2.25.2013

6 tips for writing better dialogue

Today I'm happy to welcome a guest post from Laura of WaldenMommy: Life Behind the Red Front Door. Laura is offering us advice on improving the dialogue in our fiction writing.

dramatic and intense conversation between two young ladies

Guest post by Laura of WaldenMommy: Life Behind the Red Front Door

A few weeks ago I eagerly downloaded a book onto my e-reader. I was excited to read a new piece of fiction, but my excitement quickly turned to disappointment the deeper I got into the story. Clicking my tongue in disgust, I flipped through the story, hoping it got better. It didn't.

"If it's that bad, stop reading," suggested my husband, who was trying to read but couldn't because I kept making "I am completely disgusted" noises at the book.

"It's like a train wreck!" I complained. "The dialogue! It's horrible! Look at this!" I shoved the e-reader in his face and he blinked, trying to see the screen. "See that? Is that how people talk? Does anyone talk like that? NO!"

Quickly, he read the offending passage. "Uh, what is this book about? Is that a board room scene? They sound like they're in a business meeting." My groan was nearly loud enough to wake the baby.

"You just proved my point! The characters are supposed to be on a date!"

Dialogue is something that can make a book laugh-out-loud funny or so horrible you send the e-reader sailing out the window. I've muscled through books that were otherwise very good (great story line, interesting characters, realistic scenes) but were painful to read because of the dialogue. Character relationships were shown but lacked a well-rounded development because the dialogue between them was unnatural. Poor dialogue can put a damper on an otherwise fantastic novel.

Writing spoken words can be hard for some authors. However, here are some tips to polish your dialogue skills:

2.18.2013

9 tips for affiliate earning success & an invitation!

9 tips for affiliate earning success for bloggers tutorial

One way I earn (a little bit of) money as a blogger is through affiliate sales, an aspect that's increased a lot in the past couple years as I've refined my affiliate techniques.

Affiliate marketing for bloggers is using text links, image ads, and posts that direct your readers to certain stores with whom you have an affiliate relationship. When a reader clicks your link and then buys something at the affiliate store, you as a blogger get a certain percentage back. Amazon Associates (see our bloggers' links here and link up if you haven't already!) is the most well-known program available to bloggers (and a profitable one), but there are many more besides. If you're not familiar with affiliate programs at all, check out this article at Acceleration Partners.

Today I'm going to offer you some of my go-to tips for affiliate marketing as well as recommend my top-earning affiliate programs to you to join.

Best tips for affiliate marketing success

  • 1. An ad in the sidebar isn't going to cut it:
    As soon as I started blogging in 2007, I put affiliate image ads in my sidebar. I'm able to track those through the various programs, and I'll give you the hard facts here: TWO of those ads have ever been clicked on and then followed by a sale. Plenty more have been clicked on; don't get me wrong. But very, very, very, very few of those clicks resulted in any money to me.

    Takeaway: If you're trying to define ad space on your blog, feel free to put up some affiliate image ads. That way, potential advertisers can see where ads go, and your blog looks professional (as long as you're not overwhelming readers with ads all over the place). However, once you get paying ads from real live sponsors, do not allow those affiliate ads to take up prime ad real estate. Take 'em down. They're not earning you anything, trust me.

2.04.2013

Basic links for Amazon Associates to copy & paste

From this:

long official Amazon Associates links for tutorial

to this:

short Amazon Associates links for tutorial

Here are some very easy codes to use to make Amazon links from any Amazon item page. If you don't feel like signing into your Amazon Associates account to get the full link, these will work and track just as well.

Link to an item:

<a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/ISBN/?tag=laurenwayne-20" target="_blank">LINK</a>

Replace all the items in bold magenta:
  • ISBN = Scroll down to the Product Details to grab the ISBN-10 for books or ASIN for any other product. As a shortcut, it's nearly always the first big string of numbers in the URL.

  • ISBN-10 for books: ISBN-10 location of Amazon Associates links for tutorial

    ASIN for anything else: ASIN location of Amazon Associates links for tutorial

    As mentioned, it's usually the first or only number in the URL as well:

    ISBN location in URL of Amazon Associates links for tutorial


  • tag = replace laurenwayne with your Associates ID tag

  • LINK = Whatever text you want for your link, whether it's the product name or some keywords in your post.

If you're not pasting your code into the HTML tab in your blogging platform, then here's just the plain link to use:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/ISBN/?tag=laurenwayne-20

The official Amazon linkage is this tremendous string, by contrast:

<a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1936608871/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=laurenwayne-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=1936608871">Product Name</a><img src="http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=laurenwayne-20&l=as2&o=1&a=1936608871" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" />

It's a lot harder to remember, right? It's fine if you're in the Associates interface anyway, but the short link will help you out if you're on Amazon proper and don't want to futz with Site Stripe or navigate into your account.

Link to an Amazon-hosted image:

<a href="http://www.amazon.com/dp/ISBN/?tag=laurenwayne-20" target="_blank"><img src="http://images.amazon.com/images/P/ISBN.01.LZZZZZZZ.jpg" alt="PRODUCT" title="POST" align="right" width="200" /></a>
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