Wednesday, February 25, 2009

You are a Brand…Now Act Like One! - Katie Sukowski

What are publishers looking for?
Is this the first question you ask yourself when choosing a topic to write about?

Publishers do not think like marketers. Effective marketing will always be a big part of your job in addition to doing the writing, and it is your responsibility.

The top two questions you ought to be asking yourself first are:
  1. Who is my audience?
  2. What is my brand?
If you understand the audience that you and your product provides a solution or need for, you’re half-way to successfully identifying what your brand can be.

What exactly is a brand, and how do I turn into one?

A brand is a living, breathing animal. There is no one shape, no one form. In fact, if you create a new brand, all the better because now you own a niche market and you’re the only one in that space.

David Foster discovered Josh Grobin and cites him as a great example of someone who has carved out a niche, created a new brand, and owns that category.

What’s my brand?

Just like your agent cannot tell you what to write, your agent cannot tell you who you should be. The origin of this must come from you once you’ve done some serious soul-searching or thinking or whatever is your way of knowing who and what you are about.

I recommend beginning by asking yourself: What am I passionate about?

I, Katie, believe if you tap into your passion—not trends—you will stay motivated, committed, and energized to continue to build your work and your brand. You’ll stay ahead of trends and/or outlast them; and when things are not going according to plan, you will have the energy and optimism to persevere because you wholeheartedly believe in the work you are creating.

We all know success happens in peaks and valleys. By defining your brand and implementing strategy to building and growing your brand and audience, you are increasing your chances for more peaks over the course of your career.

Recently, I opened a fortune cookie that read, Take aim, and you will increase your chances hitting your target.

Sounds obvious, but that day it wasn’t. That fortune gave me the permission to keep trying innovative strategies to grow authors’ presence in the marketplace, grow their audience in numbers, and to communicate their brand effectively.

So I offer this advice: Take aim at your brand and strategy, and you will increase your chances hitting your targets—be they greater book sales, increased audience, more trafficked blog and Web site, etc.

Now that I know I am a brand, what do I do?
  • Get a good Web site with all the necessary fixins
  • Collect e-mail contacts; service e-newsletters/blasts
  • Blog and publish in print magazines
  • Keep creating more content and submitting ideas to your agent
  • Form strategic partnerships
  • Submit your articles to credible journals for publishing
  • Concept amazing ideas
  • Publishing 501: Pay attention to sales copy and think like a book retailer
  • Hire a publicist to do ancillary PR pre-release of your book
  • Cultivate a street team
  • Do live speaking in any capacity to increase your exposure to your audience
  • Do TV, Web, podcasting, and radio
How you can get the most out of your agent working with you on your brand:
  • Feed him or her the latest news about your Website, PR you are doing, readings, and media you are doing and communicate how that can link into your book proposal.
  • Get podcasts/copies of press of your talks as they happen. Give to your agent so he/she can keep a EPK on you and send out to publishers.
  • Continuously dream up and pitch amazing ideas. Carve out time once a month or once every 2 weeks to dialog on those ideas and choose which ones to develop further.
  • Choose strategic partnerships to go after and put your agent in touch with them (if in your network). If not in your network, choose well so your agent can be successful in contacting that person, author, or personality’s agent.
  • Go over your goals with your agent. Let them in what you want to see happen over the next 3-5-10 years. Are you committed? If yes, be persistent and show up often. Agents need authors who can write excellent and write at a healthy pace. And authors, for the sake of your brand and growing your brand, YOU need to write at a healthy pace. We recommend releasing a book every year to stay current with your audience. If this is not where you are today, consider making this your goal in the near future and put a plan in place to get you there successfully.
Katie Sukowski is a Literary Brand Manager at Creative Trust Inc.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Our Calling as Writers

On May 4th of last year my first novel went to committee at B&H Publishing. I expected to hear yea or nay within a few days. Nope. May 7th, 10th and 17th came and went with no answer.

Around May 20th, as I was praying about it—no, not begging, praying—I felt God say, "Enjoy this."

Huh? Enjoy what? The anguish of not knowing if my book would be contracted?

Then he added, "It's going to sell; enjoy this time of anticipation."

Was I really hearing God's voice? I couldn't know for sure. But as I allowed his words to settle, a thought floated up from my heart. My calling as a writer means one thing. Obedience. Obedience to what God has asked me to do; write. Anything beyond that is out of my control.

In that moment I had a choice. Worry, or let go of my anxiety. I chose to rest in, and even enjoy his peace, knowing I'd invested the talents he's given me to the best of my ability. I had no regrets. I'd poured everything I had into my novel. That's my part.

