AussieCon 4: Self-promotion on the world stage

Today I have a guest blog from YA science fiction author, George Ivanoff. George offers an author’s perspective on AussieCon 4.

Self-promotion on the world stage
By George Ivanoff

Recently I attended Aussiecon 4, the 68th World Science Fiction Convention. It’s the fourth time that this annual world convention has been held in Melbourne. As a long-time science fiction fan, I’ve attended three of these four conventions.

But this time, the experience was a little different. It was brought into focus for me when I had dinner with some interstate friends. One of those friends said to me: “This must be really different for you. The last time you attended a Worldcon you did so as a fan … this time around you’re here as an author”.

It was true. I wasn’t there just to enjoy myself, I was there to promote.

The promotion was in a dual capacity. Firstly I was there to promote my YA science fiction novel, Gamers’ Quest. This was particularly important as my publisher, Ford Street Publishing, had a table in the dealers’ room. Secondly, I was there to promote myself generally as a writer, which involved networking with the editors and publishers in attendance.

My involvement with the convention actually began many months ago. I submitted a number of suggestions for panel discussions that I could participate in. These were:

“Game on! Games and YA spec fic”
This panel was about the use of games, particularly computer games, in YA fiction. This worked in nicely with Gamers’ Quest, which is set entirely within a computer game environment.

“Playing in someone else’s sandpit: franchise writing”
I’ve done a small amount of franchise writing — a Doctor Who short story and a Behind the News book. It is an area of writing that I would like to pursue further. So I thought it would be good to be on a panel with a bunch of authors who had more experience that I. And it was.

“Making a living: Professional writing for speculative fiction authors”
This was a panel discussing how to actually make a living from writing. It gave me the opportunity to talk about the different types of writing I do and to make it clear to any editors and publishers in the audience that I was always on the look-out for new writing opportunities.

I also put my name down to appear on a number of other panels. Some (like “YA science fiction – a guy thing?”) were directly related to my writing, while others (like “We are all fairy tales: Doctor Who’s fifth season”) were not. But they all helped to get my name out there. Of course, I also did a reading and a book signing, as well as doing a couple of items on the kids’ program.

Was it worth it? Did I achieve anything? YES! At the very least, my presence at the convention helped my publisher to sell copies of Gamers’ Quest. YA fiction is popular beyond its target audience, so the fact that most of the attendees were adults didn’t seem to harm sales.

I also made some good professional contacts, which I am now in the process of following up. The convention had an entire stream of panels dedicated to YA literature. I learned a lot about current trends, publishers and what editors were looking for, by attending panels in this stream.

So, YES, the experience was definitely worth it, in many ways. If Australia ever hosts another Worldcon, I’ll be there!

And I did manage to find the time to have fun as well. If you’re interested in a more general round-up of my experiences at Aussiecon 4, check out my post, Aussiecon 4 Memories at my blog, Literary Clutter.

Cover for Gamers' Quest

The cover for Gamers' Quest

George’s bio
George Ivanoff is an author and stay-at-home Dad residing in Melbourne. He has written over 40 books for children and teenagers. His latest novel, Gamers’ Quest, is currently in bookstores. Two of his books have been on the booklist for the Victorian Premier’s Reading Challenge since its inception in 2005.

George has also had stories published in numerous magazines and anthologies. Click here to check out George’s website.

More info about Gamers’ Quest is available from the official website.

How to build your online author profile: A guest blog by Tahlia Newland

Today I have a guest blog by emerging writer, Tahlia Newland. Tahlia gives tips on how to build traffic and interest in your new novel, even before you’re published.

How to build your online profile
by Tahlia Newland

I’m a new author waiting for my young adult fantasy novel Lethal Inheritance to be published. A friend who publishes non-fiction told me it was important to build an online profile, so I did.

When I started, I knew nothing about building an online profile. So I researched to see what authors should be doing and how. This post is designed to create a short cut for you by summarising what I’ve learned.

So how do you create an online profile?

