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The Writing Sparrow

Author: Sarina

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The Writing Sparrow is all about writing, publishing and marketing your book, so you can go from unfinished draft to published novel no matter where you are on your indie author journey.
17 Episodes
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For this week's episode, Briana Morgan joined me to talk about social media! Heads up: we focussed on Instagram and Twitter, but TikTok and Facebook also got a few mentions.We're tackling questions like:How much time should we spend on social media, and how often should we post?How can we please the Instagram algorithm?What counts as engagement on Instagram, and how can we boost our engagement?How can you use social media to get beta readers?And many more!Your action step this week comes from Briana: make sure your username and profile picture are consistent and of yourself across all your social media platforms.You can read the transcript of this episode on my website (https://sarinalanger.com/podcast) or right here via Buzzsprout.If you want to see for yourself how well Briana is doing with social media, you can find her on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/brianamorganbooks/), on Twitter (https://twitter.com/brimorganbooks), on TikTok (https://www.tiktok.com/@brianamorganbooks), and her website (https://www.brianamorganbooks.com/)Find out more about me and my books on my website (https://sarinalanger.com), and find me on Twitter (https://twitter.com/sarina_langer), on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/sarinalangerwriter/), and on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/sarinalangerwriter/).
I had the great pleasure of talking to Elisha Belden about how to turn your business into a success! This is a longer episode, but let me assure you that it's worth every second.Elisha talks about Genesis goals, how to divide one big goal into smaller goals you can achieve easily, and why the right mindset is the single most important thing to have if you want to create a successful author career (or any business), and what to consider before you quit your day job to become a full-time author. We discuss common mistakes people make in the early days of their businesses which can lead to failure, and how to prepare yourself for full-time self-employment.In short, this is a masterclass and a crash course all in one!You can read the transcript of this episode on my website (https://sarinalanger.com/podcast) or right here via Buzzsprout.To find out more about Elisha, check out her Instagram page (https://www.instagram.com/elishabelden/), her Facebook group B.O.S.S. Enterprises (https://www.facebook.com/groups/bossenterprises), and visit her website for Twistid Ink (https://www.twistidink.com/)Find out more about me and my books on my website (https://sarinalanger.com), and find me on Twitter (https://twitter.com/sarina_langer), on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/sarinalangerwriter/), and on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/sarinalangerwriter/).
December is  a great time to reflect, and because 2020 has been harder than most years, it's ever more important to take a moment and reflect on how you did. Remember to be kind to yourself as you do so; you don't need to have outperformed previous successes or reached your goals to have done well.In this week's episode, I reflect on all the things that didn't go to plan this year, all the things I did that I hadn't planned but that worked out, and all the things I'm grateful for. It's easy to think that everyone else on social media has everything figured out, which is why I chose to focus on the things I didn't achieve this year. Remember that setbacks are normal and only turn into failures when you give up <3Action step: time to reflect! How did 2020 go for you? Before you say 'terribly', take a step back, maybe make a list, and I'm sure you've done something this year you can be proud of, even if it's 'only' getting up most days. Even if you meant to write five books and only wrote one--that's still one book you've written, so own your achievement!Please note: The Writing Sparrow will be taking a break until January 4th. Happy holidays, Merry Christmas, and blissful Yule <3You can read the transcript of this episode on my website (https://sarinalanger.com/podcast) or right here via Buzzsprout.Find out more about me and my books on my website (https://sarinalanger.com), and find me on Twitter (https://twitter.com/sarina_langer), on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/sarinalangerwriter/), and on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/sarinalangerwriter/).
