New Year, New Goals, New Look?

by Clare Langley-Hawthorne

Welcome to 2015! 

I greeted the new year in with a literal ‘bang’ as we had heating problems in our newly renovated basement and three water pipes froze and burst – so as far as I’m concerned this year can only get better:) 

Here at the TKZ, we are looking forward to a wonderful, productive, challenging year ahead for all our writing. We are also constantly looking forward to ways we can improve our blog to meet our growing readership. There have been many changes in the publishing industry since our blog’s inception in 2008 and we have been thrilled to see our readership continue to climb over the years. 

Given these changes, however, it is important for us to take a moment to reflect on our blog’s mission and the direction TKZ should take in the years ahead. 

So we thought we would take this opportunity to ask you for feedback on our blog’s direction in 2015. We know that to keep current, relevant and useful, we need to continually assess and refine both our mission as well as our content. So we’d love your thoughts and feedback on:

  • Our mission, focus and posts: We’ve noticed a shift in the blog’s direction towards focusing on the craft of writing and the issues facing aspiring as well as professional writers. Typically our blog posts focus on practical advice on writing craft as well as providing personal accounts and experiences that touch upon our writing.  Would you like to see us delve more deeply into other areas or industry trends? Would you like to see more on promotion, marketing, editorial advice or ‘indie’ publishing? 

  • Further blog contributions/guest posts: Since we now have a professional editor (thanks Jodie!) in our midst as well as professional writers spanning many genres, we were thinking about adding other professionals into the mix. Would you be interested in hearing from other perspectives (a literary agent perhaps?) on a more regular basis? Are there any other people you’d like to see providing guest posts? 

  • Other TKZ offerings: It would be great to also receive feedback on the value of critiques and other participation offerings we could potentially provide. Are our first page critiques helpful? Would you like to see more or less of these kind of offerings on our blog?

  • The ‘look and feel’ of the TKZ: We are tossing up alternative templates to give the blog a better ‘look and feel’ and any feedback on this would be greatly appreciated. We are definitely hoping to create a new look and feel for 2015, so keep a look out for the changes ahead!
Thank-you TKZers for all your comments, feedback and support over the last six years. Here’s to many more!


33 thoughts on “New Year, New Goals, New Look?

  1. *whispers* I find the white-on-black hard to read. If you’re thinking of changing the “look and feel”, I think there are other ways of getting the idea of tension and suspense across.

  2. If I may…

    The mobile “page” (which prints black on white), doesn’t take light-colored text (especially yellow), very well…

    Sorry for your new year’s woes… hope everyone else’s were better… and I’m glad y’all’re back in my morning coffee-before-commute routine…


  3. Good morning, Clare. Wow, it’s good to have TKZ back. It’s the first thing I read in the morning.

    As to feedback, I first want to say that I think you’ve been doing a wonderful job. If you’re looking for other people to do regular guest posts, I would nominate Steven James and Donald Maas. (Just ask Jodie and Jim.)

    As to the other areas, I’ll give it some thought today (I’m late starting my day job) and give you more detailed feedback tonight.

    Thanks for asking. Great to see you back!

    • Thanks Steve – I’ll pop those names down for sure:) Let us know if you have any other thoughts/ideas for us:)

  4. Oh thank all the heavens, you guys are back. I dislike change, though I do agree changing the white on black would be a good idea. Now that the moons have aligned and I can get back to my rituals, and since you asked…

    I like guest posts and would appreciate hearing from agents about some of their best query letters. After checking in with TKZ, I go right to Janet Reid.

    LOVE the critiques. Maybe even critique query letters? Can you tell I’m looking for an agent?

    But all in all, I wouldn’t tweak too much. Your readership is increasing so you must already be doing something right.

    • Amanda – we have been thinking an agent perspective would be great and a critique of query letters would certainly be a good, doable option:)

  5. Broken pipes–brrr! You have my sympathies, Clare. Here’s my $.02 worth:

    I enjoy the writing advice and industry update posts. It would be nice to occasionally see a post aimed at an advanced writing technique. It would be useful to see guest posts from other experts related to book creation. For example, something detailed from a graphic designer about how an author can best collaborate with the designer to get the cover they want at a price they can afford, ie, the view from the designer’s side when an author walks in the door. Or something from a formatting service provider that explores the ins and outs of their growing industry and the challenges they face with perhaps some tips for the indie author who prefers to do their own formatting. One side-trip guest post a month would be enough for me.

    The critiques are always fun and educational, and I like hearing what various members of TKZ have been up to when they bring it full circle back to their writing or the writing industry, such as reports from conferences or hair-raising experiences that later influenced their writing. Inspirational/motivational posts are always welcome.


