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Must Have Writing Tools for Story Outlining

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Tools and Templates for Your Story Outline

As a writer, I am a planner. I am a huge fan of outlining a story or book and find the process extremely enjoyable.

Brainstorming

Planning your book with a story outline is a great way to break it down into small writing goals, each with a focused idea.

What I love about brainstorming an outline: I can think up an idea, break it down into major scenes, and get an overall feel for the story I’m wanting to write. I can follow a general story arch and make sure that my major scenes are occurring where they need to. It’s a fun exercise that allows me to see the whole story idea come together before a word of it is actually written.


Tools

Scrivener is the number one tool writers use to write their books. It has great options for storyboarding/outlining. It formats your book for uploading to your publisher. Go check out everything this program has to offer. Honestly, if you don’t have Scrivener, I strongly suggest you make the investment. Below is my affiliate link.

Buy Scrivener for Windows (Regular Licence)

If you have Scrivener, another great tool you may want to try is Scapple. Scapple is an easy-to-use tool for getting ideas down as quickly as possible and making connections between them. It isn’t exactly mind-mapping software—it’s more like a freeform text editor that allows you to make notes anywhere on the page and to connect them using straight dotted lines or arrows. If you’ve ever scribbled down ideas all over a piece of paper and drawn lines between related thoughts, then you already know what Scapple does. Plus, you can drag your notes right into Scrivener.


What’s Great About Outlining

  • Outlining breaks down your story idea into small enough segments that you can write about them in one sitting.
  • You can focus on one scene at a time and know where the story is heading so you can really dive into the scene with confidence.
  • You can add details concerning character development to the story arc. I actually add to my outline, about a paragraph on what’s going on in each scene, or what needs to happen, and what’s changing or coming to light with the characters.
  • You can set a milestone goal for each scene and reward yourself each time you’ve finished one. Rewarding yourself along the way will make you more apt to continue with a writing routine.

Books

Here are some great books I recommend if you’re looking to learn more about outlining.

41rtj4w2zzl-_sy346_ Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success

by K.M. Weiland

 

 


Templates

For those of you who are wanting to get started right away, here are some templates that you can post up as references to help you as you work through your outline. Although there are several different plot themes you could use and many different methods of outlining, in these templates you’ll find a basic outlining method that works well for most works of fiction. However, I highly recommend reading one or more of the books above before you begin.

*Right-click on the template to save to your computer and print. Images should print as 8.5 x 11 inch or you can choose your own printing options if you’d like them smaller.

Step One: Some basics to consider before you start your outline.

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Step Two: Some pre-outline questions that will help you get started.

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Step Three: A layout of a basic story structure for reference.

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Step Four: A story outline template with the story structure highlighted where it should appear within the story arc.

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For an eye-catching book cover design

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Writing to Make a Difference

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To all the writers I know and have met through social media, I want to say that I believe in you.

I believe that what you have to say can have an impact on the world around you. I believe that you are special and talented and I stand in awe of what most of you have accomplished already. I applaud all of your efforts, especially the time and care you’ve put into creating your works of art.

I hope that I can serve as some sort of inspiration by working tirelessly to compile resources and information to make your entire writing and authoring experience easier and more enjoyable.

As a graphic designer, I am currently writing a book that will help you understand how to go about creating all of the images you will need to successfully brand yourself as an author, publish your book, and market your book and your author platform.

This is something I’ve been working on for a while now. I have come to understand that there are so many of you out there who have something amazing to share but just don’t have the financial resources to get the graphics you need that would most likely serve to launch your successful writing career.

Visual imagery attracts the eye, it draws the viewer into what you’re attempting to promote. If you don’t have great graphics to support what you are trying to sell, the chances of you reaching the audience that’s available to you are substantially reduced. You are more than qualified to do the writing that people will enjoy. But you could benefit by having imagery that lives up to what you have to offer and attracts as many new readers to you as possible.

I hope you will find the information I have to share as a helpful resource as you continue along your journey. I want to make creating the graphics you need fun, easy, and affordable. I’m including templates and examples as well as free resources to help you get the graphic design work done on your own. I think you will not only enjoy the process of creating your own imagery, you’ll see the results in your growing network and book sales.

If you have any suggestions for information you’d like me to include, please let me know in the comments section 🙂

All my best,

Michelle Rene


Coming Soon!

