achieving goals

In Your Corner : Summer Goals (Pt 4)

Three weeks ago, we started our summer goals blog series by laying out our writing goals–or at least, by talking about a few of my own.  And with the understanding that every author lives a very different life and faces very different challenges from the next–an therefore my goals should not necessarily be taken as anyone else’s without first affirming they make sense to that author’s circumstances–I listed them:

  1. Write, and
  2. Structure my writing … loosely.

(These goals make much more sense in context, I promise.)  And two weeks ago, we discussed energy and energy budgets, looking into how we wake up each moment with a finite amount of the stuff and have to use it and conserve it much as we do other finite resources.  I made an argument that we ought to take care of our bodies as much as we do our work and our minds–and that all three of these are actually part of the same struggle.  This argument that bled through to last week’s post, in which we concluded that if we don’t keep our bodies healthy, our writing will suffer.

Which brings me to today’s topic:

What to Do When You Achieve Your Goals

 

First of all, congratulations!  Meeting your goals is a big deal!  Secondly, we have to pose the question: what next?  This is the hardest part of the authorial process, coming up with a plan for your next step.

achieving goals

It’s easy to get lost here, in the in-between, because it’s just so easy to enjoy the afterglow, the freedom to binge on Netflix and Masterpiece Theatre.  It’s easy to allow the well-deserved relaxation period to last just a little too … long.

If I have one recommendation for what needs to happen next once you’ve achieved your goals, it’s that you be proactive.  Don’t surrender to inertia.  Watch the clock, and time your “down” period (or periods, as may be).  Draw up lists.  Weigh the options: is it time to write a sequel?  Or should you start with a new original idea?

Don’t kick yourself if you’ve reached a point of burnout, either.  Being an author isn’t all about writing books, in the end, and there are plenty of things you can do–as an author!–that don’t involve writing.  If you are looking for a break or a change of pace, consider switching gears and spending some weeks or months focusing exclusively on perfecting the aesthetics of your book–and of course, on marketing it.  It’s worth blocking out a few days on your yearly calendar for this sort of thing anyway, but it fits beautifully as a next step after you’ve reached your writing goals.

Set up some book readings and signings at your local indie bookstores and libraries.  Network with your fellow authors and other industry professionals who can help you further along the path to self-publishing success.  Attend a conference.  Keep writing fun by keeping all of your options open–and by choosing the ones that help you define and redefine your own goals.  It’s okay for the “next step” to be a bit messy and vague, for a while–as long as you find your forward momentum.

It’s never wasted time if you consider all of your actions a part of one single whole!

You are not alone. ♣︎

ElizabethABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 18 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, pre-production specialists, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.
book reading

Book Readings: They’re About Relationships, Not Just Sales

This month we’ve been exploring the topic of preparing for and giving a book reading to help boost your marketing, your self-confidence, and to expand your comfort zone. The best way to gain a standing in your fans (and potential fans minds) is to see and hear you stand before them and share your story with them. Once you’ve given a passionate reading of your story before an audience, your readers will see the passion inside you that drove you to write the story in the first place, creating a connection that readers don’t often get to have with authors of their favorite books.

book reading

Lauren Weisberger reads at Books & Books (FL), July 19

If you think about it, as readers, we often get so consumed by the story and the characters that the author never comes to mind. I personally think that well-written pieces should have that effect on readers, one where the reader feels as though they’re inside the story and can’t hear the author’s, but only the character’s voices. However, once I’ve already fallen in love with a story, I find myself looking into these authors to find out more about them. I want to know how they knew so much about the history of jazz music in New Orleans, or about the intricacies of youth tennis academies, the mechanics of telephone switchboards, or the cobblestone streets of European cities. It gets to the point where I would give anything to sit down and pick the author’s brain to see if any of the characters in their stories were autobiographical, or if they grew up in the city the story took place in, etc. etc.

Just think of people who haven’t randomly stumbled upon your story, haven’t had the chance to have already been consumed by it, and don’t know anything about you. A book reading is your chance to convince those readers that they must have this book, that they must read it, and that they must also tell their fellow bibliophiles all about it.