  6. Suggestions:
    1. Move the search to the top.
    2. Create separate pages as links for the About, Contact, and List of Blog Author sections.
    3. Widen the article section so that paragraphs seem shorter. The narrow paragraphs make the area seem more suited to a spreadsheet than a blog.
    4. Consider a light background to dark text since the theme feels less dark and foreboding.

    I love the critiques and the topics in general. I wish I didn’t have to scroll down so far to get to the archive. Sometimes I want to get to a post and the only way I can remember which one is to look at the archive.

    My suggestions above are mostly navigation issues, and then there is the need for a lighter background and dark text as suggested by others.

    Glad you guys are back! Happy New Year!!

  7. Yes to the more on promotion, marketing, editorial advice or ‘indie’ publishing? But your current emphasis on helping writers and giving practical advice to writers, as well as the anecdotes of how other writers solved problems in life and their writing is a great thing to me. I cannot really tell you how many times I’ve run across advice or information in your blog that has helped me solve a writing or mental problem. Writer’s block is not a pretty thing. You have helped me out of that mess a number of times. (AND, by the way, I really appreciate your new black-on-white format. I find the white-on-black format sort of spooky and other- worldly.)

    • So glad we’ve helped with our advice! I like the black on white format too though we will tinker with it I’m sure to make it even better!

  8. The black print on a light background is definitely easier on the eyes. I do like Diane’s idea of widening the main blog post area – it seems kind of narrow to me, and we seem to have room on the left side…

    • Yes, please – wider main content area! And thank you for the black on white. My old eyes can’t look at white on black text for long without aching.

  9. I take a look every morning before I brush my teeth for the little gems that add to my collection. Marketing ideas would be fresh. Good job and you look professional enough for me.

  10. I find I most respond to essays that in which personal struggles or triumphs are pegged onto some significant shift in book business or culture.

    • Thanks Jim. We’re always a little uncertain about how much we should talk about personal experiences with our writing so good to know you find it helpful!

  11. Happy New Year TKZ!
    As a traditionally published author moving to indie I really value all the help I can get. My publisher recently gave me permission to continue my series on my own since I was only contracted for three books with them. I want to know how to do that in order to make the series continue to look great as far as cover art and obtain the best editing I can get at a decent price. Maybe some day I’ll get another contract but for now I’m an indie bound author and need to be as savvy as possible.

    • Jillian, we will continue to explore the issues facing indie authors as well as traditional publishing especially as things have changed so much over the years!

  12. TKZ–thanks for all you do!
    I happen to prefer the black: it sets TKZ apart in just the right way–after all, the emphasis is on things noir, right?
    I know the site’s principal purpose is to serve as a marketing instrument for the pros who provide the very valuable content, but: if I had my druthers, TKZ would begin selectively advertising work written by others. I don’t expect this to happen, but you asked.
    Personally, I don’t see much point in adding an agent: they all say pretty much the same thing. If you know of someone who can actually help your readers market their stuff, that would be great.

    • Barry – I think it would be interesting to get an agent perspective and hopefully this would not just be the ‘same old same old’ stuff:)

  13. Clare, I promised more feedback this morning.

    On mission and focus: I hear others suggesting more on indie publishing. I would agree. I would also like to hear more from Joe Hartlaub on industry trends. Also more on legal issues and contracts.

    On further blog contributions, guest posts: I always crave more. If you do more guest posts, did you ever think about having a “regular” post plus a guest post, i.e. two posts in one day? Your site has enough readers (and participation) I think it could handle two discussions going on at the same time.

    On other TKZ offerings: It would be nice to have a place where readers could register their requests for topics to be discussed. Maybe that’s what the contact form is supposed to be for.

    On the look and feel: The black on white looks great. Thanks, Joe.

    Thanks for the opportunity to provide feedback. Your site is the best. I think it’s great that you’re looking for ways to make it even better.

  14. Please continue the first page critiques. They are invaluable to me as a teacher. I can have my students read the piece themselves and critique it, then we go over your professional critiques as a group. This allows my kids to learn about writing craft AND the depth needed to critique someone’s work properly!

  15. I would love to see more first page critiques. My adult writer’s critique group did the same thing once before as Jake’s except each person had a different story.

    My group will start again soon and I plan to have one of these first pages for everyone who on occasion doesn’t bring their own writing.. That way they won’t be left out of the critique process and will still be learning from top writers.

    Thank you TKZ! Love what you do here!

  16. I’m very late to the party but love TKZ’s approach. I’m sure whatever additions/changes you make will be well considered and awesome for all of us.

    RE: The switch away from the black background on light print–while I can understand if people find it hard on the eyes, my very first reaction to clicking on the site today was “OH MY! This is not thriller/suspense. This is Frosty the Snowman and endless winter!”. The black definitely favored the genre focus. It looks “fluffy” now, not suspenseful. But I’m sure I will adapt in time.


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