Decluttering…The Archives!

You may know the feeling, you go to open a drawer and papers are protruding every which way, you have to force some down to even open the drawer at all and your impatience mounts at the idea of dealing with it for just two seconds, not to mention an entire afternoon of actually dealing with it by cleaning shop. For those of you who still utilize filing cabinets–the non-digital kind–let’s talk about the ways in which we can declutter the archives and the crud that often accumulates in file folders.

The best way to start the de-crudding process for a filing cabinet would be to either create or reaffirm what your filing system is. You need a method by which you consciously store your papers and documents and this method can be as simple or as complex as you’d like it to be, as long as it makes sense to you and helps you find what you need in a timely and convenient manner. Some options for organization are alphabetical, numerical, due date, project, chapter, book, character, etc. etc.

Next up, you should write down a list of the working files you’ve decided to keep in your cabinet. Name the files in such a way that they are immediately recognizable to you. Use book or chapter titles, character names, etc. if it’s related to your writing. If you happen to also keep your water and electric bills in that cabinet, definitely label them and keep them in a separate area from your writing files. Miscellaneous folders are no help to anyone. They are clutter traps and try your best to avoid them!

Feel free to spice things up and make the decluttering process more exciting for yourself. Use visually appealing folders, perhaps toss that filing cabinet that you can barely open without the drawer almost flying out onto the floor. Customize this system to your organizational and aesthetic preferences!

Next up: pull your files out one at a time and lay them on a flat surface–this can be the floor or your desk or whatever you’d like. This way, if you have items in the wrong folders, they clearly stick out and you can place them aside in a pile and correctly file them as you go. When you go to replace the files in the cabinet, be sure to refer to your filing system list you began by making.

Once all the already filed items are back in a row, ask yourself if you have a stack of papers that still needs to be filed. Having a tray or box for a stack like this is always a good idea, especially marked with some imperative like “to be filed.”

The fun part of cleaning out the ‘ole filing cabinet? You can have a nice bonfire or shredding party with all of your disposed paperwork. Pour yourself a glass of wine, beer, coffee, tea–whatever your drink of choice may be–and celebrate a clean (and organized) slate!

bonfire burning papers


Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at selfpublishingadvice@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. ♠


Kelly

ABOUT 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

From the Archives: “Start Summer Right. Write Now toward Publishing”

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.

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[ Originally posted: June 21st, 2010 ]

Finishing a book is not as daunting as it sounds. The key is to write something everyday. Then, use the Internet for accountability. Interesting right?  Write everyday, and publish everyday—either on a bulletin board, a writing group, or on a personal “blog.”

There are a number of reasons to do this.

1) The public commitment will help motivate you. When you publicly declare that you will add content to your blog every day, or every week, you are more bound to complete your task.

2) If you choose the right forum, people may offer to help you. (Note, if you choose the wrong forum, and find people are being counter-productive, simply change venues).

3) By creating an Internet presence this early in the process, you can start to generate interest in your book when it comes out—either search engine interest, or human interest. Both are good when it comes time to promote and sell your book later on.

You may wish to search Google for some forums in which to participate. You’ll be writing and more and you may make some new friends and/or fans.

Then when you are ready to publish your book, consider all of those things we’ve discussed previously in finding the right self-publisher to meet your goals.

Have fun and keep writing.

– by Jodee Thayer

 

Summer is almost upon us, and your next book is calling.

I don’t know about you, but I love each season, and the variety of seasons, and the changing of seasons. This winter has been a long one, and even now it has a tenuous grip on the Rocky Mountain landscape in which I live; ugly snowbanks still hide where the sun doesn’t shine, and the roads are gritty with salt spread to speed the melting ice. The ground is heaving in my back yard as the moist earth thaws, then buckles. With the thermometer still dropping at night, it’s not yet safe to plant. It feels like forever since I sat outside with a cup of coffee and a book, forever since that first pumpkin spice latte last Fall.

But sure as the world turns, we are getting closer. We are officially in Spring, no matter what the thermostat setting, and Summer approaches apace. I, for once, am nowhere near ready for it. For me, Summer means far more frantic planning and balls in the air than it does relaxing days at the beach (what beach? I guess lakes have beaches, too…) or even pleasant woodland strolls, no matter how much I love them. After all, I have a family. And kids have a lot they want to get done in Summer, as do husbands, and the house inevitably falls apart a little bit and requires some maintenance, and the lawn too, and…and…and….

You know how it is. If I want to get something done in the Summer, I really have to lay the groundwork in Spring. If I want to get something done by the Summer, then I really have to start chipping away at it now.