While performing a reading with the kind of passion that can captivate an audience may terrify some more asocial writers, know that you’re not alone. I often dread social obligations and parties, choosing to shadow a more extroverted, socially affluent friend – however, that’s often because those gatherings are focused on small talk and catching up that I find generally uncomfortable and forced. The opportunity to speak, uninterrupted about something you love seems less intimidating for just that reason – I don’t have to force anything, it’s something I naturally love speaking about. A book reading allows me to prepare what to say in advanced in a way that doesn’t seem contrived, but is just a given part of the expected performance. When I am forced to interact with my audience, it is on the level of answering questions about something that I am deeply passionate about, which is my writing. For these reasons, while preparing for a putting on a book reading may bring about feelings of anxiety and general unease, know that the sense of satisfaction you’ll receive from having the opportunity to give your story a voice, and to gain readers who will stick with you for life will make it all worth it.


Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line atselfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠

KellyABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com. 10:00 AM
football fan

From the Archives: “Self-publishing – Authors become the Gatekeepers”

Welcome back to our Tuesday segment, where we’ll be revisiting some of our most popular posts from the last few years.  What’s stayed the same?  And what’s changed?  We’ll be updating you on the facts, and taking a new (and hopefully refreshing) angle on a few timeless classics of Self Publishing Advisor.

∗∗∗∗∗

[ Originally posted: September 29th, 2009 ]

In a recent blog post, literary agent Nathan Bransford wrote of on-demand printing and distribution:

“No warehouses, no catalogs, no print runs. Online vendors, as we’ve seen, will sell anything. In this scenario, does the Author of the Future, especially one with a built-in audience, really need a publisher? Well… yes. Maybe.”

Bransford goes on to argue in favor of the author/publisher relationship, stating that the role of the publisher lies in the dirty work – copy editing, cover design, distribution, marketing, etc. We know that writing and publishing is often the easy part – the real execution comes in getting books effectively into the marketplace. That is where real self-publishing options stand out. Be prepared to pay for the services you and your publishing consultant determine best suited for your goals. In the long-run, you’ll thank your self. And so will the readers who have the privilege of enjoying your work.

Bransford: “But publishers would have to be extremely author-friendly — they would be providing a service, not relying on their traditional role as gatekeepers and distributors. Publishers won’t be able to rely, as they have traditionally, on the fact that authors need them in order to reach their audience, just as authors won’t be able to rely on publishers losing money on most of the books they publish.”

Keep your eyes and ears open. Self-publishing is on the way.

– by Karl Schroeder

Gatekeeping.  If you’ve spent much time around the literature of either traditional publishing or self-publishing, you’ll have heard the term “gatekeeping”–and often.  This is because it’s a big deal, regulating and potentially even censoring the works that others read for work and pleasure.

Publisher’s Weekly came to the phenomenon’s defense back in 2014 (“In Praise of Editors, Agents, and Every Other Gatekeeper in Publishing“), Self-Publishing Review called for it to stop just this last month (“Indie Author Gatekeeping Has To Stop“), while Porter Anderson of Thought Catalog and Hugh Howey of The Wayfinder both claim that self-publishing authors and companies alike have introduced new forms of gatekeeping to replace the old (“In Self-Publishing, The Gatekeepers Are Dead. Long Live The Gatekeepers!” and “Gatekeepers for Indie Publishing,” respectively).

And that’s just to list a few of the many, many, many hundreds of articles, blog posts, and other opinion as well as peer-reviewed pieces out there on the subject.  The furor over gatekeeping has far from died down since Karl first wrote his blog piece in 2009, some seven years ago.  If anything, the ferocity of debate has only been heightened by time, although some of the vim and vigor can no doubt be attributed to living during a politically charged time (on all issues, not just presidential) in which language has become a polarizing weapon (if it wasn’t already such before).  But there are other considerations too: the world of publishing, and the dynamic relationships between print and digital, traditional and hybrid and indie publishing, not to mention readers and authors via social media, has crossed a rubicon.

Several rubicons.

So, much has changed … except our ongoing concerns over what constitutes “rightful” or “allowable” control over what gets published and how, and who exerts that control.

