Archive for the 'Platform Building' Category
Chassily Wakefield, Writer
by Chassily Wakefield
Copyright © 2010 Chassily Wakefield
*This post first appeared on 1st Turning Point
I suck at time management. No, really. That’s the lesson I’ve learned over the last two years, ever since I decided to (finally) take my writing seriously, but you can learn from my mistakes.
Writing for publication is all-consuming, even if you work another part- or full-time job and have a family. I knew that would be the case, in a cerebral way, when I first started out. Living it was another thing entirely. I discovered I’m not as much of a multi-tasker as I like to think. The laundry piles up to the rafters while I’m absorbed in my story world (or, if we’re being brutally honest, my email loops.) I’ve given up any pretense of housework, and my kids have taken over the cooking to ward off imminent starvation.
I dove into creating a “writer’s life” with both feet. I picked up piles of how-to books, registered for a million newsletters, took online writing classes by the hundreds (despite a degree in Creative Writing, which should have prepared me for some of this). I joined a slew of writing organizations, including online sub-chapters, and gratefully soaked up the incredible depth of knowledge generously dispersed by fellow members. I volunteered for positions and activities, and was flattered to be approached for others. I threw myself into it all with unbridled enthusiasm.
Through it all, one message was repeated with distressing regularity: the need for authors to promote themselves—whether they were already published or not. Huh? How can we promote ourselves before we have anything to promote?
As it turns out, there are all sorts of ways to increase name recognition before having books on the shelves, many of which are frequently written about on 1st Turning Point (check the archives!), in the hopes that doing so will increase sales once we finally get The Call.
Luckily, I was already doing a lot of the recommended promotional items, such as joining groups and volunteering. They were activities I enjoyed and gravitated to naturally. But there were plenty more to consider, from getting a website to maintaining an author blog (yes to the first, not so much to the second – note the sporadic postings – but I *am* trying, I swear!) I was determined—when I sold my novel, I’d be ready. I’d be a promotional dynamo and knock the Jimmy Choos off my future agent and publisher.
There was just one problem. Finishing the novel. I’d gotten so caught up in doing everything I’d heard was important for my career that there was no time left to write. I spent hours on email loops, volunteer activities, going to meetings or author events, reading all those how-to books and articles, following author and agent blogs, and taking online classes, which also provided networking opportunities. Any free time had to be devoted to my family, or I would have had a mutiny.
As new authors, we’re overwhelmed with everything we’re supposed to know, do, be. The learning curve is steep. There’s so much more to writing than sitting down to write a book. But if we don’t protect the writing time, none of the rest will matter one whit. If we don’t protect ourselves from burning out through over-involvement, stretching ourselves and our time too thin, the writing won’t matter one whit, either, because it will be incomprehensible.
Even worse, we may learn to hate the new life we’re trying to create, missing out on the very thing that used to bring us so much joy—the writing—and any hope of seeing our finished books in print. This is where effective time management comes in. Key word: effective.
Effective time management and a little self-discipline can avert this disaster-in-waiting. If you’ve neglected your writing in favor of promoting the career you don’t have yet, try following these steps to achieve a better balance in your work and in your life. I know I’m happier for it, and I hope you will be, too.
- Map out a 24-hour day and a 7-day week. Sorry, that’s all you get.
- Block out hours needed for sleep, non-writing work, exercise, preparing/eating meals, bill paying, whatever HAS to get done, plus a minimum of 15 minutes daily for NOTHING. No writing, no reading, no family, no chores. Keep it sacred. Fill it with something mindless if you want, like TV or Spider Solitaire (set a timer!), or sit silently and de-stress.
- Be realistic! If you know it takes three hours to get through a Walmart run, don’t schedule two. Allow for unexpected interruptions. Don’t forget time with the people who love you.
- Add up the hours you have left.
- Now you know what’s available for writing and can make an informed decision about how to spend those hours.
Say you have 14 hours available per week. You’ve committed to writing two hours every day, Monday through Friday, leaving four hours per week for promotion and writing-related activities. You have an RWA (Romance Writers of America) meeting which lasts for three hours, including dinner. You’re down to one hour for the rest of that week. Did you include drive time to the meeting? Half-an-hour. Uh-oh.
How can you reclaim some time? Can you attend the RWA meeting, but skip dinner and buy back an hour? You’ll lose the chance to socialize and network. Is it worth it?
