.” Some of his most popular books include Embrace the Misery, Gates of the Arctic, and Living Under the Volcano.

6. Mitch Albom (@mitchalbom)

Mitch Albom, author of Finding Chika and The Next Person You Meet in Heaven is an avid user of the Instagram story feature. He posts short stories to promote his interviews, podcasts, and Say Detroit, a non-profit organization he started to support underprivileged people in Detroit.

7. Tony Robbins (@tonyrobbins)

Tony Robbins’ Instagram is nothing short of inspirational. It’s filled with powerful quotes by him and information about non-profits he believes in. He also scatters several funny memes throughout. Robbins wrote The New Money Masters and The Path.

8. Jay Shetty (@jayshetty)

On Jay Shetty’s Instagram, you’ll find sayings from his current and upcoming books like Think Like a Monk. Here’s one that really stands out: T.I.M.E Daily Routine: Thankfulness, Insight, Meditation, Exercise.

9. Joanna Gaines (@joannagaines)

Joanna Gaines, author of Magnolia Table and We are the Gardners uses her Instagram account to share lifestyle photos of her and her family. She keeps it pretty personal and makes it easy for followers to get a feel for the everyday happenings in her life.

10. Dashama Konah Gordon (@dashama)

Since Dashama is a “happiness expert” in addition to author of Journey to Joyful, her profile features positive quotes, pictures of her practicing yoga and meditating, and a story Q&A session where she answers her follower’s questions. She posts frequently new videos of various activities in the most incredible settings.

The Bottom Line: Use Instagram to grow and expand your audience.

About Book Publicist Scott Lorenz

Book publicist Scott Lorenz is President of Westwind Communications, a public relations and marketing firm that has a special knack for working with authors to help them get all the publicity they deserve and more. Lorenz works with bestselling authors and self-published authors promoting all types of books, whether it’s their first book or their 15th book. He’s handled publicity for books by CEOs, CIA Officers, Navy SEALS, Homemakers, Fitness Gurus, Doctors, Lawyers and Adventurers. His clients have been featured by Good Morning America, FOX & Friends, CNN, ABC News, New York Times, Nightline, TIME, PBS, LA Times, USA Today, Washington Post, Woman’s World, & Howard Stern to name a few.

Learn more about Westwind Communications’ book marketing approach at https://www.book-marketing-expert.com/ or contact Lorenz at scottlorenz@westwindcos.com or 734-667-2090 or fill out the form below. Follow Lorenz on Twitter @aBookPublicist. Want help titling a book? Check out Scott Lorenz’s new award winning, bestselling book: Book Title Generator- A Proven System in Naming Your Book www.BookTitleGenerator.net

 

How Editing, Copyediting, and Proofreading Make Your Book Shine

To Write Is Human, To Edit Is Divine.” – Stephen King

By Scott Lorenz
Westwind Communications

How Editing, Copyediting, and Proofreading Make Your Book Shine

How Editing, Copyediting, and Proofreading Make Your Book Shine

You’ve finally finished your book and are ready to get it into the hands of the reader. You’ve crafted each sentence with great intention, choosing each word to communicate your meaning. This manuscript has spent countless hours with your eyes on it and multiple people have read it for you. You’ve rewritten and revised, incorporated their suggestions and there couldn’t possibly be anything else that needs changing or correcting.

Is it still necessary to hire a professional editor or proofreader? What if the editor has a different vision from you and suggests sweeping changes to your work? What if the editor doesn’t like, or even worse, doesn’t understand your book?

Writing a book is an amazing accomplishment, one that less than 1% of the world’s population will ever manage to do. Given the amount of time, energy, and creativity you’ve invested to bring your ideas to life, your finished manuscript is of high personal value. Your work could even be life changing for some readers, if it can reach them. Capturing an audience is no picnic and whether you are publishing traditionally or self-publishing, the competition is fierce.

