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How to Get a Book Published

Book Published

Today we will give a walk-through explanation on how to get a book published. With several different paths to choose from, deciding exactly how you will go about getting published can be seen as a challenge comparable to figuring out the right way to say what you want to get across in your book. The varying methods can vary with different levels of success. You can see a similar spectrum for success in the music industry with an artist performing at a local coffee shop or getting signed to a well-known record label.

The kind of book you are trying to publish is important, but not as important as the platform you want to be on and with whom you are trying to peak interest. The difficult part is understanding the pertinent details involved in the execution. It can have little to no likeness to your experience with writing the book itself. You might find that it seems like a science and it can overwhelm you, but remember you don’t have to master all paths- you just need the one that works for you.

We will lay out the paths by main categories of publishing options and follow each main category with a breakdown of the finer details to help make it easier for you to connect the dots. It will help you to remember that if you are looking for a chance to become a national sensation, you will have to acknowledge the business side of things. This is especially the case if you are going to seek a literary agent. One more thing should stay with you throughout this article and your adventure with publishing; be realistic with your expectations. Chances are you will need to put your nose to the grindstone even with initial success. So, don’t go into this thinking you are going to be a millionaire getting widespread fame and movie deals. Even though this has sometimes happened (i.e. Hunger Games) and is an incredible experience for those who got that lucky, the simple truth is, hitting it that big is a near zero chance of happening.

How to Get a Book Published

Method 1 – Traditional Publishing:

If your book is salable enough, the traditional method is most likely the best bet for you. The downsides of this approach can be harsh, such as the difficulty of finding an agent who sees your book as a marketable product (see the next section). That being said, the benefits of traditional publishing can be helpful for first-time authors. On top of that, if your first book is a success you may reap much greater rewards through this method in your consequent literature. Knowing the legendary success of J.K. Rowling is enough inspiration for pretty much anyone to seriously consider this route.

Benefits of the tradition method:

  • Upfront advancement usually between $1,000 to $10,000 for new writers
  • Costs such as editorial, copyedit, marketing, etc. will be covered by the publisher
  • Your publisher can get you national distribution into bookstores nationwide
  • You might get reviewed in some newspapers – but probably not a whole lot
  • A big publisher will get you into digital platforms as well
  • As rare as it is – if your book turns into a movie it will be due to a big publisher

    You will want to pursue the traditional method if:

  • If you want the glory of a publisher backing you
  • Do not want the hassle of learning and executing all the necessary marketing
  • Have the patience for slow turn around (can be up to 2 years)
  • You would rather someone take control of the business reigns
  • Compatible with the middle-men (Literary Agents)

Literary Agents:

After understanding the type of book you are trying to publish, you need to figure out if a literary agent is a good idea. If you already know that you don’t need an agent, you can skip this segment, but if you are unsure you might want to read a bit further here. Remember, just because you can’t get an agent interested doesn’t mean there are no publishers who will consider doing business with you. If you figure out an agent is the right way to go, you will first want to think about how salable your book is in its current state. If you think you need to make adjustments to your book, do so first. Since the agent is the first of several steps to getting published by a big company, you need to sell them your book as though they were a prospective and critical reader at a bookstore. In other words, if an agent doesn’t think they can get decent sales, then they aren’t going to pick you up regardless of the quality of your work.

You can utilize online resources such as the WritersMarket to help you with finding an agent. Make sure you try to seek agents that work within your genre. It should help a great deal if you can find agents who like working with new writers, and aren’t overloaded. You really should use a service such as Agent Hunter. They will help consolidate all relevant information such as Twitter, likes and dislikes, and photographs about agents. Don’t be afraid to apply your intuition either. Remember, you may need to seek multiple agents at once and may need to reach out to a dozen or more in total. When you approach an agent, make sure to hand them a well-crafted 500-800 words synopsis of your book (the plot).

You will need an agent if your book is:

  • A novel
  • A piece of regular nonfiction
  • A guide on a popular subject
  • A creation for children

An agent isn’t useful if your book is:

  • Going to be published by you
  • It is a compilation of poetry
  • A piece of Journalism
  • An or multiple short stories
  • Isn’t salable

Method 2 – Digital Publishing:

The great news about digital publishing is pretty much anyone can achieve this, unlike traditional publishing. Amazon won’t charge you to upload your work and can distribute your work worldwide. This is an obvious and substantial change for authors, who in the past would have struggled to get their work out. Books such as Silent Child (Sara A. Denzil) and Beach Lawyer (Aver Duff) are just a couple pieces of solid evidence that this is a workable platform. Don’t forget E L James who got picked up from Random House after her digital success.

Things to know about digital distribution:

  • No advance payment
  • Your book won’t get into bookstores
  • You won’t get much 3rd party coverage
  • No external support for marketing

    Digital publishing is for you if:

  • You have an entrepreneurial spirit and can do all the marketing yourself
  • Great with computers and navigation
  • Your genre is Drama, Fantasy, Horror, Sci-Fi, Crime, or YA fiction

Method 3 – Self Publishing:

Though this method can be considered outdated, it is still possible. With no publisher, all costs are going to come out of your pocket. Do not do this method if you are trying to attract publishers with an initial piece, use the digital method instead. If you go this route, you must be very careful who you do business with. There are companies out there good for this method, but not all are ethical.

What it takes to Self-Publish:

  • You must pay for a service to design & print your literature
  • You may need to have a fair number of books produced (usually 500+)
  • Marketing will be completely left on your shoulders

Self-publishing is good if:

  • You want friends, family, and organizations to read your work
  • You want to accomplish creating a full product of your literature
  • You’re not trying to make money and are focused on the artistic side
  • You are trying to record the history of your family into a cherishable format

This was a breakdown of the different methods of getting your book published. We included a breakdown of certain aspects of what you should expect in each path. A quick review: You need to write a good book for large scale success. You want an agent if you are going mainstream. Also, you will want to have reasonable expectations of what can come from going that route. Self-publishing is more like an art project.

While digital publishing is a great way to bring attention to yourself with little up-front costs and still has a chance of becoming lucrative on its own. Now you should be able to take the initiative and get your work out there more easily!

Thank you for reading. Please comment if you have something to add, and good luck.

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7 Writing Techniques to Make You Stand Out

Using Writing as Your Medium

This article will show you 7 writing techniques to make you stand out. Most people who want to be known for their writing will probably agree that being memorable has a lot to do with the uniqueness of their writing style. That being said, it is not easy to mold and craft a style that is both effective and exudes individuality. There are the effectiveness challenges of making communication coherent, and having a consistent flow. Then there is the challenge of uniqueness which includes making old things sound new and new things seem like an undiscovered wonder.

Our era of ubiquitous technology charges a stark contrast with the olden days. The general tradeoffs are caused by the differences in the accessibility of information. Back then, people had to read at the library or read the newspaper; this meant it was more of an event and took more time to find different information. The good thing about back then was that there was probably a greater ratio of good examples to bad examples, probably due to a less open writing platform.

Our current era allows people to teach themselves more easily and find plenty of exact information on any subject with just a click of a button. Plus, with the ability to easily communicate with people across the planet, makes it much easier for lesser-known writers to get larger amounts of feedback if they know how to utilize the digital platforms correctly. The bad news about this era is that there are probably far more poorly written or unengaging articles and manuscripts. This can, and unfortunately does, lead to developing a highly generic style.

So, how should someone go about turning themselves into someone who can utilize the best of both worlds? Of course, reading helps by learning what works well and what fares less. However, reading alone isn’t enough. You are going to need to learn techniques to draw out your own uniqueness. Individuality, by definition, cannot be taught, it can only be encouraged. The following techniques should allow you to more easily perform introspection and provide ideas for practice extracting your potential uniqueness.

