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105 Author Blog Prompts: Banish Your Blank Blog!

So, you started your author blog. It was so *exciting* at the beginning! Rainbows and sunshine poured down on you and the posts flowed freely from your fingertips. There was no shortage of ideas and you just knew this blogging thing was meant for you.

Fast-forward to a month later. You visit your blog and think, “has it really been *that* long since I’ve posted?” We understand — we’ve had our share of blogging lapses in 2+ years here at Duolit. How do we combat this? Ideas…lots and lots of ideas. We offered up 20 or so author blog ideas awhile back, but thought it was time for something more…dramatic.

Like ONE HUNDRED AND FIVE AUTHOR BLOG PROMPTS! *cue exciting, dramatic music*

Oh yes. We came up with idea after idea until we ran out of juice (read: passed out from exhaustion) — and here’s the results.

Self-Publishing Related Blog Prompts

  1. What do you love most about self-publishing?
  2. What’s the worst part of self-publishing?
  3. How has your impression of self-publishing changed?
  4. Would you recommend self-publishing to other authors?
  5. What will the self-publishing industry look like in ten years?
  6. Review your publisher and publishing experience. What did you like? What would you change?
  7. 5 Things you’ve learned about self-publishing.
  8. 4 Self-published authors you look up to.
  9. 3 Ways indie authors can improve self-publishing.
  10. 2 Self-publishing resources every indie author should use.
  11. 1 mistake you made while self-publishing your book.Continue Reading

How to Write a Press Release (and 3 Places to Send It)

Many moons ago, I eagerly planted myself in the front row of a Florida State classroom for my first day of a public relations writing class. I was two semesters into my third major in college and pretty stoked about learning the core of the skill set I would need to secure a job post-grad. A lifelong, self-identified writer, I was certain the class would be an easy A and took pity on my classmates for what I assumed were their inferior writing skills.

Flash forward to the day my professor handed back our first assignments. In a flutter of white and red, my very first press release written for a grade dropped onto my desk — covered in blood.

Well, okay I’m exaggerating, it wasn’t exactly blood. It was red ink, but in my eyes it may as well have been blood. I was devastated. My professor took to the wipe off board and listed the five most common mistakes he’d found it our work. I had committed every single one of them.

If you think this story ends with me studying hard and acing my next assignment, you’re wrong. I mean I did study hard (in between football games) but it took half the semester for me to get a press release back with only a respectable amount of red ink on it.

I say that to say this: writing a [good] press release isn’t easy.

Your creative writing experience is as relevant to press release writing as your experience watching Jersey Shore is to solving complex math problems. But the good news is, with some guidelines and tools it’s not difficult to learn how to write a good press release. And make no mistake, you need to learn.

To get you started, we’ve created a helpful Press Release Template (DOC file) you can download and use to craft the perfect release to announce the publication of your book, launch of your website, book signing appearance or any other event that should be shared with the media.

But what happens after you write it?

A press release that sits in a folder on your computer’s desktop is pretty useless, right? The point of writing it is to send it out to the media to entice them to write a story about you and your book. But where exactly should you send it? Fox News? Anderson Cooper? The Ellen Show?

Those would be some great long term goals for your press releases, but in the meantime, let’s start with three places you should send your press releases (and might actual get some press attention).

1. PRLog.com

This website is free. It’s pretty basic,  There are a bevy of paid press release distribution services out there, but we’re self-published authors for a reason. Every penny counts and your designated marketing pennies are better spent in other areas than paid press release services.

Sign up, submit your release and take advantage of the features of the free service. Use the five optimized keywords, three clickable links, email & RSS distribution and the analytic services. It may not show up on the first page of Google, but it will put your release out there for bloggers and small market journalists to find when they’re searching for topics to write about. Also, it’s free. Did we mention that?

Bonus: Here’s a list of 50 other free sites for submitting your press releases!

2. Your local newspaper

Definitely submit your releases to your local newspaper (and/or TV news outlet if you live in a bigger market). Do your research and find the relevant reporter or department to send your release to. Hopefully you can find someone who specifically handles book reviews, but if not just go for a features writer.

When you email your release (if you were thinking of faxing it you need to put your cassette tapes in the garbage and step into the new millennium) pitch the story in your email message by talking about why it’s relevant to the publication’s readership. Think outside the box in terms of how your book could be tied back to the readers. The first press release I sent out for my book was published in my local paper as part of special series they put together on buying local gifts for the holidays.

Bonus: If you’re not tied to your local community but your book takes place in a real city, submit your press release to the local news outlets in the city where your title takes place.

3. Your Website

Say whaaaat? Yeah, that’s right, the third and final place you should ALWAYS submit your press releases is to your own website. When you’re just getting started, the best you can hope for with your press releases is to capture some search engine traffic with your keywords of choice. Publishing your press release with PRLog.com is a step in this direction, but publishing it on your website can help as well. Make sure it’s posted in a blog entry or on its own page (not a PDF link) to be sure that the search engines will cache the content.

Bonus: You should also include your press releases (at least the most recent one) in your media kit.

Got more suggestions?

If you know of some other websites or news outlets where authors should submit their press releases, please let us know! Share with us in the comments, on Twitter or on Facebook.

And don’t forget to download your (free!) Press Release Template.

6 Writing Outline Templates and 3 Reasons to Use Them

I have a question for you: What’s your book about?

No, no, I don’t want the long explanation. If you started with “Well, um, you see…there’s this girl…” I immediately stopped listening and started thinking about what I’m going to have for dinner tonight. I want you to give me the thirty second elevator pitch that’s going to pique my interest and make me want to read your novel instead of the pile of unread books I have at home on my nightstand.

Okay, follow-up question time: What’s the TP of your novel?

Did you seriously just say something about toilet paper? No, TP in this instance stands for Turning Point. In other words, the catalyst that makes your characters resolve their conflict. Wait — do we need to back-up here? Are you clear on what the underlying conflict of your story line is?

Alright, final question: What happens at the end?

I know you’re giving away all your secrets, but you can share with me. I won’t tell a soul. Just share the last line with me. Maybe the last paragraph. The last scene? You do know what the last scene in your novel will be, right?


If you stumbled through your answers to the questions above, I’d like to introduce you to our newest set of helpful Duolit tools. We have put together six plot and character outlining forms that not only look extremely spiffy, but they might actually help you get focused on your novel.

Still unsure why you should take the time to fill these out? Let me give you three quick reasons:

1. Writer’s Block: Despite the best efforts of the world’s leading doctors, a cure-all for Writer’s Block has yet to be found. However, there are some preventative measures we can take to keep the beast at bay, like writing outlines.

2. Motivation: A daily once-over of your plot or character outlines will keep you focused on your end goal. It will also remind you that you can (and will) complete your project if you put your mind to it.

3. Marketing: If you start promoting your book prior to its completion (and you should) having an outline with specific details about your characters and plot will help you focus your marketing efforts.

So now that you know how badly you need to do this, let me share a few details about the six helpful (and did we mention beautifully designed) plot and character outlines that we’re giving away today.

(Preface: You can choose one outline that best fits your style or a combination of outlines, but you don’t really need to do all six of them unless you just really, really, REALLY like outlining things…and there’s nothing wrong with that.)


The Basic Plot Outline

IF you prefer to leave plenty of space in your plot for changes on the fly….this one’s for you.

The basic plot outline can be tackled in under thirty minutes while you’re also watching TV and waiting for the clothes to dry. Just write down your title, names of your characters and maybe a line about each, and an overall summary of the plot you have in mind. Simple, quick and easy. Like my favorite foods.

« Download Basic Outline [PDF] »Continue Reading