This week I had the pleasure of talking to Jessica Reis, who has written an anthology with three of her friends. For our chat, we talked about how they did it, how it came together, and how anyone might do the same.Here are some lessons learned from Jessica:It helps to have every participating writer in one group. Jessica and her friends created a Facebook group where they could help one another, give one another feedback, and ask questions.It's a group effort, so pick the name together, choose the cover together, etc.Treat one another with respect, especially when you beta read for one another. Should tensions arise, talk about them and be understanding.Ask people to collaborate who you believe in and who believe in you, and ask people who write in the same genre as you.To find out more about Jessica, check out her website (https://jessicareisautora.wordpress.com/)You can read the transcript of this episode on my website (https://sarinalanger.com/podcast) or right here via Buzzsprout.Find out more about me and my books on my website (https://sarinalanger.com), and find me on Twitter (https://twitter.com/sarina_langer), on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/sarinalangerwriter/), and on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/sarinalangerwriter/).
For today's episode, Becky Wright is back! Last time we talked about formatting, we got a little carried away. This time, we focussed on 5 quick and easy formatting tips you can apply to your book right now.These are Becky's tips:STYLE - Different genres favour different styles, so have a look at some other books from your genre and see what they've done. For example, fantasy novels often have embellishments and illustrations, whereas horror novels have plainer, stricter styles.FRONT AND BACK MATTER - This includes your dedication, your copyright page, acknowledgements, About the Author, a Contents page, links to your social media accounts and your website, and your catalogue/the list of other books you've published. Note that there are some differences between paperbacks and ebooks. Again, have a look at other books in your genre to see what they've done.FONT AND CHAPTER HEADINGS - Keep your font to something simple like Times New Roman or Garamont. Becky's pro tip: don't use Arial - it's harder to read and looks unprofessional. You can vary your chapter headings, but make sure they complement your genre and don't use more than three throughout the book.WIDOWS AND ORPHANS - This is a simple click of a button that ensures your paragraphs stay together and you don't have any gaps at end bottom of your pages. How exactly to do this depends on the program you use to write, but an easy Google search will show you how to do this.PAGE NUMBERS - Getting your page numbers right is a must! Using section breaks and page breaks makes this much easier. Again, how exactly you do it depends on your writing program.We didn't set an action step today because the whole episode is one big action step. If you're new to formatting or intimidated by it after failed previous attempts, give Becky's 5 Quick and Easy Tips a go!Prefer to have the pros take formatting off your hands? You can find out more about or book Becky's business PlatformHouse Publishing for your project on their website (http://www.platformhousepublishing.co.uk/)Alternatively, find out more about Becky's books (http://www.beckywrightauthor.com/)You can read the transcript of this episode on my website (https://sarinalanger.com/podcast) or right here via Buzzsprout.Find out more about me and my books on my website (https://sarinalanger.com), and find me on Twitter (https://twitter.com/sarina_langer), on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/sarinalangerwriter/), and on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/sarinalangerwriter/).
This week I had the privilege of talking to Kristina Naydonova, who published her debut novel earlier this year aged 12! She's now 13 and showing us all how it's done.Here are Kristina's self-care tips  for preventing stress and burnout:get enough sleepdrink enough watereat healthy mealsmeditate (this is the app Kristina recommends (https://appadvice.com/app/meditation-nest/1460053458) and this is the app I mention: ( https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=yoga.meditation.yogamusic.meditationmusic )practice mindfulnesskeep a journal for your successes and assess failures to make tomorrow bettertry art therapyYour body and mind will make it clear when you need a break. Don't ignore them.You can find out some more about her on her Amazon US author page (https://www.amazon.com/Kristina-Naydonova/e/B08966F38S%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share) or go follow her on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/kristina.naydonova/)You can read the transcript of this episode on my website ( https://sarinalanger.com/category/the-writing-sparrow-podcast/) or right here via Buzzsprout.Find out more about me and my books on my website (https://sarinalanger.com), and find me on Twitter (https://twitter.com/sarina_langer), on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/sarinalangerwriter/), and on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/sarinalangerwriter/).