7 Writing Techniques to Make You Stand Out

Recognize the Difference Between Perceptions:

It is easy to experience the way you do because it’s you. On the other hand, it is not necessarily easy to understand why other people interpret things the way they do. If you can see the similarities between your perception and other people, then you should be able to figure out where you branch off exactly more easily. That is a simple glimmer of your individuality. An exercise you can do with friends to lightly test this is to have both of you stare silently at an abstract work of art. Then share with each the interpretations you both had (i.e. I saw faces vs. I saw a Butterfly). This can translate to differing shapes or different invoked emotions.

Another way to coax your uniqueness to show itself is to project emotional states or attitudes onto objects or processes that aren’t life forms. For example, if you see a flame of a fire continuously lick a log that hasn’t caught fire yet, then you might envision the flame as bloodthirsty, and it will not stop until it has enveloped all of the hopeless logs with its wrath. On the contrary, you might see it as a flame yearning for a connection; to become one with all the logs. It might seem silly to some, but this technique can actually help you generate ideas below the surface.

Simulations and Pertinence:

One of the distinct differences we have from other animals is the extent in which our imagination can flourish. When we think in terms of safety, our imaginations help us stop ourselves from taking unnecessary risks. That is just the beginning, however. Our imaginations are powerful enough to predict certain reactions and responses from other people sometimes days in advance.

We utilize that ability for things such as job interviews or asking people out. Our predictions aren’t always right, but they are good enough for us to learn. We can use our imagination even further in our writing if we are patient enough. We can go from simply deciding what one character will end up doing to creating a vivid scene. People usually favor immersive scenarios, so the easier you make it for your readers to imagine what is happening, the more captivated your audience will become.

For example, instead of just mentioning that someone got hurt and went to the hospital or back home, take more time and mention discrete details that would pertain to the situation (like this):

After failing to retrieve his dog from the ravine, LT. Jackson decided to accept his loss and move on. The onset of sheer regret and self-loathing from blaming himself for what happened was starting to consume his focus and thoughts. This would prove unfortunate. For, as he started heading back to camp, a rogue branch fell. He managed to escape just in time! Or, at least he thought. It was a quick blur; he had heard the violent crashing it made with other branches on its way down right before seeing a glimpse of it as he looked up and tried jumping away. GAAHHH! He yelled. It was loud enough for all the bears fishing way downstream to stop and listen if for just a moment.

Lt. Jackson thought for sure the day couldn’t have gotten worse after losing his best friend Snap, but boy was he wrong. Seeing the branch on top of his now oddly angled boot, he knew his ankle was likely broken. It was already getting late, he was starting to feel the effects of dehydration, substantial fatigue, and with his now bad ankle, he was unsure of making it back to camp before morning now, when his comrades might already be gone. He knew, however, that he had to try. His training taught him that there was no room for giving up. So, he gathered the strength and composure he could muster. He breathed heavily, limping as an old man would without a cane, with an ever-increasing sense emptiness inside, but all with the one thought that he had to live to fight another day- if not for him, for Snap.

Be Careful of Tropes & Clichés:

Readers and people who consume copious amounts of media are tired of overused ideas and phrases. Since expecting every part of your work to be completely different can lead to degrees of unrelatable material, you can’t avoid using all ideas ever used. That is ok; however, it will help your readers learn to appreciate your particular styles if you keep it to a minimum. In other words, only put in used ideas when you can’t work in something new coherently with good flow.

Some Overused Tropes and Phrases:

  • Classic Trinity with Good guy – Bad guy – Innocent, helpless girl
  • Overly capable protagonist/antagonist
  • “The pot calling the kettle black”
  • The humble master who can save his pupil from impossible odds
  • Giant Evil Corporation that has basically full control of the earth
  • “Think outside the box

Create Philosophy from Normal Things:

The ability to use normal things as catalysts for creative expression can get your readers to think more deeply about your message. The normal thing preps them in a non-conscious way so they can be pleasantly surprised where the text goes next. The transition from the normal thing to the deeper meaning is easiest when you can view it as abstract vs. concrete.

Examples of Normal to Deeper Transitions:

  • The closet was really cluttered – yet it was still more organized than her mind
  • He knew the key to success was finding the right door to open
  • Upon blowing out the candle, she remembered how unsupportive her guardian was towards her burning desire to become a brilliant artist

Authentic Voices:

This is definitely one of the harder techniques to develop. The challenge is making the character’s choices and describing their feelings in a way that ‘makes sense,’ while not letting them succumb unnecessarily to stereotypes. A professional example for authentic voice is the very well known The Catcher in the Rye by J D Salinger. Don’t expect to pull anything off at such a level anytime soon, however; this is something you will need to practice.

What you can do to help is practice writing a character that has a glaring difference from you, such as the opposite gender or someone from a totally different culture. The parameters for effective practice doesn’t end there though. Now, try creating that character how you think they should be, then see what you could do to change the character’s perspective, emotions, or decisions from what originally had made sense to you. Changing these aspects is also something that will benefit you more if you can get feedback from several types of people.

Follow the Rules:

While striving for proper grammar and correct spelling are no-brainers, it’s still important for you to check your technical prowess and this will increase the likelihood for effective feedback. You want to hear criticism and or praise of your ideas and ability to captivate the audience? Unfortunately, that won’t happen if your readers are struggling to understand what you are trying to even say. In short, you should both practice the execution of coherent writing, and engaging the reader with your world.

Effective Practice Makes for Real Progress:

It can’t be stressed enough that frequent sessions of writing practice are better than simply producing lots of material. Make sure you practice different exercises. Incorporate more than just poems or short stories. Try to find things that will challenge you (something you wouldn’t normally try) such as a political or quote analysis. Don’t rush yourself, be patient and take your time. This way you can more easily focus on making progress. Another great idea is to do simple exercises with short prompts such as flowers or boats. Just use something like flowers or boats as the pivot to talk about things related to them.

As you see, it can take a lot of work to develop a proficient style that carries your signature. However, with a perceptive approach and care, you can extract your uniqueness in a very positive way. Remember to have fun. If you don’t then why be a writer? Hopefully, with time and practice, you will reap the benefits of these techniques.

Thanks for reading. Express yourself in the comments, and keep writing!

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300 Prompts to Help Jumpstart your Writing Career

Today we will be sharing 300 prompts to help jumpstart your writing career. We all know that writing can be quite challenging. Even people who are bursting with ideas may find they either don’t know how to get them off the ground or struggle with expanding their forte. Writing prompts can be simple or complex (e.g. Cats & Dogs vs. Why we should help others more). The purpose for writing prompts is to act as a base for producing a written piece that utilizes the elements within and related to a particular idea. In simpler terms, you could consider writing prompts as ideas used as talking pivots.

They can be a great exercise for kick-starting your brain into generating ideas and can help you understand how to write for different formats such as political articles and interesting stories. The education system usually considers there to be three main types of writing prompts: (a) the persuasive type, (b) literary responses, (c) narration. The first type is an opinion piece, the second is not opinion – and you must demonstrate that the conclusion you put in the piece, is actually evidenced within the text that is being analyzed, and the third type can either be some kind of fictional story, or a spin if it is politically related. Though we will be using more categories than that, understanding the aforementioned can help you understand the approach you need to take with the actual execution of writing with the prompts contained in this article.

There are many opportunities for writers out there, but with the demands of the age we live in; being able to write for different formats or clients can help increase your likelihood of employment. If you’re a writer who would prefer to focus more on a specific genre or style, however, we think you can still find something useful within our list to help light your spark. The following list will be categorized into overarching topics, and then each prompt itself will follow a more precise pivot.

300 Prompts to Help Jumpstart your Writing Career

Simple prompts (neutral):

The following are simple and neutral prompts. They make for a good icebreaker to this exercise since most people will be able to relate to the majority of them in some way. These tend to be subjective pieces, so be creative. A tip we have for you is to take some time and think about how something or someone makes you feel and try to translate that in a way someone else – who doesn’t know you – could understand.

