In Your Corner: 2016—A Year in Review

2016 has been quite a year, hasn’t it? Apart from the major national headlines involving politics, deaths, and the escapades of various celebrities, it’s been quite a big year for us here at Self Publishing Advisor too! Narrowing our gaze a little further, we’ve covered a lot of material, even just within my domain—Thursdays—with my “In Your Corner” column. It’s hard to pick just a couple of highlights to mention, since the full list is simply staggering:

… but I would encourage you in the direction of the series on summer goals and New Year’s resolutions—since goals and planning and resolutions are of such paramount important here and now, at the very tail end of the year.

For those of you more interested in looking ahead, there’s a lot to look forward to! 2017 promises to be absolutely packed with surprises and opportunities for all of us, authors and publishing professionals alike. Early next year, for example, I’ll be digging into the particulars of what it is that I do and how you can put my expertise in Author Services at your disposal. After all, my day job and our mission here on the blog is one and the same: to set you up for success with blog posts full of consistently high quality content. And from all of us here at SPA, I want to thank you for a stellar year of engagement and response, and to express hope that you’ll visit again. We have a lot of great content we can’t wait to share with you in 2017!

retrospective year in review sunset

You are not alone. ♣︎


Elizabeth

ABOUT 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.

In Your Corner: No Gimmicks, No Exaggeration…We Are Thankful For You!

It’s almost Christmas! Which is to say, quite a few feast days and religious holidays are fast approaching. What will you be doing this holiday season? How will you spend the day?

Among other things, we here at Self Publishing Advisor will be spending Christmas celebrating you. Because you’re awesome, and you have been so incredibly kind to us as readers and supporters of all things self-published and self-publishing. We couldn’t have asked for more generous-hearted, more wise, more curious and inquiring minds than than you. You keep us young, you keep us honest, and you keep us on-point in collating, generating, and celebrating the advances made in self-publishing over the last decade.

I’m new to SPA, but the blog itself has been around for quite a while. We had our eight-year blogiversary just a couple of months ago. In the age of the Internet, eight years is a massive accomplishment! So thank you, thank you from the bottom of our hearts, for being the massively accomplished and wonderful people that you are.

thank you

We hope you get a moment today and every day through the holidays to pause, catch your breath, and find yourself some headspace. It’s a frenetic time as we close out the year, but we’re here for you, and we’ll be here every weekday and Saturday with more quality content to keep feeding that hungry heart and mind of yours. If you have any suggestions as to content and themes as we move into a new year, we’d love to hear those too! We want to deliver material that you actually want to read, so burn up our comments section a little, okay? Or drop us a line in private–that’s fine too.

Thank you, dear readers, for another wonderful year.

You are not alone. ♣︎


Elizabeth

ABOUT 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.

In Your Corner: Making sense––of the holiday drop-in.

How do we prepare for the holidays?

Oh, look, I get it–after weeks and weeks of holiday-themed newsletters, emails, blog posts, and tinned Christmas music piped over the mall speakers, it’s easy for the season to lose its luster. And it’s true, after so many days and weeks harping on the same note (angelically, we hope) the holidays can begin to feel a bit … stale.

But that’s why we keep trying to come at it from different angles! Appropriately, too, since that’s what today’s post is all about: brainstorming new and fresh ways to prepare yourself as an author and your book too for this festive season. How do we best make use of the holidays and market our books to visiting friends and family, co-workers, neighbors, as well as the general community…without coming off as opportunistic…or worse, stale?

Here’s my suggestion:

Do what you love to do during the holidays, only find a way to be an author as well as an ordinary shopper, gift-giver, and so on. You don’t have to sacrifice anything, least of all that all-too-precious authenticity, in order to be both and do both.

