Archive for the 'Christina Katz' Category

Writer Mama Success Rhythms

By Christina Katz Christina Katz and daughter

Now that all thoughts are turning towards 2010, l’d like to point out the key change I think all writers, including writer mamas, need to make. We all need to diversify our skill sets or we won’t be able to compete in the new marketplace. So as we enjoy the holiday season, think about how you will diversify your writing portfolio in 2010.
 
Craft: Try new forms. Your writing is going to be read in ways that have not even been discovered yet. How can writers prepare for this? By getting your needle unstuck and busting out beyond your most comfortable literary forms.
 
Never forget that attention spans are shrinking and that everyone is overworked and underpaid. So solemnly swear right now: I will not waste other people’ time. I will only write what is compelling, necessary and needed. Otherwise I will keep my words to myself until they are polished and targeted enough to share.
 
This, after all, is what writers do: we nurture clusters of words until they are ripe for the reading. Nurture ’em first. Share ’em only when they are ready.
 
Pitching: Diversify your income streams. You’re going to have to pitch more people more often just to earn what you were earning before or simply to generate enough leads to earn. So, don’t get your needle stuck on just this one editor or that one editor.
 
Yes, ongoing relationships are still great when the opportunity comes along, but don’t hope for that. Become gig-minded instead. Focus on landing and executing one gig at a time and then move on. Go for more gigs.
 
If an ongoing relationship with an editor yields steady results, great, but write for the sake of the writing well, not to hook your cart to one particular publisher or editor’s cart in hopes of regular assignments. And even when you get a stream of steady assignments, be sure to write for others in case that stream dries up.
 
Platform Building:
Streamline your platform-building efforts and specialize. The future of platform-building is going to involve streamlining. I’ve certainly learned this from personal experience.
 
You are going to have to keep your platforms simple, sisters. Don’t overlook specializing as a crucial preliminary step. And partner wisely with others, not just with anybody. It’s a crowded, cluttered, noisy Internet out there now. Rise to the top of the Google list by sounding one, clear, strong note, not by running bumpy scales instead. Okay? You’ll need to do your footwork to figure out your specialty.
 
Professional Development: Be choosy and select only the best. Just like you can’t be everything for everybody, you also can’t go everywhere and do everything. So, be picky. Don’t join just any associations. Join the best associations for you. Don’t attend too many conferences (or none). Attend those that will assist your career most. And don’t base your decision on price tag alone. Pay more for the right association, the right conference, etc. in order to preserve your time and energy. Above all, invest in your own career first, before assisting others.
 
Hope your Writer Mama Success Rhythms continue into 2010 and beyond, mamas.
 

Christina Katz is the author of Get Known Before the Book Deal, Use Your Personal Strengths to Build an Author Platform and Writer Mama, How to Raise a Writing Career Alongside Your Kids (both for Writer’s Digest Books). A platform development coach and consultant, she started her platform “for fun” seven years ago and ended up on Good Morning America. She teaches writing career development, hosts the Northwest Author Series, and is the publisher of several e-zines including Writers on the Rise. Christina blogs at The Writer Mama Riffs and Get Known Before the Book Deal, and speaks at MFA programs, literary events, and conferences around the country.

All About October!

For me, back-to-school marks the beginning of my new work year. I’ve decided (after working a bit less this past summer) to work more during the school year and less during the summer from here on out. So next summer, I plan to attend some writing conferences and that’s pretty much going to be it so I can enjoy quality time with my immediate and extended families.

And there are more changes in the works. Soon, I will only be offering four e-mail classes (instead of six) and will convert my platform classes into audio or video courses.

In January, I will launch two “Dream Teams” for former students who are interested in more support, encouragement and guidance on an ongoing basis. These Dream Teams will be linked up by a monthly conference call, weekly accountability assignments, and a group interface for sharing among participants. I was going to switch up the groups every three months but now I’m thinking that six months will be best for everyone.

I’m going to be working with Judy Miller, my intern/assistant over the holidays to create some e-books. Topics you might be interested include: “Author Mama,” “Write An E-book & Build a Following,” and “Grassroots Self-promotion for Authors.” I’d love for you to meet Judy, if you don’t already know her. You can read more here.

