How to Sound Like a Human Online

The Online Writing InsiderIn previous Online Writing Insider podcasts, we have alluded to the importance of sounding like a human online.  Sounding authentic, and having a distinctive voice, helps you, as a writer, develop an audeince.  Sounding human will also prove to your readers that you are not inauthentic (e.g. not a real expert about the subject you’re covering), trying to sell something, or an article spinner.

Listen in to this week’s podcast (How to Sound Like a Human Online) to get some advice from Jason Menayan and myself on creating authentic-sounding online content.  We’ve got tips on addressing different categories, ideas on how to get your authentic voice to crawl out from the shadows, and also some important reasons why it is so important to sound like a human online.

We hope you find the podcast to be useful, and we also invite you to send in suggestions for future online writing podcasts!  Is there something about writing online that you’re having trouble with? Tell us about it by sending us an email. Our address is podcast (at) hubpages (dot) com.

On Writing Well: An Interview with Christin Evans of the Booksmith

As a part of our On Writing Well series, we reached out to the incredible Christin Evans, the owner of the best bookstore in San Francisco, the Booksmith.

Christin’s job connects her to a large number of great writers, and her advice on writing  is very welcome. Thanks Christin for your wise words!

1. What would the best advice you’d offer writers about the writing process?

Join a writing group! Or even better, join several.  One of the hardest challenges for authors is finding an audience for their work and it helps to get a start on that process before your work is published.

With so many new titles coming out every year, established and debut authors struggle to find readers.  Writers who are the most successful marketers of their work are usually affiliated with a school group or with a writers’ workspace or a tight-knit group of local writers who support one another. I’d advice every writer to find their support group as they continue to craft their work.

2. How important is it for a writer to have community support? What are the main benefits of community?

The main benefits are feedback, support and encouragement, and helping writers spread the word about what they are writing and why it’s worth consideration from readers.

When an author starts the process of marketing & selling his/her work, they often start with friends and family.  You can always try to get into the NY Times or on Jon Stewart, those are both very good ways to go, but for most authors, they start by planting many seeds with people who know them, then it works out over time.

3. Why is the independent local bookstore valuable for a community? How does the Booksmith fulfill that role?

A major publisher revealed to me that although independent bookstores represent less than 10% of their overall book sales, independent bookstores account for about 50% of sales in the first 6 months after a new title releases.  This indicates that physical bookstores are still very important in the discovery phase.

Local bookstores provide a cultural experience for readers, provide a nurturing environment for emerging writers and they enable positive social change in their local communities.

When we took over the reins of the Booksmith four years ago, we sought to strengthen what was at the core of this landmark bookstore in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury neighborhood.  Through a remodel, we worked to make the space welcoming and great for browsing.  We also host several Community Forum events throughout the year, which are focused on topics critical to our neighborhood.

4. What is your favorite book?

Pia, you know that’s the hardest question to ask a bookstore owner!  I have so many favorites.  If I were stranded on a desert island, I’d take Pride & Prejudice (I’m a romantic at heart).  But there have been so many great books that have come out recently that I can highly recommend including, books on Wikileaks and New Media including “The Late Age of Print” by Ted Striphas.  There is great narrative nonfiction by Bill Bryson, Steve Martin (“Born Standing Up”), Ruth Reichel (“Garlic & Sapphires) and Erik Larsson (“Devil in the White City”).  And of course my favorite literary fiction titles including “Interpreter of Maladies” and “Unaccustomed Earth” by Jhumpa Lahiri.

5. What is your favorite thing about HubPages?

It’s a great concept! To provide writers with a space to bring a community of support around their writing.  As a reader, I also like the features you offer for new discovery.  I enjoy flipping through the front page feature articles to see the diversity of stories offered.

HubPages Success Story: DavePrice finds a community of serious writers worth more than money

DavePrice on HubPages

DavePrice on HubPages

Serious writers often come to HubPages looking for money- but stay for the community.  DavePrice has experienced something of the sort- and a bit of a paradigm shift as well!  Check out our interview below to learn more about his HubPages experience:

HubPages: Why did you join Hubpages?

I recently took a 6 week sabbatical from work to search for an opportunity to become a full-time writer. I stumbled across Hubpages in my search, and it seemed to fit what I was looking for. Anyone can see at first glance that Hubpages is an incredibly unique opportunity for a writer.

What did you expect from the site?

I admit that my first desire was “lust” (as I have so often had to admit to my wife). I thought it might be a place where I could make a little money on the side writing articles while I continued my search. It took me a couple weeks to realize that Hubpages was exactly what I was searching for; it was the proverbial “I didn’t know what I really wanted until I found it”.

How did it work out?

(Laugh) It did… and it didn’t. It only took me a few days to realize that, while I could strive to be a “profitable” writer on Hubpages, it was no longer my primary desire. The response I received from Hubbers made me quickly realize that it was the interaction that I craved far more than the profit. Every writer knows as soon as he publishes he may be misunderstood, ridiculed, reviled, and run out of town tarred and feathered; yet we are a sadistic lot, for we crave the response more than we fear the rejection. I have never received a negative reaction from a Hubber, even from those whose views are diametrically opposed to my own. On the contrary, the responses I received have encouraged me (that’s right, it’s your fault Hubbers), and most importantly, refined my writing ability more than college, or life experience, ever did.

Where do you hope to go with your writing on Hubpages in the future?

I’m no different than most in that I want to be published in the traditional way. I know that Hubpages provides a legitimate opportunity for me to accomplish that goal. I want to be a competent writer whose words impact the lives of others in a positive way. My writing has already improved exponentially, which hopefully gets me closer to that goal. I’ve started as all newbies do, with subjects that I know best. But I am eager to explore ideas in my writing that force me to become a better writer.

One surprising result of my time on Hubpages is that my thinking about my career has undergone a paradigm shift. I have gone from being totally focused on being published to investing all my energies on becoming the best writer I can be on Hubpages. If I am published one day, great! But if all that ever comes of it is that I am allowed to enjoy becoming an accomplished and respected Hubber, I promise you I’ll be a very happy man. This is what I have come so quickly to love about Hubpages. I am inspired and encouraged by Hubbers whose talents far exceed my own. I have the opportunity to share in the wisdom and experience of talented writers from around the world. I am educated by writers whose work I admire and respect. I have been embraced by a community of people who care about my craft and my content. Sometimes a man needs to know when he already has everything he wished for.

.   .   .

Are you looking to do some serious writing on HubPages? Check out our Learning Center to find resources on how to drive traffic to your hubs and be found in search results.  Even if you’re more interested in getting “found” as an author, poet, or activist than earning money, these methods are helpful as they’ll help you gain readership and stand apart from the din.