Maybe you like baking cookies. I’m a traditionalist–gingerbread, snickerdoodles, sugar cookies, and sandies for me! But my family? Their roots go way back, to date-filled oatmeal cookies, cappuccino flats, Scandinavian almond bars, pfeffernüsse, orange and ginger shortbread, and all sorts of delicacies I’m not much good at putting together. (Dipping stuff in melted chocolate?? Only if it’s a spoon or my hand, thanks. Otherwise, the entire house gets decorated in splatter.)  Here’s the thing, though: no matter what you like to bake, it’s a great excuse to make the rounds at your neighbors’ as well as pretty much any social gathering you can think of–potluck, luncheon, shower, office party, etc–and to spread the word about your book at the same time. Tuck a bookmark with a picture of your book on it into the basket of goodies, and voila! Word is spread, and without great expense while keeping you doing the thing you love best at the holidays.

Or maybe you’re a nice version of the Grinch, in that you want to do anything other than another holiday-themed thing. In that case, you can lift a page from REI’s #OptOutside campaign (only perhaps we should call this #GoodGrinch-ing? I’m sure you can come up with a better hashtag). Throw a party, any other kind of party that is, or maybe launch a little crowdsourcing campaign of your own where you ask others to partner with you in doing something bigger and greater than just buying your book. Like REI, can you transform a single consumer behavior–abstaining from shopping for a day, in their case–into a statement? Maybe you decide to start a matching strategy, where for a limited time, for every copy of your book that is purchased, you’ll gift a copy to local libraries? Or perhaps, for every three copies of your book that are purchased, you donate a shoebox to Operation Christmas Child? The possibilities are endless. The key is to remember that you yourself have to believe in the mission you’re setting out to accomplish, and that mission is more than just making bank. The great thing about this idea is, too, that it can be adapted to other times of year! (But you have to admit, it’s really well-suited to the holidays.)

There are so many ways to branch out during the holidays, bringing fresh air to the age-old necessity of marketing your book effectively while also maintaining your sanity (and integrity!) at a busy time of year.

 

christmas visit holiday

Have you found a way to market your book around the holidays that doesn’t feel stale or opportunistic? I’d love to hear about your experience. Please drop me a line in the comments section, and I’ll include the best ideas in next week’s “In Your Corner” post!

You are not alone. ♣︎


Elizabeth

ABOUT 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.

In Your Corner: Hold On To That Pen–Don’t Put It Down Just Yet!

OR: How NOT To Be Defeated By Christmas

holidays journaling

Look, you actually already know quite a lot about surviving the holidays. For one thing, you’re here, aren’t you? And that means you’ve survived at least one–and let’s be honest, one-year-olds are a bit young to be self-publishing authors, but we support you too, one-year-olds, go get ’em!–holiday season. Very likely, you’ve survived several.

The thing is, those holidays you’ve survived may not have been, how shall we put it … productive? Yes, that’s close enough. “Productive holidays” may even strike you as something of an oxymoron, each being mutually exclusive of the other. But I’m here to assure you that, in fact, the term is not only literally possible but it can be yours–this month!

No, it’s not too late to get ahead of Christmas 2016. It’s easy to be fatalistic upon entering the second week of December, but I find it useful to remember the wise, wise words one of my coworkers has passed down to me from her father: “It doesn’t have to be perfect; it just has to be done.” And a lot of holiday stress? Well, it just goes poof out the window when you apply this idiom to reality. I don’t need to hand-craft every Secret Santa gift or hand-letter every card with fine calligraphy. I don’t need to make a gourmet meal on Christmas where everything comes out of the oven at the same time like it does on America’s Test Kitchen and The Great British Baking Show, and I definitely don’t need to do it all alone, like I have something to prove. But these feelings, this sense of obligation to craft the perfect holiday–they’re real. It’s real. And my friends don’t help at all.

I have friends who are Christmas fiends, bargain-hounds, and holiday maestros. And that’s wonderful, it really is. But in the age of Pinterest and Instagram, those banner apps for the socially and domestically blissful (and skilled), it’s easy to feel like I’m not measuring up–even when I’m racing flat-out just to get the basics covered. I’m 100% certain social media was invented with white picket fences in mind … but most of us don’t have a neatly manicured and curated life! And that’s okay. So the green bean casserole is a bit cooler than the Christmas ham? No big deal! (It doesn’t have to be perfect; it just has to be done.)