  • Create a blog that records the number of visitors (WordPress.com  does.) If you already have a blog without stats recording, Google Analytics and Site Meter are free services that can do it for you.
  • Make pages with easy-to-find information about the novel: blurbs, reviews, info about you, a sample first chapter (or partial chapter) and so on. I think the sample is important, because it’s harder for people to get excited about something they can’t taste.
  • Make regular, well-written blog posts — at least two a week. Try to make them no longer than 800 words. Your posts should be about your book and anything related to it. Don’t get off-topic, and use your own voice.
  • Create a fan page for your novel on FaceBook and add a button on your blog to direct people to it. Search in the help part of FaceBook to find out how to do this – it’s just a matter of finding the instructions and following them. You need time to set it up and an ‘can-do’ attitude.
  • Twitter is another option. If you’re into it, go for it. Personally, I haven’t gone there yet.
  • Visit other people’s blogs and make comments, find like-minded souls, subscribe to your favourite blogs, support them and  become part of a community.

Now you have to get people to visit your blog. You also need to get a significant number of fans on FaceBook. It’s time-consuming, but you have to reach out to the rest of the world. Here’s how:

  • Ask your friends and family for their support.
  • List your blog on the blog listings. Make sure that your description of your blog sounds interesting. I’m on the free ones: Blogcatalog, Bloggernity, Networked blogs, blogarama, blogflux, blogsites, Toplist, Bloggapedia, Bloggexplosion, Bloggernity. Remind your readers to go there and rate your blog.
  • List your blog with Google  Add your URL to Google to maximise your rank in Google’s search results, make your posts’ headlines and tags clear and on topic.
  • Visit the blogs of people whose interests are the same as yours. Post comments using one of the options that links your name to your blog URL. Make your comments relevant to the posts, but when you can, let the readers know what you write and that they can read a sample. In other words encourage them to visit – gently.
  • At sites where you can’t make a comment, but you think the owner would be interested — find their contact and send them an email.
  • After participating in your favorite writers’ blogs for a while, ask if you could share a guest blog. That means that you post on their site and they on yours. It increases traffic to both your sites.
  • Post links on your site to other sites that you like. Let the blog owner know what you’ve done. They’ll probably reciprocate.
  • Remind your readers to click the ‘like’ button at the bottom of your posts ( if you have one).
  • Remind your readers that if they like a post, they should and add it to sites like Digg, StumbleUpon, or Reddit.
  • Add your URL to your business cards, tell people about it etc.
  • Ask your readers to help spread the word.
  • Remember that if you support others, they will support you.

Now watch the stats page on your blog and see the hit counter rise.

If this all seems technically daunting, relax. You can google anything and find out what you need to know. For example, ‘How do I put a FaceBook button on my blog?’

All this takes time.  When I don’t post or visit other’s sites, the stats go down. It’s as simple as that. If we want people to know about our work, we have to get out there and tell them.

Weblinks

Click here for Tahlia Newland’s Lethal Inheritance blog.

Some of the following sites are self-explanatory and straightforward to use. You can also find out more about them on Wikipedia.

Google Analytics

Site Meter

Digg

StumbleUpon

Reddit

Blogcatalog

Bloggernity

Bloggapedia

Promoting your book to the converted: AussieCon 4 from an author’s perspective

Today I have a guest blog from sf&f author, m a miller. The World Science Fiction Convention, AussieCon 4, was in Melbourne this year. Miller bravely decided to promote her new book to the diehard fans. Here is her story …

AussieCon 4: We have lift off …
Every year for the past 68 years the World Science Fiction Convention has taken place somewhere in the world. Yes, you guessed it, this five-day extravaganza is a coming together of all things Science Fiction or Fantasy. Authors, illustrators and fans alike converge to discuss the most recent speculative fiction, how it relates to world events and what the future may hold.

It’s also where the coveted – to those in the know – Hugo Awards for all things SF take place. Oh to be on the receiving end of one of those!

So imagine my joy when, as a newly-published science fiction & fantasy writer I discovered that 2010 was the year of World Con’s return to Melbourne. It’s only the fourth time it has landed on our shores. Oh yeah! Oh bliss! How can I get involved?