Whether you're multi-published, longing to be published, or just starting to dream, remember this is not a journey of getting by-lines or contracts.

It's a journey of following him.

Jim Rubart

Monday, February 23, 2009

Obeying the 'Nudge' to Write - Mona Hodgson

I can’t say that I had a dream to write. It felt more like a nudge . . . even a nagging. Be that as it may, I felt compelled to explore the possibilities. That’s what took me to my very first writers’ conference. I’ve been a loyal writers' conference fan ever since.

Little did I know, as I took those first shaky steps, how crucial that conference would turn out to be for my 21-year (and still counting) writing career and ministry. I look forward to connecting with you at the Florida Christian Writers Conference.

Mona Hodgson

Why Bother with Writing Devotionals? - Mary Lou Redding

Let’s just get one thing out here up front: I admit that my opinion about the value of writing short meditations may not be entirely unbiased. But there are three reasons why writing for devotional magazines is a wise step, especially for beginning writers.

Reason #1: Editors are willing to take a chance with a new writer on short pieces.
Giving up one or two pages in a magazine represents much less production cost and editorial effort than preparing a book or even a long article.

Reason #2: Writers of devotionals can build a list of multiple publication credits relatively quickly.
All devotional magazines (I give out a market list in my workshop) need material, and if you can write effectively, to specification, you can publish in many of them.

Reason #3: Writing short pieces is a demanding exercise in craft that will sharpen your skills for writing longer pieces.
When someone says, “Writing short devotionals is easy; anybody can do it,” I know that person is either 1) a seasoned professional who has mastered the form over years or 2) that person has never published devotionals.

Anyone can write long. To write tight takes much more discipline. (Google Abraham Lincoln’s comments about how much time he would need to prepare a short speech versus a long one.)

My course on writing devotionals is really a course in the basics of writing well. Participants will learn about the characteristics of good Christian writing and, if they do the assignments, leave with a piece nearly ready to submit to a daily devotional magazine (not necessarily the one I work on – and you’ll learn the why of that in the workshop).

Writing devotionals opens a door to speak to many more people than will ever read the average Christian book. About two million people read The Upper Room each day in the United States alone (and many more internationally).

Open Windows, the Southern Baptist devotional magazine, and Living Faith, a Roman Catholic daily-devotional magazine, reach about three-quarters of a million people each.

Besides these, other devotional magazines reach hundreds of thousands more. If you have an insight that helps people apply a truth of the Bible to daily life, putting it into a devotional can have great reach. The workshop on writing devotionals will help you extend yours.

Mary Lou Redding is Editorial Director of The Upper Room Magazine.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Christian Speaking & Anthology Writing - Nancy B. Gibbs

By Nancy B. Gibbs
Author, newspaper columnist

I am excited to be a part of the faculty at the Florida Christian Writers’ Conference. It's hard to believe the event is right around the corner.

I will be teaching two classes:
  1. The Christian Writer/Speaker (Thursday, 4-5 p.m.)
  2. Writing for Anthologies (Friday, 4-5 p.m.)
The Christian Writer/Speaker

Once we begin writing and getting our names out there, people will call us to speak. I have learned that writing helps me get speaking engagements and speaking gives me writing opportunities. (Speaking also gives me the opportunity to sell my books, producing needed revenue, during a time that many churches and organizations can't afford large love offerings.)

During this class, we’ll have fun while learning a great deal about what works in the speaking arena. I will help you see how the topics you write about can become topics for your speaking engagements.

Writing for Anthologies

I have been published in approximately 200 anthologies, including Chicken Soup for the Soul, Guideposts Books, God Allows U-Turns, God's Way and many more.

I had one story that has appeared in several of these series. It was selected as the "promotional story" for the Chicken Soup for the Soul anthology where it was published. This same story has appeared in national magazines, Sunday school papers, devotional books and on many Web sites.

In this class we will look at that particular story. We will dissect the story and talk about the elements that made it a successful story - worthy of publication. We will discuss the benefits of anthology writing. I will answer any questions you may have regarding anthologies.

If we have time, I'll help you get started with your first paragraph (by far the most difficult part of any anthology.)

If you haven't begun getting ready for the conference, it's not too late. Write a couple of pieces, perfect them and bring them along with you. You will receive lots of great information and will return home ready to reach your writing dreams.

Nancy B. Gibbs is a pastor's wife, mother and grandmother. Nancy is the author of 8 books and writes a weekly newspaper column. She has been published hundreds of times in anthologies, magazines, Sunday school papers and devotional guides. Nancy's writings have appeared in books by major publishing companies such as Honor Books, Standard Publishing, Health Communications, Adams Media and dozens others.