  1. My friends
  2. My fears
  3. Being alive
  4. Superheroes
  5. Mindfulness
  6. Anger
  7. Life changing
  8. Pet peeves
  9. My pets
  10. My favorite things
  11. Trust
  12. College
  13. Assuming
  14. Sad things
  15. Inspiring things
  16. Following dreams
  17. Hard jobs
  18. Fun job
  19. Dream jobs
  20. My career
  21. Dating
  22. Failing Marriage
  23. Successful marriage
  24. Songs
  25. Hobbies
  26. Driving
  27. My parents
  28. Listening
  29. High school
  30. Bikes
  31. My success
  32. I remember
  33. Food
  34. Good behavior
  35. Bad behavior
  36. Clichés
  37. Cleaning
  38. Coping
  39. Working hard
  40. My value
  41. Workouts
  42. Flowers
  43. Trees
  44. Fish
  45. Teaching
  46. Technology
  47. Computers
  48. The future
  49. Time machine
  50. Changing the past
  51. Aliens
  52. Arguments I won
  53. Arguments I lost
  54. Good times
  55. Sleeping
  56. Race cars
  57. Regrets
  58. Watches
  59. Fishing
  60. Self defense
  61. Why I smoke
  62. Lunches
  63. Idea for a new movie
  64. TV I like to watch
  65. My radio stations
  66. Playing instruments
  67. My accomplishments
  68. List of goals
  69. Important movies
  70. Video Games
  71. If I were a movie actor
  72. When I’m lonely
  73. How I learn
  74. I’ve visited
  75. I lived in…
  76. Place I want to go
  77. My styles
  78. My crazy life
  79. My quiet life
  80. Things I would say to…
  81. Never giving up
  82. Being a good person
  83. Using failure as success
  84. My obstacles
  85. The beach
  86. Taking risks
  87. Growing up
  88. What I was like
  89. Cruise ship
  90. Space travel
  91. Time management
  92. Task lists
  93. Authors I like
  94. Cool professions
  95. Coaching
  96. Lost contacts
  97. Reunions
  98. Sports
  99. Shoes
  100. Snacks
  101. Stores
  102. Hygiene
  103. Funniest moments
  104. Photographs
  105. Running
  106. I miss
  107. Looking ahead
  108. Comfort
  109. Emotions
  110. Injuries
  111. Surviving
  112. Parties
  113. Being ignored
  114. Mean people
  115. I was mean
  116. Loss
  117. Silver lining
  118. Jealousy
  119. Entitlement
  120. Cheering
  121. Comics
  122. The afterlife
  123. Planets
  124. Saying goodbye
  125. Wishes
  126. Cursing
  127. Superpowers
  128. Appreciation
  129. Rainbows
  130. Wonders
  131. Elves
  132. Dragons
  133. Wizards
  134. Warriors
  135. Tiny things
  136. Large things
  137. Magic spells
  138. Rollercoasters
  139. Bad guys
  140. Cool names
  141. My community
  142. Acquaintances
  143. Broken promises
  144. Kept promises
  145. Cacti
  146. Breaking silence
  147. Forgetting
  148. Shallow
  149. Deep
  150. Talking to Strangers
  151. Inspirational people
  152. Feats
  153. Puzzles
  154. Being perceptive
  155. Social Media
  156. Communication
  157. Senses
  158. Correcting mistakes
  159. Taking advice
  160. Giving
  161. Receiving
  162. Distractions
  163. Productivity
  164. My habits
  165. Waiting
  166. Rushing
  167. Electricity
  168. Magnets
  169. Black lights
  170. Organizing
  171. Shapes in clouds
  172. Interviews
  173. Sacrifices
  174. Payback
  175. Scary movies
  176. Bad movies
  177. Important books
  178. Smart decisions
  179. Flying on planes
  180. Glasses
  181. Playgrounds
  182. If I were a Rock Star
  183. If I were a wolf
  184. If I were the Sun
  185. The answer to life
  186. Short stories
  187. Documentaries
  188. My pockets
  189. Funerals
  190. Convincing others
  191. Holding my breath
  192. My records
  193. Big meals
  194. Delicious feasts
  195. Hotels
  196. Motels
  197. Good emails
  198. Bad emails
  199. Winning
  200. Losing
  201. Magic
  202. Proving wrong
  203. Proving right
  204. Me and comedy
  205. Helping others
  206. A trophy I won
  207. Ironies
  208. Allergies
  209. Chinese rooftops
  210. Treasure
  211. Hunting
  212. Museums
  213. Self-reflection
  214. Cultural norms
  215. My quirks
  216. Jury Duty
  217. Donut munching
  218. Summer camp
  219. Gossip
  220. Soup
  221. Birds
  222. Paper
  223. Roads
  224. Knowledge
  225. Power
  226. Decore
  227. Cheeses
  228. Policies
  229. Presidents
  230. Water
  231. Cards
  232. Appearances
  233. Insurance
  234. Homes
  235. Personalities
  236. Freedoms
  237. Attitudes
  238. Employers
  239. Employees
  240. Justice
  241. Coincidences
  242. Revolutions
  243. Charities
  244. Trash
  245. Impressions
  246. Design
  247. Money
  248. Chemistry
  249. Stretching
  250. Dancing

Analytical responses:

In this segment, we will include quotes from real people and literature & movies. You may want to find more than what is quoted here to help with context; Google should be effective. Usually, the objective here is to test your ability to derive accurate conclusions about the message from the evidence within what was said. However, some of these require understanding the context more than the actual words use, so try to use your intuition only when evidence is lacking.

  1. On October 22, 1962, JFK addressed the nation regarding the Cuban Missile Crisis. In it, he says, “Our goal is not the victory of might but the vindication of right-not peace at the expense of freedom, but both peace and freedom, here in this hemisphere, and we hope, around the world. ” What is the connection with the goal, peace, and freedom?
  2. Marie Curie was a famous physicist who discovered Radium. This is one of her quotes, “A scientist in his laboratory is not a mere technician: he is also a child confronting natural phenomena that impress him as though they were fairy tales.” According to that statement, what is an important quality a Scientist should have?
  3. In the movie, The Matrix – Morpheus says “You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.” How can this be reflected in the real world?
  4. Forrest Gump in Forrest Gump says, “My mom always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” What is the life philosophy implied here?
  5. In 12 Years, a Slave Chiwetel Ejiofor says, “I don’t want to survive. I want to live.” Explain what is the difference and provide an example.
  6. From Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, “It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.” What does this say about the boundaries we set with friends?
  7. President Snow in the Hunger Games, “Hope. It is the only thing stronger than fear. A little hope is effective. A lot of hope is dangerous.” What is he afraid that the districts might think of?
  8. In the Lego Movie, the theme song is Everything Is Awesome!!! What do you think that means about things and people in life?
  9. – to sleep, perchance to dream – ay, there’s the rub, for in this sleep of death what dreams may come…”What does Hamlet weigh here and what is he afraid of?
  10. Albert Einstein, “Real sign of intelligence isn’t knowledge; it’s imagination” What does this mean in terms of understanding the world?
  11. Gandhi, “Live simply so that others may simply live.” What approach should we use in regards to natural resources according to this quote?
  12. Albert Camus, “It was previously a question of finding out whether or not life Has to have a meaning to be lived. It now becomes clear, on the contrary, that it will be lived all the better if it has no meaning” What does this mean in terms of our freedom to live the way we see fit?
  13. Epicurus, “Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.” What does this say about gratitude?
  14. Walt Disney, “Too many people grow up. That’s the trouble with the world… They don’t remember what it’s like to be twelve years old.” What are the important traits implied here that people end up losing as adults?

Controversial prompts:

The great thing about controversial prompts is that there are usually multiple positions or stances someone can hold. This means you can invert some of the following prompts to suit the perspective you want to write about. The important thing to remember about this type of exercise is the ability to understand all sides to best support the position you are writing for. If you want to test or improve your ability further, try and see how strong of an argument you can make for a position that is different from your own.