Consider the fact that you, a self-publishing author, have a role to play in this drama.  You choose to publish, to believe your story is worth putting out there into the world, come what may.  (It is.)  You choose to hold your self-publishing company and awards panels and yes, even your readers, to a high standard of ethical behavior.  You fight for equal rights to publish, especially those who didn’t come to the table with the same resources or privileges as you.

Consider the fact that you, a reader, have an equally important role to play.  We’ve written in the distant past about controlling the market by controlling how and where you spend your hard-earned cash … and this is just a quick reminder that the market isn’t defined solely by top-down control from gatekeepers, or even by bottom-up grassroots gatekeeping.  It’s not really defined at all, but rather exists somewhere in the hazy tension between these two forces.

Karl’s 2009 post was accurate–to a point.  Self-publishing authors do control what they pursue publishing, at least.  But editors, publishers, and self-publishing companies exercise their right to reject or embrace those authors’ manuscripts, another obvious and visible kind of control.  And last but not least, readers control which authors (and publishers, and self-publishing companies) get a cut of their paychecks.  It’s a complicated relationship, and it’s not likely to streamline itself soon.

Thanks for reading.  If you have any other ideas, I’d love to hear them.  Drop me a line in the comments section below and I’ll respond as quickly as I can.  ♠


KellyABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.

spa-news

Self-Publishing News: 7.25.2016

And now for the news!

This week in the world of self-publishing:

“Authors of thrillers and mysteries who have endured the woes of traditional publishing may find that the indie route is the best way to go,” declares Nicole Audrey Spector in this July 22 article for Publisher’s Weekly.  The phenomenon of genre fiction authors finding success within the liberations of self-publishing is nothing new: romance and fantasy/science fiction writers have a long and storied relationship with going rogue in order to escape both the stigmas and the constraints unfairly imposed by the gatekeepers of Western literary canon.  And while crime fiction may come as a surprise to some, but Spector writes that “crime fiction lends itself well to self-publishing, in part because authors can pump out a ton of books in a relatively short time while building and engaging with an active audience online.”  Of course, it’s not without its challenges, Spector notes: “It’s a lot of work, but well worth it for those crime authors whose careers have taken off as a result.”  And those ranks are expanding, as more indie crime writers navigate the muddy waters of self-marketing to become “authorpreneurs.”  For the full story, check out Spector’s article at the link!

Anything with “Maverick women writers” in the title is bound to catch my eye!  Self-publishing has long provided refuge for the marginalized and the oppressed, given voice to those who have no means of their own and no access to the traditional publishing model, so it should come as no surprise that indie publishing has come to attract its fair share of women cut from a different cloth.  Says Maria Corte for Quartz in this July 22 article, chronicling the successes of authors like H.M. Ward, whose nice-guy Damaged series was too “weird” to fit comfortably within the bounds of traditional publishing.  Forced into self-publishing by the nature of her books, Ward met almost immediate (and overwhelming) success–books in the NYT bestseller list, massive sales–all while turning down offers from traditional publishers who wanted to capitalize on her now-proven success.

“Romance novels, home of heavy lids, hot breaths, and grabbed wrists, have long been the embarrassing secret money-maker of the book industry,” writes Corte, “But today, a renegade generation of self-published authors like Ward are redefining the romance novel, adapting to digital in a way that has long-lasting lessons for the book industry.”  The average American reads just 12 books a year, notes Corte, but those who fall in love with the romance genre tend to read far more (including one reader who owns up to reading 5 romance novels a week).  However you look at it, good news for the mavericks turns out to be good news for everyone–the more books a reader consumes, the more they support the publishing industry as a whole, traditional  and indie.  For more of Corte’s article, follow the link.

This week’s last big piece of news comes from Publisher’s Weekly, in Mark Coker’s annual list of trends to watch published on July 22.  “The future of publishing is fraught with opportunity and peril,” Coker warns before launching into his list; making note of the fact that many authors (self-publishing and otherwise) lack a complete understanding of market trends (past and present) and that these trends play a large hand in shaping the success or failure of a book’s sales.