Nancy has had stories published in Chicken Soup for the Soul, Guideposts, The Lookout, Mature Living, Happiness, On Mission, Decision, Woman's World, Family Circle, Angels on Earth, Marriage Partnership and numerous others.

Nancy has an early morning spot on WSST-TV two mornings a week called "Wisdom From the Word." Nancy also began her own Christian newspaper, Celebrations, last December. Celebrations started out strong and is doing very well.

Nancy is also a motivational speaker and has spoken in numerous states. Nancy is also busy trying to encourage her three granddaughters to love the art of writing. Visit Nancy at

Friday, February 20, 2009

Ginny Smith: Queen of Perseverance

This will be author and speaker Virginia Smith’s first time at Florida Christian Writers Conference, so we want to spend a few minutes getting to know her.

Virginia is a relative newcomer to the publishing world, but she’s hit the ground running. Her first novel, Just As I Am, was released in 2006, and this month she’ll celebrate the release of her seventh, Age before Beauty. In March of 2008 she was honored to receive the Writer of the Year Award at Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference.

Seven books in three years. You’ve been a busy lady, Virginia!

Ginny: First off, my friends call me Ginny, so I hope everyone at Florida Christian Writers Conference will feel free. Yes, I’ve been busy, and enormously blessed! But I certainly didn’t start writing three years ago. I spent more than twenty years learning the craft, practicing my skills, and collecting a ton of rejection letters (one hundred forty-three) before the Lord gave me the idea that would become my first published book. I call myself the Queen of Perseverance.

Many people would have given up after that many rejections. What kept you going?

Ginny: What’s the alternative—stop writing? I can’t imagine ever not writing. It’s too much a part of who I am, who He made me to be. I never doubted that God gave me the desire to write. I wasn’t sure if His plan included publication or not, and that was hard. At times I thought maybe He wanted me to keep writing stories that nobody would ever see except my family. But I never doubted that He wanted me to write, and to keep learning to do it well.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Ginny: My husband is a motorcycle enthusiast (when you see me at the conference, ask me how many he owns and watch my eyes roll!), and I enjoy going with him on long motorcycle trips. I’m strictly a passenger, though. You’d be surprised at the brainstorms for books I’ve gotten on the back of his bike! Plus, we love scuba diving. In fact, in the days just before Florida Christian Writers Conference we’re taking a quick trip to Mexico to do a little diving in Cozumel.

Give us a brief preview of what you’ll be sharing at Florida Christian Writers Conference.

Ginny: I’m presenting two workshops. Write Fiction Without Being Preachy is a topic that’s close to my heart – I love stories with a good message, but I dislike fiction that comes off as preachy. So I’ll be presenting tips on getting your point across without preaching at your readers.

Then in Creating Great Characters I’ll outline techniques to make characters so vivid and realistic your readers will add them to their prayer lists. I’ll also be on a panel of writers in the Career Track, and I’m on the team that will be critiquing manuscripts.

Any parting advice for conference attendees?

Ginny: Spend some time in prayer before you arrive, and ask the Lord to prepare you to receive from Him during the conference. Then go with a servant’s heart. There will be so many opportunities to be a blessing to someone else while you’re there, and if you’re focused on other people, you won’t have time to obsess about yourself. Just relax, and have fun, and come prepared to learn whatever He wants to teach you.

Virginia Smith left her twenty-year profession as a corporate director in 2006 to launch her writing career with the release of Just As I Am. Since then she has received contracts for ten books and published dozens of articles and short stories. Her recent releases, A Taste of Murder and Age before Beauty, were both awarded 4 stars by Romantic Times.

Ginny and her husband, Ted, divide their time between Kentucky and Utah, and escape as often as they can for diving trips to the Caribbean. Visit Ginny on the Web at

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Bonnie Harvey’s Good Writing Rules

The Russian Nikita Khrushchev once remarked,
“It is not without reason that writers in our country are called ‘Engineers of the human soul.’”
Khrushchev’s observation could well be applied to Christian writers, too. Who can be called more qualified to “Engineer the human soul” than a Christian writer?

Since I teach fiction and non-fiction writing classes at Kennesaw University in the Atlanta, Georgia area and am always the consummate English teacher with a Ph.D. in English, I’m much aware of a writer’s needs. In addition, I work with writers in my editorial consulting business and am also a published author with 22 books and over 100 articles. These various pursuits feed into Harvey Literary Agency, too.