The real trick to a stress-free holiday, however, isn’t repeating a mantra to yourself every five minutes when the gingerbread cookies catch fire in the oven or the dog pees on the bearskin rug (true story; don’t ask) you just laundered the day before.

No, the real trick is in not forgetting who you are as an author. It’s easy to put your writing in second place during the holidays–second place to everything. Work is busy in preparation for the holidays, the house is a chaotic wreck, and everyone seems to want something from you, if only emotional support. But you’re an author. This is a vital part of who you are. And it’s not a part you can afford to neglect for an entire month during a time of year when life is literally throwing material–comic, tragic, or just plain emotionally rich–at you every five minutes.

So here’s my suggestion: Start a journal. No, it doesn’t have to be a “Dear Diary” setup if that’s not your speed. It’s definitely not mine. I mean, I may have started there–but when things got really tough a few years ago, I simply started jotting down fragments of overheard conversations, things I was grateful for, and things I was worried about. This last one came to dominate, and I called the journal my “Worry Book”–once a worry was written down, it was exorcised. I closed the book each day and wouldn’t allow myself to worry about it anymore, since it was in the book. This may seem like a simple trick, and it didn’t always work, but sometimes it did and I emerged from that difficult year with a record of all of the most important things on my mind. That’s fodder for a book, right there!

You may be a classic journaler, or you might be a “worry booker.” You might take down notes, reporter-style, or you might be more the sort to challenge yourself to write a poem a day. Whatever it is, be systematic. Sit down at the same time every day–preferably early, before the day really gets started–and knock out a few drops of ink from that fountain pen of yours. You can afford to write disconnected and fragmentary thoughts about life in your journal–but you can’t afford not to write at all. Keep that pen in hand, folks, even when life gets busy–and remember what my coworker’s dad said!

It doesn’t have to be perfect; it just has to be done.

Honestly, I’m pretty sure this applies to first drafts and initial thoughts and journals every bit as much as it does to Christmas dinner. Just remember who you are, and what builds you up–what refreshes you and energizes you and prepares you for the day. I’m pretty sure it’s going to involve a pen!

You are not alone. ♣︎


Elizabeth

ABOUT 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.

In Your Corner: Be the Life of the Party…Literally!

book club book party coffee tea nature

It can be hard, reinventing the wheel. Every holiday season, the same challenges and opportunities roll around–and every author is forced to decide: this one, or that one? Host a reading at the library, or coordinate a potluck and book sale at home? Or, worst of all, there’s the option of letting the holidays slide–of letting them drift away in a haze of busy schedules and truly important family and social demands–without making use of them as an author.

My suggestion? Host a holiday writing party! This isn’t your plain-Jane reading or book sale, although you could definitely incorporate elements of those tried-and-trues into your new plan. No–a writing party is much more inclusive and much more fun for kids of all ages (“from one to ninety-two” as Nat King Cole would put it). And while you are still the facilitator and secret power-broker behind the scenes of a writing party, you’re not the sole event–and at this time of year, that’s a blessing! No really, one can only pull off the holidays if one is expected to carry every burden. And typically, once the idea of a writing party is broached, everyone is eager to pitch in!

If you’re thinking “Hey! That’s not such a bad idea!” then I have a couple of suggestions, based on prior experience (I love these parties!):