For a newbie author it is quite daunting to get ‘noticed’ in among all the other books out there. I write young adult speculative fiction and the YA market is huge. And growing. And there are some great big looming titles out there. Anyone here heard of Harry Potter? The Twilight Saga?

So who should I target my publicity at? For that matter, how do I get any publicity?

It was fantastic meeting people who had travelled from all over the globe to be there – USA, Canada, Sweden, Norway, New Zealand, Great Britain, Germany, Japan —  and of course, Australia.

Houston, we have a problem!
So I took my proposal to my publisher at alto books. Would he be interested in getting some exposure for his science fiction & fantasy books to a dedicated audience? Would he please book and pay for both a table in the dealers’ room and for my ticket and in exchange I will ‘man’ the table?

It took a while, but after some persuasive – okay, maybe begging would be a better word – emails he finally agreed. Only to discover that all the dealer’s tables were fully booked. Oh the disappointment. But such is life and I thought no more of it until three days before the event when an email landed in my inbox saying that a table was now free and would I still like to go? Yeah baby!

Storm Troopers, Jedi Knights, a bounty hunter and a TIE fighter pilot, a Doctor Who, vampires, people wearing Victorian/Gothic/futuristic costumes and characters of unknown origin wandered past

Publicity: The final frontier …
On day one of AussieCon 4 I set up the alto books table with a great deal of trepidation – after all, I was squashed between Borders (who knew they had so much Sci-Fi/Fantasy stuff?) and Penguin (they had raffles and games! Why didn’t I think of that?) I only had a very small list of books to sell.

As Storm Troopers, Jedi Knights, a bounty hunter and a TIE fighter pilot, Doctor Who (an incarnation as Tom Baker rather than the current Matt Smith), vampires, people wearing Victorian/Gothic/futuristic costumes and various characters from unknown (to me, that is) origins wandered past I soon realised that my larger bookseller neighbours were in fact attracting more people to my table. They would stop and chat and meet the author. What? Oh yes, that was me as the big sign I’d printed attested to.

The result? Discussions on all things Sci-Fi/Fantasy. Fans of the genre. Fans of books. And yes, book sales. Oh my!

It was fantastic meeting people who had travelled from all over the globe to be there – USA, Canada, Sweden, Norway, New Zealand, Great Britain, Germany, Japan …  and of course, Australia. And an absolute thrill to know that copies of my book – signed, of course — are winging their way to all of these countries.

It was an even greater thrill that the Fan Guest of Honour bought a copy!

Aussiecon 4: A learning experience
Would I do things differently? You bet. I should have been on a discussion panel or two (yeah, I know, it was the ‘known’ writers who were represented but I can dream!).

Mis'ka: Rite of ascension

m a miller's new book

I had bookmarks that I handed out but I now feel that I should have been wandering the halls of the Melbourne Convention Centre and shoving them at all and sundry.

It can be difficult to spruik your wares but the great thing about AussieCon 4 was that I was spruiking to the converted – these were people who want Sci-Fi, who get Fantasy and who, in many cases, actually dress up to prove it.

So my five days of standing and signing turned out to be a fun weekend with results – I also sold many of the other alto books as well.

Would I do it again? You bet. Bring on the 69th World Con. It’s in Nevada and will be known as Renovation – best I get saving!

Bio
m a miller’s debut novel, Mis’Ka: Rite of Ascension was released earlier this year by alto books. Miller has assisted in the development of an animated children’s television series as well as a live action kid’s show. She has won short story competitions and worked in the script department for
Blue Heelers.

In her spare time, miller finds time to swim, walk her dogs and eat (lots) of chocolate – not necessarily at the same time!

Weblinks

Click here for m a miller’s website.

Click here to visit the website for AussieCon 4.

And here for the website for the 69th World Science Fiction Convention in 2011.

The business of writing: Part 2 of an interview with novelist and travel writer, Cameron Rogers

Today author Cameron Rogers talks about working with publishers, using a pen-name, having an agent, and what promotions support emerging writers can expect from publishers.

