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


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