Make Your Online Writing Pay | Jane Friedman | Oct 10

Learn how to become a better online writer and monetize your work

Starting Monday (Oct. 10), Jane Friedman is teaching a new online course—“Make Your Online (and social media) Pay” through MWW Ongoing—that helps you learn how to market and promote yourself through online writing—as well as what it takes to monetize your online work. It’s a 4-week course ($200) that’s suitable for all types of authors, especially those who want to develop a long-term strategy for their online platform and creative work.


This course is for both unpublished and published book authors who wonder what they could or should be doing to market and promote themselves through online writing—whether that’s blogging, guest blogging, micro-publishing through social media, or contributing to sites such as Medium, The Huffington Post and other large clearinghouses of content.

The challenge for most book writers is that they haven’t had any professional experience or training in writing short pieces (or even social media posts!) that are ultimately skimmed quickly in online environments—particularly mobile environments. Writers have heard that blogging, or producing content for social media sites, can be an effective way to build a readership, but don’t understand how that happens especially when they have no audience and are unpublished.

This course helps authors make themselves and their work more visible through strategically written online pieces that get distributed and marketed to the right audiences in order to develop their author platform and build a readership over the long-term of their careers.

This course is about making your online writing efforts, especially those with a marketing intent, have a measurable and meaningful payoff—whether for your website/blog, social media, or someone else’s site. We’ll look at content strategies, measurement tools, marketing and promotion tactics, and specific ways to make your online content put money in your pocket.

Week 1: Best Practices of Online Writing and Blogging

  • Welcome from Jane
  • A Big-Picture Preface Before We Begin
  • Basic Principles of Online Writing
  • Blogging Basics (is it for you?)
  • 7 Principles of Good (Professional) Blogging
  • Don’t Forget the Important Role of Your Website

Week 2: Understanding Search Engine Optimization

Week 3: Marketing and Promoting Your Blog or Online Writing

Week 4: Monetizing Your Blog or Website


The Course That Helped Me Write My First Novel

by Gail Werner

gail-werner-photoThree years ago this month, I was scrolling through Facebook when I saw a post from my friend Cathy Day, an English professor at Ball State. It detailed her decision to offer her novel writing class online to anyone wanting to follow along.

Reading this news, I felt my pulse quicken. This is it, Gail, I told myself. This is your sign.

Except, it couldn’t be. Not when I had a 11-month-old son at home, a job at Ball State keeping me busy, and a photography business that was going strong.

I didn’t have time for signs, and yet something in my gut re-enforced what I knew was true: If I let the moment pass, I’d regret it for the rest of my life.

With shaking fingers, I signed up, not knowing it was a move that would forever tilt my creative compass true north.

Over the weeks that followed, I read through the half-dozen books Cathy assigned on her syllabus. I dove into each with a zeal I hadn’t experienced since journalism school. It was intoxicating learning something new again, especially something I was so passionate about—learning how to write a book!

Using the skills I picked up that semester, I went on to finish my first novel. Ever since, I’ve kept going: reading more, writing more, learning more. Today I’ve reached the point where I’ve completed my second novel and am now querying agents, hoping one of them wants to help me publish my work.

Often times when I tell people I’ve written a book, they get a dreamy look in their eyes and admit they want to write one, too. What I always want to say (but haven’t until now) is writing a novel is almost impossible without learning a bit of craft first.

Which is why I’m elated to announce, in partnership with Midwest Writers Workshop and its new MWW Ongoing online courses and webinars, Cathy is offering another introductory novel-writing class this fall!

“It’s Time to Start Your Novel” will span four weeks beginning October 1 and is meant for anyone who’s ever thought, “I think I have a novel inside me.” (Newsflash: If you’re thinking this, it probably means you do.)

The cost is $150 and I promise (from the very bottom of my heart), it’s worth every penny.

What you’re about to learn from Cathy is what’s true of any goal worth pursuing—you’re gonna need time and preparation to tackle it. Consider this class your first step.