Cam, with your novels, what do your publishers expect from you in terms of rewrites?
It varies from publisher to publisher, editor to editor. A good editor understands what you’re attempting to do with a given manuscript and helps you work in that direction. Another editor may have a more commercial mindset and ask that the main character of your period drama be more like Starscream from Transformers. I wish I was making that last bit up.

But generally, I have to say, I’ve rarely come across an editor I had a hard time working with. The key, for me, is understanding that the end quality of the manuscript is more important than anything else, including your ego. You need to be okay with amputating whole chapters – months of work, maybe your best work – if the end result for the reader is greatly improved.

How do you find switching between novel writing and travel writing? Does one style of writing help with the other?
I think so. I think travel writing has made me a better novelist. I think it’s accentuated my grasp of texture, of experience, of immediacy, and how people can work. I can’t overstate the value of travel for any kind of writer.

Why did you decide to use a pen-name for Nicholas and the Chronoporter?
It seemed prudent. An established genre writer – like Cliver Barker or Neil Gaiman – can write a book for kids and people find that interesting. They seek it out. It’s almost as if they’ve descended from Olympus to impart some small gift to the people of the lowlands.

But if someone who is perceived to be a children’s writer publishes a conventional novel … that doesn’t seem to work. R.L. Stine – who started the bestselling Goosebumps line – did that. The book rotted on the shelves. So I decided to go with a pseudonym because I didn’t know which way my career was going to go, and I liked the idea of writing a book as a character. I’m hoping I can do more with Rowley Monkfish. I kinda like him.

I wonder why companies don’t make a more concerted effort to promote up-and-comers … I mean, Bryce Courtenay isn’t going to be around forever

Do you have an agent?
I’m represented by Howard Morhaim in New York. He’s had 30 years or more experience, is respected, and I like him as a person. I trust him, and it means I can spend less time sweating the fine print and more time writing. It just makes sense to have an agent like that onside. You not only get their experience, but you get their network of connections as well.

How do you go about negotiating your contracts with your publishers?
Again, that’s the value of an agent. Howard deals with them, gets back to me, we kick it around, and if need be there’s some back and forth. The idea of having to talk business with a publisher over the future of the current book … eurgh. Just, no.

Can people buy ebook versions of your novels?
The Music of Razors can be bought for the Kindle, via Amazon, if you’re in the US.  I’d very much like to get everything happening digitally, globally, eventually.

What’s happened in the past with publicity and promotions for your books? Have you had much assistance from your publishers or have you organised everything?
Somewhat oddly, it’s the popular and established authors who get the bulk of the publicity budget. First-timers, mid- and back-listers get practically zip. So it’s up to them to generate their own publicity however they can.

Since the financial meltdown pretty much every publishing house on Earth is fighting for its life, and they’re doing that via their front-list, so you can’t blame them for focusing squarely on the writers who pay the bills. But, that said, the front-listers have always had 95% of the budget. That’s not a new thing.

Partly out of self-interest and partly out of genuine curiosity I wonder why companies don’t make a more concerted effort to promote up-and-comers, if only to protect the future of their corporation. I mean, Bryce Courtenay isn’t going to be around forever.

Have you done a book trailer? Is this something you’d consider doing?
No I haven’t, but I definitely would. Anything that helps keep people aware that you’re still here doing your thing is valuable. Whether or not it’s cost-effective is something else entirely. But yeah, I’d definitely do it.

An editor may ask that the main character of your period drama be more like Starscream from Transformers. I wish I was making that last bit up.

If you could travel back in time to the moment before you sent off your first manuscript, what advice would you give yourself?
Brian K. Vaughan said that writer’s block is just another word for computer games. The time lost playing just one of those things to completion, if you add it up, is shocking. Furthermore I find the repetition of action and visuals blunts the mind and makes it harder to work afterwards.

It pains me to say it, because I love the escapism of gaming, but I’d advise throwing out all of them, then travelling for three weeks to flush my head and reset. Then returning and getting started on something fresh.