Keeping Khrushchev’s ideas in mind, here is my compilation of “Harvey’s Good Writing Rules”:
  1. Write daily at your peak time.
  2. Read widely—fiction, history, biographies, travel books—analyze what you read, see how the author puts her book together.
  3. Write about who you know—find characters from your own acquaintances and friends—you’ll find that characters often take on your own traits—that’s ok, ‘cause who do you know better than yourself?
  4. Story equals a character & a problem—unless the character struggles with a problem, you don’t have a story; also make your protagonist strong, but with a fatal flaw, and let him be in conflict with another character.
  5. Start in the middle of the story—and in the middle of the action—avoid setting scenes or explaining background at first.
  6. Use all five senses—avoid just using description—even in non-fiction writing; use dialogue, active verbs to make scenes active.
  7. Point of View—try to stick to third person POV when first writing a story (It allows for the narrator to view each character and doesn’t limit)—don’t mix points of view—too confusing.
  8. Make your manuscript readable—double space with Times New Roman 12 point font. Have title, name, address, phone, and e-mail on first page.
My “Writing Your Life Story” class can help you find strong ideas for your articles and books. I look forward to seeing you there!

Visit Dr. Bonnie Harvey at

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Workshop Preview: Writing With True Grit - Lee Emory

By Lee Emory
Owner/operator, Treble Heart Books publishing
Christian division: MountainView Publishing

There is a strong need for grittier Christian stories. The material and inspiration for them is everywhere. I have the pleasure of presenting Writing With True Grit at the Florida Christian Writers Conference.

Cool Stuff

Two novel writing assignments are ready to give out during my presentation to authors who are looking for a new and challenging project. When the assignments are given (with up to a full year to research and complete the mss) then the books will be published by MountainView, so there will be a contract for each assignee.

This is serious business. If you are interested, please plan to attend my workshop. Attendees will learn all about these assignments toward the end of my workshop. Two enthusiastic authors will be chosen based on their writing experience and sincere enthusiasm for these projects. These will not be assignments for inexperienced writers. Ideally, I would like one male and one female for these assignments.

Pitch Your Project

I’m also available to take appointments. Please be prepared to pitch your ms by knowing your subject fully so you aren’t nervously rambling or lacking direction to make your point. You will be treated respectfully no matter what. If you don’t know your story well enough to concisely explain its premise then you’re not quite ready for an interview. You may not want to use it, but an excellent guideline for this is the story question by Robin Perini.

Jacob Marshall must avenge his father's honor by implicating Serena Jones' father, only to realize revenge often hurts the innocent.

Lee Emory tells it like it is, is a morning person, owns two cats, and snores disgustingly loud.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

You Are Not Alone

By Jim Rubart
Co-owner, He Blogs, She Blogs, LLC

You're not alone.
  • In the fear of sitting down with an agent.
  • In the fear of putting your idea in front of an editor.
  • In the fear of laying in front of them words you've taken years to craft.
Why are we afraid? Because these people are the gods of the publishing world. They can send us soaring to the heavens or crush our dream with one word: "No."

But that's a lie, isn't it?

There is One who is in control. One who holds our destiny in His hands.

For many years my fear kept me from showing my writing to anyone. I'd dreamed of being a writer since grade school. I subscribed to Writer's Digest, I bought books on how to write fiction, non-fiction, how to create characters, and how to write screenplays. And I wrote. In secret. Short stories, ideas for novels, screenplays. I went to half-day writing workshops in the Seattle area, but I never allowed what I wrote to be read by another.

In 1992 I wrote a Seinfeld script with my best friend on a whim. Our attempt wasn't serious; it was a bit of a joke, so I could risk it being read. The script ended up in the hands of David Isaacs, one of the more prolific TV writers of the past thirty years. He said we were talented and should pursue writing for TV. I didn't. I kept the dream buried.

What I finally admitted around 2000, is as long as I didn't take concrete action on my dream, it could always exist. If I pursued the dream and was rejected as a writer, then I had nothing. No safety net to fall back on. My greatest dream would be finished.

Are you scared? Terrified your dream will die if you fling it out for others to see?

You are not alone.

It's time to step into your fear and meet the others who walk alongside you. Its time to know if God put the dream in you, it cannot die.

Every writer has been where you are. It’s why going to a gathering like the Florida Christian Writers’ Conference is critical. Every successful writer has fought through rejection, through wondering if the dream can ever come true, through doubts about their talent.

At conference like FCWC you'll meet scads of writers. You'll laugh with them, hear their stories, be inspired, encouraged, and discover for yourself, you are not alone.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Follow Your Dream to Publish a Children's Book - Mona Hodgson

Publishing children’s books isn’t for the faint of heart. I wouldn’t dare try it without having sat under the teaching of several published children’s book authors.