Or, as Cathy describes it:

“Think of ‘It’s Time to Start Your Novel’ as a cooking course in which you spend the first class cleaning the kitchen and prepping the ingredients. Think of it as a marathon-running course in which you spend the first class buying a good pair of shoes. Your chances of drafting an entire novel (maybe for National Novel Writing Month?) increase exponentially when you spend some time preparing yourself for the journey ahead.”

All of that makes sense, right? So I’m wrapping up this post hoping this opportunity finds a few brave souls yearning for the same creative challenge I was that afternoon I found Cathy’s Facebook post. I had no idea what I was getting myself into or how all of the work and second-guessing would be worth it to chase the creative high I’d experience as a result.

If you have specific questions about the course—which will cover topics like how to develop a writing regimen, along with how to create characters and scenes for your future novel—send them my way. You can also ask about signing up for Midwest Writers Workshop 2017 or, better yet, find out how to become a member of our new MWW Plus to get a 10-percent discount on Cathy’s class along with future webinars and workshops MWW has to offer!

So come on then … take this chance on yourself.

Learn how to fit writing into your life.

If you do, then someday (2017 resolution, anyone?) you can know the joy of holding your first finished novel in your hands the same way I did.



Gold medal for MWW16!

Your evaluations, emails, tweets, posts have been read and tallied. The results are in!

The determination: gold medal for MWW16!

Sure, we weren’t perfect. We had a few deductions to our final score (parking, construction, A/C), but we received more high scores than low. And for our first year in a new facility, we were darn pleased that participants and faculty had a great time. The high marks included: our “killer deal,” 10+ for our social media tutoring, our spiral bound book of session notes, and 10+10 for our unique “Buttonhole the Experts” activity.

Comments in the hallways included: “I loved the diversity of topics and speakers/presenters.” “I met life-long friends here!” “AMAZING conference! Life-changing! I plan to be back!”

From July 21-23, a record-breaking 280 people who are passionate about writing — participants, faculty, interns, MWW staff — occupied the three floors of our new location at the L.A. Pittenger Student Center to listen, talk, write, share, pitch, question, eat, drink, laugh, challenge, commiserate — and, yes, rejoice.

From the ten intensive sessions of Part I to the 45 sessions of Part II, MWW16 offered participants opportunities to “find their tribe” and enjoy a genuine community which encouraged them to make connections and get to the next step in their writing. And what other writers’ conference provides a chance to bowl with a literary agent (or a T-Rex) and a massage therapist to relax you before your pitch?

Something special marked this 43rd annual workshop and these are some of the comments which pointed in this direction.

From the participants:

 “Thank you for helping me to pursue my life-long dream! You guys rock! You’re amazing!”

“In a solitary profession like writing, it’s sometimes difficult to connect with peers – or even realize that you have any. At MWW, I realized that the literary world is both large and small: there are many of us who come from across the country, but we are a tight knit group, bound by our mutual respect, appreciation, and encouragement of one another. I was expecting a community of writers at this conference – but I was not met. I was welcomed. – Valerie Weingart

“It was worth the trip from North Carolina! I’m going home with information and inspiration to aid my writing.” – Rebecca Paynter

“This was my first writers’ conference. MWW truly delivered on their promises. I  feel much more prepared to begin a writing career, and the atmosphere was perfect for connecting with so many amazing writers, authors, agents, and other members of the writing community. I am excited already for MWW 2017!” – Mary Rose Kreger

“Great content. Great community.” – Bo Thunboe

“Writing can be a lonely pursuit. The opportunity to find your tribe and make connections with other introverts tied to their computers was wonderful.” – Mary Robertson

“When you are stuck and alone in your writing journey, MWW will give you the kick in the pants you need. Stop wallowing and come find your people.” – Elizabeth Newman

“MWW is so inclusive of all writers’ wants and needs — topics, events, activities. This has been the best conference ever!” – Doris Smith

“As a young writer, this conference provided access to a variety of topics. I met other writers who immediately treated me with kindness and made me hopeful.” – Sarah Salow

From the faculty:

“Midwest Writers Workshop is a very special place for writers. I’ve been speaking and attending its sessions for nearly 15 years, and the sense of community and support is outstanding. It has played a role in launching numerous successful author careers-unsurprising, since it works so thoughtfully to fulfill its mission of helping writers flourish and be their best selves.” – Jane Friedman

“I’ll go just about anywhere to talk about the agony and ecstasy of writing fiction, but I’ve found the standard of excellence against which all writers conferences will be measured: the Midwest Writers Workshop in the Ball State University campus in Muncie, Indiana. Not only is the hospitality without peer, the staff is professional, the participants lively and whip-smart, the faculty engaging and edifying. Wanna believe that people still love to write and read? Come to Muncie!” – Tom Williams

“Please, please invite me to speak every year from now until infinity.” – Jen Malone

“Midwest Writers Workshop is the best workshop in the Midwest for writers no matter whether they are beginners or seasoned pros. The success stories are countless, and there’s a reason why.  This workshop is all about the writer from the moment the first sentence is written until the last goodbye is said.  It’s a five star event that prepares great writers to go out into the world and share their stories at the highest level.  I count this workshop as one of the main reasons that I have published twelve novels.” – Larry Sweazy

“It was a pleasure. And I already got a client out of it! I signed Jessica Rauh who I met in a pitch session!” – Jim McCarthy

Congratulations to the 2016 Manny Award winners! (and thanks to sponsor Matthew V. Clemens and Robin Vincent Publishing)


Irene Fridsma – Poetry

Paula Mikrut - Nonfiction

Paula Mikrut – Nonfiction

Victor Suthammanont - Long Fiction

Victor Suthammanont – Long Fiction

Kathryn Page Camp - Short Fiction & winner of the Top Prize L. Karl Largent Award

Kathryn Page Camp – Short Fiction & winner of the Top Prize L. Karl Largent Award








Irene Fridsma – Poetry

Paula Mikrut – Nonfiction

Victor Suthammanont – Long Fiction

Kathryn Page Camp – Short Fiction & winner of the Top Prize L. Karl Largent Award



MWW16 may be in our rear view mirrors, but a lot of what we experienced and learned will always remain. We invite you to view our  Photo Gallery and tag yourself on our Facebook Page, which are sure to bring back memories.

So we’re patting ourselves on the back. And for just a while, basking in the bright light that was #mww16 before we move on to our 44th MWW, July 20-22, 2017.

Pelletier Liz new photo

Q&A with Liz Pelletier, CEO & Publisher of Entangled Publishing

Liz Pelletier co-founded Entangled Publishing in 2011. Over the past four years, Entangled has gone from a small start-up to a bestselling romance publisher, with more than 17 NYT bestsellers and 39 USA Today bestsellers. Her out-of the-box approach to everything from pricing strategies to marketing to editorial allows Entangled to be both disruptive and agile within a dynamic publishing landscape. Liz continues to disrupt the publishing business with her launching of Entangled Music in 2015, where stories come to life through the extension of music.

Midwest Writers committee member Cathy Shouse interviewed Liz about coming to 43rd writers’ conference this week, July 21-23, 2016, in Muncie, IN.

MWW: Which publishing lines of Entangled will you hear pitches for?

LP: I’m happy to listen to pitches for any Entangled imprint.

MWW: How should someone best prepare to pitch to you? Should they bring a couple of pages or anything with them? Manuscript should be finished?

LP: The best way to prepare to pitch to me is to relax. Unless your book’s genre is really far off from what we publish, I’m going to request a full regardless of the pitch. Some people have a real talent for pitching a book verbally that doesn’t match the writing, and others fumble through their pitch but have an amazing voice in print. I can’t really tell if a book is going to be great until I read it! So relax, start with word count, genre, and if the book is completed or not, and just tell me the very basics of the conflict and what you love most about the story. The rest we can figure out after I read your manuscript!

MWW: Is there any story genre or sub that is saturated/not appropriate? (Is a mystery without a romance thread acceptable, for example?)