This week, steampunk author Dana Fraedrich joined me on Zoom to talk about attending book fairs as an author. Last year alone, Dana has attended around 20 book fairs and events, which makes her a bit of an expert.Guest-starring Bruin, Dana's dog.Here are some tips from Dana:Research the other attending authors for the event you're interested in to make sure it fits your niche.If possible, attend the event the year before to see how it's set up and whether it's right for you and your books.You won't get along with everyone in your event, but do be nice and friendly :)How many books you bring with you to sell depends on your budget, but no matter how many you take, bring twice as many of the first book in a series.If you decide took a half table, make sure the other author is someone you can communicate well with so you can help each other out on the day.It's a learning process, so be patient with yourself.If you're giving away free stuff like bookmarks, make sure you include all your info on there, like social media links.Read her Live Show Guide (https://www.wordsbydana.com/blog/2017/12/8/writers-life-live-show-guide)Read her tips on saving during live shows and traveling (https://www.wordsbydana.com/blog/2019/6/14/saving-during-live-shows-and-travel)Read her post on Vendoring at BookCon (https://www.wordsbydana.com/blog/2018/7/3/writers-life-vendoring-at-bookcon)Your action step this week is to research book fairs near you. The one Dana mentions is the Southern Festival of Books in Nashville (https://www.visitmusiccity.com/things-to-do-in-nashville/events/southern-festival-books). In Britain, you can look into the London Book Fair (https://www.londonbookfair.co.uk/en-gb.html). The event I attended was the British Book Bash (https://www.facebook.com/BritishBookBash/), which is in a different city every time. Once you find one you're interested in, see what the other vendors are selling. Attend as a guest first to get a feel for the event.You can read the transcript of this episode on my website ( https://sarinalanger.com/category/the-writing-sparrow-podcast/) or right here via Buzzsprout.Find out more about me and my books on my website (https://sarinalanger.com), and find me on Twitter (https://twitter.com/sarina_langer), on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/sarinalangerwriter/), and on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/sarinalangerwriter/).
Today, I'm talking to author R.S. Williams about productivity. Rhianne is always working on something, and she's doing it while working full-time, exercising, and being married... and today, she shares how she balances everything.These are your summarised action steps from Rhianne: Track your days to figure out how much time you spent doing what. Rhianne uses the app Toggl ( https://toggl.com/ )for this.Block out time to write. For example, if you have half an hour before you make dinner, reserve that time for writing.No time to write? Write just one word, and it'll be one word you didn't have yesterday... and maybe one word will turn into a sentence or a paragraph.You can learn more about Rhianne and her books on her website (https://www.littlenovelist.com/rswilliams) or support her directly via Patreon (https://www.patreon.com/littlenovelist)You can read the transcript of this episode on my website ( https://sarinalanger.com/category/the-writing-sparrow-podcast/) or right here via Buzzsprout.Find out more about me and my books on my website (https://sarinalanger.com), and find me on Twitter (https://twitter.com/sarina_langer), on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/sarinalangerwriter/), and on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/sarinalangerwriter/).
This week, I talk about the basics of working with critique partners and beta readers - how to find them, when to get them involved, and why they're so valuable.You can adjust the following points to whatever works best for you and your process. This is what works best for me and what I recommend based on my experience:Critique partners:can come into the process at any timecan help you with anything from making smaller decisions like character name changes over helping you choose a book cover to reading your whole book and giving you feedback on it.Critique partners aren't paid, but it is generally expected that you help them like they are helping you. It's a critique partnership, after all!I have a dedicated group of 7 critique partners, and we have an Instagram group chat where they are available whenever I need help with something book-related. Please note: you can have as many or as few as you want and talk to them however and wherever suits you best.Beta readers:your last line of defence before the final proofread or publicationyour book should be as close to finished as possible so you can collect valuable first reader feedbackI get beta readers as I need them, and I tend to recruit 5-10 readers from social media and my mailing list. There is no science to this number - you can go with whatever feels right for you.Both groups are additions to a professional editor, not a substitution.There are websites where you can find or be matched with beta readers, but I haven't used any of them so I can't recommend them.Your family and friends are fine to ask, but if you do, it's a good idea to recruit another critique partner or beta reader to ensure unbiased feedback.You can read the transcript of this episode on my website ( https://sarinalanger.com/category/the-writing-sparrow-podcast/) or right here via Buzzsprout.Find out more about me and my books on my website (https://sarinalanger.com), and find me on Twitter (https://twitter.com/sarina_langer), on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/sarinalangerwriter/), and on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/sarinalangerwriter/).