If you dream of writing and publishing children’s books, plan now to come to my comprehensive class for children’s writers at the Florida Christian Writers Conference, February 26-March 1, 2009.

-Mona Hodgson

Calling All Children’s Writers - Crystal Bowman

By Crystal Bowman
Children's Book Author

If you are interested in writing for children, then we need to get acquainted! I’ve been writing kids’ books for nearly two decades and have had some incredible learning experiences I’d love to share with you. I have written over 60 books and consider it a privilege to write for the best publishing houses in the business.

I Think I Can… I Think I Can…

Writing for kids is a whole lot different than writing for adults. Many writers think it should be fairly easy. Let me put it this way—it’s not! And there is so much more you need to do besides create a good story. You need to know what is already out there. You need to know what the market needs. And you have to offer something that is clever, unique, original, and well-written.
I am excited to be a presenter at the 2009 Florida Christian Writers’ Conference. My session, The Broad Spectrum of Children’s Literature, is an overview of all the sub-genres within the genre of children’s literature. We will take a detailed look at:
  • board books
  • picture books
  • learning-to-read books
  • chapter books
  • …and everything in between
This information will help you understand what type of children’s books fit your writing style, and it will also help you decide what age group you should target. I will be giving you tons of helpful information, but do not fear—you will get a detailed handout so you won’t get carpal tunnel syndrome from trying to write it all down.

This Little Piggy Went to Market

Another session I will be presenting is How to Market Your Children’s Book. Getting a book published is the end of one process but the beginning of another. If you want your book to get noticed and survive in a very competitive market, you must be proactive when it comes to marketing your book. I’ll share lots of practical things you can do without having to travel far from home.

I am a recent resident of Florida and am happy to welcome you to our lovely state! My friends and family back in Michigan are becoming regular visitors to our home, which I appropriately call The Bowman Bed and Breakfast.

If you are traveling from the northern climates, please keep in mind that even though you will be in Florida, it is still winter here. It will not be 90 degrees! The days are usually warm (but not hot), and the nights can get chilly. I recommend layering. Be ready to add a light jacket or sweater if you get chilly. And, this is the most important thing: wear comfortable shoes! You will be doing lots of walking so forget fashion and aim for comfort.

See you soon!

Crystal Bowman is a bestselling author of over fifty books for children and three books for women. She also writes magazine articles, Bible study materials, and lyrics for children’s piano music. She speaks at national conventions, writers’ conferences, and local schools and churches. She has been a guest on numerous Christian radio programs including Focus on the Family.

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Want to Progress from Want-to-be Writer to Published Writer? - Mona Hodgson

What’s the difference between a want-to-be-writer and a published writer? In addition to the obvious answer of having written, it is a sustained level of commitment to craft and connections.

The Florida Christian Writers’ Conference provides both. You’ll find countless classes from which to choose and all levels of writers plus editors and agents with whom you can connect.
-Mona Hodgson

What to Bring to the Conference – Cheri Cowell

As a Central Floridian, I’d like to welcome all those traveling to the conference from elsewhere around the state and from all corners of the U.S. We are heading into our nice time of year with highs usually in the seventies to low eighties with lows in the fifties. But, we can get a stray cold front, so check the weather before you come to be sure we’re not getting a visitor from the North.

Lake Yale is a beautiful camp setting, which means comfy shoes (can I get an Amen on that) and a jacket for those lake breezes or drafty rooms. I plan on wearing dressy (some call it snappy) casual, which simply means I’m dressing for comfort with an eye for looking professional.

I like to say writers’ conferences are five-day interviews because you never know when that opportunity will happen for you to meet an editor. At one of my first conferences I met an editor while standing over a garbage can. I didn’t know he was an editor; he simply asked if he could share my makeshift table over the trashcan. I laughed and moved over to make room. We exchanged names (his didn’t ring a bell) and some minor chitchat, and then he asked what I was doing at the conference. I shared my pitch that I’d just learned how to do earlier in the day at the first-timers meeting, and then I asked what he was doing there. I almost choked on my hot dog when I found out he was an editor. He was so nice. It was a relief to find out that editors were real people and they really do want us to succeed.

What I tell those attending a writers’ conference for the first time is look for opportunities to be a blessing. Encourage someone, pray with someone, see how many smiles you can pass along, be interested in other people’s stories, see how much you can grow in wisdom, and radiate joy. Editors are watching you and I, even when we’re standing by the garbage can.

