There are a number of unsavoury traps out there for novice and naïve writers cleverly and not so cleverly disguised as oases where one can refresh self-belief, and havens where whatever ails you can be fixed. There are even sites which promise cheap extensive cosmetic surgery which will make your work beautiful and so attractive to the world in general that it cannot help but be in constant demand. 

There are organisations who either promise short-cuts to mainstream publishing, or that publishing with them equates to mainstream publishing. Those of us who have been about for a bit - or who have been taken in at some time in the past – know these to be confidence tricksters, and the lack of policing in the cyber world has made it easier for them. 

RULE OF THUMB: If any publisher requires an up-front payment for publishing your piece, should they present the agreement in the most official-looking of contracts, SHUN THEM and report them to the DTI (Department of Trade and Industry) or whatever the equivalent is in your country. They can access the computer crime squad with more effect than you. 

It’s also wise to scan the message boards of sites which might be attractive for prospective writers to gauge the quality of the service – test the waters, so to speak. 

Where the moderation is suspect and a certain clique of members seem imperious to moderation of comments and further examination reveals that they are tangibly favoured in that their work receives most of the benefits offered, it is well that you dismiss any ambition you may hope to achieve through such arenas, and restrict their use for whatever function you see as favourable to your requirements. 

Where a site is full of relevant advice aimed at improving your creative writing experience – even where it is material you don’t want to hear – take a closer look. It may be just the forum which is intended to be genuine. 

In general, commercial advert driven sites singing their own praises are usually not the ones to go to. They sing their own praises because no-one else will – except the favoured few, and – for all we know – these favoured few may be a group of friends who have started up the site not to promote good writing, but themselves. 

Spotting the dubious is easy enough when you know how. Genuine sites moderate to protect the writer, not themselves. Genuine sites will not praise work unduly. Genuine sites will not present their perspective as THE IDYLL. Genuine sites will not be prejudiced against the contending voice. Genuine sites will adhere to their Terms and Conditions and Codes of Conduct even where such require the disqualification of flagship writers. Genuine writing sites don’t pretend to have a backdoor into a career in writing. 

Beware the bear-traps and keep to the open: the sites which offer much and expect little. You’ll be surprised at how many quality avenues and paths for creativity are actually out there – if you just but look for the silver lining.

on  at 9:01 PM

Posted In: Promotion
Reposted at Silver Pen with Permission

From Rick:

I had intended to do a different post this week, and had not intended to do a part 5 of this series, not yet anyway, but we’ve received several comments about it. We rarely get comments on the blog, which is fine because we know from the hits we get that it’s being read and growing. However, because we’ve received comments on this topic, I felt that a follow-up was called for.

That said, the actual post is going to be very short. It’s going to consist of extremely helpful links on the topic and not our thoughts. Among the links below are very many excellent pieces of information that will require substantial time for you to digest, probably way more than a week’s worth.

(The topic for this week was to have been “How to vary your sentence structure.” We’ll post that next week, then we’ll take a week off for the holidays to allow Scott and me to recover from food comas.)


The first comment about the marketing blog post came from Indies Unlimited (which you should definitely subscribe to if you don’t already). Scott and I considered it a huge honor that they took notice of our little blog. Their article is well worth reading.


A second link came from Kimberly Grabas’ site that listed notable articles on marketing and promotion, and it further validated what Scott and I are doing.


The third comment, the one I’m featuring, came in late last week from Phil Bolsta and offered a link to his post regarding book promotion. It is, in his words, a “comprehensive book promotion post.” I think that’s an understatement. It’s a HUGE post with many references and links in it. It will take you (and us) a long time to get through it, but it’s totally worth it. The advice he’s amassed is phenomenal. This is going to help a lot of people because it covers promoting you as an author as well as your books. Thanks, Phil.


As always, Kris Rusch is staying on top of promotion. Her four-part (so far) series on Discoverability contains her usual sage advice worth reading and acting on.





There it is. I highly recommend you take time to digest all of this information, decide what applies to your particular situation (not all of it may), and begin to act on it. After all, it’s your writing career at stake if you don’t.


on  at 10:52 PM
Posted In: Basics of writing, Novel writing, Story Details
reposted at Silver Pen with permission

From Rick:

One problem writers often have is how much backstory to use and when they should use (or not use) it in their stories. One writer at Silver Pen recently was dealing with this issue, so I thought this would be a perfect topic here.

When to include backstory is a bit easier to answer than how much to include. The reason the latter question is more difficult to answer is because it depends, in part, on the length of the piece. Clearly, the shorter the story, the less room there is for backstory.

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