LP: We’re really focused on stories with a strong romantic arc at Entangled. However, we are actively acquiring women’s fiction with a romantic element at this time as long as the main protagonist is 35yo or younger and the tone is humorous. Paranormal is still a bit saturated, but we are looking for vampires and shifters again! Beyond that, I’m just looking for a great story that I can get lost in.

MWW: You were co-founder of Entangled Publishing in 2011, and by 2013, you started collaborating with MacMillan and St. Martin’s. What did it feel like to have this said about you? John Sargent, Macmillan’s CEO, said, “We are hugely impressed with Liz Pelletier’s vision and what she has accomplished in such a short time. We found her out-of-the-box approach to publishing incredibly exciting and saw potential to work together with her on several levels. We think Liz and Entangled have found a new way forward and we think we can help build on that remarkable success.”

LP: John Sargent’s comments were a highlight in my career thus far. He’s truly a visionary in the publishing world, and I’ve been delighted to try to blend a traditional approach to publishing with Entangled’s more out-of-the box approach to digital. Our partnership with Macmillan has been amazing, and we look forward to continuing the relationship for many years to come.

MWW: How would you briefly define episodic writing? How much of a problem is it in manuscripts you see and what’s the cure?

LP: I don’t mind episodic writing in certain genres, the writer just needs to be aware that end of scene hooks are vastly important in today’s saturated market. So ending a scene with a pretty bow, as would happen in most scenes of this style, simply is not strong enough to create a bestseller in the romance market. In addition, stringing together a series of small conflicts that can be resolved within the scene is a good way to lose the attention of a reader as there is no main, overarching and organic conflict pulling the reader forward in the story written as episodic fiction. Chicklit, as an example, can do quite well in this form of writing, however one would still need to address a larger, big picture conflict as well as end of scene hooks to create an unputdownable read.

And just for fun:

Twitter or Facebook?  Facebook

Print or e-book? ebook

Disney or Universal? Disney

Writing platform or story? STORY

As an editor, if you can’t have both, will you choose writing style over content or vice versa? Writing style

In addition to hearing pitches, Liz’s sessions include:

  • “Editor Q&A with April Osborn”
  • “How to Edit a Bestseller”
Wild book

Among the Wild Mulattos & Other Tales: Thinking Outside the Two Box

[This post is the sixth in a six-part series of Book Reviews of books by some of our 2016 Midwest Writers faculty. The MWW interns wrote the reviews as one of their assignments for the Ball State University class “Literary Citizenship in a Digital Age,” taught by MWW Director Jama Kehoe Bigger.]


Among the Wild Mulattos & Other Tales: Thinking Outside the Two Box

Among the Wild Mulattos & Other Tales by Tom Williams begins with the “The Story of My Novel, Three Piece Drink With Combo.” Cut to a painfully oblivious author reading rejection letters from the magazines Random Acts of Prose, Amateur Writers Unite!, and Boning the Muse. While he’s contemplating ending his writing career to become a full-time manager at Delta Lanes Bowling Alley, he’s eating chicken at Cousin Luther’s, a fast-food chicken establishment. Then, inspiration strikes. He is suddenly compelled to eternize what a work of art his three piece drink with combo truly is. He requests, and is granted, sponsorship and publication by the fast-food chain itself and begins to write his novel. In three months he writes the novel, mostly subsisting on Cousin Luther’s chicken. The tale ends, as most of Williams do, in search of fulfillment.

In this collection of tales, Williams forces the reader to accept realities with minor adjustments: fast-food publishing houses, a television crazed nation where every citizen but one has appeared on reality TV, popular writers using celebrity look-alikes for publicity, doppelgangers that slowly steal lives away from their counterparts, and secret group of mulattos living the woods of Arkansas. The characters that William’s creates are so vivid and complex, their shortcomings in plain sight. While Williams creates relatable characters, he also paints the shortcomings of the reader.

His tales are compact and succinct. You will not find flowery descriptions that bloom off the page. In small stories and plain words, you will find vulnerability that possibly no one else but Williams could articulate so gently. You will be confronted with the micro-aggressions of living a multi-racial life while feeling very macro-emotions.