This week we're diving deeper into NaNoWriMo preparations without over-preparing.Please note: this is how I prefer to prepare for November. You can prepare more or less if you like :)There are 4 equally important basics I get ready before NaNoWriMo:my main characters - names, ages, looks, wants and needs, fears, strengths and weaknesses, speech habits,...my world - relevant country names, what those countries are known for, culture, how growing up there influenced your characters,...my plot - beginning, why your character goes on this journey, how everything changes in the middle, and the ending/aka what every word is leading up to.my rewards - I like to set myself milestones throughout NaNoWriMo and treat myself if I reach them. My tiers are 15k, 30k, and finishing at 50k, but you can set those to whatever you like or not do this step at all. I recommend it as a month-long motivator.If you're writing every day, your word count is 1,666 words a day. If you take the weekends off like I do*, your word count goal is 2,380 words a day.Most importantly, remember that all progress is good progress. If you don't reach 50k words next month, it doesn't matter - just have fun and enjoy the process!Your action step this week is to take a few notes about your characters, world, and plot so you know the basics. Set your milestone rewards if you fancy. Take a deep breath. We've got this! <3You can read the transcript of this episode on my website ( https://sarinalanger.com/category/the-writing-sparrow-podcast/) or right here via Buzzsprout.Find out more about me and my books on my website (https://sarinalanger.com), and find me on Twitter (https://twitter.com/sarina_langer), on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/sarinalangerwriter/), and on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/sarinalangerwriter/).
Do ignore me at the beginning when I say it's the 19th of September. It's definitely October :)This week I had the pleasure of talking to horror author Beverley Lee about writing short stories and getting them published in anthologies. Beverley has published four books so far and has been featured in several anthologies this year alone, and she shares her top tips in this episode.Want to write short stories for anthologies?Do your research - if you have a fantasy story, don't submit it to a pure horror listingWrite to the brief - if it's asking for graveyards, make your short story about graveyardsSet a goal - find one or two anthologies you want to submit to, and get writing or you'll fall down the submission rabbit hole.Not used to writing short stories? Here are some prompts for you:Write a short story that includes a scarecrow in a graveyard. (thanks, Beverley!)Write about an object that has personal meaning to you.Scientists announced they've discovered the secret to immortality. Write a petition letter to save the event of death. Write down as many cliches and aphorisms as you can think of. Go back and star the ones you actually say. (not the kind of prompt we were expecting, but I promised to include it, so here you go!)Keep your story under 6,000 words. Have fun!Writing prompts 2-4 are from the book 642 Things to Write About by the San Francisco Writers Grotto. (https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1452105448/ref=as_li_qf_asin_il_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=cookiebreak-20&creative=9325&linkCode=as2&creativeASIN=1452105448&linkId=44315d162071a95bc71009865d8c7244 Disclaimer: this is an affiliate link)Find places looking for submissions on: The Horror Tree (https://twitter.com/HorrorTree)Cemetery Gates Media (https://twitter.com/CemeteryGatesM)Kandisha Press (https://twitter.com/kandishapress)We also mentioned Forest App (https://www.forestapp.cc/), a productivity timer I use to stay focussed.You can find Beverley and her books on her website (https://beverleylee.com/)You can read the transcript of this episode on my website (https://sarinalanger.com/2020/10/19/writing-sparrow-beverley-lee/) or right here via Buzzsprout.Find out more about me and my books on my website (https://sarinalanger.com), and find me on Twitter (https://twitter.com/sarina_langer), on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/sarinalangerwriter/), and on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/sarinalangerwriter/).
What Is NaNoWriMo?

What Is NaNoWriMo?