The choices get tough, but they have to be made. You can cry over that half-hour per week, but it won’t change the fact that you only have half-an-hour. Maybe you’ll cut your daily writing to an hour-and-a-half and free up 3 ½ hours per week. You’re the only one who knows if the tradeoff is worthy. If you commit to using those 3 ½ hours for promotional activities, volunteering and learning craft, they could be valuable hours. Three hours of Spider Solitaire? Nope.
Maybe you actually only need one or two hours per week for promotion. Funnel the extra time back into your writing or some down time. The choice is yours. Whatever choice you make, you will be in control of your schedule again, hopefully happier, and more relaxed.
You’ll also be practicing important time management skills for after you do get The Call. Published authors require a lot more promotional time and have to be even more dedicated to their schedules. Learn how to manage yours now, and you’ll be ready! Good luck!
And for your viewing pleasure (when you have the time…), take a few minutes to put yourself or your story inside this gorgeous photo. Where does it take you?
Cannon Beach, OR ~ photo © by Mark Lemon
Chassily Wakefield, Author & Pirate Queen
By Chassily Wakefield
1st Turning Point Cabin Girl
Ahoy, mateys! Winter squalls are fast becoming sprightly spring winds wi’ a promise of smooth sailing fer 2010. Put yer Pirate Hat on an’ prepare to parlay wi’ the 1st Turning Point Crew. Get ready fer a purely profitable year of Piratical Promotion, sailing upon the open Seas of Publication.
Fer the uninitiated Pirates ‘n Parrots amongst ye, 1st Turning Point is a place where authors ‘n artists teach, share, and learn all about promotion. Published or unpublished, we don’t care – come aboard, tour the ship and sail away with us while we all improve our promotional skills. Sign on to become a subscriber—or Parrot, as we like to call our motley bunch. To learn more about 1st Turning Point, check out our About page.
Mark your calendars now for Saturday, May 1st, our one-year anniversary! Lots of doings are planned, and you won’t want to miss the fun. It’s been quite a year, but we’re just getting started!
Be sure to note the 1st Turning Point article, Beat the Promotion Learning Curve—Before the Call, in the latest edition of the Romance Writers Report. It’s the latest of many exciting ways Cap’n Jacquie Rogers ‘n Cap’n Ann Charles are getting the word out about 1st Turning Point and all the strategies the site can help you learn for the best methods to promote yourselves and your work. Our venerable Cap’ns also gave their “Get a Jump Start on Your Writing Career” workshop for the Rose City Writer’s Retreat in Portland in February, for writers who have yet to develop a platform.
Read on for an overview of the latest exciting developments on 1st Turning Point:
Our Current Schedule ~ Learn Marketing & Promotion Skills from the Best!
Sundays: Book Video Reviews
Mondays: Instructional Articles
Tuesdays: Featured Artists and Special Guests
Wednesdays: Reviews of Publishing Industry Books
Thursdays: Special Features
Fridays: More How-To Articles
Saturdays: Website Reviews
New for 2010: Make special note of our latest Saturday offering, Website Reviews, which debuted February 13th to wild acclaim. Interested in finding out how your own website rates? Send the following information to crowsnest@1stTurningPoint.com with WEBSITE REVIEW in the subject line:
- Your author name
- Web designer name
- Website URL
- Plus an optional short paragraph on where you are in your career and a few items about your website that might be of interest.
What else is new, you ask? How about a sparkly new Forum! Cap’n Ann spent hours ‘n hours chained in the bowels of the ship to get the forum up and running January 1st. It’s a place for the Parrots to come together and share their wisdom, ask questions and have some pirating good fun. Be sure to stop in, sign up for the monthly contest, and stay awhile. There are always new topics and new Parrots to squawk with.
We love to share our Parrots’ ‘n Pirates’ GOOD NEWS on our Good News page, such as:
Amber Scott’s entry, Deuce Bigalow: Elf Gigolo, won an Honorable Mention in the Save the Cat! Last Logline of 2009! contest at http://blakesnyder.com!
Laurie Ryan won 1st Turning Point’s January forum contest. Laurie won a CD from January’s guest artist, Fiddlehead; a $5 giftcard to Starbucks; and an article slot for May on 1st Turning Point. Keep an eye out for her article in a few months. Congratulations, Laurie, and thanks for entering the contest! See you in the forum.
Deborah Schneider took part in two big events: a St. Valentine’s Day Victorian Tea at the Bellevue Library, along with Megan Chance and Anthea Lawson, and the Romance Author Mash-Up at Parkplace Books in Kirkland, with Megan Chance, Rebecca J. Clark, Anthea Lawson and Shelli Stevens.