But there’s plenty of good news in store for self-publishing authors, too, says Coker.  One of his ten trends centers on the democratization of publishing and distribution as a direct result of self-publishing: “Ten years ago, agents and publishers were the bouncers at the pearly gates of authordom,” writes Coker.  “Publishers controlled the printing press and the access to retail distribution. Today, thanks to free e-book publishing platforms, writers enjoy democratized access to e-book retailers and readers.”  That’s a rather rousing endorsement if ever I saw one!  And indie authors keep raking in the good news; three more of the ten trends include “The rise of indie authorship,” “Indie authors are taking market share,” and (happily) “The stigma of self-publishing is disappearing.”  It’s also worth noting that Coker closes with one final bit of good news: “Indie authors are writing the next chapter of their industry’s story,” he says.  It’s not all fun and games, however, and Coker warns against the continued power Amazon plays in undermining the individual self-publishing authors’ potential.  For more information, check out the original article here.


spa-news

As a self-publishing author, you may find it helpful to stay up-to-date on the trends and news related to the self-publishing industry.This will help you make informed decisions before, during and after the self-publishing process, which will lead to a greater self-publishing experience. To help you stay current on self-publishing topics, simply visit our blog every Monday to find out the hottest news. If you have other big news to share, please comment below.

KellyABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.

Lonesome Cowboy by Frank Lowe

“Lonesome Cowboy” : A Saturday Self-Published Book Review

Book reviews are a great way for self-publishing authors to gain exposure. After all, how can someone buy your book if he or she doesn’t know it exists? Paired with other elements of your book promotion strategy, requesting reviews is a great way to get people talking about what you’ve written.

When we read good reviews, we definitely like to share them. It gives the author a few (permanent) moments of fame and allows us to let the community know about a great book. Here’s this week’s book review, courtesy of Observations From a Simple Life:

Lonesome Cowboy by Frank Lowe

Lonesome Cowboy

by Frank Lowe

Publisher: Outskirts Press

ISBN: 978-1478758563

Synopsis*:

A FAMOUS SINGER, TRUE LOVE, AND A DEADLY RISK … Tenacious and talented Kyle Kelly holds on to his dream of becoming a famous country-western singer and songwriter. He and his father, Cowboy Red, keep pushing through disappointments and small-time gigs until suddenly, they land the opening of Wonderland Park. Their Nashville careers skyrocket, and the future looks bright until Kyle meets and falls in love with Miranda, a waitress in a Mexican restaurant. Kyle is offered a lucrative movie contract, and he plans to marry Miranda and live happily ever after…until a tragic accident sends Miranda and her family back to Mexico. But Kyle knows what it means to pursue a dream, and he goes after her. He could never have imagined the dangerous and tangled web surrounding the love of his life-she’s not who she appears to be, and Kyle will find himself the target of merciless forces in Mexico who are determined to keep them apart. Kyle enlists all the help he can get, no matter how eccentric, to find and marry the woman he loves. Thrilling, heartfelt, and entertaining, Lonesome Cowboy is a story you’ll never forget!

Critique:

The story opens with Red, a singing cowboy, getting ready to sing in a town he swore he’d never return to. He only returned because his son, Kyle, urged him too. But Red has seen a very painful life, a life that his son knew very little of. Kyle will soon learn the painful secret his father has been hiding. Once Red, whose real name is David, confronts his past, it opens a world of opportunity for his son. Kyle soon meets Miranda Romero-Durante, a beautiful Mexican woman who works at her family’s restaurant. After a sudden tragedy, the family is forced to return to Mexico, leaving Kyle behind to figure out a way for his future with Miranda. He is faced with a great challenge as he is not Mexican and Miranda’s family will look to her to carry on the family name with a Mexican man. Will Kyle be able to find a way to build a life with Miranda?

I enjoyed this book. I thought it would be about a struggling singer who finally makes it big but it was better than that. I loved a line which David speaks to Kyle, “Never only means not yet,” meaning don’t give up. I also loved the final confrontation with Miranda’s scheming aunt. It was a great “HA! In your face!” moment. I highly recommendLonesome Cowboy as a story of inspiration and following your dreams.

reviewed by Jennifer Lara at Observations From a Simple Life ]

Here’s what other reviewers are saying:

Lonesome Cowboy is a book I read in one sitting. It gives the reader a taste of what it’s like to believe in a love so strongly that you are willing to do anything… to give up everything to pursue it. It touches on the rough life of country singers trying to break into the business and how random success can be. It touches on family and the responsibilities that are passed on from generation to generation and the solid and ever changing bond between a father and his son. It highlights the differences between life in the United States and in Mexico as well as the similarities. The characters, both primary and secondary are well drawn and engaging and the hero Kyle and heroine Miranda inspire a sense of admiration as they quietly go about making a life with one another through one obstacle after another.