2020-10-1108:14

In today's episode, I explain my favourite season of the year: NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).NaNoWriMo exists in two versions:the big event in November, in which the goal is to write 50,000 words in 30 days.the two smaller camps in April and July, for which you can set your own goal and edit or outline a novel instead of writing a novel.All three are annual events, and they are free to join for writers of all backgrounds and experience levels.This week's action step: Join the NaNoWriMo fun (https://nanowrimo.org)Declare your projectJoin a cabin (mine might have room! ask me on social media or leave a comment)Stock up on cafeeine and snacks.You can read the transcript of this episode on my website ( https://sarinalanger.com/category/the-writing-sparrow-podcast/) or right here via Buzzsprout.Find out more about me and my books on my website (https://sarinalanger.com), and find me on Twitter (https://twitter.com/sarina_langer), on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/sarinalangerwriter/), and on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/sarinalangerwriter/).
This week, I had a chat with urban fantasy author Grace - G.R.Thomas - about her recently wrapped-up debut series, the importance of making connections, and what it's like to get negative reviews. Grace started working on her books in 2014 and has learned a great deal along the way. She shares some of her gained knowledge in this week's episode.You can find out more about Grace on her website (https://www.grthomasbooks.com/)You can read the transcript of this episode on my website (https://sarinalanger.com/2020/10/05/writing-sparrow-g-r-thomas/)Find out more about me and my books on my website (https://sarinalanger.com), and find me on Twitter (https://twitter.com/sarina_langer), on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/sarinalangerwriter/), and on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/sarinalangerwriter/).
This week I had a chat with Becky Wright, indie author and founder of PlatformHouse Publishing, which she runs with her husband and where they create book trailers, covers, formatted interiors, and promo images for authors. I have worked with them on several projects (including the cover for this podcast!) and happily vouch for their quality and affordable prices.You can find out more or book PlatformHouse Publishing for your project on their website (http://www.platformhousepublishing.co.uk/)Alternatively, find out more about Becky's books (http://www.beckywrightauthor.com/)You can read the transcript of this episode on my website (https://sarinalanger.com/2020/09/28/writing-sparrow-becky-wright/) or right here via Buzzsprout.Find out more about me and my books on my website (https://sarinalanger.com), and find me on Twitter (https://twitter.com/sarina_langer), on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/sarinalangerwriter/), and on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/sarinalangerwriter/).
Meet Sarina, indie author of dark epic fantasy, mama to one beautiful cat, and your host for this writing podcast!You can read the transcript of this episode on my website ( https://sarinalanger.com/2020/09/21/writing-sparrow-introduction/)Find out more about me and my books on my website (https://sarinalanger.com), and find me on Twitter (https://twitter.com/sarina_langer), on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/sarinalangerwriter/), and on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/sarinalangerwriter/).
In April 2020, I burned out bad. It took me over two months before I was back to myself again, and I want to help you avoid the same pain. In today's episode, I talk you through some of the symptoms, how burning out for two months affected me, and what you can do to stay far away from it.Common symptoms of burnout include:You're exhausted physically and mentallyWriting is harder than usual, even impossibleYou're emotional irritable,and stressedYou feel like you can't possibly take any time offYour to-do doesn't seem to get any smaller even though you're working.Your action steps for today are:Make a list of your burnout symptoms (or copy the ones from this episode if you've never burned out before) Make a list of the things that help you relax Share your symptoms with someone you trust so they can help you take a break when you need it.You can read the transcript of this episode on my website ( https://sarinalanger.com/2020/09/21/writing-sparrow-burnout/)Find out more about me and my books on my website (https://sarinalanger.com), and find me on Twitter (https://twitter.com/sarina_langer), on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/sarinalangerwriter/), and on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/sarinalangerwriter/).
We've all doubted whether our novel ideas are enough, but I'm here to tell you that yes, it is, because all it needs to do is exist!This week's action step:Just... start writing. I know it's hard, but you can't polish something you don't have. Get the first draft written and worry about infusing the magic later.You can read the transcript of this episode on my website (https://sarinalanger.com/2020/09/21/writing-sparrow-your-book-idea/)Find out more about me and my books on my website (https://sarinalanger.com), and find me on Twitter (https://twitter.com/sarina_langer), on Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/sarinalangerwriter/), and on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/sarinalangerwriter/).
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