We’ve rounded up some new Crew members over the last several months, including Norman W. Wilson, Ph.D as Forum Moderator, and Diana Coyle for Website Reviews. Christina Arbini joined the ranks as a columnist, and Kris Tualla has been impressed into service –er, has signed on as well. We’re delighted to have them aboard! You’ll be seeing lots more of them in the coming months.
There are now a whopping 35 of us on ship, not counting frequent guests who swing by to share tales of their promotion and marketing adventures. If you’d like to come by and have one of your articles published, check out our Article Submission Guidelines page for instructions. We love new faces! We’re well over 1000 Parrots strong now, so if you’re not a Parrot yet, stick a feather in yer cap and fly on over. This is the best place to roost in all the seas!
Guess what? 1st Turning Point is looking into offering online classes! The first class is planned for May. Be one of the first to help us launch this new part of life aboard ship.
How to Build Your Platform
Location: 1st Turning Point Forum
Instructors: Jacquie Rogers and Ann Charles
This interactive workshop is FREE! Attendees will be chosen through a drawing, to be announced soon, so keep watch! To enter your name in the drawing, send an email to crowsnest@1stTurningPoint.com with PLATFORM CLASS as the subject. It is designed for those who are serious about building their platforms. This class involves one-on-one interaction, and each attendee should leave with a plan to help themselves along the journey to publishing success. Class size limited to 12. Stay tuned for more details.
Are you into podcasts? Meet the Parrots, hosted by Jacquie Rogers, is an hour-long, once a month round-table discussion on topics related to promotion and marketing for authors, musicians, and artists, by those who’ve learned from experience. Our latest podcasts:
You’ve Got It, Now Flaunt It: Creating Website Content
(December 16, 2009)
Rowena Cherry, Robert W. Walker, Ann Charles discuss how they determine the most beneficial content for their websites as they go through various stages of their careers.
Booksignings For Fun and Profit
(January 20, 2010)
Guests include: John Foxjohn, Deborah Schneider, Ann Charles and others.
Co-Promotion: If One Is Good, Is Two Better?
(February 17, 2010)
Guests include: John Klawitter, Eilis Flynn, Wendy Delaney and Ann Charles.
Chassily Wakefield, Author & Her Handsome Pirate Lord
And that’s not all. What else have we been up to? Check out the treasure chest for a listing of all the fabulous articles we’ve published, and see below for the ones posted since December:
Reviews (Books, Book Videos & now Websites!)
1st Turning Point has a new plug-in at the end of the articles, making it easier than ever to Tweet, Facebook and otherwise share article info with your friends and fellow writers. Feel free to help us get the word out!
Looking for more Pirate fun? On Facebook? Join our 1st Turning Point crew there, if you haven’t already. You can also follow us on MySpace, Ning, Twitter, LinkedIn and shop Zazzle or CafePress, where you can find the latest Parrot Gear.
Remember, whether you write novels, short stories, lyrics, or poetry, we’re here for you, and artists in all media, too. Come on board and take a look around, read some of the helpful articles, see what online and live classes/workshops are coming your way soon, check out the beneficial list of resources, and share some of your own experiences and wisdom with others via comments and the new Forum.
We have big plans for 2010! Cap’n Jacquie reminds us: “Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go.” (American poet T.S. Eliot, 1888-1965) Come visit and find out just how far you can go. See you there!
Chassily Wakefield, Author & Cabin Girl
Bio: Chassily Wakefield holds a degree in Creative Writing/English Literature from the University of California at Riverside. She writes Mythic Romantic Fantasy and lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, three kids and three crazy kittens. She loves being 1st Turning Point’s Cabin Girl, volunteering as Membership Chair for GSRWA, and staying active in the many writing groups in which she is a member, including PNWA, RWA National, OlyRWA, and several online chapters.
*This article first appeared in the Emerald City Romantic Quarterly Newsletter, the official newsletter of the Greater Seattle chapter of RWA and is reposted here with permission.
This interview first appeared on 1st Turning Point
Posted By Chassily Wakefield on February 23, 2010
Carol Nelson, Artist
Interviewed by Chassily Wakefield
1st Turning Point Cabin Girl
Copyright © 2010 Chassily Wakefield and Carol Nelson
I’m delighted to introduce 1st Turning Point’s February featured artist, Carol Nelson. Carol’s work has been described as “a bold exploration of both realism and abstraction. Each piece probes the essence of color, surface texture, and structural mass…her abstract compositions often suggest geologic elements with the use of natural and man-made materials such as metals, plastic, and numerous acrylic mediums.”
I’ve known Carol since I was a little girl. It was a real joy to interview her about her work and have a chance to reconnect with an old friend. Thank you for being with us, Carol!