Political and economic controversies:

  1. Capitalism is failing
  2. Universal healthcare works
  3. The second amendment is the most important amendment
  4. Pro-life is morally superior to Pro-choice
  5. Animals should not be considered as food for humans
  6. Money shouldn’t be involved in politics
  7. Communism is always doomed to fail
  8. The electoral college is unnecessary or unethical

Controversies of historical events:

With these prompts, it will benefit you to look at the most popular theories/hypotheses related to the subject before you write your argument. Try to find facts that help support the reasoning you use. Remember, you don’t have to outright prove anything for these pieces, but they will fare better with substantive backing. Again, feel free to reverse the conclusion.

  1. JFK was assassinated by the CIA
  2. The Berlin Wall was a justified action by East-Germany Authorities
  3. The Watergate Scandal is a prime example of abuse of power
  4. The trail of tears was a crude and unnecessary event
  5. The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were necessary tragedies

Controversies regarding religion:

  1. The religious are happier than the non-religious
  2. The separation of Church & State is a two-way street
  3. There is the one true religion (with all the rest being false)
  4. Life has meaning with or without a divine power
  5. Believers are obligated to ‘save’ non-believers

Scientific controversies:

This category should challenge your ability to research facts and your ability to stay objective. While part of the purpose of writing scientific articles for the public is to spark interest through awe and intrigue, simply ignoring information or twisting it can be seen as unethical.

  1. A glass of red wine a day will help keep the doctor at bay
  2. Quantum mechanics means that an infinite number of worlds exist
  3. Recreating the dinosaurs is possible
  4. The mass extinction 65 million years ago wasn’t extrinsic (giant asteroid)
  5. Vaccines are harmful and can cause Autism
  6. Viruses count as life
  7. Consciousness can be fully understood through science

Environmental controversies:

Most people will agree that the environment is important. However, there are disagreements about what issues are real and which ones are the most important. This is another subject where it really helps to have substantive backing, so research is a good idea if you have the time.

  1. The EPA does a good job of cleaning up Superfund sites
  2. Global Warming is real and should be dealt with now
  3. Nuclear power is a safe energy solution
  4. Deforestation is not that harmful
  5. Hydropower isn’t a completely ethical option

Controversies surrounding the Entertainment industry:

With so many different people, traditions of etiquette, and competing ideas for acceptable and unacceptable ways of expression in the entertainment industry; there is plenty to talk about when it comes to the things we enjoy and their roles and influence within our society. These prompts provide an outlet for voicing what makes sense to you when it comes to controversial aspects of this topic.

  1. Video Games can cause violence and crime
  2. Sex-related movies shouldn’t have a stricter age limit than violent movies
  3. Characters don’t have to be played by actors/actresses of the same ethnicity
  4. Representation of women in media is ethically questionable
  5. Representation of men in media is ethically questionable
  6. Certain things or ideas should be universally censored in all media

With these 300 prompts, we hope you will have plenty of fodder for brainstorming and practicing. The important thing to remember is the ability to be flexible and being able to change from factual writing to creative writing and vice versa.

Thanks for reading, and please share your thoughts in the comments, and remember to have some fun when writing.

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5 effective ways to monetize your blog

Blogging

Blogging can be defined as an online diary whereby a personal chronological log of thoughts is published on a webpage. We can also say blogging is a great medium to express the things you feel and things you experience. Blogging has to turn out to be an addiction for a lot of people all over the world nowadays. Apart from being able to express what you feel, you can also make quick money from blogging explaining the popularity. Whether it is through a WordPress blog post and affiliate marketing, social media like Facebook or Instagram, or creating an email list, you can make money.

You get paid for blogging by monetizing a blog. But the question is how do you monetize a blog (also known as a passive income)? You can monetize your blog by following this simple process:

  • Picking a topic that is close to your heart to create interesting premium content
  • Building up traffic by marketing to a specific audience
  • Getting advertisements
  • Affiliate marketing programs
  • Pay-per-post
  • Job boards
  • Paid surveys and polls
  • Sponsorship

You think with the present economy and unavailability of good paying jobs, why not write about what you feel and make money while doing it? Moreover, blogging or writing on other social media doesn’t require any special technique or knowledge. There are several ways to monetize your blog but below are the 5 most effective ones:

5 effective ways to monetize you blog

Topic

The first thing a blogger should do if they want to get paid is to choose an appropriate topic with interesting premium content. Not just any topic but a topic that you connect with. A topic you love and you hold dear to your heart. Topics you know most people will be interested in reading about (for example, sports, politics, technology, or politics). All blogs have a potential to generate revenue, but the ones that are informative or related to the blogger’s life experiences are mostly the popular ones.

Pick topics that are extensive (wide) in nature. Diet tips, for example, are narrow, while topics like finance and career development are wide. If you want to get paid by blogging,informative content is king.

Traffic

If you want to get paid for blogging, the next thing after thetopic is the traffic. If people can’t find your blog, then there is no way you can earn money, right? Your number one priority is to be on top of search engines. So, try as much as possible to build traffic that leads to your blog or make it accessible to a large number of people so the number of people visiting your blog will increase dramatically.

One of the best ways to increase traffic on your blog is by joining several blog networks. Blog network websites help you to promote your blog to millions of readers all over the world. Most of these blog networks are free, so there’s no need to worry about registration.

Advertisements

Once your traffic is good enough, the next stage is anadvertisement. One of the top earning strategies in the whole world is advertising. Bloggers are paid by advertisers by the number of times an ad is clicked on. While some pay in bulk says a specific amount for a thousand ad view.

Google Adsense is the most prominent advertisement method for bloggers. They are usually the first foray of new bloggers in the world of advertisement. It is very easy to use but they only provide afraction of the income to successful bloggers. The best deals come from advertisers who pay a lot of money for displaying their adverts on your blog. But it is easy to quickly get adverts on your site but is a bit difficult to earn money from them because you will need thousands of readers each month.

Affiliate programs

Affiliate programs are also a good medium of earning money through blogging. These programs are also similar to advertising. But, with affiliate programs, you get paid directly by advertisers for placing a banner advert or a text advert on your blog. Here, readers can also earn by putting affiliate links in their blog posts. You might get paid when a reader clicks an affiliate link. But, mostly, readers must make a purchase from the affiliate program website.

Earning money from these programs is really difficult but, if it works, it is possible to earn 10% or more per product that user buys through your blog. These websites are the leaders in the affiliate program ads: Amazon, commission Junction, eBay, and so on. You can also recommend books or other products available for purchase from different sources and earn avery generous commission when your blog readers buy those products.

Pay-per-post

Another effective way to monetize your blog is pay-per-post. Some companies will also pay you to write about their products or services on your blog. Their pay varies depending on your blog and the traffic it generates. There are many sites available on the internet that will pay you very well for writing good reviews of their products. Some can even pay you up to $1,000 per post. If your blog has a very good traffic, then you can easily join any of these company sites. Some also require you to blog for up to a month or even more before enrolling or you may need a specific number of posts or readers.
Some bloggers are unwilling to get paid to write about a specific product or site. But the ones who are willing can make really good money. Some of the websites, which offer such opportunities, are PayPerPost,Blogvertise, SponsoredReviewsand so on.

There are more ways to monetize your blog but the five explained above are the most effective. The most important are traffic. If your blog generates up to 1000 readers per day, it is easy to generate money with the blog because the more readers you get the more chance of getting adverts and so on. Getting an income from blogging takes a lot of effort and time but as we all know there’s no shortcut to success. You have to identify your niche, get to know what your readers crave from your blog and map out ways that can pull more traffic to your blog even though it requires real work.

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Tools for a First-Time Author

Whether it’s a non-fiction book, a simple story that is a good idea, a manuscript, an e-book short story, or a rough draft, writing a book for the first time seems like an impossible job. Sometimes, the worst thing for a writer is a blank screen, just waiting to be filled in. When you’re writing your first book, you probably doubt your ability as a writer. Questions will start popping into your head like, where do I start? Is my idea good enough? Will I find time to write the book? Who are my target audience? Is self-publishing better than going through an agent or a publisher? If I write a book, will my debut novel be popular? Yes, the publishing industry is a complicated place, but you don’t have to worry because I will explain how you can overcome all these obstacles.