At this point, your manuscript is like a raw diamond. A diamond in its natural, raw state is full of potential, both in beauty and in value. Yet without taking it to a gem expert, it can be difficult to know how much more value could be added with precise cutting and polishing. Professional gemcutters spend years honing their craft and know exactly what to do to bring forth the maximum beauty of the diamond and increase its market value.

Like gemcutters, editors and proofreaders are experts with a refined skill set. They can evaluate your book and make recommendations about which editing processes the manuscript should undergo. Their extensive training allows them to view your book differently than a casual reader and identify errors or issues with the flow, organization, or plot of the story.

“All manuscripts need something,” says author Edward Renehan. As a book publicist, I’ve seen time and again where the attention of a professional editor has changed a good book into a brilliant one. Hiring an editor is like hiring a personal trainer; it’s still you, just faster, tighter, and more trim. Whether you’re getting a developmental edit, copyedit, or proofread, a professional editor knows how to identify your vision for your work and suggest changes to accomplish that vision.

Most importantly, they are on your team. The editor’s goal is to increase the value and marketability of your work—to cut, and polish in ways that make it shine even more brightly. In an article for Publisher’s Weekly, editor Leila Sales says, “We are as invested in the success of your book as you are. Furthermore, remember this: if we sign up books that don’t perform well, that reflects poorly on us as editors. The future of our careers depends on the success of the books we edit. We are never trying to sabotage your book, because we are emotionally and financially invested in how well it does.”

Regardless of your publishing path, one of the best ways to promote your book is to get reviews. In my experience, if your book has a number of noticeable errors many reviewers will find it difficult to look past them and give a fair review of the entire work. It makes the reading more difficult and creates a poor impression. Even if the reviewer knows that it’s a galley copy or ARC and hasn’t been final proofed, a manuscript in need of editing or proofreading simply will not get as strong or positive reviews.

As a third party endorsement of your work, reviews are critical for promotion and marketing efforts. They give the potential buyer assurance the book they may buy is worthwhile. Professional editing of your work will take your work to the next level, enabling you to get the best reviews possible from your reviewers. Better reviews increase the likelihood of getting your book the attention and audience it deserves.

Bottom Line: Let your finished work shine! Hire a professional editor or proofreader to polish your book, bring forth its maximum beauty, and increase its market value.

About Book Publicist Scott Lorenz

Book publicist Scott Lorenz is President of Westwind Communications, a public relations and marketing firm that has a special knack for working with authors to help them get all the publicity they deserve and more. Lorenz works with bestselling authors and self-published authors promoting all types of books, whether it’s their first book or their 15th book. He’s handled publicity for books by CEOs, CIA Officers, Navy SEALS, Homemakers, Fitness Gurus, Doctors, Lawyers and Adventurers. His clients have been featured by Good Morning America, FOX & Friends, CNN, ABC News, New York Times, Nightline, TIME, PBS, LA Times, USA Today, Washington Post, Woman’s World, & Howard Stern to name a few.

Learn more about Westwind Communications’ book marketing approach at https://www.book-marketing-expert.com/ or contact Lorenz at scottlorenz@westwindcos.com or 734-667-2090 or fill out the form below. Follow Lorenz on Twitter @aBookPublicist. Want help titling a book? Check out Scott Lorenz’s new award winning, bestselling book: Book Title Generator- A Proven System in Naming Your Book www.BookTitleGenerator.net

 

The Art and Power of Brevity for Authors

“If I Had More Time, I Would Have Written You a Shorter Letter.” – Mark Twain

By Scott Lorenz

Westwind Communications

Most authors know the famous adage, “Brevity is the soul of wit.” This saying is from Shakespeare’s Hamlet and is, ironically, delivered by the exceedingly longwinded character Polonius. Brevity, simply defined, is shortness or conciseness of expression. While brevity is often an essential part of wit or humor, it is also a necessary tool which writers must master. In an age where attention spans are under siege from competing information streams, skillful and brief communication can cut through the noise and capture the attention of the listener.

