Category Archives: Authoring Books

Appointments with Heaven – a Worthwhile Read

Choosy Writers Choose Good Books

Are you choosy about the books you read?  I am.

My high school English teacher used to scold me when I found excuses not to read. She’d blink her eyes, sigh, and pinch her nose, “Good writers make time to read.”

Well, she’d be proud.

I read a book over spring break that was worth my time and attention. It was edifying, truthful, and inspiring and there’s a back story on how I received the book, which I’ll share in a moment.

Appointments with Heaven bills itself as “the true story of a country doctor’s healing encounters with the hereafter.” At first, I thought.  Boy. Do I really want to read a bunch of creepy stories about people dying?  (The book was given to me shortly after my mother’s death in 2013.)

I’d seen a lot of death and well, eh.

But, my sister-in-law raved about the book and she’d experienced loss, too, so I figured it had potential.

Heaven’s Southern Setting & Faith Theme

heaven coverMy family packed up our van and headed south to Florida. Dr. Reggie Anderson’s story is set in the rural South.  So literally, my journey included representations out the window of the places described in the story – Alabama on the way down and Tennessee on the route back up. What I discovered is that the story isn’t really a book about death — it is about finding faith in life.

Soak in that statement for a moment.

It’s a book about faith. Your life has purpose and it affects eternity.

Do you believe that? Like I said.  It’s a book about faith.

There are times, even if you believe there’s a higher purpose, when truthfully, you’re just not seeing how the dots connect. You lost a friend, a job, or an opportunity.  You’re stuck in what seems to be a mindless and pointless routine.  You’re disillusioned because of awful events or situations. This book addresses whys.  Does anyone even know we’re here?  Is God real?  Why do bad things happen?

Even if you have answers worked out for yourself, Dr. Reggie Anderson’s perspective, because of his scientific expertise in medicine and his own early disillusionment, is unique. This book find has the potential to be a future workbook and video series for small groups.  The Kendrick Brothers or some other producer ought to take a good look at it.

About Heaven’s Ghost Writer

If you’re a writer, it’s a study on the art of ghost writing.  Truly, the story’s organization, running motifs, theme, voice, and flow were so well constructed that I beamed for Jennifer Schuchmann, the book’s ghost writer. And herein is how I received the book.

Jennifer and I met at a conference in 2010.  She was already a published writer, managing a young family, and at the start of a promising career.  We became Linkedin and Twitter contacts. In September 2013, I was in the midst of managing a big work project, while organizing household moving details for my family, when my mother passed away. With those plates spinning, I accidentally sent an email to Jennifer that was intended for someone else. When I realized my mistake, I sent Jennifer a note asking her to disregard and delete the email.  She did, and then we quickly caught up. I asked her about her current projects and she shared.

“I’m primarily doing collaborative books with people who have stories to tell but don’t have the time or ability to tell them. I’m either hired by them or by their publishers. I’ve released two new books this year.

“Taylor’s Gift” is the story of parents who lost their 14 year old daughter in a skiing accident, donated her organs, and then met the organ recipients.

“Appointments with Heaven” is the story of a country doctor who lost his faith, found it in a dream of heaven and now catches glimpses of heaven when his patients die (he can feel their soul leave their body, smell the scents of heaven, and feel a warmth in the room). Both are good books.

Good to hear from you even if it was a mistake!”

I then confided that my mother had passed away two weeks earlier and that her Heaven book sounded relevant.  She wrote,

  Oh, I’m so sorry!  Send me your address and I’ll send you a copy of “Appointments with Heaven.” Writing that book changed the way I view death. Maybe that’s the whole reason we reconnected was so I could give you a copy of this book.

When my copy arrived, she’d personalized it with a note, “I hope this brings comfort in your loss.”

If you’ve ever lost someone, you know that the cards you receive in the following weeks are thoroughly appreciated.  This was the first time anyone had sent a book.

I read a few pages and stopped. I felt called to send a copy to each of my siblings, but I personally wasn’t ready to digest the book.

By spring 2014, I was ready.

Let’s be clear, I’m not getting paid to write this post for Appointments with Heaven nor am I doing it because I know Jennifer.  I know plenty of authors.  I just like the book and feel it’s worth my time.

I hope it’s worth yours, too.

Yesterday, I interviewed Jennifer about her ghost writing techniques.  Read Tips for Collaborative and Ghost Writing Success, for the back story on how Dr. Anderson’s Appointments with Heaven was written.

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Filed under Authoring Books, Conferences, Favorite Websites, Reviews, Women Writers

Hold Your Content Writers Accountable to these Five Resolutions

If you’re one of those lucky millions who recently shoveled a couple feet of snow, you probably had ample time to think, while criss-crossing the sidewalk and driveway.  Not only does the shovel feel heavy, but in some cases, so does your outlook on your professional skills and career.

IMG_6681The past is the past.  Look ahead. This year holds so much promise for you.  It’s a wonderful time to be an Internet Marketer and if you enjoy writing, great opportunities await you!

