How do I get started? by Taneeka Bourgeois-daSilva

As a new writer, you’re probably asking yourself, “How do I get started?”

The answer is simple, but complex. First of all…Continue writing. The worst thing that we can do as a writer is to stop writing. It is important to find time throughout the week to brush up on your skills.

Second, create an outline of your book. Jot down suggested titles, character names, and major events. As time goes on, don’t be afraid to eliminate things that don’t work out. Start structuring your plot and the key elements that make up the story. Flush out your beginning, middle, and end and make sure that it is fluid and that the events of the story drive your plot. You also want to start looking at separating your story into chapters. Don’t tell the whole story in one setting. Weave in and out characters, make sure there is a cliff hanger at the end of chapters, and try to embed conflict within each character. Whether it’s man vs. man or man vs. others, there needs to be a level of conflict within the story or people won’t read it.

Third, determine how you want to publish you story. Self-publishing or traditional publishing? Ebook vs. paperback? These decisions make a big difference in price, quality, and whether or not your book can be carried in bookstores. If you decide to self-publish, you want to figure out which company is right for you – CreateSpace, Lulu, IngramSpark, etc. If you prefer traditional publishing, then you would need an agent. Most publishers won’t work with you unless you have an agent, unless they are an independent publisher like Building Voices.

This is only three of the many decisions you must make as a writer. Start here and learn as you go. But remember, never stop writing! Stay tuned for “How do I get started? part 2″

About 

Taneeka Bourgeois-daSilva is an authorpreneur, teacher, blogger, educational consultant, and writing coach. She wrote the award-winning Broccoli Chronicles and is the CEO of Building Voices and TCD Kids Foundation. She tweets at @taneekabdasilva.


How to become a successful author?

You wake up in the morning with a plan to tackle your day. Whether you’re looking for your car keys, grabbing your shoes from the dog, or eating blueberry pancakes, your goal is usually to have a productive and successful day. If you’re an overachiever like myself, you’re probably asking yourself: What can I do differently in order to improve my writing career?

“Action is the foundational key to all success” was a quote written by Pablo Picasso. At the end of the day, you will not have success if you don’t take action and fight for what you want. Just like boxers do in a boxing rink, they fight their opponent. You must pretend that failure is your opponent and fight it until you win.

Well, how do you win? What are some things that you can do? How do you adjust your life and your way of thinking? The answer is simple: you must master these 3 tips in order to become a successful writer.

1. Don’t fear your opponent

Fear is defined as an unpleasant emotion caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain, or a threat. There is no need to fear your opponent when you do not see the opponent as a threat.

Some people see themselves as the opponent because they are always getting in their own way of success. They don’t seem to understand how to remove their old way of thinking so that they can embrace the new culture of writing. Whether your opponent is yourself or failure, don’t fear it. Look it in the eye and believe that you’ve already won!

2. Be creative

One of the worst things that you can do in your writing career is to continue down a path that doesn’t work. If it’s broke, fix it!

Try to be creative. Be willing to try something different. Interview other successful authors and observe what they are doing. For holidays, give out gift baskets with an autographed copy of your book along with flyers and business cards. Most likely, people will pass them out to their friends and family members as a courtesy to you. Design customized Christmas cards using the cover of your book. As visitors come over to their home, they will see the cover of your book sitting on their fireplace which becomes free advertisement.

3. Establish an online presence

Make sure that your readers can contact you, follow you, and purchase your book online. You want your readers to easily find you once they’ve heard about you through a friend. You also want to build a following through social media, through your blog, and from your website. It’s also a good idea to create an Amazon Author Page if your book is currently sold through Amazon.

Let’s recap!

1. Don’t fear your opponent even if you feel that you are your biggest obstacle.

2. Be creative, think outside of the box, and embrace new ideas.

3. Establish an online presence by creating a website and publish articles through your blog.

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About 

Taneeka Bourgeois-daSilva is an authorpreneur, teacher, blogger, educational consultant, and writing coach. She wrote the award-winning Broccoli Chronicles and is the CEO of Building Voices and TCD Kids Foundation. She tweets at @taneekabdasilva.