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If you need help with your book cover or author graphics right away, I’m here to serve you…

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How to Get Book Reviews

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Let’s face it, waiting for book reviews can seem to take a lifetime. These all important book reviews are a necessity in getting your book viewed and purchased by more readers. Without them, you’re screwed.

Waiting for Book Reviews?

While your waiting for your book reviews to increase in number you can begin a campaign that will help them do just that.

Ask for reviews: There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking for reviews. In fact, you can send out a newsletter to your subscribers advertising your new book and ask for reviews.

Query book reviewers: You don’t need to pay for this service, although you can. I recommend you get real reviews, because paid ones stand out from the rest, they’re a bit obvious. Start assembling your list of book reviewers well before your publication date. This is something you want to be prepared for so that when your book is released, it has a large amount of reviews to go with it. Book bloggers are the best people to reach out to for this purpose. There are several other places to find reviewers as well.

  • Story Cartel – all books on Story Cartel are free in exchange for honest book reviews.

Be sure to check out the etiquette for this process later in this post.

Offer prizes: You can offer up prizes for your reviews in the form of author swag. People love free stuff and they love to win prizes. You could have anyone who purchases your book write a review and be automatically entered into a drawing that shows your appreciation. You can give out bookmarks, playing cards, coffee mugs, water bottles, sweatshirts, tote bags, and more.

Give your book away: Take advantage of the three days Amazon gives you to give your book away for free. When you are doing your promotions you can mention it’s in exchange for a review.

Ask friends and family: You can amass quite a few reviews just by asking friends, family, and coworkers. These people like you, chances are they are willing to read your book. Ask them to leave you a review, heck, offer them prizes too if you want. Just be sure to mention that they shouldn’t refer to you as if they know you when writing their review. The review will sound more convincing that way and help to draw new readers into buying your book.

Be proactive: What’s important when seeking reviews is to be proactive. Talk about it on your social networks. Use a book teaser to help gain interest in your book through your marketing. But always mention that you would appreciate reviews. Do a blog tour and ask for reviews there.

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A Few Words On Etiquette

Some may not know this, but there is actually etiquette that goes into asking a reviewer to read your book. Reviewers are not obligated to read your book, and they certainly aren’t required to like your book, so here are a couple of pieces of advice for the author who is looking to get their book reviewed.

  • Take the time to establish a relationship with your book bloggers.
  • Take into consideration what the reviewer likes to read.
  • Give a synopsis of your book in the query email.
  • Don’t hound the reviewer.
  • Don’t get upset if the reviewer doesn’t like your book.
  • Don’t expect the reviewer to search out the book.
  • Show gratitude.
  • Make it personal.

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How to get high ranking reviews

Amazon Top Reviewers: Garnering a positive review from one of Amazon’s top customer reviewers is not only a great endorsement for your book, it’s often perceived as a more meaningful, and especially helpful, review due to the criteria that Amazon uses to qualify those that have achieved this ranking.

Their higher profile and credibility, plus the competition for their in-depth, quality reviews makes it tough to catch this group’s attention. But the rewards are often worth the extra effort. In many cases, reviews from top Amazon reviewers can generate enough momentum to create a cascade of additional reviews and book sales.

Another strategy for finding high quality reviewers on Amazon:

  • Go to your personal Author Page on Amazon and locate the “Customers Also Bought Items By” section on the right. This section provides a list of authors whose topic or genre is similar to your own.
  • Clicking on an author name will bring you to their author page, which will include a listing of their books. Choose a book, then click on a review for that book. This will take you to the Customer Reviews page.
  • Click on the name of a reviewer to get to that reviewer’s Amazon profile (which lists books or items that they’ve reviewed).
  • Look for contact info like an email address or a link to their website.
  • Send them a query via email, referencing that you noticed they reviewed book XYZ by John Doe and you are wondering if they would be interested in reviewing your book on a similar topic, and that you’d be happy to send them a free copy if they’re interested.
  • Remember, you can go through the “Customers Also Bought Items By” section on each author’s page, not just your own.
  • No spam! Make it personal and be authentic.

Publishers Weekly: BookLife is PW’s new site dedicated to the world of Self-Publishing. It’s packed with tips, reviews, profiles and destinations for authors and readers!

It’s also the new home of PW Select, their marketing program for self-published authors and the place where indie authors can now submit their books for PW Review consideration FOR FREE!