Writers worry most times. We are faced with indecision about the choices we make for our stories. We doubt the quality of our writing. We wonder if after writing your debut novel it will get published, gain the recognition we want, and even celebration. But as a writer, you don’t need to worry about all these—leave all that to the agent and publisher.

Below are the challenges you will face as a first-time writer and how to overcome those challenges before you even begin to write your very first chapter:

Where to start

The common question asked by first-time writers about the writing process is, “do I start from the beginning, the middle, or the end?” But the truth about it is that there’s no single way to start writing a book. Below are some suggestions before you start writing:

  • Create the blueprint of what you want to write and refine your idea.
  • You can start with your favorite part so motivation is high from the outset.
  • If the blank page is daunting, just write anything that comes to your mind for like five minutes. Do this until a phrase or an image grabs you and you want to continue writing.

Doubting your idea

You might worry your idea isn’t good enough as a first time writer. To build your confidence you can ask others what they think of your concept. Here are ways to test your idea to see if will sustain an entire book.

  • You can write a very short version of your book first and see if it grabs those you share it with. Do you feel it could use more detail and expanded than the short version?
  • Remember that even the most boring idea can become fascinating if the description and character are written imaginatively. For example, the book named Mrs. Dalloway is mainly about a woman buying flowers for an event and a man with mental health issues but it’s mostly considered a 20th Century masterpiece.

Indecision

This is something that most writers go through while writing a book for the first time. You might have come up with a great concept yet when you go into the labor of writing, suddenly another idea pops up your mind and seems more appealing. These are the ways to get rid of your indecision:

  • Do away with competing for ideas that don’t fit into your current writing because they will still be there when you are done.
  • Focus on the aspect that challenges you most. Search the Internet for these challenges and how to get rid of them.

Not finding time to write

Most first time writers encounter this obstacle. Some first-time writers can’t just seem to find time to write so below are the solutions to that problem:

  • Prioritize above other activities such as watching TV instead watch an episode to reward yourself for a very productive writing session.
  • Aim small and build up your writing. Set targets for yourself daily, for example, you can set a target to write 200 words per day which might seem like nothing but actually add up to 6000 words in a month.
  • Get help from people around you. If you have kids, for example, ask your other half or a relative to keep them busy for an hour or two depending on the targets you set for yourself.

Feeling isolated

You can say many writers are introverts meaning a shy or reticent person thus need plenty of time alone. But what a first time writer does not know is isolation is a very bad idea just because you want to complete the book on time. The best sources of inspiration are other people. The solutions are listed below;

  • You can join a writing group.
  • You can attend social events frequently as rewards for good writing sessions.
  • Set targets for yourself and use the remaining time pursuing experiences that reinvigorate and inspire you.

With the above solutions to problems first-time writer encounter, I believe a first-time writer should not pass through many problemsif the solutions listed above are followed.

5 must-have book marketing tools for a first-time author

1. A book marketing plan

Take your time to learn extensively about book marketing, then write a plan of tasks that will help you get your book title in front of people who are most likely to buy and love it.

2. A website

A website is very important today’s online driven marketplace. You will not only have information about your book but also a blog where you can interact with people about the book and make them love it. The site does not need a lot of glamours but needs to look and feel as good as your book.

3. Amazon page

Most books are purchased online and mostly on Amazon. You can be responsible for what goes on with the page or hire a publishing company who will be in control of the page.

4. Author marketing club

These clubs aim to help authors who do not have a clue how to market their books and promote it through various tools. They also help to in uploading a book to Amazon like a friend use to say, you can’t just throw your book up on Amazon and hope and pray it will be a success.

5. A press release that announces the book

If you plan to send out review copies, you need to include a press release which will announce the book’s publication and describe what readers will find in the book.

I hope this article gives a first-time writer some ideas on writing a book and the must-have tools for marketing their books.

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Make a Living as an eBook Writer

Are you looking to make money every month as a freelance writer? Whether it is through a self-hosted blog, social media, or writing a fiction or non-fiction book through a self-publishing company, there is a way. The best way of making it nowadays, however, as a full-time job is by becoming a self-published author through Kindle Publishing.

Following is a step-by-step guide on how to quit your day job, get yourself published and make money every month and impress thousands of readers.

Getting started as an eBook writer

  1. To begin writing an ebook, you need to come up with some marketable ideas. You can write about various types of content ranging from how-to guides, self-help guides, memoirs, health guides, poetry, children’s books, adult fiction, young adult fiction,etc. to name a few examples. Expand on the ideas you have to determine if this is the idea or ideas you want to dedicate time to writing about. Nothing makes writing harder than an idea you don’t feel enthusiastic about.

  2. Organize your ideas and write all ideas down, as well as any new ideas as you go along. You will often find many things that will inspire new ideas for your writing. Keep at least a note-taking application or a notebook with a pencil/pen with you at all times to capture these ideas. There are various ways you can go about organizing your ideas such as outlines or story webs.

  3. Thoroughly research the subject you want to write about,even if you are writing a fictional novel.It is always advised to do some research to help give the book more substance. Non-fictional writing should always have sound research done to avoid misrepresentation of data or false information of the subject being discussed.

  4. Set realistic goals on how you wish to complete the book. Some of the questions you should ask yourself during the goal planning process are:

  • How much time are you able to dedicate to writing your eBook?
  • What are your daily word count goals?
  • What is your total word count goal?
  • Are you writing a series, a trilogy, a saga, or one book?
  • Who is your intended audience? Are you writing for children, early readers (ages 3-6), teenagers, young adults, or adults?
  • What are you trying to offer through your writing? Are you offering information or leisure?
  • Are you writing a non-fiction novel or a fictional novel?
  • If you are writing non-fiction, what is the subject and what are you trying to inform your audience about?
  • If you are writing a fictional novel, what is the plot, characters, ending, relatable struggles, thetheme of the story, tone, point of view, setting,etc.?
  • What is the genre you want to write? Do you want to write a science fiction novel, a horror story, a steamy romance novella, mystery, or a combination of various genres?

  5. Start writing your eBook. Save revisions and fixing mistakes for after you have written out the whole text of the book. If you feel the need to go back, then only go back after finishing each chapter of your book.

  6. Revise and finalize the eBook. Many phone/computer/ tablet apps will help you. Hemingway App is one example of these types of apps. If you are a person who would rather not use an app, then you can always have someone look over your work and give their critique.

  7. Add the final details and finishing touches. Make the title of the book, add an introduction, and a bibliography if you referenced information from a specific source. Add a nice cover layout to the book once finished.

  8. Test the book by giving it to friends and family for free. Ask questions to the people you have given the eBook to and get their feedback after they have finished reading the eBook. Adjust the book and apply any useful feedback to perfect the content of the eBook.

  9. Make a table of contents of the finalized eBook. The table of contents should include the title of the book, chapters/sections of the book, title of each chapter. If applicable, include the word count of the book, and page number estimates. A thesis statement may also be included and is often recommended for eBook that is going to be of a non-fiction genre.

  10. Publish your eBook. There are various eBook platforms you can use. Things to consider when choosing a publishing platform are hidden costs, file formats required, royalties paid to you, piracy protection, audience scope, capacity to set your own price and other contract information concerning your written work.

Know your Market and Who you are Writing for
Audiences vary depending on the information you are trying to sell. It is advised during the writing process to have a specific audience(s) in mind. It is also helpful to know what books are selling and what books are not selling. Looking through book catalogs on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, and other book/ eBook retailers can give you a general idea of the eBook market. Many websites, magazines, online journals, blogs, and newspapers often have a best sellers list which is useful when trying to figure out what is popular at the moment for each type of audience.