And to remember that everything will take three times longer than I expect.

Cam’s bio

In 2001, Cam was the first author to be nominated simultaneously for three separate Aurealis Awards (Best Horror, Best Fantasy, Best Young Adult). This was for the Australian edition of The Music of Razors, which Neil Gaiman described as “A nightmarishly imaginative debut from a writer of real assurance and vision.”

Cam’s YA novella, Nicholas and the Chronoporter, is in print with Penguin Australia. It was written under the pen-name of Rowley Monkfish. His first published work, a YA novella entitled The Vampires, has been in print with Lothian since 1997.

Cam is currently travelling and working on his next novel. His most recent sales were articles on Wave Gotik Treffen in Leipzig and Sun Studio, Memphis, for The Age.

Weblinks

Click here for Cameron’s website/blog.

And here for paperback edition of the Music of Razors on Amazon.

Here is the link for The Music of Razors on Kindle.

How did you get published? Interview with novelist and travel writer, Cameron Rogers

Today, I’m talking to author Cameron Rogers. Cam has had two novels and two YA novels published. Currently he’s travelling and writing travel articles for newspapers such as The Age in Melbourne. Cam’s unusual background includes being a motion capture model for computer games and a ‘crime management officer’ for the Queensland Police.

Cam, can you tell me how you first came to be published?
The short story is this: in the mid Nineties I’d been writing and trying to sell stories to magazines for a while, so when Gary Crew asked to see some of my stuff I had a catalogue I could show him. He liked what he read, suggested I write something for Lothian’s After Dark series, and it went from there.

I learned years later that, apparently, Gary took to me because I was a Goth but, strangely, wasn’t a wanker. I hope he doesn’t mind me saying that. That first publication got Penguin interested, which led to The Music of Razors, Nicholas and the Chronoporter and my current one, Fateless.  I’m hoping that’ll be out within twelve months.

Cameron Rogers near Reykjavik, Iceland

Cameron Rogers, near Reykjavik, Iceland

How did you approach Lothian and Penguin Australia when you started out? Was there a particular method that’s worked for you?
I’m not someone who networks easily. The idea of schmoozing, of meeting new people with some selfish ulterior motive, squicks me out. Then I realized that ‘networking’ was just code for ‘having friends’. We help each other out, it’s all good, and when we’re not doing that – which is most of the time – we’re just doing what friends do.

I keep an eye out for the lateral, the beautiful, the unexpected.

Do you ever encounter obstacles (in terms of craft) when writing for publication?
Only when writing stuff for kids.  They don’t need to be patronized, they’re fine with being challenged, but the parents and librarians who buy the books often don’t seem to think so. So it can be a balancing act.

Nicholas and the Chronoporter almost didn’t see print because part of the plot involved the main character dealing with the death of his mother, for example, and then being presented with the chance to save her at great cost to everyone else. That right there almost killed it.

How do you tackle research for your fiction writing?
I do, and I’ve learned it’s possible to research to a fault.  There’s a real craft to knowing when enough is enough when it comes to info-mining. Too little and the book feels flat or doesn’t ring true, too much and it either paralyses you with choice or you disappear down the rabbit hole of researching the details of your research, ad infinitum.

I fell into that trap working on my latest book, Fateless. A section of the book has to do with the ‘Pals battalions’ raised by Kitchener in WWI.  I was so engrossed by the idea of fathers and sons and brothers and cousins – the male population of entire families sometimes – being recruited and banded together and then shipped off to the front lines, that I felt I’d lost the right to use their stories if I didn’t do it justice. I lost a year on that, only to realize that if I supplied just enough detail the reader would get it; that less really can be more, and that maintaining a good signal-to-noise ratio is absolutely critical.

I have two credos when it comes to travel: Say Yes, and Embrace Random.

It doesn’t matter how fascinating you think the subject is, if too much research makes it to the final page you run the very real risk of fatiguing, and losing, the reader.