Continued suggestions for aspiring writers

As a writing coach, it is imperative that I check-in with my readers to see if they are meeting their goals. This article is simply a follow-up to my original article which provided 6 basic tips to help Aspiring Writers (AW’s) get published. See below:

1. Write your story: Focus on setting, plot, character development, etc.

2. Join a writing group: Try to get constructive criticism and feedback from your peers.

3. Hire a developmental editor and/or a copy editor: Make sure your manuscript is polished.

4. Draft your query letter and synopsis: Spend some time condensing your 100 page manuscript into 1-2 pages.

5. Critique your query letter and synopsis: Hire someone to analyze your pitch and whether or not you immediately grab the reader’s attention.

6. Submit your query, synopsis, and manuscript to publishers: Purchase the ‘Guide to Literary Agents’ in order to research publishers in your specific genre.

Out of all of the 6 tips, the first one is the most exciting and the fourth one is the most difficult. Tip 2 is where you learn to have thick skin and tip 6 is basically where you play the waiting game. You submit your query to agents and pretty much wait around to see if one responds or not. (Most of them won’t respond at all. You’re lucky if you even get a rejection letter).

So…how far along are you? Are you stuck on a particular tip? Have questions?


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About 

Taneeka Bourgeois-daSilva is an authorpreneur, teacher, blogger, educational consultant, and writing coach. She wrote the award-winning Broccoli Chronicles and is the CEO of Building Voices and TCD Kids Foundation. She tweets at @taneekabdasilva.


Goals That Every Writer Should Have

The writing profession is one that requires self-discipline. In order to be successful, you must write specific goals that help you make it to the finish line. Having a stagnate writing regime will only hinder your chances of supporting yourself as a full-time writer. Here are 3 goals to keep in mind:

1. Write fervently – Some people say that it’s important for a writer to write something even if it is of no value. It’s just like speaking another language, if you don’t use it, you lose it. So therefore, put your writing into gear and take off!

I’m a firm believer that the things we love the most, we should embrace and approach with a certain amount of urgency and intensity. But be very careful of burnout and exhaustion. My suggestion, find a quiet room in your house and just write with every ounce of passion. Tap into the deepest place inside of your heart and let your pencil do the rest.

2. Market yourself – I used to tell my students that every moment is a teachable moment. As a writer, use every opportunity as a way to market yourself. Whether it’s at the grocery store, at the bank, or even at the car wash, be ready to pass out business cards and speak with people about your book or blog. Now, don’t become too pushy or annoying, but try to find a way to gently weave it into the conversation. You’d be surprised at how powerful personal interactions and word of mouth can be.

3. Capitalize on your talent – Many writers get paid to do other things aside from writing books. Some writers blog, guest blog, teach at writing conferences, and others have become advocates for writers, all of which are substantial ways to supplement your income. If you have a gift for writing, editing, or networking, then use those talents to your advantage. Try to identify at least three streams of revenue and center your career around that. It’s not a good idea to spread yourself too thin although it is said that writers must wear multiple hats and juggle hectic schedules in order to make it in this business.

Before you do anything else, reread these goals and apply them to your life! Think about how you can benefit from them and how you can incorporate them into your writing career.

About 

Taneeka Bourgeois-daSilva is an authorpreneur, teacher, blogger, educational consultant, and writing coach. She wrote the award-winning Broccoli Chronicles and is the CEO of Building Voices and TCD Kids Foundation. She tweets at @taneekabdasilva.


Things to do after your finish writing your first book

Congratulations on finishing your first book; now what? Before you lose your momentum, here are five things to do after writing your book.

1. Hire key staff members. Trying to juggle everything on your own can be very overwhelming and can actually backfire on you especially if you don’t have the right experience in that area. Consider hiring an editor, book designer, web developer, and even a publicist to help you with the development and marketing stages of your book. Having the right people on your team can yield the advice and skill set that you need in order to take your book to the next level.