The Various Self-Publishing Platforms of the eBook World:

  1.Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing

  • Publishing takes less than 5 minutes, and your book appears on Kindle stores worldwide within 24-48 hours.
  • Earn up to 70% royalty on all sales of your eBook when you set the price between $2.99 – $9.99.
  • Enroll in KDP Select which allows you to earn more money through Kindle Unlimited and the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.
  • Keep control of your eBook rights and set your own listing prices. You can make changes to your books at any time.
  •  You can self-publish Kindle eBook and paperbacks for free on KDP.
  • Free to sign up.

  2.Lulu.com

  • Offers tips and advice for publishing in both eBook format and print.
  • Publishes your eBook for free.
  • Gives you 90% royalty on all sales of your eBook.
  • Offers publishing services for a fee to help edit, format, and market your eBook.
  • Wider audience range and doesn’t rely on a specific type of eReader.
  • Free to sign up.

  3. Smashwords.com

  • 60% royalties through major eBook retailers, 80% royalties through the Smashwords store.
  • Upload eBook and reach a very wide range of retailers.
  • Global retail distribution and Global library distribution.
  • You can choose to participate in weekly promotions and sales through the site.
  • Offers various free services to help you publish your eBook.
  • Free to sign up.
  • Wider audience range and doesn’t rely on a specific type of eReader.

There are many more websites that offer publishing opportunities. Research all options in advance to find the retailer for your eBook.

Extra Tips and Advice for Writing a Variety of Content Successfully

  1. To get a good idea of how to achieve your eBook goal, I recommend reading Robert W. Bly’s book “How to Write & Sell Simple Information for Fun and Profit.”Specifically, read chapter 8 which contains various tips and tricks for selling eBook content.

  2. A way to gain publicity for your eBook is to have a blog. Many authors often have blogs promoting their books and other written works. You can also pay to have a website or person advertise your eBook.

  3. Make links to your eBook on social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Myspace, Tumblr, etc.) or make a video on YouTube advertising your eBook. Being available to answer a Q/A is also a good idea since it gives your audience a chance to give their feedback of your eBook.

  4.eBooks that make the most profit are often within the price range between $.99 – $5.99 per copy, but you can always ask for more since it is after all your eBook.

  5. Beware of all hidden costs. Some sites will offer fees to help format your eBook, edit and market your eBook. Read and learn about the various file formats and what is required for your eBook to be published.

 6. Research as much as possible about the many text file formats, retailers, genres, and other aspects of writing to get the most out of your work and make the least amount of mistakes.

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As any writer knows, there are times when you need a little help to get that all-important book finished—and with good reason. With modern technology, there are many great apps out there for writers.There are note-taking apps, note apps, diary apps, notebook apps, apps for iOS devices for iPhone or Android users, Evernote, apps for making the perfect to-do list, and many more. There’s even handwriting apps, word usage apps and even social media should you need them. But what really is the perfect app? Below, you’ll find the three best apps we can find for the writer and editor alike.
Three Best Writing Apps for Your Computer:

1. LibreOffice Writer

  • Free, open source software.
  • Gives you a basic interface like Windows 2007/2013.
  • Can switch between various formats; this allows more availability to share work with other users of Linux, Mac, and Windows operating systems.
  • Available to download for free on Linux, Windows, and Mac operating systems.
  • Has a better grammar check function than MS Word.
  • Easy-to-use template system with more free downloadable content.
  • Easy to navigate and use the application.
  • Have consistent updates every six months.
  • Very reliable and least likely to crash. In case of a crash, you may still be able to recover documents and work from the last auto-saved file.
  • Needs to be downloaded before use.

2. Hemmingway Editor

  • Costs about $19.99, but the web application is free at Hemingway web app
  • Works on Mac and Windows operating systems.
  • Highlights various grammatical errors and extra unnecessary words.
  • No Internet connection is required to use the application.
  • Can publish directly to WordPress and Medium through a direct link button.
  • Can be exported as an HTML file or CMS.
  • Can export to other word writing platforms and export it as a PDF file, text file, or Word document.
  • Can send the highlighted edits in a PDF file to show others the needed improvements.

3. Microsoft Office Word

  • Usable through Hotmail.com/Outlook.com which are Microsoft email domains.
  • The desktop version of Microsoft Office costs between $120 and $200. For business subscriptions (Microsoft Office 365) it costs $70 per year.
  • Content creating is easier.
  • Editing PDF files has become simpler without relying on Adobe Acrobat.
  • Various templates and fonts.
  • Has basic grammar check and spell check functions.

Runner-up: Google Docs

  • Requires a Gmail account to access.
  • Is free and works through the Internet web browser.
  • Offers basic word/text editor features.
  • Works on all operating systems including smartphones and tablets.
  • Data is backed up in the Cloud database.
  • Not the best for publishing but does give you ease of access on various devices.

Three Best Writing Apps For iOS:

1. iA Writer Pro

  • Costs $9.99 in the Apple app store. Free on Android devices through the Google Play app store.
  • Works on Mac operating system, iOS, and Android.
  • Exports HTML files, PDF files, and MS Word documents.
  • Syncs with iCloud and Dropbox.

Can tell how long it would take to read through what you’ve written.

  • Focus mode which dims the whole text except the sentence you are working on.
  • Has content blocks which allow you to embed pictures and tables.
  • Night mode which allows you to work at night.
  • Has syntax highlight.

2. OneNote

  • Supported on Android, iOS, Windows XP/Vista/7/8/8.1/10/RT, Windows Phone.
  • It is a note taking application.
  • Can be used to organize thoughts, pictures, and other various note taking needs.
  • Is included with the other Microsoft Office packages.
  • Can be accessed through the Hotmail.com/Outlook.com email domains.

3. Storyist

  • Cost $14.99 in the Apple store, $59 for the Mac software and a $29 upgrade.
  • Works on iPhone, iPad, Mac, and iPod touch.
  • Easy-to-use interface.
  • Has a simple writing/text editing interface with various customization options.
  • Supports AirPrint.
  • Can import and export files.
  • Story sheets and index card templates.
  • Good for writing novels and screenplays.
  • Uses Dropbox.
  • Uses a Bluetooth keyboard.

Runner-up: Scrivener

  • Costs $40 for Windows, $45 for the Mac version.
  • Offers a 30-day free trial.
  • Has an index card template.
  • Allows you to color code index cards.
  • Images, sound files, links, and other various items can all be kept in one place for ease of use.
  • You can make a session target wordcount and project target word count.
  • Mainly optimized to be used for Mac operating systems.

Three Best Writing Applications for Android:

1. JotterPad

  • Can change the fonts.
  • Costs $3.99 in-app purchases (to remove watermark), free to download.
  • Supports CommonMark format.
  • Has a built-in English dictionary.
  • Opens.txt, md, fountain extension.
  • Does syntax highlighting.
  • Has Dropbox integration.
  • Can share .txt, plain text, PDF, .rtf, Markdown HTML, and Markdown .docx files.
  • Exports .docx files.
  • Saves all work before exiting the application.

2. SE Notepad

  • It is free and downloadable from the Google Play app store.
  • Create and edit notes.
  • Comes with various themes and font styles.
  • You can back up and restore files.
  • Sync data and put it under password protection.
  • Is a basic note taking application.

3. TextMaker HD

  • Downloaded from the Amazon app store for free.
  • Is compatible with various office suites such as Microsoft Office.
  • Offers a more desktop-oriented interface.
  • Can open .rtf, open document, and HTML.
  • Can create PDF files.
  • Can send document through email as a .doc, .docx, or PDF file.
  • Various editing and formatting features.
  • Offers different graphics and drawing features.
  • Has spell check in seventeen different languages, synonyms in ten languages and automatic hyphenation in thirty-three languages.
  • Can make tables and merge cells within the tables.
  • Saves document in the cloud.
  • More features can be unlocked with in-app purchases.
  • Works well for touch screen devices.