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10 places that review self-published books

1. Goodreads

2. Digital Book Today

3. Kirkus

4. Self-Publishing Review

5. IndieReader.com

6. Indie B.R.A.G.

7. PW Select (Publisher’s Weekly)

8. Blue Ink Review

9. The Indie Reviewer List — (not a review site itself, but a great resource with links and contacts for book reviewers and blogs that highlight self-published literature)

10. Book Blogger Directory — (similarly, a “comprehensive listing of book blogs”)

What advice can you give for getting more reviews?

 

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5 Tips for Winning Infographics

Infographics will not only spruce up your content, they will provoke more shares and reach a wider audience.

Research suggests that publishers who use infographics grow in traffic 12 percent more than those who don’t. This is because an infographic, unless it’s completely awful (and they exist), will more than likely go viral.

A wider audience adds up to more new followers and increased book sales.

How to make those winning infographics is the question.

I have been looking into making my own infographics for this website and for my author website M.R.Goodhew.com, and here are they key factors I’ve discovered.

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Writing Your Author Bio

Writing Your Bios

by M.R. Goodhew

Your bio serves the purpose of driving traffic and links to your website and creating interest in your brand. Who you are is a huge part of your author brand. You’re not just selling your writing—you have to promote who you are as an author as well. Later in this book, we’ll take an in-depth look at creating your author bio, or revisiting its structure, to focus your efforts on your uniqueness and authentic selling points.

You should have at least three separate bios written for different social sites, your website, amazon profile, and for your press/media kit. These bios should be saturated with your brand identity to let people know what you are all about. Make sure to create them with a professional feel. You are presenting yourself to the world and you should be viewed as a professional writer who creates books that reach a certain standard. You don’t want to come off as too personal or lack professionalism, because it could reflect on your work and give the impression of a substandard product. You are a professional author with quality books and writing – your bios should reflect this. At the same time, you don’t want to come off as stiff and unapproachable. Keep your personality reflected in your work with your author voice, focusing on relevant yet personable details about yourself.

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Some people find this part of branding the most difficult. Figuring out how to see yourself as a brand can seem hard to grasp at first, but it’s actually really easy. You are a fascinating person with all kinds of interesting, unique aspects of yourself that can be added into your author brand. What you look like, what you wear, how you pose for pictures, these all can be inviting portions of your brand. Are you fun, are you approachable, and are your interests interesting? What you read makes up part of what inspires you to write, so that is also a portion of who you are and should be included in your brand. This doesn’t mean you should list the books and articles you’ve read, it means the themes and content of those things are major interests to you and a major influence to your writing.

What do you always for on the internet? What are your questions or concerns about being an author? What are your passions? What do you most want out of your career as an author, and what do you believe you have to offer?

Your Voice:

Your personality shines through your writing. Who you are in your writing will be how you connect emotionally to the public. Be authentic—allow yourself to grow as a writer and project your personality through your writing. Your voice will capture your public and bring them back for more of who you are when you write.

Your Look:

How you portray yourself through your graphics and especially through your headshot speaks volumes to your growing network. How do you want to be seen? Be sure that whatever fashion you choose still reflects some form of professionalism. How you look reflects on what you have to offer. It’s worth the extra money to have a professional headshot taken that reflects how you would like to be perceived and possibly gives a clue to your unique voice. When it comes to graphics, a picture tells a thousand words, and a professional graphic artist usually speaks that language best. Hire one.

What You Read:

What you soak up as a reader is absorbed and morphs into a part of what makes you, you. It influences the way you write and what you write about, and those concepts and themes become a major portion of your brand.

Your Ideology:

Your beliefs and ideals will come through in your writing. People will recognize these core values and many may be drawn by them, or even put off by them. Beliefs can inspire or repulse. Choose what you wish to share wisely, as it will have an impact on your audience.

Your Personal Passion:

Your passion for what you write will speak volumes. Your dreams, desires, and faith in what you share will be heard loud and clear. Speak from your heart with authenticity and your words will move people. In general, people are attracted to what has the ability to move them emotionally in a positive manner.

Your Content:

Your content is your catch; this is how you bait your readers into following your blog and investing in your writing. The content you choose to write about should be relative to who you are and what you are selling.

Your Communication:

How you communicate with others throughout your network is a trait that will attract and keep dedicated followers who will cross promote you. What you say and how you say it creates a personal relationship between you and the people in your network. This is the public’s opportunity to see how you interact with people, and they are given the chance to become emotionally invested in you and your brand. What you have to say matters and will reflect on what you have to sell.

