In Your Corner: An Abundance of Gratitude

Happy Thanksgiving from
Self-Publishing Advisor!

It’s hard, sometimes, to gage the tangible benefits to holidays—the quantifiable results, the data—that everyone seems to feel is required to justify holiday-centric marketing strategies. The qualifiable results are, however, incredibly easy to chart: good feeling, open pockets, generosity of spirit, and a hopeful attitude go a long way not just towards selling books, but towards building a resilient and flexible social media presence and a support network that will tide you over through the non-holiday seasons, when we don’t have pumpkin pie spice and green bean casserole to console us––and the reality of lockdown and social distancing sinks back in.

If we want to talk about “making use” of Thanksgiving—and any other holiday—-it’s well worth taking the time to consider what, exactly, it is that Thanksgiving means to you. I mean, we all know the legend of Thanksgiving, replete with kindness and hospitality amongst bygone peoples of the Eastern United States during a tenuous time, but we don’t all have a reason to celebrate in November, period—Fall is a time when stretched budgets sometimes stretch a little too far, and snap, and threadbare bank accounts become well and truly rough. So what, if anything, does Thanksgiving mean in a time of short tempers and emptied reserves? Looking at other peoples’ beautiful table settings on Pinterest will only get you so far.

thanksgiving table

Here’s my theory:

Thanksgiving is a time for doing, every bit as much as it is about giving and receiving. After all, the whole “giving and receiving” thing gets a real workout around Christmas. And in a smaller sense, at Halloween and even Veteran’s Day, when we give thanks to our servicemen and women—very important in its own way, but not the only mode of being to inhabit as a self-publishing author.

Thanksgiving is a time for activity, for wrapping up all the things that have been left unfinished at other times of year—a time for completion, for stepping back and looking at the whole and then by golly sitting down and filling in the holes. The best way to celebrate Thanksgiving isn’t just to give and receive thanks; the best way to celebrate Thanksgiving is to get ‘er done. To see yourself and your book and your marketing campaign and your social media strategy through the rough patches that inevitably accumulate on the leading edge of the end of the year. It’s not, contrary to legend, a time to sit around and kick up your feet and wait for good things to happen (or, more appropriately, to pop out of the oven and onto your dinner plate). Delicious as a fresh-baked cobbler is, it’s not quite the point.

If we wanted to look all the way back to the Quakers and the First Thanksgiving—and let’s face it, like it or not Thanksgiving is a time rife with nostalgia and historic musings—we should be honest about what it was like for them. They only celebrated because the gifted foods and skills given them by the local tribes kept them from starvation—and then, only just. The Quakers almost starved. Many of them did starve. It was not a time of plenty; it was a time for surviving, and for acknowledging those who helped them to survive. The time for celebration isn’t after everything is done and the harvest is in; the time for celebration is now, when the struggle and the busy-ness and the insanity is at its height.

If that seems like a hard concept to make good on, that’s because true gratitude is actually a hard thing to express—and so too is true need. I hope you know that we here at Self Publishing Advisor are a part of your network, a resource to enable your resilience. We’re here for you this Thanksgiving, to help you get it done.

You are not alone. ♣︎

Do you have ideas to share? Please don’t hesitate to drop us a line in the comments section, below.
Elizabeth
 

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Director of Sales and Marketing for Outskirts Press. The Sales and Marketing departments are composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, 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.

Self-Publishing News: Thanksgiving Week

And now for the news.

Highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing:
  • Indie Success: “The Best of All Possible Worlds” by Matia Madrona Query

The week of Thanksgiving, it seems appropriate that we stumbled upon this news in Publisher’s Weekly covering the self-publishing success story of Hugh Howey––an author launched into mainstream fame by the publication of Wool and its sequels starting in 2013. Query writes of his transitions back and forth between the indie method and the traditional publishing pipeline––once his work had already built an audience of fans online and in the first self-published print edition of Wool, his books have been picked up by publishers to re-release using their wide distribution networks. In an interview, Query concludes by asking Howey “Do you anticipate continuing to publish your future books independently?” His response on that question alone is worth reading the entire article:

I’m not sure how I’ll publish my next novel. The joy of self-publishing is that there’s little delay between a finished product and reaching readers. And, as Wool has shown, just because you publish a book on your own doesn’t mean it can’t find a publishing partner later on. The one thing I’ve learned in this business is to think about the reader first and foremost. If you do that, everything else is more likely to fall into place.