Runner-up: Writer Plus

  • Open, edit, and save in plain text file.
  • Free to download from the Google Play application store.
  • Word and character count.
  • Offers a night mode.
  • Has Markdown format.
  • Supports Bluetooth keyboard and some basic edit shortcuts.
  • Supports nine different languages and more are being added.
  • Stores the files in the SD card.

Review

Each application offers various features that can help with your writing in various settings.
The best applications for writing are the applications that offer ease of use, various file saving formats, grammar/spell check, syntax highlighting, and outlining capabilities.

I recommend using apps like Hemingway Editor, LibreOffice Word, iAWriterPro, and Jotterpad. Hemingway Editor is good for editing and correcting many grammatical mistakes and improves your overall text quality. LibreOfficeWord offers a free word processor type program similar to MS Word and can be used on different operating systems among other things.

Jotterpad is an excellent app for those using Android phones. Jotterpad gives you flexibility and a quality word processor program for little to no cost. iA Writer Pro is good for iOS users and offers a variety of useful features to make writing content an easy task on Mac, iPad, iPhone, and Android.

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How To Read More Books

After writing my post on “100 books every teacher should read” I received a number of emails about finding the time to read all of those books (without going broke or insane!). There is something to be said for enjoying books (I am still an English teacher at heart), but it can also be easy to slowly fade away from reading as we take on more and more responsibilities in life. The past two years I read 42 and 43 books respectively. This year I’m going to read a book a week. 52 books in one year.

Here’s how.

To put it into some context. I’m the proud dad of 4 kids (age 6 and under), in an administrative job launching our 1:1 initiative, have published two books (and releasing three more books this year!), and still spend most of my time at night binge-watching Netflix with my wife!

I love creative work, and quite frankly, probably spend too much time thinking of new projects and ideas (as well as books and blog posts!). But, I’ve found that spending time reading every day has helped ground me in high-quality content and information. There is something special about a book that a blog post or article cannot replicate. Maybe everyone does not feel this way, but books (to me) are one of the purest forms of creativity and thought.

Here’s how I find the time (and money) to read 40+ books a year. And how I plan on changing it a bit to read over 50 books this year. I call it the “nerdy way” because it’s built on reading the most amount of books, in the shortest amount of time, for the least amount of money (can’t beat that right?).

1. Be Intentional to Make Reading a Habit

As a teenager I used to binge read books. I’d spend hours a day sometimes reading a book (or a series) and the go weeks without reading. When a book or story caught my attention, that was it…I was hooked and would not stop until I finished.

In college, I slowly started to read more non-fiction. I was interested in how the world worked and wanted more information on specific topics. Again, I would read a book start to finish in one sitting sometimes.

When my family started growing, and job responsibilities began to pile up…my binge reading quickly stopped. I’d start a book…then pick it up again in a month or two…and I remember going on vacation one week thinking, “I have six books I want to finish because I started all of them at different times in the past year!”

That’s when I decided I had to make reading a habit. Even if I read a tiny bit each day, I could make progress on the books I wanted to read, and finally finish all those great books I’d started during the past year.

Then I came across a post by habit-guru James Clear. James wrote about how he reads at least 25 pages each day. I did the math…

If an average book was 250 pages I would finish a book every 10 days by reading 25 pages a day. That 25 pages a day would lead me to read 36 books a year!

I started reading 25 pages a day as a daily habit. Two things became quickly apparent:

a) It didn’t take long to read 25 pages.

b) I usually went over the 25 page mark because I was into the book!

I read over 40 books that first year, all by using a method that I had repeatedly told my high school students to do as an English teacher (but never followed the advice myself).

Now, I’m increasing the habit by just a little bit, and it’s going to build over time. I’m challenging myself to read 40 pages each day. That 40 pages will ultimately lead to one 280 page book each week.

The trick is that I’m not reading all those pages with my eyes, I’m spending a lot of time reading with my ears.

2. Read With Your Ears

This year we moved into our new home and my commute got a bit longer. I now spend around 1.5 hrs in the car each day (45 mins each way). That gives me on an average week 7.5 hrs of commute time to listen to audiobooks.

But that’s not the only time I have to listen to audiobooks. There are also the ‘in-between’ moments of life. This could be a long drive, waiting for a train (or on a plane), while working out, or while doing chores around the house.

Most audiobooks are between 5.5 hrs and 7.5 hrs long. But a book I just listened to this week, Anything You Want by Derek Sivers, was only 1.5 hrs long. One week. One book down.

I blame Audible.com for my audiobook addiction. I signed-up for free and got two free audiobooks downloaded straight to my phone (Try Audible and Get Two Free Audiobooks). Reading with my ears has only increased the number of books I’ll read this year. It’s also a different type of reading/listening experience. Often I’ll have to rewind the past minute of audio to catch a quote or insight or story that I want to remember. It’s almost a form of “close-reading” while listening.

3. Find Great Deals

I love BuckBooks.com for great Kindle book deals. Sometimes they will have free books, and usually the site features books on price for 99 cents. This is a completely free service to sign up for and then they’ll send you emails with featured books that link directly to Amazon (Kindle store). In essence, they do all the hard work in finding books that you’ll like to read…and that are cheap. BuckBooks recently came out with a new Audiobook promotion (for a dollar) each week as well and I can’t wait to check out that feature (sign-up here!).

Other ways are to borrow books from your friends and colleagues that they have recommended, go to the LIBRARY, or get ebooks from your local library. When you’ve built the habit of reading into your daily routine, you’ll have no problem finding recommendations and talking to other readers. These deals let you read without going broke (hint: that’s still my problem with Barnes & Noble).

Try apps like Hoopla or go to websites like NetGalley to get free books (audio and digital) for your reading pleasure!

So, what are you waiting for?

Find great book recommendations, make daily time to read, read with your ears, and find deals…after that they only thing left to do is spread the word on books you think others should read!

Do you have any tips or tricks you’d like to share with us? Leave them in the comments!

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There are many misconceptions about writing and publishing a book. The first and maybe largest myth is how long it takes to write a book. The second is how long it takes to bring a book to market. I’m hoping to debunk both of those myths in my latest project.

I wrote my last book in the matter of a few months…and then the publisher took it for a few months to edit, format, edit again, format again, get reviews, format one more time…and then finally release a month after it was scheduled to release.

I have no problems with my publisher (in fact I think they do great work), but book publishing doesn’t have to be this way.

The writing process only took 60-90 days…but the publishing process took much longer.

In the next four weeks I’m going to change that with my latest book. Here is my plan of action, and I will keep you updated on the progress through this blog:

Day 1 (12/19/14): I currently have the title for the book (Learning By Choice), the overall chapter outline (10 chapters and an introduction), and how I’m breaking down each of those chapters.

  • Chapter 1: Choice in Instruction
  • Chapter 2: Choice in Content
  • Chapter 3: Choice in Assessment
  • Chapter 4: Choice in Differentiation
  • Chapter 5: Choice in Communication
  • Chapter 6: Choice in Collaboration
  • Chapter 7: Choice in Technology
  • Chapter 8: Choice in Presentation
  • Chapter 9: Choice in Time/Order
  • Chapter 10: Choice in Purpose

I’m looking for a 20,000-25,000 manuscript (shorter book) that I can sell via Kindle Direct Publishing.

This book is partly a follow-up to my traditionally published title, Inquiry and Innovation in the Classroom, as it touches on practical ways to bring choice into the classroom.

I also have a working outline of each chapter…so I’m not starting from complete scratch, but this is just the basics.

Plan for today is to finalize my bulleted outline of the book and write the introduction. I will keep you posted!