There’s going to be more news to come as the New Year gets closer, but suffice it to say that I am streamlining and focusing all of my online efforts to make room for book number three, which I’d like to start in January.

I wonder if there are classes, services or products you wish I would offer that I don’t currently offer. I’d love to hear your feedback on this via e-mail. Please write to me at writer mama dot earthlink dot net and let me know your thoughts.

The Writer Mama Back-to-School Giveaway is now over. I consider it a huge success. Big thanks go out to Judy Miller, for her help creating the posts, to Jane Friedman for providing many books, and to all of the authors who participated. The giveaway continues to be a popular opportunity for self-reflection and self-discovery for those who participate. It is always so gratifying for me to hear what everyone have to say about the process. You can read more on that here.

Harvest time is here in earnest, mamas. And it’s time to separate the wheat from the chafe. What will you keep? What will you let go of? How will you streamline your time to be as successful as you can be while safeguarding your quality time with your family?

Writer Mama Success Rhythms: September 2009

By Christina Katz Christina Katz and daughter

I’ve been reflecting on some of my successful former students lately. When I say “successful,” I mean they have made major strides in advancing their writing careers over the years I have known them. Let’s take a look at how they get published, share what they have to offer, gradually build a platform, and keep on learning.

Craft: I was recently asked by a writer if she should sign up for my beginning level platform class. She hadn’t established herself as a published writer yet, so I suggested that she focus on this goal first. You can’t really establish a platform if you don’t know what your specialty is. And there is only one way to improve your writing craft — and that is repetition.

So, it won’t matter if you read books and take classes if you don’t apply what you learned and repeat it over and over again to develop the muscle memory. You’ll need that muscle memory to write a longer work, like a book. Former students I’ve taught, who have books coming out, have primarily focused on progressing their craft. Improving the quality of your writing through execution and repetition is the foundation of a solid career for any writer.

Pitching: I think the word “pitching” is intimidating. Let’s call it “sharing” instead because when it comes right down to it, selling is simply sharing what you have to offer with others. Sharing can happen verbally or in writing (aka a “query”). Now, here’s the key. When you have worked long and hard on your craft, you want to share your skills with others. Pitching is how this sharing happens.

But, contrary to popular belief, pitching is not usually innate; it’s learned. So if you think only natural salespeople can share their work effectively, think again. I can teach anybody how to query effectively, though, it’s more complicated than most writers think. When I reflect on my former students with books or book deals in the works, I can see that they worked consistently to develop pitching skills and then used them.

Platform Building: At the point where you are writing, pitching, and selling your work-congratulations! You are building your platform. Of course, there’s a lot more you need to do. I’ve outlined the process in a checklist of forms you can write to describe your writing career in Get Known Before the Book Deal. It’s your job to be your own publicist and report on your steady progress or else nobody else is going to ever hear about it.

This is just the beginning of platform development but if you start here and come back and revisit this exercise often, you will always know intuitively what the best platform directions are for you. Some great examples from my among my former students are Cindy Hudson (http://motherdaughterbookclub.wordpress.com/) and Jenny Kales (http://www.nut-freemom.blogspot.com/).

Professional Development: One part of professional growth that is key to success is networking with other professionals in your field. Cindy Hudson is a great example. Over years of platform development for her forthcoming book, Book-By-Book, The Complete Guide to Creating Mother-Daughter Book Clubs, Cindy has met lots of authors and mother-daughter book club leaders, who have gone on to participate in the research for her forthcoming book. You can do this online by targeting specific interest groups or you can create your own community around your book-in-progress over time. It’s the community you build before, during, and after the book-writing that is going to spread enthusiasm about your book to others.

Remember, writers, there’s truly nothing to be gained from daydreaming about overnight success. Lasting success happens slowly and steadily and builds over time in a way that amplifies the integrity you’ve established. When integrity is the focus, success in inevitable.

Christina Katz is the author of Get Known Before the Book Deal, Use Your Personal Strengths to Build an Author Platform and Writer Mama, How to Raise a Writing Career Alongside Your Kids (both for Writer’s Digest Books). A platform development coach and consultant, she started her platform “for fun” seven years ago and ended up on Good Morning America. She teaches writing career development, hosts the Northwest Author Series, and is the publisher of several e-zines including Writers on the Rise. Christina blogs at The Writer Mama Riffs and Get Known Before the Book Deal, and speaks at MFA programs, literary events, and conferences around the country.