– Hugh Howey to Matia Madrona Query in Publisher’s Weekly Online

One of the aspects of self-publishing that we love the most here on Self-Publishing Advisor is its appeal to authors in all sorts of unexpected fields and its utility for all different possible kinds of content: text-heavy works like novels, educational materials, and so on––as well as visual-heavy materials such as zines, cookbooks, and photography portfolios! In this case Doug Allan, widely known for his partnership projects with the legendary Sir David Attenborough (note: for US readers, Attenborough has several spectacular documentaries and series easily accessible by way of several of the big streaming services). Allan’s photos are famous around the world for their quality, and for his ability to get right up in among his subjects. And now, Allan is advocating for self-publishing among his photographer colleagues on Digital Camera World. This is an absolute must-read!


This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is spa-news.jpg
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 each month to find out the hottest news. If you have other big news to share, please comment below.

In Your Corner: It’s Actually OK to NOT Participate in NaNoWriMo

NaNoWriMo––which stands for National Novel Writing Month––is a fabulous opportunity to chip away at a project or two that you’ve been thinking about all year. But it is also, as many writers have discovered, the kind of undertaking that is all-consuming and exhausting. For those of us who have found ourselves unable to participate this year––whether it’s because we didn’t know about NaNoWriMo in the first place, or (as with one of our writing staff) are helping a parent recover from brain surgery, or (as with several friends and relatives) are simply too busy with raising a family or working a 9 to 5 job––it would be nice to know that it’s actually completely acceptable not to participate in this particular yearly event.

So for all of you who feel like you need encouragement or permission to take a break from NaNoWriMo, here it is! I’m encouraging you! I’m giving you permission to do what’s best for you in the here and now, whatever that is!

There are, in fact, some completely legitimate reasons to NOT participate in NaNoWriMo, and if you’re feeling extra pressure this year to join in or catch up and you’re just not ready, just remember that we are often our own greatest critics, and even well-intentioned friends and fellow writers may need the occasional reminder that you will reach your own goals in your own time as you are able.

I really don’t think that we can be our best selves, much less the best writers we can be, without first addressing those underlying issues underlying our reticence, or our struggle to write–head on.

So this November, instead of challenging you to see which excuses you’re coming up with to not participate in NaNoWriMo, I challenge you to try and figure out what is happening to throw you off of your NaNoWriMo game. Once you know the root causes, you have three options, right?

  • Do nothing, and let sleeping dogs lie (however uneasily) and run the risk of facing writer’s block indefinitely as a result;
  • Deal with them to the fullest extent possible and find a solution that allows you to write (although perhaps not today); and
  • Manage them in balance with other major ongoing concerns to an extent that allows you some freedom to write.

Understandably, I’m going to lobby for everyone to manage or solve their excuse-inducing-problems because I want all of you to feel unshackled and fully able to write … but I do understand that you have a life outside of writing. We all do. Sometimes that life is going to intrude upon your process as a writer, and that’s okay. It really is. I mean, come on, 2020 has thrown us all for a loop! Maybe this is not the year to try and hurry yourself into making NaNoWriMo work. And maybe it is. Either way, we’re here for you at SPA to support you in making the best possible decision to fit your own life and needs.

Stay strong. Take care of yourself. Know your own heart. Know your limits. Seize the day … even if you’re seizing it for a very long nap.