2. Determine your printing/publishing needs. There are many ways to publish your book so therefore you need to determine what printing and publishing options are right for you. Do your research and make decisions that will benefit you in the long run. You don’t want to sign your rights away if you don’t have to.

3. Network. Look for opportunities to reach out to people in your community or in the writing field. Join writing groups, connect with librarians, visit local bookstores, and join publishing associations, all of which are great ways to promote your book and develop your audience.

4. Advertise. Set aside crucial time to design your marketing plan, create a press release, and utilize free resources such as word of mouth and social media. Sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr are very helpful to new and veteran authors who want to advertise their books. Advertisement is a powerful way to connect your book with readers nationwide.

5. Schedule author appearances. Author appearances (speaking events, book signings) are where you get the chance to build your platform, sell books, and connect with your readers. You’d be surprised at how many readers love the face to face interaction with their authors.

About 

Taneeka Bourgeois-daSilva is an authorpreneur, teacher, blogger, educational consultant, and writing coach. She wrote the award-winning Broccoli Chronicles and is the CEO of Building Voices and TCD Kids Foundation. She tweets at @taneekabdasilva.


Tip 6 of 6 Tips for Aspiring Writers

Yay!! You are finally ready to seek the guidance and expertise of a Literary Agent.  So…what’s next?

Well, first you need to purchase the Guide to Literary Agents and research those that are in your specific genre.  If you’ve written a picture book, then you need to locate agents that represent children’s authors.  Make a list or spreadsheet of the agents that accept picture book submissions and be prepared to send them your information, one by one.  It is imperative that you cross-reference the information from the Guide to Literary Agents with specific guidelines from their website especially since information changes daily and you want the current information.  If they take submissions only online then you should not send your submission through the mail.  Read every detail carefully!  It can be the difference between you getting a contract and your manuscript being dumped in the trash.

Remember to address all inquiries specifically to that person and refrain from using greetings such as – To Whom It May Concern.  Make sure that you read their bio and submission guidelines thoroughly.  If they request a query letter, synopsis, and the first ten pages of your manuscript, then it’s important that you send them EVERYTHING that they want!  Keep track of your submissions so that you don’t contact the same agent twice.  Sometimes, it’s okay to contact an agent following a rejection letter if you have significantly revised your manuscript and/or you are submitting materials for another book that you have written.

Not every author receives a contract from the first agent that they’ve queried.  Don’t be alarmed if you do not receive a response from them at all.  Continue to remain positive and if necessary, contact every agent in that field.  If you haven’t received a contract after two years or after you’ve queried 20+ agents then you possibly need to move to your Plan B.  No one knows your Plan B, except for you.  Maybe you need to take a break from writing.  Possibly take a trip somewhere and when you come back, be prepared to revise your manuscript, synopsis or query letter.  Also, you may consider self-publishing, which is becoming a great route for new authors.  Regardless, never give up on your writing and continue to believe in yourself or no one else will.  This is a competitive business and only the strong and persistent survive.

Good luck!


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About 

Taneeka Bourgeois-daSilva is an authorpreneur, teacher, blogger, educational consultant, and writing coach. She wrote the award-winning Broccoli Chronicles and is the CEO of Building Voices and TCD Kids Foundation. She tweets at @taneekabdasilva.

Tip 5 of 6 Tips for Aspiring Writers

You’ve spent the last few weeks condensing your 100+ page manuscript into a one to two page summary. You have all of the right components and now you are ready to send it off to an agent. Right before you do that, make sure that you get a second opinion. Whether you hire an editor or critiquer, you need to test if your hook immediately grabs their attention.

They will evaluate your hook, summary, and author’s bio. Also, they will alert any minor grammatical or spelling errors. Usually through Track Changes, they will correct the mistakes for you and provide a brief summary at the end which lists some pros and cons for you to focus on.

Now you are ready to revise your query letter and synopsis using the feedback that they gave you. You may need to revise these items up to ten times and possibly even more before it’s ready to send out to agents. Don’t rush this process. It takes time!

