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Welcome to Week 2 of our Novel Writing Month.

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photo by Zsuzsanna Kilian
photo by Zsuzsanna Kilian


Making Your Own Short Story Anthology

By: Jeff McRitchie

 Putting together an anthology of short stories, whether of your own work or that of others, can be a fun and rewarding project. Here are some hints and tips to help get you started.

Decide On A Theme:

Here is where a little bit of research can help get you started. Take a trip down to your local library, bookstore, or even your own book shelf and take a good look at the short story anthologies that are there. You may notice that most of the best ones are centered  around a theme, such as “the best short fiction from writers under 25” or “the best fly fishing short stories” or something of the sort. The latter is a great example of a niche that can really work well because it may be unexplored and has a devoted following. Whatever you end up deciding your theme will be, do your best to make sure it is something that your audience will enjoy and that there is a market for.

If you are creating an anthology of your own work, of course, then you yourself are the theme. Put your finished, well-edited stories in an order you like. It could be chronological, for instance, but it is best to place your best work at the beginning of the anthology.

Asking For Submissions:

There are a few ways to go about this, but to do any of them well, you should first set up an attractive website that your prospective contributors can visit and see what the parameters are. In order to get visitors to your site, you should join and contribute to as many online writers’ forums as you can find. Take a little bit of time to introduce yourself and gain a little bit of trust, then let them know that you are putting together an anthology and looking for submissions.

The website should contain the following information: the theme, expected length of the stories, and deadline. Let the writers know how and if they will be compensated. Be ready for a flood of submissions, and to have a tactful way to inform the writers whose stories you are rejecting that they will not be included.

Organizing the Book:

There is no hard and fast rule here, but as alluded to above, you will want to put the best two to three stories in the beginning of the book. Save one of the better ones that remain for last.

As the curator and editor, you should write a nice introduction that explains your theme and that thanks the writers. At the end of the book, create a biography page where each of your writers has included a bio and, if there is enough space, a thumbnail photo.



When it comes to printing and binding, there are a few different choices, depending on the scale of your project. Printing should be high-quality laser. As far as binding, you will probably want to go with a hardcover or soft cover look. These types of books are bound in what in known as “thermal” binding machines. These machines are remarkably easy to use and inexpensive as well, so if you are going to be doing a lot of publishing, and have a do it yourself spirit, you may enjoy the savings and flexibility of owning your own binding machine.


About the author: Jeff McRitchie is the designer and Director of Marketing for .He has written over 500 articles on binding machines,binding covers,binders,laminators,binding supplies,laminating supplies,paper handling equipments,index tabs, and shredders.


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Tips for Selling at Book Festivals

By: Jim Magwood


Most authors today struggle with marketing their books, mainly because no one else will do it for us. Most publishers are going to do little or nothing in the marketing area so it means we, the authors, have to do it ourselves. We can buy marketing help, of course, but little is going to come easy or cheap.


However, one item most of us will miss might be one of the best ways for marketing, both to “civilians” (make that readers) as well as to people in the industry – and that is book fairs, conferences and festivals. In other words, purchasing a booth at an event and getting out in front with our books. Here are several tips that will help make events like these more successful.


1. Determine what your genre and market are and then find events that are specific to those. If you are writing romance novels, you don’t want to be booking space at children’s fairs. If you write mysteries, consider events specific to that genre. Large, general fairs are good for most genres as long as they do specify they have people from your genre coming. Consider industry specific events such as dog shows for your book on grooming dogs, a horse show for your romance novel about two horse lovers, and a science fair for a mystery about people marooned in space.


Also, you are likely better off starting with events that are close to home. Local fairs where you can advertise “local boy writes cookbook.” Check your newspaper or Chamber of Commerce or library for events coming to your area. What is it? Would your book fit within the topics being presented? Consider things like flea markets where you can usually get a booth very inexpensively and where there will likely be a large number of people coming through. Look up “book fairs” on the Internet and look for lists put out by major, reputable organizations.


Watch out for overall cost wherever you book. Rooms, meals and travel costs are added to the basic booth rentals and fair entrance fees, so be sure you consider them all. Consider starting small and growing as you gain both experience and recognition. And, if you know of someone else attending the show, even if they aren’t showcasing the same product as you are, see if they might want to share a booth.


2. Thirty days or so before the event, be sure you have everything in place. Do you have plenty of copies of your books to take with you? Are your display signs made (do they look professional?) Do you have your confirmation and instructions for the event? How about exact directions for getting there? Travel tickets booked? Hotel? Most of us forget table coverings. What size table will you have, and what type of booth? Do you need special coverings for table, walls, backdrop? Do you need to bring your own food and drinks for the booth, or will they be available (more cost?) at the event. Will you be inside or will you need to have outside supplies—hat, bug repellant, sunscreen? Cleaning supplies for both you and the booth (Handi-wipes, towelettes, paper towels)?