CW: Tell me about your background in art. How did you get started? When did you know you were meant to be an artist?
CN: Art was always my best subject in school. I started out as an art major in college, but was worried that an art degree would not provide me with a sure income. I ended up changing my major to medical technology, where I knew a job awaited me when I graduated.
When my kids were little, I had a stained glass business out of my home, but it wasn’t until 1998 that my career as an artist actually began, following a chance discovery of Maxine Masterfield’s book, Painting the Spirit of Nature. Standing in the middle of Hobby Lobby thumbing through that book, I thought, “I can do that.”
I bought all the supplies I needed, and started producing art that was well received almost immediately. Then followed a four or five year learning period of art workshops with local and nationally recognized artists. I experimented with different styles of painting and every media from watercolor, acrylics, oils, to pastels and collage. Gradually, I narrowed my focus to acrylics, oils and mixed media.
CW: Tell me about the type of work you do. What inspires you?
CN: I love to paint. My style varies from realism to abstraction. My paintings reflect my emotional and responsive connection to the world around me. Nature provides patterns, rhythms and textures that stimulate my creativity, and there comes a point when the energy of the painting emerges and the materials themselves offer suggestions and direction. My goal is to be responsive to the process and guide the work to an expressive interpretation of nature’s spirit.
As a child, I loved creating colorful pictures. Now, I make a living doing what I love. Visit my blog for the latest work, with tips and comments on the painting process. On my website, all of my work is categorized according to subject matter and style.
CW: Are you willing to modify your subject matter to help promote your work?
CN: My entire portrait project is a promotional effort that has doubled my blog traffic. I don’t normally paint portraits, but it occurred to me in a dream (true story) that doing 100 portraits in 100 days would be a good promotional project. I’m about one-quarter done with the portraits and can see my skill as a portrait painter has increased with all the practice.
Some people (my husband being one) look at abstract paintings and don’t recognize the skill of the artist. They feel painting a recognizable subject, where they know how it’s supposed to look, is the true measure of an artist’s ability. My portraits are shown right next to their reference photos, so it’s easy to see how well I captured the likenesses. This has given my work a certain validity with people who only appreciate realism.
I love producing many styles of art. When I’ve done realism for a while, my inner child calls out to create an abstract. I actually feel that a well composed abstract is more difficult to achieve than anything that is realistic.
CW: What promotional tools have you used or do you see yourself using in the future?
CN: My membership in an online gallery called Daily Painters has really launched me on the internet, and my internet sales have greatly increased. When someone sees a painting of mine on DP, they’re directed to my blog, where I post every painting as I complete it. I often talk about the painting process, various techniques and materials on my blog. Every painting on my blog has a link to my website, where all my paintings are categorized according to subject. Paintings may be purchased directly from my website with a PayPal button.
CW: What is your ultimate goal?
CN: I suppose my goal is to be featured in a national art magazine, but I create my art for my personal satisfaction, not for the notoriety. I’m fairly well known in art circles in Denver. I’ve conducted several workshops and demonstrations for local art groups. It’s satisfying to be recognized by one’s peers for one’s work, but the real joy is in the creating. I have the luxury of not having to support myself from my art sales.
CW: What is your take on the art world today? Has the economy affected the atmosphere and sales? What strategies can an artist use to overcome a tough economy?
CN: The art world, like everything else, took a big hit when the economy went into recession. Lately, I’ve noticed a significant increase in art sales, so I’m hoping things are turning around. People have to have disposable income available to buy art, and there seems to be more people willing to spend on art.
CW: Anything else you’d like to share?
CN: Art, like any creative endeavor, e.g. music, writing, must be done for the joy in creating. If I never sold anything, I would still paint and be happy. There are literally tens of thousands of people trying to express themselves with paint or music or the written word. Living in the age of the internet is so unbelievably fabulous. The opportunities to communicate with others around the world involved in the same creative endeavors are endless.
CW: Very true! Thank you again for being here, Carol, it was so great to talk with you. All the best to you and in your work.
Spirits in the Wind Gallery, Golden, CO (303) 279-1192
The Bradley Art Gallery, Stoughton, WI (608) 873-9026
Columbine Gallery, Frisco, CO (970) 668-5041
West Southwest Gallery, Denver, CO (303) 321-4139
Contact Carol at:
Posted By Chassily Wakefield on January 26, 2010
Fiddlehead, with Musician/Author Anthea Lawson
Anthea Lawson of Fiddlehead Celtic Band
Interviewed by Chassily Wakefield
Copyright © 2010 Chassily Wakefield and Anthea Lawson
This interview was first published on 1st Turning Point on January 26, 2010, as part of our featured artist schedule. 1st Turning Point’s January featured artist is musician Anthea Lawson. Anthea Lawson is the pen name for a husband and wife writing team, co-authors of spicy Victorian-set romantic adventures. Anthea has contributed an article to 1st Turning Point in her role as Romance Author, but she and her husband are also accomplished musicians with their own Celtic band, the popular Northwest group known as Fiddlehead. Lucky for me, she’s also a friend, so I was able to pelt her with questions over brunch.