First-timers should look through the list of editors and make a list of who may be interested in the kind of things you write. If you have material to bring, by all means bring it.

But most first-timers have rough ideas. For those, you may want to create a “pitch sheet.” It is a single page four-to-five paragraph introduction of your idea. It succinctly tells of the idea, the reader benefit, and a little about you as the writer. It also has your contact information. Creating this pitch sheet will help you to form your idea into a pithy pitch, which you will then use when you sit down with an editor.

Another suggestion is to take advantage of people like me—authors who are there to listen to your pitches and give suggestions and encouragement. We know what it is like to be in your shoes. Because someone helped us, we are returning the blessing. So, sign up for appointments with us; practice your pitches and gain that confidence. And when you go those editor appointments (or have a chance one at the garbage can) after meeting with us, be sure to let us know how it went. We are here for you.

A veteran 21 conferences (and a teacher at six), Cheri Cowell is:
  • Hot dog lover
  • God-incidence spotter
  • Native Floridian, Central Floridian
  • Sunset admirer
  • Author of over 200 articles, stories in more than 10 anthologies
  • Night owl whose best writing time is 10 pm-2 am
  • Author of Direction: Discernment for the Decisions of Your Life (Beacon Hill)
  • Been rejected by almost every publisher at this conference
  • Encourager
  • Wife
  • Seminary student
  • Speaker
  • Reader
  • Bible teacher
  • Friend
Visit Cheri at

Friday, February 13, 2009

On Your 'Must Bring' List: Business Cards

By Laura Christianson
Author, Professional Blogger

I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met at conferences who moan, “Ohhh, I forgot to get business cards made!”

They smack themselves upside the head for not having the foresight to bring along those tiny–yet essential—pieces of cardstock to exchange with everyone they meet.

If you’re just starting out and can’t afford fancy-dancy, custom-designed business cards, create your own. Microsoft provides free, downloadable templates for the design-challenged.

Buy business card stock at your local office supply store, and print those puppies on your own inkjet or laser printer.

Or head to VistaPrint and customize a card using one of their many templates. They’ll even print ‘em and mail ‘em to you.

What info should you include on your business card?

Some people prescribe to the “less is better” method; others like the “more is better” method. Just remember, whatever information you print on your card, it has to look cool and be easy to read (please, no 6-point type!)

Laura Christianson LogoItems you can include:
  • Graphic logo that brands you/your business (I recommend spending a little extra to include a colorful, eye-catching logo; I hired a graphic designer to create my logo)

  • Business name

  • Business tagline

  • Your name

  • Your title (or a descriptor of what you do)

  • Your photo

  • Website(s)

  • Business address

  • Phone number(s)

  • Fax

  • e-mail address
And on the back...

You don’t have to squish everything on one side of your card – it usually doesn’t cost much extra to get cards printed on both sides. The back of your card can include any of the above info, or:
  • Images of your product(s)

  • Bulleted list of your primary services

  • Yearly calendar

  • Photo of you (make sure it’s professional-quality)

  • Inspiring thoughts
Card Sizes and Shapes
  • Print your business cards the standard size. From time to time, people give me oversized cards, and I can’t fit them in my business card pages without folding them. This is irritating, and I usually end up throwing them away.

  • Print the copy horizontally, instead of vertically. It’s okay to put a vertical image on the back of your card, but the writing on the front should go horizontally across the long side of the card. Again, for folks who organize their cards in business card pages, or in a Rolodex, it’s much easier to access and read the information when it’s in standard format.

Laura’s Super Secret Strategy for organizing business cards

When I attend conferences, I bring along several sheets of Avery Business Card Pages. Each clear sheet (made to fit in a 3-ring binder) holds 20 standard-sized business cards.

Whenever someone hands me their card, I write notes to myself on the back of the card to remind me of who the person is and where/when we met, and I slip the card immediately into the card page. When I get home, I slip the full card sheets into a binder and label each sheet with the name of the conference.

Whenever I need to contact someone I met, their information is at my fingertips.

This article is reprinted from and is #6 in a series of 10 marketing lessons.

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Jump-Start Your Writing Career at the Conference - Shelly Ballestero

By Shelly Ballestero
Beauty Coach, Author

If you are thinking, “I will never get a book published or even become a freelance writer for a magazine” – think again, my friends.

This will be my fifth year attending FCWC, and I’m proud to say I am the author of the newly-released book, Beauty by God: Inside Out Secrets for Every Woman (Regal, Jan 2009).

