Wednesday, December 2, 2015

IWSG: Ask PZM - Dec 2015 - Formating, Pinterest, and Contests


It's that the first Wednesday of the month, which means it's Insecure Writer's Support Group Wednesday. Thanks to our noble Ninja Captain Alex J Cavanaugh, it's time to share our fears and insecurities, or support and assistance. Doesn't matter which.


If you'd like to join us, click here. Be sure to link to this page and display the badge in your post.

Our hashtag is #IWSG

Alex's awesome co-hosts for the December 2 posting of the IWSG will be Sandra Hoover, Mark Koopmans, Doreen McGettigan, Megan Morgan, and Melodie Campbell! 

Please stop by and thank them for their time and effort.



A S K   P Z M

Q: What is your opinion about indented or block (un-indented) paragraphs for books?

I was just sent a review copy of a nonfiction ebook that had block paragraphs and a line of space between each paragraph. I found this format much harder to read than the traditional indented paragraphs with no space between each paragraph, and I advised the author of my opinion.

In response, he quoted a source who said that the convention was indented paragraphs for fiction and block paragraphs for nonfiction although this was only a preference. (No, I’m not going to quote the source here because I don’t agree with the advice.)

BUT – my mantra always is: Make it as easy as possible for people to say yes to you.

And I personally feel indented paragraphs make it much easier for people to read both fiction and nonfiction.

To validate my opinion, I went to Amazon and checked the paragraph formatting of the very insightful book LEAN IN by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. Except for the beginning of each chapter, the paragraphs are indented with no space between paragraphs.

In conclusion to this question, when considering formatting for your own books, think EASE OF READING because, after all, you wrote your books to be read.



Q: Do affiliate links work for pins on Pinterest?

No, and I learned this the hard way. A reviewer wrote a very thoughtful review of my book HOW TO SUCCEED IN HIGH SCHOOL AND PREP FOR COLLEGE, and this particular pin of mine on Pinterest gets a number of repins. But, after listening to a webinar featuring Pinterest expert Beth Hayden, I realized that the review’s link to my book on Amazon was an affiliate link. Thus anyone who clicked on the pin and read the review found a non-working buy link.

What a waste of the repins!

How did I solve this as I didn’t want to ask the reviewer to change his affiliate link on his own site?

I edited the link in the pin to not go to the review on the reviewer’s page but go instead to the book on Amazon, where (with the reviewer’s permission) his review also appears. This way there is no need for a working link from the review as the buy button is right there.

(Shoutout: I first learned from Beth Hayden on a free webinar hosted by Publicity Hound Joan Stewart. Then I signed up for Beth’s paid Pinterest course for authors as I realized I wasn’t effectively using Pinterest. Now I’m slowly working through my existing Pinterest boards and pins to make all of these more effective. You can see my work-in-progress at http://pinterest.com/zimblermiller)



Q: Any thoughts on entering writing contests?

There are contests and there are contests – entrance fee or free, completed books (or screenplays) or works-in-progress, run by small individual websites or by major organizations, major publicity exposure for winners or very little exposure.

The simple answer is that each opportunity has to be evaluated on its individual merits, your own contest-entry “budget” and whether before the deadline you can carve out the time to enter.

Now I have seen extensive lists of available writing contests. I find such lists daunting (and I ignore them). But occasionally when a contest catches my eye I will consider entering it.

The site Skrawl.com just sponsored its first screenwriting contest and I decided to enter because the requirement was only to write five pages of an original screenplay. I already had a treatment written for a screenplay complete with dialogue for the setup, so I adapted that dialogue into five pages of screenplay format.

But if I hadn’t already had something suitable, I may not have taken time away from my other writing projects to develop the premise and the first five pages of an original screenplay.

(Follow Skrawl on Twitter to keep abreast of other contests: https://twitter.com/Skrawl_It)

Bottom line, consider contests when they fit into your overall writing schedule but not to the detriment of your writing!








Phyllis Zimbler Miller is the author of fiction and nonfiction books on Amazon. She blogs on book-related topics at www.PhyllisZimblerMiller.com
and this month she is particularly proud of the World War II military service article her 91-year-old father just wrote for her site –
see http://budurl.com/wwiimilitary



47 comments :

  1. There are so many contests out there and sadly some are scams. We need to be careful of that, too.

    I don't know why non-fiction is usually not indented. One of those unwritten laws I guess.

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    1. I'm curious who decides the law. Thanks, Diane.

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  2. Appreciate the advice and insight, Phyllis. I agree, considering the reader's experience is key. Thanks for hosting, Joylene!

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  3. Hi Joylene and Phyllis - some great tips here. Interesting about the formatting advice though and I'd go with ease, and what most authors use ..

    Cheers Hilary

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  4. I agree with you about indenting, but I'm old-fashioned in a lot of ways. I've tried a few writing contests through the bloggers but got discouraged, like with everything in writing. It's really hard to stand apart from the crowd.

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    1. And every single one of us is unique and special. We just need reminding. Thanks, Tess. Love your blog profile pic.