If you’re a manager of writers remember that, in general, writers are reflective.  Talk about this year’s resolutions with your team.

The following goals can be used by freelance writers or members of your content department to professionally stretch.

Attend at least one industry conference this year.

Conferences can be expensive, but you’ll find worthwhile investment in knowledge and networking.  If you attend a conference at the top of the year, you benefit from that knowledge and the contacts gained that year.  However, when you attend a conference in September, you’ll find decision-makers who are looking for your services at the start of their budgeting process for the following year.  Some of our favorite digital retail conferences include:

Some of our favorite authorship and publishing conferences are Highlights Workshops, Write-to-Publish, and the San Francisco Writers Conference.

Read on a daily basis.

There are so many worthwhile blogs and as a writer, you should be reading not only to gain business savvy, but to improve your writing technique.  Besides our own, My Web Writers blog (which you’re reading), we recommend that you keep tabs on the following blogs:

Improve writing with a daily grammar lesson or peruse articles at Copyblogger.

Improve your writing.

  • Do not send an email, resume, article, post, or power point to another without checking the spelling and grammar.  Use the many digital tools available to you.
  • Improve your story-telling by reading your articles out loud to a video camera or to a recorder.  Then, observe your fluency, word choices, and tone.  Put your work away and then look at it again with fresh eyes at a later date.
  • Take a college writing class.  Join writers groups.  Connect in LinkedIn forums.
  • Study sentence combining. The more you maneuver parts of sentences, the more you’ll see the various options open to you when editing.

Directors, hire a freelance editor this year for additional perspective on content.  An educational program for your writers is great, but one-to-one coaching by an outsider can correct individual idiosyncrasies.

Learn more about selling.

Many talented writers totally miss the concept of why they’re writing retail content.  That’s because many of today’s digital writers majored in journalism or creative writing because they wanted to write important news stories or memoirs or fiction.  Writing about soap, perfume, or widgets was never the original calling or intent.  Now, you want them to sell? The purist author is only producing website copy to pay the bills.

But, writers, you won’t be able to sustain your revenue for long if you don’t cozy up to the idea of selling and we don’t mean screaming at your audience to buy stuff.  We mean subtle, well-positioned selling that most readers never notice.

Where should you go to learn more about selling? Start with Seth Godin. He’ll turn your mind inside out.  Then, search for “selling techniques” or the “art of selling”.  There are so many videos and articles on the topic. You might land on the Sandler Method or find a helpful article at the Salesforce blog.

The most important fact to remember is that you can sell.  When you influence your children to earn good grades, you’re selling.  When you persuade your spouse to take a vacation, you are selling.  Apply the same principals of persuasion to the content you’ve been tasked to write.

Managers, provide sales training for your content team. You’ll notice a long-term difference in conversions.

Keep learning new time management techniques.

Not letting that blog post take all day to write is a stress that most writers share.  That’s because we were taught the writing process in school, but in the real world, the pace is much faster.  My Web Writers’ blog offers several articles on time management.  Speed up the process by adhering to these timing techniques:

  • Set a timer for each writing session;
  • Track your hours with a time card;
  • Make use of moments when you’re forced to wait- on trains, in cars, in the orthodontist office, while on hold, etc.;
  • Keep a notepad with you at all times to jot down or to list ideas that come out of nowhere;
  • Say “no” to distractions when accomplishing a particular goal within an hour’s time;
  • Allow for blocks of time to enjoy and then to psychologically remove distractions.

Supervisors, ask each writer to share an effective time management technique.  Then, choose a few to monitor and to reward this year.

Encourage and stretch your content department by implementing the above professional resolutions this year.  Did we miss yours? Share it with us!

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Filed under Authoring Books, Conferences, Editors, Education Strategy, Favorite Websites, Leadership, Sales, The Writing Process, Time Management, Writing Careers

Five Authors Share How They Use Social Media

By My Web Writersauthors and social media

When it comes to promoting a book, writers often try everything short of sending out smoke signals to spread the word. Thanks to social media, there are more opportunities than ever for authors to reach a broader network and interact with their readers. However, there is still much to be learned and many authors could benefit from a tweak to their social media efforts. The following five authors provide prime examples of how you should and shouldn’t use social media to promote your work.

Author and book marketing coach, Jonathan Gunson has successfully used Twitter to promote his multiple publications and blog. There’s no doubt that this social media platform has produced real results for him, but this wasn’t because of luck. Jonathan strongly emphasizes that a change of psychology is needed when using Twitter – or any social media.  The “I need to sell my book” mentality needs to be replaced with “I need to grow my readership and community.” Jonathan takes special care to engage his network. He stays away from promoting his work with in-your-face advertisements that offer little value otherwise and instead focuses on starting a conversation. He’ll ask a question, ask for an opinion or get people excited by previewing a blog topic that they’ll likely find relevant. Jonathan has done an excellent job keeping his social media social and has created a strong and active following because of this (follow Jonathan @jonathangunson).