Mark Twain's Quote on the Power of Brevity for Authors

Mark Twain’s Quote on the Power of Brevity for Authors

Like Shakespeare’s Polonius, many authors recognize the importance of brevity, while struggling to actually be brief. Authors are conditioned early on with the idea that longer, more complex sentences and words are better. As people who enjoy the act of writing and are immersed in a world of words, it is easy for writers to become longwinded.

As a book publicist I bridge the gap between authors, who can be longwinded, and the media who have no time to listen or talk!  So it’s imperative that I condense everything down to the ‘elevator pitch’ answering these questions: Who is the author? What is their topic? Why should we interview them NOW?

William Zinsser, famous American writer, literary critic, and teacher said, “There are four basic premises of writing: clarity, brevity, simplicity, and humanity.” Words carry power, but length does not equal strength. Some of the most powerful and most memorable works in human history are only a few dozen words:

The Lord’s Prayer: 66 words

The Ten Commandments: 79 words

The Gettysburg Address: 272 words

Declaration of Independence: 1,322 words

Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech: 1,667 words

Thomas Jefferson once said, “The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do.” Here are three important practices for writers:

  • Know the purpose of your communication. An elevator pitch or logline will be shorter than a synopsis or an excerpt. Whether writing a pitch or working on your novel, keep in mind the purpose of the writing and consider how brevity can help meet that goal.
  • Remove unnecessary words. Even Jefferson’s famous quote about brevity can be reduced to the following statement, without changing the meaning. “The most valuable talent is never using two words when one will do.”
  • Change the sentence structure. Revising the structure of the sentence may eliminate words and possibly even express the idea more powerfully.

Author Dennis Roth says, “If it takes a lot of words to say what you have in mind, give it more thought.” Thoughtfully implementing these practices will help you eliminate the fluff and maximize the impact of your writing.

One area in which authors typically struggle, but which is an excellent exercise in brevity, is crafting elevator pitches and loglines. Pitches and loglines are a marketing tool to help sell your idea or work, and attract the interest of publishers, editors, or producers. Having a refined a pitch or logline can also help authors maintain focus during the writing process, becoming a tool which keeps the author from getting tangled in the weeds of extraneous details that can detract from the story.

An elevator pitch or logline succinctly answers the question: “What is your book about?” and provides a tease or a taste of the story. Loglines encapsulate the story arc and themes in one to two well-crafted sentences. The pitch should evoke the curiosity of the listener, help them understand what sets your work apart, and compel them to want more. Loglines and elevator pitches should SELL the story, not tell the story.

As a writer, brevity is your friend. Brief, simple, and concise communication shows respect for the listener and their time. Utilize brevity to help your writing get the attention it deserves.

I could blather on in this article but in keeping with the title… I am going to be brief!

Bottom Line: Be brief. Master the art of brevity to make your writing more powerful and effective.

About Book Publicist Scott Lorenz

Book publicist Scott Lorenz is President of Westwind Communications, a public relations and marketing firm that has a special knack for working with authors to help them get all the publicity they deserve and more. Lorenz works with bestselling authors and self-published authors promoting all types of books, whether it’s their first book or their 15th book. He’s handled publicity for books by CEOs, CIA Officers, Navy SEALS, Homemakers, Fitness Gurus, Doctors, Lawyers and Adventurers. His clients have been featured by Good Morning America, FOX & Friends, CNN, ABC News, New York Times, Nightline, TIME, PBS, LA Times, USA Today, Washington Post, Woman’s World, & Howard Stern to name a few.

Learn more about Westwind Communications’ book marketing approach at https://www.book-marketing-expert.com/ or contact Lorenz at scottlorenz@westwindcos.com or 734-667-2090 or fill out the form below. Follow Lorenz on Twitter @aBookPublicist. Want help titling a book? Check out Scott Lorenz’s new award winning, bestselling book: Book Title Generator- A Proven System in Naming Your Book www.BookTitleGenerator.net