You are not alone. ♣︎

Do you have ideas to share? Please don’t hesitate to drop us a line in the comments section, below.
Elizabeth
 

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Director of Sales and Marketing for Outskirts Press. The Sales and Marketing departments are composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, 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.

Self-Publishing News: 11.11.2020

Veterans Day. November 11. Honoring All Who Served.

And now for the news.

Highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing:

Here’s a fun and uplifting story for those fans of epic fantasy: Isaac Stewart, who has worked as art director for fantasy megastar Brandon Sanderson among others, has launched a Kickstarter campaign to launch his lift-the-flap picture book after struggling to find a traditional publisher willing to take on the project. The fundraising campaign for the book, Monsters Don’t Wear Underpants, was fully funded within 12 hours, and has now more than doubled Stewart’s original funding goal. (So nice things can happen on the Internet after all!) At least for now, the book is available for pre-order, and even if you don’t have children going through potty training, you can certainly take notes from Stewart’s well-orchestrated Kickstarter process if you’re thinking about taking a similar path to self-publication.

“As a ghostwriter,” Elaine Pofeldt writes in the opening to a recent Forbes article, “I often hear from prospective authors who would like to write a book but are on the fence about whether to self-publish it or try to find a commercial publisher.” Pofeldt, a longtime contributor to a number of high-profile publications on the subject of entrepreneurship and co-founder of the entrepreneur-boosting company 200kfreelancer.com , offers a well-rounded and realistic comparison of the self-publishing process in contrast to a more traditional (or “commercial”) approach. She covers topics ranging from funding through writing, editing, publishing, and promoting your book––and how each experience varies between the two options. This is a thoughtful article that despite being written by someone “in the industry” will still prove useful to those readers who are not specifically launching their books through her business.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is spa-news.jpg
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 each month to find out the hottest news. If you have other big news to share, please comment below.

ORIGINAL BOOK REVIEW: “Forgotten But Not Gone” by Barbara Peckham

OFFICIAL DESCRIPTION*:

Forgotten But Not Gone is an interwoven story about a married housewife and part-time librarian living in coastal Massachusetts in 1965. She is happy and very active in her life there. However, she has a background that no one knows about except her husband, George, and even he doesn’t know anywhere near the whole story. He knows that she has amnesia about her early childhood, but very little else.

All Liz really remembers is that, at the age of about fourteen or fifteen, she found herself running, panicked, down an Appalachian mountainside. She had no idea then, nor did she now have any memory of what had happened before that, what she was running from, or what had frightened her so much. Now she seldom thought about it. She had managed to get on with her life and what was past was past.

That is, until, one day a strange letter arrives in her mailbox. It appears that someone know things about her that she doesn’t even know, and it frightens her. Not long after, other occurrences begin, and they escalate more and more in intensity and danger. She is sure all this has to do with the past she can’t remember, and she begins to fear for her life. She has had, ever since she can remember, some silver teaspoons with initials engraved on them, and a diamond ring, but she has no idea whose they were or what the initials mean. Did she steal them? Is someone finally going to find her? Then a teaspoon exactly like hers turns up in the collection of a friend. Where did she get it? How are they connected?

Still, try as she might, all she can remember is that she ran until she came across a hardscrabble farm, where an elderly couple took her in. They treated her like the daughter they had lost. She stayed and worked the farm with them until, after a few years, they died, one shortly after the other, and she was forced to leave the only home she remembered to go out on her own with few resources and little education. The years following were years of hard work and night school.

The story weaves back and forth between the present, [with] Liz revealing more of her past, a mysterious man who has come to town with a vengeance, and a young woman who has in her possession another of the silver spoons. All comes together at the end with a terrible fire, and the truth comes out.

REVIEW:

Once upon a time, a girl stumbled out of the thickly forested Appalachian foothills and into the lives of an elderly couple on a small farm. Uncertain of what had happened before she entered the forest, her exact age, and even her own name, the girl is dubbed “Nell” and nurtured by the Ekburgs until their deaths send her out into the world, ready to make a new life for herself under a new name, and equally determined to make new memories to replace the ones she’d lost.