Writer Mama Success Rhythms: July is for Just Walk Away

By Christina Katz

Since it’s summer, I thought it might be helpful to look at how a break can benefit just about every area of aChristina Katz and daughter writing career.

Craft
When you take a break from writing and do other things like walking or swimming or playing croquette, what you are really doing is resetting your brain for the next writing session. So if you are already a prolific writer, don’t balk when the opportunity to get out of the house and play comes along. A break might be just what your writing needs to improve on the next draft. Take a break and see if it helps, no matter what stage of the writing process you are in.

Pitching
If you pitch your work and yourself often, how might a refreshing vacation help you pitch better when you return? Walking away from your work means that when you come back you can review your pitching strategy with fresh eyes. Maybe it’s time to update your bio, or craft better leads, or include more details about what you are proposing. Try to read your last query soon after you return and I bet you will notice several ways you can improve all of your queries moving forward.

Self-promotion
Heaven forbid you should take a break from promoting yourself! Just kidding. Of course, you should. If you are going on vacation, don’t follow the advice of some and bring work with you. I’ve read plenty of advice that says to work while you are on vacation and then write off the trip as a business deduction on your taxes. But that sounds deceptive to me. Do you really want to mess with the IRS? I say work when you are working and rest when you are resting. Don’t blur the line too much or you might soon be working all the time. I try to get my self-promotion done on a regular basis so when it’s time for R&R, I don’t even think about dragging my work into my vacation time (okay, except for e-mail)…tax deduction or no tax deduction.

Professional Development
On the other hand, mamas, sometimes the only way you get an opportunity to truly relax is by leaving home to attend a professional conference or workshop. So, I’d say, if you are a mom and you haven’t had a working vacation away from your family responsibilities, why not treat yourself? Yes, it’s hectic both when you are getting ready to go and when you return. But while you are gone, your time will be 100% your own. And when the last time that happened? And as an extra bonus, in this case the trip is legitimately tax deductible.

Happy summer, mamas!

Christina Katz is the author of Get Known Before the Book Deal, Use Your Personal Strengths to Build an Author Platform and Writer Mama, How to Raise a Writing Career Alongside Your Kids (both for Writer’s Digest Books). A platform development coach and consultant, she started her platform “for fun” seven years ago and ended up on Good Morning America. She teaches writing career development, hosts the Northwest Author Series, and is the publisher of several e-zines including Writers on the Rise. Christina blogs at The Writer Mama Riffs and Get Known Before the Book Deal, and speaks at MFA programs, literary events, and conferences around the country.

CATCH MY FIRST WRITER’S DIGEST WEBINAR!

Please Note: Date Change

Tuesday, Oct. 13th
Author Webinar:
Are You a Specialist or a Generalist?
Evaluating Your Skill Set to Get Published in the New “Gig Economy”
by Christina Katz (60 minutes)

What are your skill sets as a writer, and how do you evaluate them? How do you decide whether to specialize or generalize?

You need to establish a strong direction for your development as a writer to survive in the changing times of publishing.

All registrants will take a pre-quiz called “What’s Your Specialty?” designed to help you start identifying your strongest sources of expertise.

This live event will offer:

Tips and paths for both specialists and generalists, and how to get started

Examples of writers’ websites (both specialist and generalist)

How to combine a specialist and generalist approach

Your chance to jump-start your career using the same strategies as the pros

Opportunity to ask Christina Katz your questions about platform development

Bonus: All attendees receive a copy of Get Known Before the Book Deal by Christina Katz.

I bet many of you have not done a webinar before but there is really nothing to it. You just show up in front of your computer at the scheduled date and time and watch the images I display on your computer screen while listening to my voice in real time. You can even type in questions for me to answer during the Q&A period.

More info

 

 

Dear Writer Mamas (July/August Issue Starts Here),

I’m getting pretty good at this slowing down stuff.

Of course, I realize that my “slowed down” work schedule is busier than some people’s “high gear” schedule.

For example, today I worked on planning the 2009-2010 Northwest Author Series, while supervising a sleepover, taking the dogs on their walks, and otherwise holding down the fort while my husband is away for a few days at yearbook camp.

