writing tips

Your Writing Voice

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Here’s another writing quote to help motivate you to get your entry in:

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Your creativity should be ignited to write

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Ignite your creativity and get writing today. Umoja Writing Competition 2015 has now begun, so get those creative juices flowing. I’ll be posting some inspiration to help you get those entries in.


You want to write a Book? What about marketing?

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I’ve worked in the publishing industry as a book marketing publicist. It was a rewarding job that I loved, because I could help writers fulfill their dreams with their published work. I still keep in touch with the industry and continue to write and market for other writers.

One thing I found, was that most writers have no idea what goes on after they’ve finished writing the book. Most can’t conceive what happens in the publishing industry. Since you’ve obviously showed and interest in writing I thought you might enjoy the following article I wrote while I worked for a small boutique publisher. 


9.00am Arrive at work. Catch up with staff on the latest happenings. Check my emails. Reply to an author who is waiting to hear from a bookstore about a signing. Reply to a radio producer about interviewing an author and agree to send her a review copy. Reply to an author about marketing so far and what more that author can do to sell books. Reply to author with a broken ankle to not worry about marketing as I will continue to do things from my end that will not include her doing signings or interviews other than by phone. Phone elderly author to explain to him how bookstores work. During this time there are constant interruptions, phone calls, requests to organize 2nd payment lodgement, notes to myself on a pad beside my desk to follow up. As I go through the emails and other correspondence I record everything in a history document in the marketing file for each book. This keeps track of all marketing to let the author know what is complete and where the leads have gone. I also then store finalized emails into the folder and then delete from my Outlook folder.

9.30am Going through my notes, some of which will be in my notepad and others saved to Outlook task I complete various duties. Follow up on advertising online. Send media release to national media for a book with a topical theme (peace in the Middle East). This involves rewording the release, drafting the email (including the release), finding the appropriate database and emailing. Then I record that this has been done in the marketing history.

10.00am Make a coffee and sip at desk as I go through an advertising strategy list. With a minimal budget over a three-month period I have to be selective as to where we advertise. As many of our authors are elderly and writing to leave a keepsake I regularly target senior’s magazines. I’ll also include some online site and writer’s group publications. Update database when some emails are rejected.

10.15am A new book arrives from the printer. I love this time. I look at the cover and flick through the pages. Usually I have already started a Marketing Folder for books before they hit my desk. In this folder I include another folder for correspondence, the documents book release, media release, poster, congratulations letter and history. I open the history document (a Word file) record the date the book has been released (already I have the book title, ISBN, RRP, author info etc.). I then open the congratulations letter and add the author and book details, when the intense marketing phase will be complete and all other information that the author needs about marketing. I attach a link to the author’s book on the Zeus Publications website so buyers can go direct to purchase. This is emailed to the author.

I then draft the book release from the template. This is similar to the media release but has the publisher/bookseller’s terms of trade at the bottom for the bookstore to purchase. You’ll see how a media release is drafted in my previous posting. I print out two posters to go with the author’s books.

10.50am Phoned a bookstore in Victoria to see if they would be purchasing stock of a certain book. One book is ready to be entered into the industry databases. These include Bowkerlink, Neilson/James Bennet, Titlepage and Seek. It takes at least eight weeks for books to show up on these sites so we always complete this process three months before a book is due for release. I have an Excel file to keep track of when books are input into these databases. I then record the book information in the Zeus catalogue.

11.30 Three books are read y for their CIP (Cataloguing in Publication). I enter these details on the National Library of Australia site. This registers the book on their catalogue prior to publication. If you look at the title page of a book (in the first few pages) you’ll see the CIP information. This includes: author, title, ISBN, subjects and Dewey number. I then update my master list so that I know the CIP has been applied for. I have to get the date of birth of one author and as I know she works weekdays I email her that I need this info to apply for her CIP. Within a few minutes I receive confirmation emails from NLA and store these in the CIP folder for the books.

12.00noon Loaded book information on our online bookstore website using Expression Web. Packaged a review copy of a book for a radio station including a with compliments personal note.

12.30pm Stopped for lunch with work colleagues.

1.00pm Finished loading information on online bookstore. Took call from author to discuss marketing. Checked new release titles marketing folders and sent more media and book releases out.

1.45pm Complete the bi-monthly newsletter. This includes writing the articles, compiling information such as book signings, launches and milestones of authors. I then give the completed newsletter to our Chief editor to proofread before I post it onto the website.

3.30pm Post to Twitter, Facebook and check WordPress blog for spam comments.

(First published on Inky Fresh Press Blog June 2011).

Why I write

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Why do I write? Good question.

