Category Archives: Uncategorized

Tips for Better To-Do Lists

Shows to-do list in the background. List states "to do....everything!" and has a stickman holding his head. The post title, "Tips for Better To-Do Lists' is superimposed on the top.

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

I have become something of a to-do list aficionado.  I’ve been religiously using lists since having children.  That’s over 20 years of list making.

I’ve changed the way I’ve handled lists over the years and have adapted other people’s methods into my own process.   I frequently return to an article written by Eric Barker for Time Magazine: “The Morning Routine Experts Recommend for Peak Productivity.”   It makes a lot of sense to me, from the ‘magic hours’  to the ‘starting ritual,’ to the ‘3 things that matter today.’

The low-tech list: For a while I was using an app to help me prioritize (135 List, which is free and works well for anyone trying to get in a habit of prioritizing). Now I’ve made the process even simpler.  I have a Notepad (digital…comes with PCs) text file saved for every day of the week:  Monday To-Do, Tuesday To-Do, etc.  I put the three big things I most want to accomplish at the top. Then I put the things that could be shifted to another day’s list at the bottom.  If errands are on my list, I copy-paste the list to my online calendar.  At the end of the day, whatever didn’t get accomplished is portioned out to the following day (or other days, if the next day is too busy).

Reevaluate the list in the afternoon: I realized 4 years ago that one list per day wasn’t really going to cut it for me anymore.  I needed to reevaluate in the early afternoon because some things became less-important and some things became more pressing.  This way, I’m still being thoughtful about my list and my tasks and not simply reacting to things that pop up. But I’m also incorporating things that pop up (sometimes they are important and need immediate attention).

Set timers to avoid a time-suck…or procrastination:   I use timers a lot: both for writing and promo.  I just type ‘set timer for 7 minutes’ into Google and let my computer keep track.  Timers work well for me for two reasons: one, it helps me avoid procrastination. If I know I need to update my website, seeing that I’ve allotted ten minutes for the task makes it a lot less-daunting.  Another reason timers work well for me is that they help keep me on task and focused.

Don’t  turn your list into a braindump:  There is definitely a place for an all-inclusive list…a braindump of a list that includes writing, promo, blogging, the dog’s vet checkup, Christmas shopping, etc.  But my advice is to have that master list separate from your to-do list.  The whole idea is to make the daily list manageable and approachable.   Then work in tasks from the master list to the daily list (breaking them down into bite-sized bits, if needed).

Are you a list person?  How do you set up your lists?

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Photo credit: john.schultz via Visualhunt / CC BY-SA

Why You Need an Author Tagline

Dogwood flowers frame an empty notepad and pen with the post title, 'Why You Need an Author Tagline by Laina Turner' superimposed on the photo.

by Laina Turner, @laina_turner

I went to a writers conference years ago, and a panelist was talking about marketing. He said, many great writers never enjoy the chance to earn a living as an author because no one knows how great their books are. They think if they write an amazing book people will buy it, so they don’t put time and effort into marketing.

While writing a good book is a huge part of selling it books won’t sell if the reader doesn’t know it exists. You have to promote what you write.

It’s the business side of authoring.

There are plenty of readers for everyone, but there’s no denying it’s stiff competition. You must make a good first impression and hook potential readers in the split second you have their attention. There are many ways to do that, but today we’re going to talk about the author tagline. Continue reading Why You Need an Author Tagline

Journaling a Book as a Reader ‘Extra’

Photo of a woman's hands on a notebook....her right hand clasps a pen. The post title, "Journaling a Book as an Extra" is superimposed on the top.

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

I’d been hearing that author notes could be a nice website ‘extra’ for readers or newsletter subscribers, or serve as promo copy on the product page for Amazon.

I’d experimented a little  in my newsletters and on Amazon, but decided to take things a little farther this time.  I decided to try journaling a book while I wrote it.  I posted the journal on Google Docs, shared it so that anyone with the link could view it, and mentioned the journal on my website.

At first, I was a little worried.  Writers’ lives aren’t the most interesting and was the writing process really going to draw readers in?  Especially mine?  I’m very routine-driven.  Writing at 5 a.m. isn’t maybe the most fascinating thing in the world.

But then I became a little more observant about what was going on around me while I was writing.  How was I managing distractions? How focused was I on the story? When and where was I getting my ideas?  And I found that there were stories around the story.

I don’t give any major spoilers, just hint at some of what’s going on in the story that I’m writing.  That can naturally lead into the genesis of the characters and how I feel about them.  Who or what helped to inspire their creation.  The origination of the supposedly fictional settings (that have a lot in common with real locations).

We can add images from the web, personal photos, links, and other things to make the journal more visually interesting.

I decided to pin the link to my journal at the top of my Facebook page.  From there, it generated a lot of interest and readers reached.  My post read: “What goes through a writer’s mind while working on a book? It can be surprising.  Follow along as I write the next Myrtle Clover mystery,  A Body in the Trunk.”

It’s also nice to post it on Facebook because readers can comment there.  I disabled comments for the document on Google Docs, because I had the feeling it would turn into a real mess….comments are really intended for edits between project partners and are inline there.  I’d say that the lack of ability to host comments is the only real problem I see with putting the journal on Google Docs. You could, of course, set up a similar journaling project on your blog—each entry could engender comments.

Do you use author notes?  Journal books?  What ‘extras’ do you include for readers?

Photo via Visual hunt

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Quick Tip for High Resolution Book Cover Images

A bike is shown propped against a bookcase of books and knickknacks. The post title, "Quick Tip for High Res Book Cover Images" is superimposed on the photo.

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig 

From time to time I need a high resolution cover image.  Sometimes it’s because a guest blogger has sent me an image so small that WordPress is showing it blurry on the post.  Sometimes I’m sending a cover for publication in a print magazine or newspaper.

I came across a tool for high resolution cover images from eReader Palace last year.  I bookmarked it because I thought it might come in useful.  But I’ve found myself using it so much that I decided it was time for me to mention the tool here.

It’s very easy to use.  You pull up the ebook on Amazon (and it must be an ebook because the ASIN is needed).

Copy Amazon’s ASIN identifier.

Paste it into the box on the website

Click “Get the Cover Image.” I always use portal A and have never had a problem with it.

 

The image will open in another tab. Right click and save the file to your computer.  I’ll usually save them as :  Title–High Res–Elizabeth Spann Craig .

That’s it.  :)  Short and sweet today.  Hope this will be a useful tool for some of you out there.

Have you run across any helpful tools lately?

Quick tip for high res cover images: Click To Tweet

Photo via Visual hunt

Book Promo Services

Large 'Sale" sign in the background and an older woman walking past it on the street. Post title, "Book Promo Services" is superimposed on the photo.

by Elizabeth S. Craig, @elizabethscraig

I’m always on the lookout for ways to connect to readers and find new readers without being obnoxious.   I’m not one to really promote on Facebook and never promote on Twitter.

One way of finding and connecting with new readers seems pretty obvious to me: ebook promotion services.  The best-known of these is BookBub.  These aren’t retailers, these are services that let subscribed readers know about free or discounted books.
Continue reading Book Promo Services