Apart from visiting the place you’re writing about, how do you research your travel articles?
I probably do about as much research on a destination as any other traveler. I have two credos when it comes to travel: Say Yes, and Embrace Random. Those two things, I’ve found, have generated more interesting material and experiences than any amount of reading-up and planning.

Everywhere I go I take a Moleskine notebook and a camera. I keep an eye out for the lateral, the beautiful, the unexpected. I note down odd things that are said, little details that snag the attention, and photograph anything that suggests itself: sights, sounds, smells, textures, observations, snatches of conversation. Then at the end of the day I write about it, for myself, using the notes and photos as aids.

I realized that ‘networking’ was just code for ‘having friends.

At some point later I read back over all that material, isolate the articles that seem the most interesting, and then I rework those for publication. It’s really about capturing the immediacy of the experience. At the end of the day all anyone has is the experience of something, and for me the soul and purpose of good travel writing is to convey your experience to someone who can’t be there. That requires an eye for the hidden, the unexpected, the taken-for-granted, the poetic, the lateral. The tiny thing that makes the moment.

I could talk about the Eiffel Tower, for example, or I could talk about gangs of scruffy men on Parisian street corners selling cartons of stolen cigarettes and stashing their supply inside cast-iron art deco lampposts. The Eiffel Tower is common knowledge, shared culture, wallpaper, but you can smell those men. You wonder about them, who they are, their pasts, why they do what they do, how that slots with the life of the neighbourhood. It’s new, unseen … it’s engaging.

I’ll put up the second part of Cam’s interview on Friday. Cam talks about why he used a pen-name, the benefits of having an agent, and what promotions support writers get from publishers.

In the meantime, click here to visit Cam’s website/blog. He’s got some great photos of his travels.

Fictional websites: a book promotion idea from the world of Doctor Who

I recently discovered some of the ‘fictional’ websites from the Doctor Who series. I immediately thought, ‘What a great idea for a book promotion!’. So I’ll throw on my Tom Baker-style striped scarf, get comfy and give you the rundown. Who knows, you too might be inspired to do something different for your next book promotion!

There are quite a few of these websites that have been created for fake organisations in the Doctor Who series. Some of them look simple, but if you spend a bit of time hunting around, you’ll find special pages.

Some of the websites contain quirky references to the TV series – so you’d need to be familiar with the show in order to ‘get it’.

Others have puzzles and games with a reward. The website, Who is Doctor Who, makes a good starting point. There’s a fun game, set in ‘Scribble World’ on the home page.

Here are a few of the more interesting websites:

The Torchwood House website could be the site for any heritage-listed building. To play the interactive game, click on ‘Observatory’ then ‘Scan for heavenly bodies’. The password is ‘victoria’. If you’re familiar with the characters from the more recent Doctor Who series, you’ll see also a surprise under ‘Weddings’.

The Leamington Spa Lifeboat Museum seems to be the website for a weird and yet banal exhibition. Hunt around and you’ll find the interactive game.

IMHO, the best of the lot is the Deffrey Vale High School website, featuring the magnificently-creepy Anthony Head. Take the ‘IQ’ test, found under ‘Are you smart enough?’. It’s truly brilliant. The site could almost be ‘real’ – it looks fantastic, it’s interactive and scarily engaging.

If you’re looking for a comprehensive rundown on the fictional websites, google ‘Doctor Who fictional websites’. There’s also a wikipedia page on them.

What I enjoy about these websites is that they allow places and characters from a TV show to ‘exist’ outside of the show. A book series that played with this idea of the realness of characters is the Lemony Snicket series. Here, the lines between reality and fiction were blurred: the author was fictional, and yet through his insistent and intrusive narration seemed to be alive.

Fictional websites would be outside the budget of many authors. However, interactivity is an idea not explored by most authors for their online promotions. Why not devise tests, polls or questionnaires that relate to the themes of your books? Get your readers involved and engaged – encourage them to experience the world of your books. 

And finally, I should also mention YA author George Ivanoff’s new blog on the Doctor Who books. Read and enjoy at Boomerang Books online.