Williams also explores the array of choices between and outside of binary options. In his tale “The Hotel Joseph Conrad,” a man has been given funding to find the elusive Hotel Joseph Conrad. Ultimately, he discovers his two options aren’t simply to find the hotel or not find it, he finds the solution in the nuance of his contract to search for the hotel. Regardless of the length and where the characters are in their lives, the tales always end with a deep sense of completion and intelligence.

“Among the Wild Mulattos,” the final tale and the namesake for the collection, is one of the most profound and lasting tales. An anthropologist begins searching for, and subsequently finds, a band of wild mulattos that are rumored to be living in the woods of Arkansas. The colony refers to the outside world as Two Box, as in the two boxes that one must identify with on clerical forms, white or black. Williams writes so viscerally about the experiences of living in a culturally ambiguous body.

A mulatto in Two Box was subject to the worst kind of stupidity and intolerance from all sides. For every Anglo like my uncle who pretended I didn’t exist so he wouldn’t have to admit his niece had had intercourse with a black man, there was a black man who sneered when I tried to find solidarity with him.

Processed with VSCO with m3 preset

Throughout his entire collection, and glaringly so in this tale, Williams grapples with the complexity of identity and race. He presents readers with the impossibility of choice when a person is only given two boxes to express the entirety of a nuanced identity. He explores the choices of black or white, and skin color serves to make characters blend in or stand out, sometimes oscillating between the two. His light and whimsical style of writing is not meant to be taken lightly though, he discusses the very real and limiting state of contemporary social politics.

By Rachel Wright-Marquez

Wanderlost book

Book Review: Lose Yourself in “Wanderlost” and European Lust

[This post is the fifth in a six-part series of Book Reviews of books by some of our 2016 Midwest Writers faculty. The MWW interns wrote the reviews as one of their assignments for the Ball State University class “Literary Citizenship in a Digital Age,” taught by MWW Director Jama Kehoe Bigger.]


Join author Jen Malone on her first international journey filled with enticing experiences and an unexpected longing for a lustful romance in her newest novel,Wanderlost.

Wanderlost bookPlace yourself in the beginning of the novel with quirky and angsty Aubree at a graduation celebration with her class accompanied by a slew of forbidden alcoholic refreshments. A cop soon approaches the house with the intention of addressing a noise complaint, Elizabeth, Aubree’s older sister, answers to the door to cover her sister and her friend, but then the cop leaves with Elizabeth in handcuffs. For the sake of saving her sister’s political career, Aubree is sent on a European tour with Elizabeth’s application, Elizabeth’s passport, and a bus of senior citizens.

While, at times, readers may wonder why Aubree seems unwilling to venture out of her comfort zone, her meal choices and honest unawareness of the world outside her realm of Midwestern living reminds the reader to take a trip back to life as a teenager. Even though teenagers may think they will remain protected by their parents, their realities are extremely different from the realities of adulthood.

While avoiding revealing numerous accounts of fraud, Aubree pretends to be Elizabeth during the trip, and the plan seems to unfold flawlessly until she meets the trip owner’s handsome son, Sam. While this plot seems a tad bizarre, it aids in creating a humorous experience for Aubree. After being overcome with guilt, she begins to slowly tell Sam the truth while also attempting to conceal her identity. Playing dress-up for Elizabeth becomes difficult though when she realizes she enjoys being independent and adventurous, which were definitely not qualities she possessed before this well-planned but also unintended trip. Her thoughts on her summer in Europe changed from “I like things predictable and familiar and safe and easy” to “This place is magical. All of it.”

Aubree’s growth brings a fresh insight to the reader about how harrowing circumstances might be the best way to realize your own strength and independence. The pacing of Aubree’s thought process encapsulates the thought process of a teenager nearing adulthood who wants to impress her family, but who also does not want to grow up quite yet. These conflicting thoughts keep the reader entertained as we gain insight on why she makes the decisions she does throughout the novel. It is through these scenarios in which we see Aubree’s remarkable growth.