I love this saying but I don’t know if writing books is a calm thing but writers should try it. (Keep Calm. Web).

The answer is, “I’m a writer.” That’s it. Yes, it’s as simple as that.

From a young age I’ve been writing. Other than keeping fit, there is nothing else that has been consistently a part of my being since early days. I love it. I nurture it. I keep at it.

When I’m not writing I’m often thinking about what I’ll write next. My mind is always planning stories.

If you feel the same you’re a writer.

So, before you begin that book why not attempt the Umoja Writing Competition first. Click on the link for our Facebook page or hit the Entry Form page and enter now. Good luck.


Write often to write well

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I know you’ve heard it before but it’s true – write often to write well.

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I’ve tried every day  – to write.

Sometimes it doesn’t work but I can at least say I write often. Whether it be in my day job or in my leisure writing is a part of my life as much as family; as much as exercise; as much as friends. Writing is indeed my friend.

So if you’re struggling with writing daily just write as often as you can. Once the habit is formed eventually you will write daily.

I’ve given you five writing prompts to help you along. Maybe one of these will get your entry written for the Umoja Writing Competition.


  • Africa’s beauty
  • Wildlife that need protection
  • Cultures that are exotic and different to your own
  • What would it feel like to be an orphan?
  • What am I doing to make the world a better place?

Okay, get to it. Start writing now.

22 Tips to win this competition

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22 Ways PicAre you wondering how to win this competition? I’ve decided to give you my best advice to help you win in 21 tips. Try some of these tips to help give you a better chance:

  1. Adhere to traditional standards of writing such as punctuation, spelling, grammar and syntax. Particularly, if the competition is run by a school or university and more so, a publisher. Wouldn’t you like to be noticed by someone who could publish your writing?
  2. Use the rules of the contest but keep creative within the given theme. If you don’t write using the theme your entry will go straight to the bottom, or the shredder. This theme ‘Africa’.
  3. Literature contests may be looking for originality, refinement, depth, a subtext, and intellectual use of language; an emphasis on interesting characters, and setting rather than plot. Think description over dialogue, usually. A writing competition, (rather than literature contest) will sway towards popular fiction, but many ask for essays, articles and other forms of writing so read the rules and requirements thoroughly.
  4. This particular competition is on the theme ‘Africa’ and since Africa is such a big continent the theme encompasses many things, so find a unique angle. Freshness and individuality will stand out.
  5. A great starting paragraph and an absorbing plot that follows your main character on some sort of journey or conflict. Finish with no loose ends.
  6. Use the correct tense throughout the story. Don’t change from ‘has to be’ to ‘had to be’ later. It’s annoying and incorrect.
  7. Do not use a passive voice. Active voice will win over the judges.
  8. Dialogue must be believable, readable and colloquial.
  9. Choose an exceptional title. First impressions count but it must be relevant to the story.
  10. Be original. I know you’re thinking the theme takes that away, but it doesn’t. Again, be creative.
  11. Edit your work thoroughly with at least three drafts.
  12. Don’t confuse the judges or potential readers with too many characters in a short story.
  13. In short stories you have little enough word count so make each word count.
  14. Clichés are just that; cliché. Avoid them.
  15. Use strong verbs rather than adverbs.
  16. Fit your entry to the competition you have entered. If it’s for a women’s romance writers’ group it needs to be romance. If it’s for a mystery writers’ group it would be impossible to win without a whodunit or twisting plot.
  17. Don’t put your name on the manuscript. Your name goes on your entry form but not your manuscript for good reason. The judges need to read each entry on its merit alone.
  18. Format using 12 point Times New Roman, Arial or Helvetica unless the competition rules specify something else. Usually double spaced and indented at the left column. Pages numbered and a word count shown.
  19. Competitions often give a choice between hardcopy or email. Read carefully which they prefer, choose hardcopy if you want to pay postage. Emailing submissions my change your formatting but as most people are computer literate now, send this way if you feel comfortable with it. Emails are a quicker way to enter if you are pushing the deadline.
  20. Do not bribe the judges or think that fancying up your application will help. No cute little post-it messages asking them to choose you as a winner. No hidden chocolates.
  21. Do not add pictures to your manuscript (unless of course it’s a travel feature that requires a photograph), just send a plain double spaced entry and let your writing win for you.
  22. Proofread for a final third or fourth time thoroughly. I find reading out loud helps pick up on most errors. Make sure there are no typos. For example; use of your ears is not ‘here’ it’s ‘hear’. Check your words, check your spelling and triple check your punctuation. Judges will critic these mercilessly and one error may see you lose. One correction could see you win. I hope you win.

Have fun and good luck with your entry.