Building Voices will critique your work for a minimal fee. Please visit Building Voices for pricing.

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About 

Taneeka Bourgeois-daSilva is an authorpreneur, teacher, blogger, educational consultant, and writing coach. She wrote the award-winning Broccoli Chronicles and is the CEO of Building Voices and TCD Kids Foundation. She tweets at @taneekabdasilva.

Tip 4 of 6 Tips for Aspiring Writers

Your 30,000+ word manuscript is complete and you are ready to send it out to various literary agents and/or publishing companies.  Start off by drafting a one page query letter that contains a hook, your summary, author’s bio and your closing.  DO NOT send out generic letters that state, To Whom This May Concern. Spend some time viewing the agents website to gather important information such as their name, submission guidelines and genres of interest.  Make sure that you address your query letters separately to each agent.  When writing your bio, only include the information that is pertinent to your story and that particular field.  For example, if you are a full-time teacher with a degree in English or Creative Writing this coincides with your children’s book.  Mentioning a degree in Cooking or Finance doesn’t help build your platform in the Children’s Fiction industry.

Next, you must put together a two page synopsis that contains your hook and addresses the main characters and their purpose, the main conflict and the conclusion.  Take the hook and summary of your query letter and simply elaborate.  Make sure to discuss your protagonist and antagonist along with their purpose and motivations in the story.  Also, address the major conflicts and how your main characters tackle them.  Finally, provide a sneak peek of what happens in the end of the story.  You should never end with a cliffhanger, but also don’t give away every single detail that happens.  Remember, it’s a summary.

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About 

Taneeka Bourgeois-daSilva is an authorpreneur, teacher, blogger, educational consultant, and writing coach. She wrote the award-winning Broccoli Chronicles and is the CEO of Building Voices and TCD Kids Foundation. She tweets at @taneekabdasilva.

Tip 3 of 6 Tips For Aspiring Writers

Your story is complete and you have solicited valuable feedback from your peers on your strengths and weaknesses. Now it is time to hire an editor to critique your plot and story elements and flush out any spelling or grammatical errors that may hinder the flow of your story. When looking for a qualified editor, please use wisdom and common sense. Double check their website, references, credentials, past work experience, social media presence, etc. Ask tons of questions regarding their availability, expertise and pricing. Feel free to explain to them your concerns and expectations. If they are genuine and professional, they will work with you. Lastly, make sure that they sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement which protects the confidentiality of your work.


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About 

Taneeka Bourgeois-daSilva is an authorpreneur, teacher, blogger, educational consultant, and writing coach. She wrote the award-winning Broccoli Chronicles and is the CEO of Building Voices and TCD Kids Foundation. She tweets at @taneekabdasilva.

Tip 2 of 6 Tips for Aspiring Writers

Once your setting, storyline and characters are in place, it is time to seek the opinions of others.  Gaining valuable feedback and constructive criticism will either validate your writing or identify major areas of concern.

There are many advantages to joining a writing group.

1. You have an opportunity to develop your proofreading skills by identifying grammatical and spelling mistakes in another story.

2. You will receive honest feedback about your strengths and weaknesses.

3. You are able to compare and contrast your writing with others in that same genre.

4. You will gain encouragement and support from your peers.

5. You will determine whether or not there is a market for your story.

Keep in mind that there are various types of writing groups which are structured in different ways.  Some are online and others are in-person.  There are free groups with limited access and paid memberships with unlimited support.

When you’re ready, submit your story for review, and then sit back and wait for their feedback.  You will obtain an array of comments so be prepared to embrace all opinions.  Use the constructive criticism to refine your story and your overall writing skills.

 

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About 

Taneeka Bourgeois-daSilva is an authorpreneur, teacher, blogger, educational consultant, and writing coach. She wrote the award-winning Broccoli Chronicles and is the CEO of Building Voices and TCD Kids Foundation. She tweets at @taneekabdasilva.

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