Spring term, and I’m excited to begin teaching, “The Business of Writing,” a class at Lane Community College which will cover everything from agent-shopping, to platform-building to marketing a book. It’s a pretty intense 10 weeks, but last year’s inaugural class was enthusiastic and engaged. And hands-on. Students who can bring a laptop will learn how to start and build an online presence, use email or online forms to query potential agents, discuss e-books and lots more.
Writing Tip for Today: The class itself is located in Eugene, Oregon but since I love to blog about the topics I’m teaching, you’ll see quite a bit of the content here. Among the things we’ll be covering:
- Get up to Speed. If you’re following this blog, chances are you’re no Luddite. But sometimes it’s nice to have a real person walk you through steps for an application, such as linking your blog to social media, scheduling posts or using Facebook Like Pages.
- Identify Your Audience. Targeting your audience before publication is a must. If you’re able to demonstrate that you not only know where on the shelf your book belongs, but the typical reader who’ll love your book, you’re ahead of the game.
- Boil it Down. Can you state your book’s theme in a pithy sentence? If not, try using a formula approach. I’m partial to one former agent Nate Bransford put out on his blog. There are others, but basically you identify the character, setting and character’s problem/goal, how something(one)is trying to foil the character and hint at the “battle” that your character will engage in to recover the goal. TV Guide movie summaries are a great place to get ideas for this sentence, as are book cover blurbs.
- Ramp it Up. As you get a firmer handle on that “one sentence test,” it should inspire you to write that first draft as quickly as you can. Don’t stop to agonize over whether it’s any good. That will come later, as you revise that draft. Junk it Through.
- Brand it. It’s never too early or too late to start building your brand. Sounds very commercial because it is. But think of authors you know and love: Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, Stephanie Meyer. With each you think horror, wizard fantasy and vampires. That’s the point: to make your reader associate you with a certain type of book or message. Happy platform-building!