Here are some common questions I get asked by writers about this gig:
How do I create a blog or website?
I happen to love WordPress, and am grateful for how easy they make it, too. Set one up with them, make a few tweaks to personalize it, and get writing. Share what you want to write, your voice, your story. That’s pretty much what it’s all about. It doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated or expensive.
What are the top 5 things I should have on my blog or author website?
- Your full name.
- Who you are and what you do.
- Where people can follow you.
- A square graphic/logo/headshot.
- A call to action in each blog post signature.
How do I get word out about my blog and/or the freelance writing I do?
To get fans you need to be a fan. Read, comment, engage with people. Attend writing/blogging/book conferences and talk to other writers. Share work you love online, review books you love on Goodreads/Amazon, become a resource of good material that’s not just yours.
How do I get paid to write?
Write a lot. Listen to feedback. Get better. Research the magazines, websites, newspapers, publications you want to write for. Become a fan of those publications, read them, study them, get to know what they look for in a writer. Follow their pitch instructions very carefully. Take the leap. Listen to your rejections but don’t let them get you down. Keep pitching.
Be ready for opportunities that come your way. You know the whole “dress for the job you want” theory? Live that. Wear your I Am a Professional Writer hat until you become one. If you have been writing for free (on your blog or social media outlets) and people have been responding to it (likes, shares, comments), then you are a writer. Go get paid for it. Make sure you keep getting better and do the work to earn those paid gigs so they keep coming.
How do I get better at writing?
Keep writing. Every day. Get great writing books (like this, this, this, this and this), take notes in them while you read them, read them again, keep them close. Read great writing in any form, from tweets to thick novels. Attend conferences or writing retreats (here are some). Go to book festivals, which are often free. Follow blogs/podcasts/social media accounts about writing. Hang out with other writers, maybe even in a writing group where you productively critique each other. Take classes. Always keep working at it–it’s so worth the effort.
Exercise your writing muscles every day. I have a whole page on this website dedicated to writing prompts, if you need them!
Save every idea. Write them on your phone and email them to yourself, jot them in a notebook you keep with you always. If you get them in the shower (like I do), buy these. I am obsessed with them. Then make sure you collect all of your ideas and keep them in one place, so you can work on them when you’re ready.
How do I write a query? Get a literary agent? Market my book? How much work do I have to do to get my book completed and into peoples’ hands? And balance my personal life with being an author?
This is a Pinterest board where I save all sorts of interesting articles about writing, blogging, conferences, books, self-publishing, marketing, newsletters and anything else to do with this gig. There is a lot of work to do, so take your time soaking it all in.
What about memes? They seem popular.
Memes are a fun way to gain exposure on social media. My advice on these is simple:
- Write your own content. Don’t “borrow” other peoples’ tweets, status updates, or the like. I explain why here.
- Either create the meme with a photo you took, or make sure you have permission to use the photo/image (don’t blindly grab photos off the internet). Another option is to use a plain background so there’s no issue with copyright ownership. This is the easiest and quickest option. It’s easy to use a website like Canva or PicMonkey to create them.
- Watermark the meme. Your name and a handle or website that’s the best way to find you, in a clear font that is easy to read.
- Accept that once you release a meme out into the world, there is a good chance it will be shared by people who will not tag you on social media. There is also a chance someone will cut off your watermark or use your words as if they were their own. If you’re uncomfortable with that, then skip the meme world.
I’m going to my first blogging/writing/book conference. What do I do?
Since I’ve been to quite a few conferences over the years, I wrote about that to help ease your anxiety. And don’t forget to enjoy yourself while you’re there!
I should note that if you have a lot of interest but not a lot of extra cash, free book festivals are a great way to attend author panels to learn more about the craft. You’d be surprised at how many wonderful authors attend even the smallest of events. Look locally.
Should I self-publish my book idea or go the traditional route?
That is a much longer conversation, and there are a lot of factors involved. You’ll hear a thousand different opinions when you research this online, and plenty of evidence to support it either way. I’m happy to help you with this decision. Get more info on that here.
I’m an author. What should I do to get my name out there, now that my blog/website is all set up?
If you have a book on Amazon, create an Amazon Author Page in Author Central. Fans of your books can follow you there to get announcements of your new publications, plus you’ll have a bio of where else to find you. There are other cool features, too, like linking it up your blog. You can see mine here.
If you have a book published anywhere, join the Goodreads Author Program. Create a rich bio with links to your books, plus allow for both followers and friends. You can see mine here.
I also highly recommend you find Your People. Authors are a special breed, and it’s nice to know that you have a network of fellow authors who understand what you’re going through on the crazy journey of getting books out of your brain and onto shelves. There are Facebook groups for every genre, local associations and MeetUps to help you find fellow authors in your area. If you can go to conferences, do so. Bring business cards, hand them out, talk to people, find some authors who you connect to and stay in touch with them.
My friends and family are asking how they can help me make my book(s) more successful. What should I say?
Don’t be shy. I know it feels weird to say, “Uh…buy my book?” as an answer, especially if you know they already have a copy. Share this article with them, instead. It has simple tips and advice, so you won’t feel greedy sending it their way and they won’t feel overwhelmed by the information. (Feel free to do some of these things for the authors you love, too! I totally believe karma is a real thing.)
Can I just pick your brain about the business?
Yes, you can! Here is some information on that.
Any other questions, feel free to email me at TheKimBongiorno@Gmail.com.
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Kim Bongiorno is an author, full time freelance writer, and the blogger behind Let Me Start By Saying. You can find her on Facebook and Twitter, hire her to write for you or speak at your event, or buy her some cotton candy because that stuff is delicious.
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