 

A guide to finding writers’ resources on the web: A guest blog by Tahlia Newland

Today I’m featuring a guest blog courtesy of Tahlia Newland. Tahlia is the author of a new YA fantasy novel Lethal Inheritance.

A guide to finding writers’ resources on the web

By Tahlia Newland

Some people get frustrated with trying to find information on the web.  This is understandable because it is a web with limitless junctions and connections. It is easy to get lost or miss the very thing you are looking for.

From my own experience, I’ve found that there are a few things we can do to minimise frustration and help us find what we’re looking for.

Know what you are looking for
Do you want quick hints or a detailed essay? Do you need help with grammar, punctuation, editing, style, finding an agent or publishing? Are you interested in non fiction writing, speculative fiction or general fiction? Or do you just want general articles?

Frame searches carefully
Be specific. If you want quick general writing tips, use the keyword, ‘tips’. Type something like ‘top tips for writers’, or ‘10 tips for successful writing,’ into your search engine. If you want a quick overview of what’s important in editing, try ‘tips for editing writing’. The last word could be ‘essays’ or ‘novels’ but if you leave off the last word, your search engine will come up with points on editing music and film as well as writing.
If you want something more than a brief list of points, search for ‘how to edit writing’ or ‘how to edit a manuscript’.
If you want to write a novel, search for ‘how to write a good novel’, or be even more specific eg ‘how to write a good fantasy novel’.
When I needed them, the following searches came up with lots of excellent results:

  • ‘writing a synopsis’
  • ‘ writing a querie letter’, and
  • ‘how to write a querie letter’.

Guess the contents of a page before opening it

After you click ‘search’, your search engine will show a list of possibilities. Which do you choose? Yes, whatever is closest to what you’re looking for, but it’s not necessarily the first one on the list. And be careful; check the URL beneath the entry. If the name of the site has no relationship to writing, you may find that it’s just a one line reference in someone’s personal blog or a mostly unrelated forum.

Open links in new browser tabs
This is really important for ease of navigation. Right click on a link and select the ‘open in a new tab’ option. You can easily return to your search results by clicking on your previous tab.

Don’t be distracted
You’ve arrived at a page and it’s full of text, maybe some pictures, advertisements, links etc. They’re all very interesting, but don’t get distracted by them. Remember what you are looking for and find that on the page first.
When you do check the links, consider how relevant they are to your search. If you want to go off into something related that looks interesting, still keep in mind what you started out looking for. Otherwise you can end up wandering aimlessly through a maze of information.

Scan text rather than read it
You might read a page of text and get to the bottom only to find out that it’s not what you’re looking for. Learn to scan. Run your eyes quickly over the text looking for key words. You’ll get a feel for the content, enough to know whether you want to spend more time on it or search elsewhere.

Bookmark as you go
As soon as you find any info you think will be helpful, bookmark the site so you can easily go back to it. Alternatively copy and paste the info into a word document for later study (and copy the link to the site too).

Avoid getting overwhelmed
Be relaxed about your searching. Don’t get fixated. Get up and stretch every now and then.

And lastly, use the history button if you get lost!

Links to useful writers’ resources

These aren’t necessarily the best and there are masses more out there, so I encourage you to do your own searches. I have some links on my blogsite too.

Editing, style, grammar, good writing

About.com: grammar and composition.  I’ve returned to this website many times for clear and detailed info on the basics of writing.

There is a particularly good section on ‘cutting the clutter’

An associated site covers fiction writingThere are lots of tips, for example ‘writing dialogue’There are also tabs with info on getting started and getting published.

Revising and editing

This University of Queensland site has links to info on grammar, punctuation, structure, plot, feedback and so on.

Writing Novels

Fiction Factor contains lots of useful links.

Blogs

There are many blogs offering writing tips and related topics of various depth and you can find them in blogsite listings like Blog top sites, Blogflux, Blogarama, Blogcatalog, Bloggapedia, Bloggexplosion, Bloggernity, OnToplist and Australian Planet. There’s a world of writers like us out there and we have so much in common and so much to share. I have links to my present favourites on my blog