Make a list of all of these aspects, and you have the portion of your brand that is you. It will be an impressive list when it comes to dreaming up new content for your blog. You are your best resource for ideas, and you will find that you are also your most successful marketing aspect.

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Your author bio is a first point of sale, a statement used to hook the reader and leave them wanting more. Your bio should have the power to convert readers into followers and purchasers of your product. This is your place to truly shine, to grab attention and gain fans. Writing your bio is a serious matter, but it’s really fun to create. You really want a good bio, so it’s worth taking some extra time to explore who you are, how you want to be seen, and what you have to offer. After the last section, you should have some pretty clear answers to those questions, which you can now creatively piece together to form your bios.

It’s time to make another list. Be sure to maintain a positive outlook and mention what matters:

  1. Who are you, what descriptions best suit your personality?
  2. What’s your best feature, what’s the first thing people notice about you?
  3. What makes you likable, even lovable?
  4. What do you think is fun?
  5. What makes you different or what makes you the same as others?
  6. What do people remember about you, what stands out?
  7. What do you write about?
  8. What do you want to write about?
  9. What is your product?
  10. What are your interests?
  11. How do you view the world or the world you create?
  12. What are your hopes, dreams, and aspirations?
  13. Who are you influenced by (you may share similarities)?
  14. Where have you been and where are you going?
  15. Do you have any awards or have you won or entered any competitions?
  16. Are there any media mentions of you?
  17. Do you have recommendations from notable people?
  18. Do you have any special achievements that relate to your brand?
  19. Do you volunteer?
  20. Do you have a special hobby?
  21. Do you belong to any special groups?
  22. Do you belong to any organizations or associations?
  23. What are some exciting things that have happened to you?
  24. Were you inspired by a famous relative?

Mention them if they are somehow relevant. Use these things to promote who you are. There may be other things you want to add or should add that I haven’t listed here and that’s fine—add them. If you can’t use it as a selling point, keep it anyway. When you get into the process of putting your bios together you may be surprised at how you can use them to attract a growing network.

It’s probably best to leave out information about your religion, political preferences, or prejudices. They most likely have nothing to do with your product or brand and how other people receive them. Controversial subject matter should be avoided unless it is part of your content. Write down the answers to all of these questions and look them over a few times.

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Your bios should creatively entertain while introducing you and what you have to offer. Think positive, sell yourself, sell your style, and sell your brand. Be confident but be honest. Define what you have to offer with flare. What makes you special, what makes you shine? You may be amazed by what you discover when writing your bios. Bring emotion to your bio and grip your audience with your description of who you are and what you bring to share with them. Spruce it up descriptively as shown in the second example below.

Your bio can go one of two ways as seen here. Example one is descriptive but dry. Example two is powerful and possibly a little over-the-top, but more closely related to what you are aiming for with your bio.

            “Jane has always dreamt of being a writer. Jane Doe is a volunteer through ABC Org and has traveled extensively to help children. “Bla Bla Bla,” her first novel, is available on amazon now. Pick up your copy today.”

…or…

            “Famous author John Doe once offered Jane Doe the opportunity to write with him, but only now has Jane found the courage to bring her stories forward. A real-life hero, as seen in the Seattle times, Jane Doe now volunteers her time to less fortunate children. While bravely traveling the back-roads of the world all alone, she offered all she could along the way to those who needed her. Tune in each week to be inspired by Jane’s story-crafting of her experience through the act of selflessness. Jane’s resistance to failure, sheer will, and determination will empower you as you laugh and cry with her. See how she copes with the realities she faces and makes the world a better place, one small action at a time. Jane is a blessing to read and a joy to laugh with. You don’t want to miss these beautiful journeys with Jane. Be sure to pick up your copy of her latest book “Bla Bla Bla,” which will leave you breathless.”

Practice your sentence structure to incorporate the right tones of emotion and to generate excitement. Like a television announcer introducing the latest movie release, get excited about introducing yourself to the world. There’s no need to be embarrassed, and being shy won’t serve you here, either. You must realize that everyone is unique and has special qualities. Now is the time to take what you’ve learned about yourself and present it in a few paragraphs with confidence. Use your skills as a writer and show the world just how creative you can be while sticking to the truth of who you are.

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