The story is fairly well written although there were a few errors in the text such as words missing from sentences and occasionally, especially in the beginning, the story drags just a bit. But overall this is a fast paced tale about a man who chased a dream, only to give it up for a love so deep that he was willing to change his language, his country, his way of life and even his name. The journey he takes while he creates this new life will keep you turning the pages. Four solid stars for Frank Lowe and Lone Cowboy.

– Amazon Reviewer terrylynn

The first word that comes to mind to describe this Drama is lovely…appealing to both men and women in sharing of deep love for both friends and loved ones. Although listed as a thriller–I would not consider it that, rather a family drama that has a number of fascinating characters, and two sets of cultural backgrounds that sets up a wall between two lovers. Can it be breached?

Kyle, the son of a country singer, becomes the primary character. He has admired and been best friends with his father since he was young and had quickly begun to learn guitar and sing with him. Then he had become their manager. Without knowing it, Kyle had scheduled them to play in Red’s home town! With that, it brought not only an unexpected welcome for Red’s return, but also many surprises for Kyle, one of which was that they had been using an alias name! Kyle was finding details out as old friends came to talk to Red and became more and more anxious about what had happened many years ago in this town…

Red had chosen not to sing Lonesome Cowboy for his own loss, but in having Kyle sing solo that first night, it started a following and subsequent movie career that may have fulfilled Kyle’s long-term goals, but certainly made him realize that things were moving too fast… But there wasn’t a choice now, for Red had a stroke and was rushed to the hospital, with the later recommendation that he give up working. Now Kyle was the only bread winner for the two of them…

Readers will like Kyle. While he’s comfortable as his father’s sidekick, he was not anxious to be on his own. Yet, because of his quiet, relaxed performances that complemented his beautiful voice and good looks, his following of fans grew and grew. When he was offered a film, he felt he had to accept to keep money coming in. But even then, his warmth and kindness, plus his ability to speak Spanish, soon made he and the director friends. With his help, they were able to salvage a movie that really had less than a great story.

In the meantime, with the acceptance of Red’s return, except by a few people who weren’t well liked by the community, Kyle was able to continue their gig and the two men decided to make their stay permanent…

Which led to meeting Miranda and her wealthy family from Mexico. Kyle fell in love with Miranda at first sight. Without going into details, however, a tragedy occurred which resulted in the family’s return to Mexico. He and Miranda kept in touch, but Miranda early had told Kyle that she would never be able to marry someone who was not Mexican… But Kyle was not willing to accept that decision…

The book has two sub-plots about love between men. This is the second book I’ve read with a similar theme where confusion has arisen, apparently because of the changes in homosexuality laws, that seems to have denigrated or sullied the potential of close friendships between men that has nothing to do with sex. How sad. Fortunately, the author has shown both the positive and negative sides so that readers realize that philia (friendship) love between men is quite natural and does not lead to eros interaction. Kudos to the author for spotlighting this important matter.

Lowe’s descriptive talent for the two primary settings, peopled with appropriate complementary characters moves this story forward in a gripping fashion to attract readers’ immediate attention. The intrigue of the hidden as well as the continued movement by Kyle into new challenges kept my interest piqued and anxious. I’m not a fan of the usual soap opera drama common to television, so I do want to point out that the book is definitely family friendly and will reveal deep loves, family loyalty and dedication. A heartbreaking as well as heartwarming story well worth your consideration.

– Amazon Reviewer Glenda

* = courtesy of the book’s Amazon book page.


saturday self-published book review

Thanks for reading!  Keep up with the latest in the world of indie and self-published books by watching this space every Saturday!

Self Publishing Advisor

selfpubicon1