Before she left for her trip, Aubree had never even had a job or been out of her hometown. Now, she is in Europe, handling deranged sets of chaos, and even finding a seemingly perfect guy. Will she be able to balance handling her independence, perfecting her duties worthy enough for a good review from her boss for Elizabeth, and falling for Sam? Readers will become entranced when reading Aubree’s international tale.

By  Lauren Cross

Coincidence book

The Coincidence of a Love Story

[This post is the fourth in a six-part series of Book Reviews of books by some of our 2016 Midwest Writers faculty. The MWW interns wrote the reviews as one of their assignments for the Ball State University class “Literary Citizenship in a Digital Age,” taught by MWW Director Jama Kehoe Bigger.]


Warning: Do not read on an empty stomach. Amy E. Reichert’s debut novel The Coincidence of Coconut Cake not only contains descriptions of food that makes you want to taste them yourself, but is also a delicious meal containing perfect servings of humor, romance and drama.

Coincidence bookLou is the owner of a small French restaurant in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Lou is living the dream, owning her own kitchen, despite the conflicts with her fiancés plans. Her dream is shattered when she decided to surprise him on his birthday with a coconut cake, only to find him with a half naked intern. She tried to get her mind off the betrayal by working, but ended up only making the worst dish she had ever made (unknowingly) for the snarky new restaurant critic in town. When Lou goes to a bar to wallow in the sorrow of her broken relationship, she meets Al, a British newcomer. After some drunken flirtation she promises him to show him the best of Milwaukee. After a series of non-dates around Milwaukee, Al falls in love with Lou and the city, only to find out her true identity and to discover his review of her restaurant had ruined her business while also crushing her dreams.

Amy Reichert’s own experience in the kitchen served her well when writing this novel. She gives a look at what happens backstage in the kitchen, while also showing the different kinds of people that work there. Her many descriptions of food making making readers want to try the dishes she described. I do like the pace in the book because it shows a realistic sense of dating and falling in love. The plot was well written, with two plot lines being mixed into one, one plot about romance, the other about Lou trying to save her restaurant. The story keeps you interested in the plot while leading up to the climax. Reichert wraps up the ending quickly with a glimmer of hope, which works well for this book. The novel focuses on building their relationship, until they finally realize they were truly in love.

By Kara Harris

Dumplin book

Dumplin’ Redefines the Word “Beautiful”

[This post is the third in a six-part series of Book Reviews of books by some of our 2016 Midwest Writers faculty. The MWW interns wrote the reviews as one of their assignments for the Ball State University class “Literary Citizenship in a Digital Age,” taught by MWW Director Jama Kehoe Bigger.]


Dumplin’ Redefines the Word “Beautiful”

Dumplin bookIn this real-world story about high school drama, love, weight issues, and loving yourself, Willowdean seeks to prove that she can be just as beautiful as the pageant girls her mother coordinates.

Following Willowdean through her awkward high school years brings forward a memory of that girl we all remember. She is the girl that longs to fit in with the crowd, but finds herself being picked out. In the beginning of Dumplin’, Julie Murphy writes Willowdean to be this open-to-imagination character where the readers only know she’s fat. This allows anyone, plus sized or not, to go through the trials that the main character goes through.

In the story, Willowdean is very open about her weight and it doesn’t seem to bother her until more and more people comment on it. She says, “But that’s me. I’m fat. It’s not a cuss word. It’s not an insult. At least when I say it. So I always figure why not get it out of the way?”

Her hatred of the Miss Teen Blue Bonnet Pageant slowly begins to fade as she realizes that she has just as much of a right to be included and feel beautiful as the other girls. Through this entry of the pageant, she believes more in herself, finds confidence, and allows herself to be who she wants to be. Murphy does well in creating this character that most can relate to. The readers can place themselves into Willowdean’s shoes and relate to at least one of the many situations pushed upon the main character.

Though the situations may be many, they aren’t too much for Willowdean. She powers through each of them and shows the reader that being yourself is enough.

 By Amanda Byk