CW: Tell me about your background in music.
AL: I grew up in a very musical household: my mom is a professional classical viola player. It was not a question of if I would play an instrument, but which one. I came home from school in 4th grade and announced I wanted to play…the trumpet! I ended up settling on the violin. In high school, I began to play fiddle music, and in college really got into Irish fiddling. I’ve also always sung, and I love the richness of traditional Celtic songs and ballads.
Lawson took some guitar lessons in high school, then tucked his guitar in the closet when he left home for college. After we met, he called his parents and had them send his guitar to him—it was obvious that he was getting involved with a serious musician and needed to be ready!
CW: You play music and co-write novels with your husband, not to mention being married and raising a child. How does so much togetherness feed your creative muse? How do you handle creative differences?
AL: We have the temperaments for working closely together—luckily! Creative collaboration keeps us connected, and over the years we’ve worked out how to communicate about our projects. There’s a lot of similarity between playing in a band, writing novels, and raising a child.
There are inevitable differences of opinion. We each have our own vision of where we’re going. Usually, whoever feels the most strongly about something can talk the other one around to their point of view.
We have to respect one-another’s opinion, recognize we’re both contributing to a whole that’s greater than both of us, and keep the ultimate goal in mind: A solid and lyrical song arrangement, a book that delights readers, or a competent and confident kid.
CW: You also teach violin. What’s your favorite part of passing on your musical knowledge?
AL: Getting people hooked on playing the fiddle. I love the traditional music idioms (Irish, Old-time, Quebecois, Contradance) and the way people can go out, have fun, and make music socially with only a handful of tunes under their fingers. It’s a very satisfying job.
CW: Do you have a manager? How is promoting your music different from promoting your novels? Is there overlap between the two fields?
AL: I manage the band—we’re not commanding the kinds of fees that would justify involving a manager, plus we’re not able to tour extensively. That said, we’ve played all over the Northwest and in Canada as part of various Celtic Music Festivals.
In terms of promotion, we apply to festivals and concert series with a promotional pack that includes a CD, band bio, and glowing reviews. A number of local gigs come our way because we’ve been playing for quite a while, are known in the area, and have a specialized niche. March is a busy month for us, with St. Patrick’s Day celebrations giving us lots of performance opportunities.
We could do more as a band with a website, though we are online at CDBaby.com/cd/fiddlehead, where you can purchase our music and read a little about the band. Eventually, we’d like to make a page at our home site of anthealawson.com that focuses on our musical lives.
I think the overlap between promoting a band and promoting an author comes in the big areas like branding, word of mouth, and taking the opportunities that come your way.
CW: How has the economy affected the band? Is it harder to find paying gigs? What strategies do you employ for overcoming those obstacles?
AL: The economy has definitely made it harder to find gigs. We didn’t play any weddings last summer, and usually we do at least a handful of those. A few venues have folded or are not hiring as many bands. Or people want you to play for free, which doesn’t work out that well when you’re trying to make a partial living by playing music. We’re playing less and waiting for things to come around. We still have our regular gigs—St. Patrick’s Day, the Seattle Folklife Festival, etc.
CW: What are your musical goals, personally and for the band?
AL: It’s not that difficult as niche musicians playing traditional Celtic music to find work if we’re motivated. I think it must be similar to self-publishing in nonfiction to a tightly targeted market. We don’t need national distribution. Stores that specialize in Celtic items or folk music are willing to carry our CDs. We have played national (and international) music festivals and made a lot of people happy with our music. What could be better? Ok, maybe selling another thousand CDs, but the music is only a part of what we do. We’ve always quilted together a bunch of smaller projects to make a creatively fulfilling life.
CW: Anything else you’d like to share? Where can local readers see you play next?
AL: We usually announce gigs on our website at anthealawson.com, so take a look there, especially in early March when we know what our St. Paddy’s line-up will look like.
Thanks so much Chassily and 1st Turning Point for having us back, this time wearing our musician hats!
CW: Thank you for being here, Anthea! It’s always a pleasure to talk with you.