  • Have everyone bring a dish, and in a twist have them steer clear of the typical holiday goodies, which everyone will very soon be sick of from sheer quantity–candies and cookies and so forth. Instead, have them bring something inspired by one of their favorite books! Kids might find something in Redwall to inspire, and there is an entire genre dedicated to “geek cookbooks” online, where you can find cookbooks (official and unofficial) with recipes from The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and Little House on the Prairie, among others … so this is not such a difficult challenge to meet. (And adults: there are endless lists of cocktails inspired by literature out there, so don’t be afraid to crack open that bar after the kids go to bed!)
  • Dedicate a part of your session just to snacking. It’s worth it, and it gets the chatting and the fiddling and the greasy fingers out of the way before the serious work begins. There’s usually a quiet lull in the conversation about twenty minutes in which serves as a nice segway–but again, everyone’s party should be tailored to suit your specific vision! Just make sure that food is stored away from the writing table, since messes do tend to happen–and everybody has a favorite “loud chewing sound” story! (Hot beverages are usually handy at the table, though.)
  • Then, get down to business. You’ll know what this ought to look like when it happens, and when it feels right. Every book club, writing club, and party has its own rhythm, but don’t worry–you’ll know. Sometimes it’s helpful to keep a timer nearby, or to set one up on your phone–breaking writing up into a couple of shorter sessions with quick snack and bathroom breaks in between is one way to keep everyone’s blood moving and energy up. And if that doesn’t cut it, consider leading a couple of breathing activities or even–yes!–yoga moves! Studies indicate significant improvements to focus in intellectual activities when the body is kept active and balanced. (It helps with carpal tunnel syndrome, too. Shake out those cramped wrists and fingers!) Oh–and don’t forget to offer up a couple of writing “prompts” for anyone in need of inspiration, and gear them towards your audience. Adults may want to write fiction–or letters to loved ones at Christmas. Kids might want to doodle or draw, or slay a dragon in five paragraphs or fewer!
  • Wrap up with a quick reflection. Try to steer clear of putting any one person on the spot, but offer up a couple of open questions about books, characters, challenges, and more. At this point, or as the last writing session is wrapping up, you can begin bringing the snacks to the writing table. The goal is for everyone to reach a point of total relaxation and contentment, and holiday joy.

Be inspired. There are so many shapes and forms your writing party might take–it may look nothing like the one I’ve described here–it might be outside, with just a couple of friends, or inside, with a pack of small children looking on. It could be held at the library! Or at your kitchen table. There’s no one way to hold a writing party–but a writing party is the best kind of party. After all, like the adult coloring movement–like Knit Night–like quilting and gardening and origami and yoga and meditating on one’s reading, writing is an activity which triggers serotonin release, calm, peace, and rejuvenation in those who take part in it. We can’t think of a better way to kick the holiday stress than by hosting a writing party!

What do you think? Will you have a chance to host an event this Christmas season? We’d love to hear about it. Drop us a line in the comments section below.

book party grandpa grandfather grandchildren children

You are not alone. ♣︎


Elizabeth

ABOUT 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.

In Your Corner: The Spice of Life

Last week, dear readers, I wrote at length about how Thanksgiving isn’t just a holiday for giving and receiving things–if it were, then it would be no different from Halloween and Christmas, save for the stitching and embroidery–but I have to be the first person to own up to the fact that what I wrote wasn’t the whole picture. Yes, Thanksgiving is about doing things and not just about a fantastic dinner spread. Yes, Thanksgiving was borne as a tradition out of a time of real need and desperation–of near starvation, to be specific.

Everything I wrote last week remains true. But it’s not everything that ought to be said about Thanksgiving. And today, the final Thursday of November and Thanksgiving Day itself, I wanted to leave room for reflection. For gratitude. For joy unmixed with lingering doubts or fears over what’s to come, if that’s possible in today’s hectic world. (Oh, let’s face it: It’s always been a hectic world. Maybe once it was safe to eat those candied apples in our Halloween buckets, but by and large life has always delivered challenges in equal measure to its happinesses.)

Ugh–let me start over.

thanksgiving spice

I want to leave the door cracked for thankfulness untouched by everything else that’s happening or going to happen. For you, dear reader. For sticking with us for so many years, for your likes and your comments and your feedback and, occasionally, for calling us out on what we need calling out on. Thank you for being loyal, for being so smart, for recommending us to your friends (or at least, we’re assuming our newer followers are here because they heard about us from someone). For being writers. For bearing the torch and mustering the determination to slog forward through thick and thin. For being ours, and for being yourselves. I know I speak for everyone else here at Self Publishing Advisor when I say thank you, dear reader, for joining us as we all walk down this road together–a road that leads to new challenges, new joys, and a new year.

You are the spice of life.

~ Thank you. ~

You are not alone. ♣︎


Elizabeth

ABOUT 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.

In Your Corner: Giving Thanks This Holiday Season

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 (see last week’s Thursday post) 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.

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. ♣︎


Elizabeth

ABOUT 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.