Writing by James

Articles and opinions on technology, social media and innovation


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Book Review: Building a Blog for Readers: How to Blog In A Way That Matters by Nick Thacker

Building a Blog For Readers - Front CoverStarting as blog isn’t easy. You fret about whether you’ll be able to write, whether people will want to read it; after a few posts and only a few hits you start to wonder if it was all worth it. But get through the doubts and before long it all changes. For me, it’s been a really positive experience that has opened up doors to speaking opportunities, made me a little extra cash through freelance work, and even helped me get a new job.

Luckily for those of you who are just starting on this road, you can get a jump start thanks to Nick Thacker’s ‘Building a Blog for Readers: How to Blog In A Way That Matters’. Thacker is the prolific blogger and writer behind LiveHacked, a website aimed at aspiring authors who want to make a living out of writing. I was already familiar with LiveHacked, having used the site’s The Fiction Writer’s Guide to Writing Fiction content to help me with my writing, so when Nick asked me to review the book, I was happy to do so.

Building a Blog for Readers is set out less as book and more as a guide for the new or nascent blogger (Thacker himself terms it a manifesto). Formatted into 101 questions across seven topics, you can read through or dip in as required. It’s clear and accessible, and if you don’t think a section is valid for you, it’s easy to move on. However, Thacker’s goal for the book is that you work your way through each one, answering them as you go, so that you have the confidence to begin writing (or maybe not) when you get to the end. It’s not about giving you advice; it’s about helping you to understand what you want.

The seven topics are:

  1. Vision – these questions are focussed on getting out what you want to achieve through writing, your personal goals for the project.
  2. Purpose – this is about understanding your goals for the blog itself: will it help people, make you famous, what is it that makes you suitable to write about a subject, what makes you hungry?
  3. Strategy – creating a strategy for your blog. Define your readers and their requirements.
  4. Tactical – this are the smaller blocks of activity that put your strategy into action.
  5. Structure – the topics on which you’ll write and the USP of your blog. Also, the platform your blog will run on.
  6. Personal / Lifestyle – creating a writing schedule, outlining your commitment to write and discovering how best to approach writing.
  7. Inspiration – finally, other writers provide inspiration through sharing their experiences

Read in order, the book makes sense and holds your hand through most of the big questions you need to ask when setting up a blog (and looking to make money from it). One thing to note though: this won’t tell you how to write and it won’t make you a better writer. It will focus your mind and help you to structure your approach to writing – but if you’re hungry, passionate and knowledgeable on a subject, hopefully the writing quality will come with time and practice.

Personally I didn’t take as much from the Inspiration section as others have done, but the other questions that Thacker poses are well defined and thought-provoking. If you’re looking to start a blog this is worth reading; you’ll find you start off running – or at least jogging – rather than walking. And for the small price of £2.62, it’s not a massive investment either.

Disclaimer: This is an independent review based on a proof copy of the book supplied to me. I have no business relationship with Nick Thacker or LiveHacked. I have not received any monetary incentives or payments. I don’t need to write this bit, but I think it’s always good to be completely transparent.

Have you read Building a Blog for Readers: How to Blog In A Way That Matters? What did you think? Has it given you the confidence to start writing? I’d be interested in your comments.


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The Righteous Dead – now available on Amazon

The Righeous Dead

The Righteous Dead - my first novel

“It is 1946. On a dark night in Kent, a plane lands in a field. It contains a single passenger, tasked with delivering a single message. A message that will have a devastating effect on every man, woman and child in the country.”

So, for those who don’t know, I’ve been working on a novel for the last year. I’m really pleased to be able to say that it’s finished and is now available on Amazon. In the next couple of weeks it will also be available on Barnes & Noble, Apple, Diesel and Kobo.

It’s an amazingly exciting moment for me personally, but I’ve had a lot of help from a lot of people. So, if you’re one of them, thank you. Your help and comments have been invaluable.

But enough of that, back to the hard sell! :-)

Go and grab a copy from one the links below and find out what happens when two ordinary people find themselves in a very extraordinary situation.

Thanks, James

Links:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.de

Amazon.fr

Amazon.it

Amazon.es

SmashWords


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It’s NaNoWriMo time…

…or, “Look! I wrote a novel!”

Every November, from the 1st to the 30th of the month, hundreds of thousands of would-be writers around the globe join virtual hands for NaNoWriMo. NaNoWriMo, or to give it its proper title, National Novel Writing Month, has been running since 1999 and growing in popularity every year. It has a simple premise: write a 50,000 novel by 11:59:59 on the 30th November.

With that goal in mind, there’s no time for the over-critical internal editor to get his or her sweaty hands on your writing; if you want to make it you’ve got to write around 2,500 words per night. It’s this fact that makes it so successful. I’m sure that there are many of us out there who would like to write a novel, but think they aren’t good enough or aren’t capable. It’s rubbish, everyone can do it if they really want to, you just need to stop judging yourself for long enough (approximately 30 days should do it). The results can be amazing and inspiring.

The Righteous Dead - my first novel

The Righteous Dead - my first novel

Last year I took my first dive into the murky waters of story writing – well at least for the first time since high school, which was over 20 years ago. The result was The Righteous Dead, a story about two normal people in a very extraordinary situation. The first draft was 55,000 words and written during November. The second draft was 66,000 and took me another six months. Since receiving my proof copies (a prize for completing NaNoWriMo) I have only allowed them to be read by a few people, who have helped me to refine it further. Holding the printed book in my hands was one of the proudest moments of my life; in some senses I still can’t believe I did it. In the next few months I will either self-publish the book or send it to a literary agent.

Just think, in a few months this could be you. Why don’t you give it a try? There are writers groups all over the country to help you if you need it.

This year I’ll be setting out again on another adventure, this time into sci-fi. I will be accompanied by my friend, and first-time author, Colin Taylor. Keep your fingers crossed for us. Thanks.