In addition to contributing monthly columns to several publications, I’ve begun a new adventure, doing TV segments for News Stations (Beauty on a Budget), Better Homes & Gardens TV, Martha Stewart Radio (Whole Body segment), and other radio shows.

It is fun and scary at the same time; however, it would not have happened if it was not for my friend LeAnn Weiss-Rupard, who talked me into going to my first FCWC.

The Florida Christian Writers’ Conference is not just a “writers’ conference,” it’s an extended family. No stuffiness… just really sweet friends who want to give you the tools to succeed.

Whether it’s writing for your community newsletter, church flyer or writing a fiction book—the faculty is here to help. Just bring your pen, pad, a clear, fresh mind—oh—don’t forget your business cards!

In today's beauty-obsessed world, Shelly Ballestero is one of the few inspirational experts in beauty and health from a positive perspective. Shelly serves as a beauty coach, esthetician/makeup artist, and beauty expert for; writes a monthly column for Christian Women Online, The Family Groove; and contributes to Beautiful One Magazine, Natural Solutions Magazine, OnCourse magazine and Cornerstone Connection.

A graduate of the prestigious International Academy, Shelly teaches the art of makeup to instructors. Shelly also is a certified herbalist and a graduate of the top makeup school in the industry, Joe Blasco. Visit Shelly at

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Meet the Snowflake Guy - Randy Ingermanson

I met Randy "The Snow Flake Guy" Ingermanson at the Mt. Hermon Christian Writers' Conference in the spring of 2006. I liked him immediately, due in great measure to the fact he's brilliant, humble, and wide open to sharing the writing wisdom he's gleaned over the past twenty years.

If you're not familiar with Randy's blog you need to get acquainted. Immediately. I think it's one of the top writing blogs on the Web. (It's not just my opinion. Randy's Advanced Fiction Writing Blog was just voted one of the Top 100 Creative Writing Blogs.)

Randy's blog is an encyclopedia—wait, no one uses those anymore—it's a Wikipedia (without the mistakes) of information on conferences, how to pitch your ideas, and fiction writing in general.

When you meet Randy at the conference, be sure to ask him about the time he pitched a story idea wearing, uh, unusual attire. (I think I might get in trouble for that.)

What other sites in additional to John Vonhof's site and Randy's blog do you recommend writers visit?

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Power of Platform - Athena Dean

By Athena Dean
Solutions Advisor, WinePress Publishing Group
Enumclaw, WA

Publishers Weekly called 2007 “The Year of the Platform.” At every conference I attend, you just can’t get away from the question editors and agents ask, “What kind of a platform do you have?”

Having a platform is a necessity if you want to become a successful author.

What is a Platform?

A “platform” is the publishing industry’s term for authors with a built-in audience, usually from a large church or media exposure. (“Looking for the Next Big Thing: A Christian Publishing Update,” Christianity Today, June 2007)

Platform: defined as a presence, ideally national, at which you are recognized in your area of expertise. (“Ask Allison,” Allison Scotch, novelist & blogger, March 3, 2008)

Why You Need a Platform

If you’re going to be effective in developing a platform, you first must understand why you need one. If God has given you a message, then your book must reach the hands of those who need to read it. The larger your platform, the more your words are read. Here are the top five reasons why you need a platform.

1. To sell books.
Bottom line: publishers want to know how many books you, the author, are going to sell. And if you are custom publishing and expect to make it a successful venture, then you’re going to need to sell lots of books. A platform will help you make that happen.
2. To develop a following.
If you provide answers and helpful information for people, you will become a resource for them and they will continue to come back to you for more, whether it be in ancillary products or more books on similar topics.
3. To prove yourself to a publisher.
Many authors work with us at WinePress as a springboard to traditional publishing. Having a book in print helps you start building that all-important platform that you can utilize when negotiating with a royalty publisher.
4. To be able to quantify your results.
When you sit at that negotiating table, you need to share hard facts and numbers. You need to be able to say, “I have 5,000 people on my e-zine subscriber list; I speak to 10,000 women a year; I have 4,000 unique visitors a day on my blog; I’ve sold 7,500 books in the last 18 months,” and so on.
5. To reach large numbers with your message.
If you want to get beyond your local community and congregation, a platform will help you reach people you could never hope to find in your back yard. It can help you access countless people who need to hear what you have to say.
On virtually every editor panel I sit on, publishing representatives declare their single most important requirement next to a great book is a hefty platform. So, the reality is, build a platform or perish!

During our two-part session at the Florida Christian Writers Conference, Carla Williams and I will be teaching you different ways you can build a platform, from speaking to social networking to book signings to writing articles and e-zines, and much, much more. One thing’s for sure, you’ve got to be willing to be creative and think outside the box these days. We look forward to helping you do that!