Tomorrow, I’ll get up, drop my daughter for an early playdate, go for a powerwalk with my walking buddy, take care of the dogs, and then host #platformchat, the new Twitterchat I started.

Did you catch that?

Twitterchat I started…? Does that sound like slowing down to you? (You can learn more about #platformchat here.)

How about planning for the Third Annual Writer Mama Back-to-School Giveaway?

Getting excited about Cindy Hudson and Kristin Bair O’Keeffe’s book launches?

Overseeing three e-zines?

Switching rooms for my office?

Planning my daughter’s fall activities?

Selling a pile of stuff on Craigslist?

Scheduling fall appearances?

Am I fooling anybody? Besides myself, I mean.

My husband claims that I am such a good multi-tasker, I sometimes make him feel slow. (He’s not.) I don’t do it on purpose. Of course I don’t. I’ve always been a quick-minded, somewhat impatient, foot-in-my-mouth-can’t stop-the-words-from-tumbling-out kind of person.

No, I may never slow down to other peoples’ paces. But I’m slowing down for me and that’s going to have to be good enough.

And when fall arrives, after all of this “rest,” look out! I just might be unstoppable.

Happy summering, mamas!

Christina Katz
Publisher & Editor
www.christinakatz.com

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Search on Twitter for #platformchat

Writer Mama Success Rhythms: June is for the Joy of a Writing Career

By Christina Katz

Will you work straight through the summer? I typically use some time in the summer to think about plans forChristina Katz and daughter the following year. I usually begin setting those plans in motion in August so they can be ready to fly by January 1st. This summer will be no exception. Even though I’m taking more time off for R&R than during previous summers, I’ll still be planning ahead. How about you?

Craft
Here’s the difference between writing for fun and writing practice, for me. Writing practice implies that…

  • you are writing for a specific audience.
  • you are writing frequently enough to see improvement in your  craft.
  • you are working with an editor or at least some kind of editorial process, even if it’s one you’ve set up for yourself.
  • you are seeing improvements in your writing as a result of your efforts, not just writing lots of words that will never see the light of publication.

Pitching
What if you are uncomfortable pitching yourself or your work? Here are some strategies to employ if pitching doesn’t come naturally:

  • Create a query form letter you can use over and over.
  • Verbally bounce your idea off someone you trust before you commit it to paper.
  • Have a set checklist you use to go over your pitches and make sure they are as thorough as they can be.
  • Writer Mama contains resources for all of these steps.

Self-promotion
Got platform? I worked my buns off for over a year to write a step-by-step guide on how to grow a platform from scratch alongside your writing career that would help every writer. I sure hope you have a copy!

A key point of the book is: we are all 100% responsible for our writing careers. Does this describe you? If not, and you’d like to work through the platform process with me step-by-step, Platform 101 starts in August.

Professional Development
A lot of mom writers are telling me that they are attending writing conferences this summer — hooray! So what can you do before the conference to get the most out of it?

  • Re-read Chapter 22, Count Down Days to a Conference, in Writer Mama for tips on conference preparation.
  • Read Mary Andonian’s “Writing Conference Success column in The Writer Mama archives.
  • Take care of all your logistical issues far in advance of the conference (i.e., babysitter, transportation, etc.) to insure that you’ll have some time before the conference to plan which sessions to attend and otherwise create a personal plan to get as much as possible out of the conference. After all, if you are going to invest your hard-earned money into your writing career, you’ll want to get as much out of it as possible.
  • Trust what happens and the people you meet. Make the most of every encounter and learning opportunity. Have a great time and you are sure not to be disappointed!

Happy summer, mamas!

Christina Katz is the author of Get Known Before the Book Deal, Use Your Personal Strengths to Build an Author Platform and Writer Mama, How to Raise a Writing Career Alongside Your Kids (both for Writer’s Digest Books). A platform development coach and consultant, she started her platform “for fun” seven years ago and ended up on Good Morning America. She teaches writing career development, hosts the Northwest Author Series, and is the publisher of several e-zines including Writers on the Rise. Christina blogs at The Writer Mama Riffs and Get Known Before the Book Deal, and speaks at MFA programs, literary events, and conferences around the country.

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