Day 2 (12/20/14): I finished the bulleted outline for the entire book. The way I do it is like an old school Roman numeral type of outline with indented sub-topics for the chapter. Here’s an example of one of my chapter’s outline:

Chapter: Choice in time/order 

  1. Story: The Gamified Class
    1. Are we looking for process or understanding?
    2. Many ways to get to understanding
    3. Choice in how the game is played
    4. Playing the game of school article?
  2. Why: Mastery always wins
    1. The results of mastery learning
    2. Choice in time…with some restrictions
    3. Extending the classroom rethinks the possibilities
    4. Why MOOCs work and don’t work
    5. Why online/blended courses work and don’t work
    6. The end goal has to be understanding and demonstrated ability
  3. How to do it:
    1. Start with the end goal (UBD)
    2. What are a variety of ways students can achieve this understanding/ability/skill?
    3. Provide pathways and formative assessments
    4. Badges tied to authentic tasks
    5. self-assessment and reflection
    6. Variety of presentations to show understanding
  4. Resources:
    1. Gamified class stuff
    2. UBD resources
    3. Online/Blended learning

As you can see it is not too detailed of an outline, but each point is very general and broad. When I go to write the rough draft of the chapter I then can expect to spend a few paragraphs on each point. I’m aiming for 2000-2500 words per chapter, followed by a resource that teachers can use in the classroom.

I feel pretty good about the flow of the book and how it is going to be helpful in each section. Although I’m not calling this a “how-to” book…it has those elements to it that make it extremely valuable throughout each chapter.

That’s it for Day 2…hoping to finish the Intro tomorrow.

Day 3 (12/21/14): Well I was not as productive as I wanted to be today, but I still finished the introduction. It is still rough and needs editing, but it serves as a perfect opening to the idea of choice in the classroom.

Part of the reason I was not productive was how quick I was able to finish the intro. That may sound counterintuitive but here is the problem. I based the introduction on a blog post I wrote almost a year ago. I tweaked, added, and moved around some different pieces to the post until it was a great fit. But instead of moving on to Chapter 1…I sat back and decided I didn’t need to write anymore for the day. I’m thinking that type of productivity might burn me later on down this road.

Day 4 (12/22/14): I went on a power writing spree today. Although I did not completely finish Chapter 1 (or 2 or 3)…I did write over 5,000 words. I wrote most of the first two sections of Chapters 1, 2, and 3. The stories were personal and real, so they did not take long to write. However, I continually got stuck when it came time to walk my readers through the “how to do it” section of each chapter. I might have to go back and add extra layers to this outline to get it easier to write.

I was listening to the Self-Publishing Podcast and the guys were talking about writing beats. Basically it is what I’m trying to do with the outline but very much more in depth with what to write. I can see the benefit to speed and efficiency when the outline is more detailed because I was caught up in the exact steps of ‘how to do it’ instead of just writing it as a draft and powering through the rest of the chapter.

 

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Having a blog can be like standing in a packed street corner with a megaphone. You can be as loud as you want to be…but usually everyone is too busy to listen. With almost 2 million blog posts published everyday (yes, that’s a real stat) how can we as bloggers reach our audience without the megaphone…

It’s simple. We must teach with our blogs.

Think for a moment about the last blog post you read all the way through to the end. Why did you keep reading? Sure, there must have been an inviting headline that captured your attention. The beginning of post also hooked you into some sort of interest. But what actually kept you reading?

Chances are the writer was teaching you something. Teaching through our blogs comes in a variety of forms, but when we teach, we are actually helping our readers. There is an aspect of blogging and writing that is self-reflective, but if you are only writing for yourself…then a journal will do just fine.

If you care about helping your readers, spreading a message, and making an impact with your words…then you must “teach with your blog”. Here are seven ways I’ve learned to teach with my blog, and some examples from others who do a great job teaching with their words.

1. Explain a new idea or concept

We often think that “everyone is already doing it” but that is just wrong. Yes, what seems simple to you may be extraordinary to others, and a blog is the perfect place to share what you, your school, and your colleagues are doing that is special.

The key to this type of “teaching” blog post is to explain the idea in a way that invites readers to try it out for themselves. You want to not only keep their interest, but also share the secrets that made it successful in a “how to” approach.

Example: Innovation Day by Josh Stumpenhorst

2. The Step-by-Step Guide

This takes #1 to another level. In a post I recently wrote on “How to Gamify Professional Development in Your School” I made sure to write down every single step we took in the gamification process (soup t0 nuts). This is the type of post that people search for on Google and when they stumble on your page, scream “Yes!”.

The step-by-step guide is also valuable to your blog readers. It’s a chance for you to actually walk them through the learning process by doing. Unlike a list post or reflection, the step-by-step guide is begging for action to be taken . This usually takes longer to write, but your readers will thank you again and again.

Example: How to get 120 people to read your first blog post by Bryan Harris

3. Interviews

Some of my favorite blog posts have been interviews. It teaches the reader about both the interviewer (what types of questions do they ask and why) and whoever is getting interviewed. This is almost as good as listening to a podcast, and sometimes I actually prefer the text version.

The key to doing an interview on your blog is to make sure you either go all-in with the full transcript of the interview…or have a post based on the interview that has some quotes pulled in. I tend to do the latter type of post because it gives great support for whatever argument you are trying to make.

Example: 5 Things Innovative Schools Do Differently (based on an interview with Eric Sheninger)

4. Reviews

Whether you are reviewing a book, an app, website, tool, program, or just an experience (think conference)….reviews are a powerful teaching method for blogging. I’m a big fan of reading reviews online before buying something. I try to gauge the overall feeling of the product from people who have used it.

However, if my wife, or one of my siblings, or friends recommend something…I’m twice as likely to buy it or check it out than a random person’s review. As a blogger you are no longer “some random person”. Chances are you’ve built up an audience of readers who see you as someone they can trust. Therefore, your reviews carry more weight than any Amazon or Yelp person. My rules are to be honest, but not slander (or overhype). Try to keep an even keel with your words no matter how excited you are (which can be tough either way).

Example: 3 Good Books About Crafting Stories by Richard Byrne

5. Reflection

What worked. And what didn’t work. Reflective pieces can often be all about the author, but when you open up your successes and wounds to your readers…it again teaches. For a long time when I first started blogging, reflection pieces are all that I wrote. Once I realized this, I became “anti-reflection” on my blog. This was wrong for many reasons…but mostly because reflection is helpful for both the writer and the reader. If you can touch on a success or failure that someone else is going through, you’ve done more with your words than you can ever imagine.

Example: What Motivates You (Probably Not Grades) by Kristen Swanson

6. A Different Perspective

As I browse Twitter and social media it is easy to see where the “mob” mentality comes to play. People love jumping on an idea and building on it (this is not always a bad thing). Often there needs to another voice, and another perspective shared on topics that everyone is taking for face value.

One of my favorite bloggers, John Spencer, does a great job of giving a different perspective in many of his posts. They don’t have to be long, but they make you think. The purpose of the “different perspective” post is to teach your readers that all ideas have multiple vantage points. Be careful before labeling the “next best thing” as “the best thing”.

Example: My Thoughts on Homework by Justin Tarte

7. A Shared Experiment/Challenge

I want to do more of these types of posts. Last spring/summer I ran the “Summer of Twitter Challenge“. It was a simple way to challenge teachers and schools to join Twitter and get active online. Over 100 schools joined the wiki and started sharing. I’m not sure how many followed through (it was tough even for my school) but the challenge excited people, including me.

A share experiment or challenge allows you and your readers to go through something together. Then you can discuss together, and when it is over, reflect together. Some of my favorite blogs do this with their readers on a regular basis. You could survey your readers and see what type of challenge they are up for, or just spring it on them and see who joins in the fun. And that’s what this is…fun. Let me know if you are running a challenge or experiment and I’d love to join in!

Example: Tim Grahl’s 10k Experiment

I hope this gives you some ideas for new blog posts and ways to teach with your blog. If there is one thing I’ve learned over the past year of writing, it’s to mix it up and try new things. If you’ve taught with your blog in the above ways share your experience below in the comments. We can all learn so from each other, as long as we are putting it out there to the world!

Photo Credit: außerirdische sind gesund via Compfight cc

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