3. How many books should you take? Generally you should have 30-50 books available, depending on the size of the festival, how long you will be there, and how well known you already are. Keep in mind: What are you going to do with all the leftover books you bring home. It might be a costly investment, so be careful. But, do take as many copies as you comfortably can, because you only get one chance at these events and you don’t want to run out.


BUT, what to do if you run out and people want more? ALWAYS keep at least one book on hand, even if you really, really want to sell it. Because—if you have no books, you have nothing to show people who are still stopping at the booth. Be prepared in advance with a clipboard and paper already lined out to take names and addresses of people who would be interested in you contacting them. Have a good supply of business cards, bookmarkers, half-sheet pictures of your book cover with all your contact information on the back—anything to put in their hands so they will remember you. Also, see if you can take pre-paid orders for books you can mail when you get back home. Consider a hefty discount for people who will do that. Or, offer to send them a book when you get home with an enclosed invoice they can pay at that time. Risky—sure. But you want to move your books, right?


Keep your mind open BEFORE you go to the event for anything you can think of that might come up and how you will handle it. You are paying good money for this event and you want to make the best use of it.


4. What if you meet bookstore owners at the event? Immediately ask if they would be interested in stocking a few copies of your book. Offer a consignment deal between you and them (risky, yes, but maybe a way to get started.) Offer to deliver the book personally to their store (no freight costs for either of you?) Give them two or three books on the spot—FREE—to take home and try. Remember, the only other place they will see you and your book is in a catalog with about a thousand other books screaming for their attention. Make your pitch NOW, and make it good.


And, one last item to keep in mind:


5. Collect business cards from EVERYONE. Go up and down the aisles getting something from everyone you can to take home with you. This can be as valuable as the immediate selling of your books. These will be your future contacts for when you get home. People to sell to. People to network with. People to do joint ads with. Bookstore owners who have now seen your face. Agents. Publishing and marketing contacts. Industry experts. Collect them all—and follow up with them. Send them something—anything—to make an acquaintance, a friend, a future business contact.


Top off the event: Enjoy Yourself. Don’t party your time and possibilities away, but keep in a good mood. Laugh. Meet other people. Talk with them. Be fun. Walk around. Be active. Write down notes for use in the next events—and find out word-of-mouth when and where the next (good) events are. Whether or not you actually sell any books, make the event profitable and successful just by the experience you get and the contacts you make. Come home with a list of things you will, and won’t, do at your next event—because there will be a next one.


About the author: Jim Magwood is the author of the international mystery novel, SANCTION. Visit him and SANCTION at his website, Jim is also the webmaster of the site, The Author’s Inn, dedicated to showcasing author’s works. Visit The Author’s Inn at


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Tips for Writing a Compelling Local News Story

By: Darla Blackmon


Launching a hyper local news site is one thing – writing compelling content that keeps your readers coming back is quite another. This article will give you some tips for understanding how to put together a great news story that will keep your readers informed and eager to read more.


One way to do this is to write “upside down.” Many journalists write their content in what is called an inverted pyramid. The most important, meatiest content goes at the top. The reason for this is that editors typically cut from the bottom if a story is too long. If this happens, then the most important stuff stays in the story. (This tradition was originally started back when editors physically cut the bottom of a type-written page, but the principle still applies).


The next tip may sound a bit obvious, but it is critically important: be accurate. Double and triple-check information to be sure it is accurate. If quoting someone makes sure the quotes are correct and attributed to the right individual. Fortunately with the large volume of information available on the web, fact-checking is much easier than it used to be. Be sure to get familiar with some of the main sources of information in your community and check those sites frequently.


Finally, the pet peeve of any news connoisseur is clichés. You’ve all heard them: “cut to the chase,” “shoot from the hip,” or “sink or swim.” They are those common phrases that people use because they think they are clever, but in reality they are way overused in both speech and writing. The more original and thoughtful your content, the better chance you have of gaining a positive readership and reputation at your site. This is not an easy habit to break, but with enough practice and patience it will be well worth accomplishing.


Once your articles are written and posted, there is yet another step – self-promotion. There is so much noise on the web today that it can be difficult to get heard. The key is to use many of the social networking tools available to do some self-promotion. Send out links to your content via Facebook and Twitter, and interact with visitors on your site. Respond to comments and pose questions to your followers about what kinds of events they may want to see covered or ask if they have any tips to share. Most people enjoy being used as sources and sharing a bit of expertise about something they know quite a bit about.


Finally, write well. Hemmingway level prose isn’t necessary, but touching up on some basic grammar rules would be advised. Know the difference between your and you’re or there, their, and they’re. Get a friend or colleague to review your writing to make sure it sounds good. Make liberal use of and other online tools to help you through the writing process.


And be sure to enjoy the process of crafting local news stories. You are undertaking a service to your community to bring it news that otherwise wouldn’t be reported.


About the author: Darla Blackmon writes about local news for (, a community website that covers news, music, art and entertainment. Submit your own news story at


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