#ReblogAlert #Sharing

If you haven’t already visited Story Empire today, I highly recommend you swing by and take a look at Craig Boyack’s post wrapping up his series on Expansion Pack: Comedy. Some good ideas in this one, and well worth checking out.  Don’t forget to pass it along so others can take a look too, thanks. And thanks, Craig, for another fun and helpful read! To visit the post, click here:

Expansion Pack: Comedy Wrap Up

A few things writers and superheroes have in common

image By Ned Hickson
As I’m sure you’ve already gathered from the title of this post, yes: I look really great in tights and a cape. At least on paper. In fact, all writers do. However, the power writers wield with words (such as using four “w” words in a row) — whether (make that five) for inspiration, contemplation or revulsion — got me thinking about the things writers and superheroes have in common. And I don’t just mean how often people confuse me for Chris Hemsworth. At least on paper.

To begin with, like any superhero, every writer experiences a transformation process before going into action. Sure, it doesn’t involve hastily peeling your clothes off to reveal a fancy costume (depending on your genre and dedication to research), or a blinding flash that changes you from street clothes to colorful tights — something for this reporters in my newsroom are extremely thankful. However, while not as dramatic, there is a transformation that takes place as a writer’s body language, facial expression and overall focus shifts from “earthbound” to “alternate universe.” Ever see a photo of yourself immersed deep in writer mode? It’s like looking at someone else. Which, in my case, is often mistaken for Chris Hemsworth. I mentioned the alternate universe part, right?

Speaking of which, like Thor’s mighty hammer, Spiderman’s web-shooters, Green Lantern’s ring or Hulk’s endless supply of purple pants, writers wield their own super-powered tool for getting the job done. I’m talking, of course, about a cranky editor. Haha! Just kidding! That will be next week’s NWOW topic: Things Editors and Super Villains Have in Common. Naturally, the super-powered tool I was referring to is the computer or tablet a writer wields as a defender of the written word. I realize some of you might be saying:

“I don’t write on a computer, so that’s not entirely accurate.”

And I suppose you’re right. The again, Moses was technically the first person to use a tablet, but let’s not split hairs.

Another characteristic that writers and superheroes share is having their powers thrust upon them. Like any superhero, a writer discovers their gift and realizes “With great power comes great responsibility to pick up a second job.” There’s no avoiding who your are, the powers you have been given, or finding the best way to use them. Bruce Wayne, Peter Parker, Jean Grey, Bruce Banner, Clark Kent — they all tried to deny their powers and the responsibilities they carried as a result of what fate had bestowed upon them. In each case, they came to realize they were only living within a shadow of who they were meant to be. The same goes for writers; they return to action because they can’t stop being writers.

So, does all of this mean you should should expect a call from The Justice League or S.H.I.E.L.D.?

Probably not. But as a writer, rest assured you are in the company of some really super friends.

(P.S. This one was for you, Marcia!)

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image Ned Hickson is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation. His first book, Humor at the Speed of Life, is available from Port Hole Publications, Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble. He ic currently working on his next book, Ned’s Nickel’s Worth on Writing: Pearls of Writing Wisdom from 16 Years as a Shucking Columnist.

Do publishers really give a [Tweet] about a writer’s social media presence?

image By Ned Hickson

Welcome to this week’s writing tip, which is advice 50 Shades author E.L. James has called “My literary yardstick, which I’d like to break over someone’s…”

But enough accolades!

This week’s writing topic was actually suggested by talented writer, mom and blogger Michelle at MamaMickTerry, who asked:

Dear Mr. Hickson: Does having a blog help or hinder getting published?

She followed this up a short time later, after what I’m guessing was a glass or two of wine, with a more specific question:

Listen here, Neddy-O: Do you think publishers really give a [TWEET] about a writer’s social media presence? DO you? And hey, is it just me or does Thor’s hair need some de-tangler?

The short answer to Michelle’s question is that, while there are certainly arguments for and against the merits of the exposure one gets from traveling between worlds, most women wouldn’t care if Thor was bald. Ok, no woman really cares.

The long answer, as you might’ve guessed, is a little more complicated and actually has nothing to do with Thor’s choice of hair products. Though I realize that most women have stopped reading this post to Google Chris Hemsworth — Fine, all women — I still plan to answer Michelle’s question regarding the value of social media in the eyes of publishers who, coincidentally, almost never look like Thor.

On the surface, the advantages of establishing a blog and linking it to social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter, Tumbler, MySpace and others seems pretty obvious. The bigger your presence in the cyberworld and the larger your following, the more likely your book will catch on and be embraced in the world that truly counts: The buying world.

For those who thought I was going to say the world of “Asgard,” I really need you to close that Chris Hemsworth window on your monitor.

Keep in mind that, particularly for a writer without a previous track record, a large online readership can get a publisher or agent to at least raise an eyebrow after reading a well-written query letter or email about your book. For this reason, it’s always a good idea to include direct links to your blog and other active social media sites at the end of your query, as well as a link to a sample chapter online. Unless specifically requested, don’t ever include an attachment with your emailed query; emails with attachments that actually make it past SPAM filters are routinely deleted. Even if you know the recipient is a female and you type “Thor” in the subject line.

While having a large online presence certainly doesn’t hurt, publishers also know that pushing the “like” or “follow” button is fast becoming a conditioned response which, more often than not, happens without a visitor even thinking about it. This obviously doesn’t includes anyone who visits THIS site, but you get the idea: Having 5,000 followers does not translate into 5,000 book sales.

However, there is another “plus” to building an online presence that tends to get overlooked but can be especially encouraging to an agent. Sure, having a large readership may or may not be a true reflection of the number of actual devoted readers you have, but the quality of your writing and regularity in which you post will speak for themselves. Notice I didn’t say “frequency” in which you post. An agent or publisher isn’t as interested in how often you publish as they are about your adherence to posting quality work on a regular basis.

My blog is an obvious exception to this rule.

I’d like to thank Michelle at MamaMickTerry for suggesting this week’s topic. I’d also like to thank Chris Hemsworth for giving me yet another reason to keep my gym membership.

imageNed Hickson is a syndicated columnist with News Media Corporation. His first book, Humor at the Speed of Life, is available from Port Hole Publications, Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble.)