Thus begins the story of Forgotten But Not Gone: The Silver Spoons, a new cross-genre historical fiction plus mystery novel from Barbara Peckham. The novel leaps twenty-odd years into the future, and catches up with Nell, now Mrs. Elizabeth (“Liz”) Everson, living a calm life as a part-time librarian and housewife just prior to Halloween in 1965. And yes, a set of silver spoons really does connect the dots between the stories of Nell/Liz/? and those of the book’s other point-of-view characters, including her husband George, the young Joyce, Liz’s new friend Elaine, the local police chief, and an unnamed mystery man who thinks he knows exactly what happened during Liz’s forgotten years––and is determined to punish her for it.

Told in a combination of straightforward narrative and flashbacks from their prior lives, Forgotten But Not Gone: The Silver Spoons perfectly melds those elements it borrows from historical fiction and cozy mystery genres. Peckham has an eye for detail, walking her readers back through the years to a time when phones were analog and had those spiral cords (you still can find them for sale as ‘antiques’ on Etsy, which makes me feel absolutely ancient), and when people sent letters that were made of actual paper. She also embraces all of the pomp and circumstance (and obsessive planning) behind many a community celebration of the variety still common in older, tourist-friendly East Coast shore towns. As a librarian, Liz enlists Elaine and her other Book Club friends to assist in organizing Seaside’s Christmas parade and neighborhood gathering––a subplot that is blessedly free of the sinister elements that are becoming routine in the Everson household all of a sudden. It is here, with her friends around her and a project to complete, that Liz’s fundamental personality really shines––and her natural aptitude for winning people over. It’s only when Liz returns home that she is haunted by danger, and the nagging feeling that someone is out to get her for things she can’t even remember begins to sink its claws into her mind.

So, what happened in those years she’s forgotten? I can’t tell you exactly, since to do so would be an unforgivable spoiler, but Peckham weaves together the various elements of the novel into one, cohesive, and compelling story of fractured and found families, suspense and seeking sanctuary, and the making of a whole and complete life.

At a time when the world seems to be either on fire or consumed by some other tragic breaking news, Peckham invokes an era when the local police were also neighbors and friends, when daily life felt comfortable like a favorite sweater, and when libraries were the surest place to discover critical information in a mystery so old the trail is beyond cold––it’s pure ice. And I find this somewhat ironic, given that fire and ice (or at least, icing bruises) are common themes in Forgotten But Not Gone: The Silver Spoons. I heartily encourage you to take a peek at this novel if you liked Big Little Lies but wished that people would just talk to each other and figure out a solution together, or if you find yourself hankering for a seasonally appropriate read in the months between Halloween and Christmas. After all, we all need a satisfying spook every now and then.

IN SUMMARY:

Compassionately written characters learn crucial details about their own lives in this cozy, genre-bending novel from Barbara Peckman. Forgotten But Not Gone: The Silver Spoons is exactly the right book at the right time for those of us who love old houses and old towns and old memories relived.

WHERE TO BUY?

You can find Forgotten But Not Gone: The Silver Spoons wherever good books are sold, including Amazon and WalMart. You can also find out more about Joseph Bylinski’s work on the book’s Outskirts Press author page.

WHAT NEXT?

I’m digging into Rambling With Milton next, a novel that follows a journalist and columnist whose youthful ideals about romance remain unfulfilled after a long and successful career. A significant chunk of this romantic work of fiction is set around a Christmas play and the long road to recovery one woman faces as she falls in love. The premise is exactly the sort of thing to have me restocking my kleenex supplies, so I will update you with more information in the days to come!

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

* Courtesy of Amazon book listing.


SONY DSC

ABOUT KENDRA M.: With nine years in library service, six years of working within the self-publishing world, as well as extensive experience in creative writing, freelance online content creation, and podcast editing, Kendra seeks to amplify the voices of those who need and deserve most to be heard.