How about you? Comment about a creative way you're building your platform.

Athena Dean, founder of WinePress Publishing and three-time self-published author, has coached hundreds of authors through the daunting task of book production and promotion. Over the last 18 years she has helped bring the degree of credibility for self-published works up to the high level of acceptance in the industry it enjoys today.

Athena is a Solutions Advisor for WinePress Publishing Group and is an active board member of the Northwest Christian Writers’ Association.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Conference Goal for First Timers

I don’t think seeing a picture of the Swiss Alps is the same as being there.

I don’t believe watching the Superbowl on TV is the same experience as sitting in the stadium immersed in the roar of the crowd.

And reading about swimming is not the same as paddling around a crystal blue lagoon.

I thought I understood publishing. I’d perused numerous brochures and figured writing conferences weren't much different than the conferences I'd been to for years in my day job. Just a bunch of information I could learn less expensively from reading books. Then I went to my first writing conference.

Wow. I quickly discovered Jim be highly ignorant.

A conference will baptize you into the world of publishing like no book or blog ever could. You'll come away inspired and encouraged. You'll feel like a teacup in front of a fire hose, but that's a good thing. You'll soak up a ton of wonderful wisdom that will advance your career, as well as meet potential lifelong friends.

Let's talk about those friends for a moment

If you're coming to the Florida Christian Writers Conference to sell your project, don’t. Your goal should be to meet people. Not get a contract. Seriously.

As Randy Ingermanson likes to say, “Think contacts, not contracts.” He’s right. And not just contact with editors, agents, and faculty members. At most conferences, I see writers scramble to hob knob with everyone on faculty, while ignoring the fascinating conferees all around them.

Relationships are the conduit to success in any business. Relationships with everyone. The pub world is no different.

My first conference

On the way to my first conference I rode in the airport shuttle bus with a husband and wife from Montana. Warm people. Lots of laughter. Fun questions were thrown back and forth.

By the time we arrived at the conference I felt like I’d made two new friends. But I was so brand-spankin’ new to the world of publishing it was halfway through the weekend before I realized this lady was a multi-published, influential author.

Three days after the conference she volunteered to read some of my writing. A day after that she said she wanted to recommend me to her uber-agent.

Let me be clear

The moral of that story isn't, "Make friends with everyone because they might help further your career!" The moral is relationship. This author has become a dear friend. Yes, the intro to her agent was wonderful, but the gold is an eternal relationship with this lady and her husband.

In other words, if you believe God is in control, then believe God is in control. Just meet people. Don't try to make things happen at the conference. Don't try to maneuver and manipulate. Trust Him. If He knows every hair on your head, He's figured out who you need to meet, and just as important, who you shouldn't meet. He's the most talented appointment coordinator you'll ever know.

If you’re a veteran, tell us about your first conference experience.

What was good? What wasn't? What one piece of advice do you wish you'd been given before your first conference?

Monday, February 9, 2009

Write Every Day... Except During Tax Time - Ken Kuhlken

By Ken Kuhlken
Novelist, short story writer

Maybe a hundred times I’ve heard writers comment that if you take this vocation seriously, you need to write every day. Well, they all must live in a different dimension than the one I live in. Here, stuff happens.

Like occasional burnout. Tax time. Catching up on all the nonsense such as bill paying, household chores, yard work, and family outings I didn’t do when I was writing every day. Not to mention a day job, which for me at this point is trying to do justice to teaching and serving as president of Perelandra College.

No whining intended. I’m preparing to make a point. Which is, the most valid reason for writing every day is that once you take days off (let alone a month or two), getting started and finding momentum again is an arduous proposition.

It’s likely I won’t return to the current novel until around March 1. So, in order to jump start the reentry, I hope to arrive at that date with a solid outline of the rest of the novel. Even if I feel no need to stick to the outline, having a solid one urges me on, so I can reach those scenes I most long to write and read.

Ken Kuhlken’s stories have appeared in Esquire and dozens of other magazines and anthologies, been honorably mentioned in Best American Short Stories, and earned a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. He has been a frequent contributor and a columnist for the San Diego Reader.

His novels are Midheaven, a finalist for the Ernest Hemingway Award for best first novel, The Loud Adios (Private Eye Writers of America Best First Mystery Novel, 1989), The Venus Deal, The Angel Gang, The Do-Re-Mi (a January Magazine best book of 2006 and a finalist for the Shamus Award for Best PI Novel), and The Vagabond Virgins (February, 2008). Visit Ken at

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