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  5. Great post, Joylene! Good info about links on Pinterest. I need to take a look at some of mine. With the indent issue - I think a writer needs to go with whatever works for her/his reading audience. As a voracious reader myself, I much prefer the traditional indented paragraphs.

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    1. Thanks, Sandra. Sounds like we writers have one more thing in common.

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  6. I need indents. lol Glad you agree! I've gotten sucked into the contest craze, and I'm happily stepping away from it now.

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    1. Sad the contests didn't pan out. Glad you're in agreement. And glad you stopped by. Thanks, Deborah.

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  7. I prefer indents too. I've been entering contests lately, but I make sure to carefully read all the fine print before I submit anything. I like to know what to expect.

    Thanks for all you do for IWSG!

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    1. Thank you for supporting this blog. Loved your IWSG post for today.

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  8. I never really thought about the formatting but you're right, I do find the first-line indent, no spaces easier to read.

    I've never entered a contest, but I've looked at a few and I'm always worried about them being scams or not worth the entry fee. Thanks for the insightful post!

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    1. Thanks so much for visiting, Megan! And for co-hosting.

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  9. I've never noticed the formatting differences either. Boy, am I observant!

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    1. Might have something to do with how busy you are, Cap'n.

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  10. I it depends on what you are use to with paragraphs, but I am with you on your motto about it. I did not know there was a difference between fiction and non-fiction, I thought a book was book read the same way @@sheesh

    Merry Christmas
    Juneta @ Writer's Gambit

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    1. Perhaps it's the difference between entertainment and education. Although, I often learn something while reading for the sheer enjoyment of it.

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  11. Thanks for the info.
    I'm two-minded about signing up for Pinterest. I love working with images as writing prompts. So that aspect really appeals to me.
    I must admit that I know nothing about how Pinterest really works. I'm not averse to learning though...but do I have the time to manage yet another social media site?

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    1. I love Pinterest, so you're probably wise to stir clear. It's addictive. I go looking for a recipe for dinner and waste 2 hours looking at all the pretty Christmas crafts. How? I have no idea.

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  12. I'm so ineffective with Pintrest. Maybe I should look at Beth's stuff to see if I can be better.

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    1. I feel/felt the same way, Loni. Before Phyllis addressed the subject. Thanks for stopping by.

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  13. Making it easy for people is definitely the key.

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  14. Thank you for this very helpful post. I can't imagine reading a book in my leisure time with spacing between paragraphs. My eyes want to relax. Having said that, some technical text books utilize such spacing, but the intent's to provide room for quick notes (and so on) often necessary in a university/research (and so on) environment. I enjoyed Pinterest for a while, perhaps too much (it is addicting!) and decided to let it go. Joylene, you read my mind. During the move here, I sorted out letters from my grandmother, thinking her sayings would have a home in a little book. And she'd loooove you . . . would be pleased if you adopted her sayings!!

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    1. Your grandmother was very special, Kittie. Thanks for visiting.

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  15. I love Pinterest, but tend to only use it for teaching ideas . . . I'll need to improve my author's presence there. Thanks for another helpful post!! I haven't entered a contest in a long time, but maybe soon!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by, Jamie. Have a great Christmas.

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  16. That's for such an informative post! I'm not on Pinterest much. I get a bit overwhelmed by all the social media options, and I'm more of a blogger/reader. I have learned to be selective about contest and tend to only enter free ones. Great tips!

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    1. Thanks, Jenni. Thanks for sharing your latest read on your blog. Sounds wonderful.

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  17. Thanks for sharing you insight. I agree that you should make it easy for readers. They are our target.

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  18. Hey Joylene!

    Yay! Your post is actually here! :) Always interesting advice from the legend that is Phyllis.

    "Any thoughts on entering writing contests?" Yep, never enter them because it would not be fair on the rest!

    Have a good and kewl weekend, eh!

    Gary

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    1. Your excuse for not entering contests is very generous, Gary. You are such a thoughtful fellow.

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  19. As always, love the advice! I completely agree that writers want to make their books as easy as possible to read. Certain formats are easier to read than others. :)
    ~Jess

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    1. Thanks for visiting, Jess. As always your support is appreciated.

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  20. I couldn't agree more. In self-published fiction, I've come across both block paragraphs and indented paragraphs with lines of blank space between each one. Very annoying to read, and it looks unprofessional.

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    1. Thanks, Lexa. Thanks for a chance at a giveaway on your blog.

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  21. In the '90s I entered a bunch of contests and I wasted my money on fees. I won't do it again. I prefer indented paragraphs.

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    1. Sad to hear that, Medeia. That's why we're trying to make a difference with the IWSG anthology. Thanks for visiting.

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  22. I don't do contests and I prefer indented paragraphs. Like you, I think writing should be as reader-friendly as possible.

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  23. I agree that writing should be reader friendly first. :-)

    As for competitions... I don't think it's worth the bother if it couldn't be added to a resume without people wondering what you're talking about. And even then, that would probably take up more time and drama than I'd find worth spending. So I just keep plugging away here in my own corner.

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    1. Cheering for you, Misha. Thanks for visiting.

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  24. I have to admit I like traditional formatting. Easier on the eyes.

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