Author and blogger, Nick Thacker knows firsthand the struggles that authors face when trying to cut through the noise and make their social media efforts meaningful. His advice is three-fold. First, only use Facebook Pages if you’re going to use them. If you’re not going to maintain your page, this could negatively impact your efforts. Second, don’t take the same approach with  Facebook as you do Twitter. These are different social media platforms and appeal to different audiences. Third, create a logo for your brand. Although you’re a single person, an author still has a brand and should work to create and promote this throughout their social media efforts to build a “personal” relationship with their following (follow Nick @NickThacker).


Author of Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling is a household name. But unfortunately her social media presence leaves much room for improvement. With such a cult following, growing a powerful social media presence would happen with little to no effort. She has almost 2,593,500 followers on Twitter and 1.9 million “likes’ on Facebook. The problem? Her updates are few and far between and don’t offer valuable information that sparks discussion. She is only following 3 people on Twitter and has less than 30 tweets total. There’s no doubt her books will continue to sell with or without her use of social media, but for her millions of fans who would love to connect with her and get to know her more “personally,” this is a missed opportunity (follow JK Rowling @JK_Rowling).


 Best-selling author and producer, Nicholas Sparks on the other hand has a professional and active social media presence. His Twitter profile is well designed and kept very active. His updates add value and ignite discussion and sharing. For many of his readers who will never have the chance to meet him in person, they are able to communicate with him more personally. This goes a long way in building a loyal fan base which equates to greater book sales in the future (follow Nicholas Sparks @NicholasSparks).


 Writer, blogger and online marketing enthusiast, Carrie Mumford has a different opinion of social media for authors. She says, “Here’s my dirty secret: I’ve wanted to quit social media for months. I think the most under-communicated part of social media is that it takes time. Lots of time.” This is true. To grow an engaged following on any platform, you’re going to need to spend time crafting messages, sharing quality content and talking to people. And for authors, time spent on social media is time not spent writing. Carrie still uses social media, however, because she knows the benefits outweigh the time commitment. She recommends these guidelines for fellow authors developing a social media strategy. First, only use the platforms you enjoy – this ensures you will continue to use them. Second, don’t spread yourself too thin – you can’t be everywhere or be everything to everyone. Third, decide what you want to be – social media is about creating a personal brand. This is excellent advice for authors as well as any individual (follow Carrie @CarrieMumford).


Whether you’re a best-selling author who has a cult following or you’re just merely trying to growing your blog to more than 10 subscribers, it’s worth taking note to what these 5 authors have demonstrated with their use of social media. It’s important to keep social media social and not to overtly advertise like a slick salesman. These platforms are made for discussion and interaction and will be most valuable to you if you use them for this purpose!


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Filed under Authoring Books, Social Media

Six Ideas for Marketing Self-Published Stories

By My Web WritersIMG00480_3

Self Publishing is taking the world of books by storm. It’s true that self publishing has made it quicker for authors to move from writing a book to making the book available to readers. However, marketing your book makes all the difference between whether readers will find and read your work, or whether if will languish on a virtual shelf.

Here are some ideas for marketing your self-published stories:

Platform, Platform, Platform!
Go to any writer’s conference, and you’ll quickly tire of the term “platform.” It’s what agents and publishers look for in a prospective author, and it’s basically your presence. It’s the way you get noticed, both in person but now largely online. Platform can include a blog, a Facebook fan page, Twitter, Pinterest, Google Plus … you get the idea. The more presence and credibility you have online, the more likely readers are to know about you, and therefore the more likely they are to buy your books.

Begin by starting a blog. If you write about one particular genre or niche, focus your blog around that theme.
Signature Lines
Building a platform takes hours, over months and even years. Not every marketing idea is so vast, though. Start easily by adding links to your books in a signature line that will go out every time you send an email. Sure, your mom already knows you wrote a book. But perhaps the mom who serves with you in the PTO doesn’t. You never know where information in a signature line may lead.

Brainstorm your Market
Think about who might read your book. For instance, if you wrote a young adult historical book about a German king, you might target high school German teachers. Compose a marketing email detailing (briefly) what your book is about and how it could benefit the teacher and his students.

Or say you’ve written a cookbook for busy moms. Call local MOPS groups and offer to speak at a meeting. Research local specialty foods stores and see if they would be open to letting you speak and do a book signing.

Online Groups
Join online groups or Facebook pages related to your book’s theme. For instance, if you’ve written a romance novel set in World War II, search for WWII message boards, and then within those search out topic threads that could apply to your book. Become active in the group, contributing well-written, insightful comments, and other participants will be more likely to search out you and your books.

Local Media
Despite so many things being online today, don’t forget about the local newspaper. Contact them with a press release about your book. They may even be interested in writing a feature story about you, the local author. Does your book tie in to any local festival, place, or event? Mention this when you contact the newspaper.

Goodreads is a growing site popular with readers. It offers many resources for authors. Sign up (it’s free), and you can list your books there. You can offer a giveaway of your book, which often results in many readers adding it to their “to read” list. You can also post excerpts from your book, make up a quiz about your book – you name it.


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Filed under Authoring Books, Content, Marketing, Self-Publishing