Which means, yes, it’s time to break out the manuscript revision process and the marketing calendar, too. If you often feel at a loss, as I do, then it’s always worth investing in something like the Author Marketing Calendar, which lays out what to do each month in order to create a balanced, achievable marketing routine throughout the year. Sometimes it really is nice to take the guesswork out of the equation–although my point about being extra busy in Summer still holds.

As Jodee wrote in 2010, one of the most important steps is setting up and grooming an online presence. That’s a good first Spring-cleaning step for us as self-publishing authors. And as someone who works daily with other indie authors, too, I can’t stress the importance of laying out a pattern of behavior now, getting support and accountability from those who can help you reinforce these new habits–like getting up earlier, and writing each morning, undisturbed–and then making this new pattern rock solid and reliable before Summer and its various stresses arrive.

We’ll be writing more about how to prepare for Summer as the weeks tick by!

summer glow

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.  ♠


Kelly

ABOUT 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.

Self-Publishing News: 3.27.2017

And now for the news!

This week in the world of self-publishing:

Best-selling author, Dean Crawford, started writing adventure novels in his teens. However, he always thought that a career as a writer was a long shot for him, so he ended up working as a graphic designer, writing screenplays on the side.

Deciding to take a six month hiatus from writing to study the book market, Crawford decided he had an idea of how to write a bestseller. In 2005, Crawford mimicked the writing style of Dan Brown and was able to land himself a $350,000 book deal with Simon and Schuster. Needless to say, becoming a full-time writer after this was no longshot, but rather, a reality. All of the books in his three part series were best sellers which secured him a six-figure paycheck for his next two books. These books didn’t sell as well as his three part series, which led Crawford to his decision to reanalyse the book market once again.

In 2013, Crawford caught on to the growing popularity of digital publishing and founded his own publishing label, Fictum. To date, he has published 19 novels on that label. A frequenter on the Top #100 Paid on the Amazon.com list, Crawford has become a huge proponent of self-publishing.

He says, “For authors struggling under contracts with publishing houses, independent publishing is a real opportunity for them, not a second best alternative. They shouldn’t be afraid to dig out old manuscripts that their publishers or agents didn’t want, dust them off, edit them and self-publish on Amazon and other digital platforms. It’s their material, and the 70 per cent royalty rate offered by digital vendors dwarfs the 12.5 per cent of a typical publishing contract.”

Rather than waiting on advances from different publishing houses that may or may not take on his books, Crawford is now in a position where he has a loyal fan base and is able to move 20,000 copies of his books in a few short months without the aid of traditional publishers. He has removed the variable–whether or not a publisher will pick up his book–and found a formula for success that pays him far more handsomely.

“Since I made the move, I’ve seen more and more traditionally published authors forced back into day jobs because they can’t make ends meet,” says Crawford, “At the same time, I’ve seen more and more independent authors leaving their day jobs to go full time as writers and achieve their dream. They’re not household names, but they number in their hundreds and thousands across the world.” Luckily for his readers, Crawford didn’t allow himself to get forced back into day jobs, but asked himself how he could work with the market and have the market work for him. This kind of intuition and attention to the grand scheme of things is something we can all learn from as self-published writers who are also in charge of the marketing of our own books. Sometimes we need to step back and see what is made popular by demand and how we can adjust our writing and marketing schemes accordingly.


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.


Kelly

ABOUT 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.

Decluttering…Publishing!

This week we’re going to discover the ways in which we can declutter our publishing lives. This begins by putting our wallets to good and simple use. What does this mean? It means paying only for what you need, not what you want, unless of course what you want comes affordably with what you need.

First you’ll have to sit down and decide what it is you need. Is it a children’s book? Do you need full-color illustrations? Do you need help with distribution? If so, there are packages offered by self-publishing companies like Outskirts Press (my employer) that can get you full color cover, interior, unlimited wholesale printed and distribution via Amazon, Barnes & Noble and others. A package like this could cover your needs while also providing a few things you want like an author representative and publishing consultant.

Those of us not writing children’s books don’t need to front the expense of full-color publishing. Basic publishing packages are a great way to provide authors who just want black and white interiors everything they need to make their publishing dreams come true, without stretching their wallets too thin while still providing a full-color cover, distribution, author representative, etc.

What if you’re just a hobby writer and don’t necessarily feel the need to have hard copies of your book? An ebook is a great way to fulfill your dreams of becoming published at a fraction of the cost. Not only that, a lot of readers are more apt to try a book from an author they’ve never read if it’s in the more affordable, ebook version.

Sure, some of us would love to have a literary agent, a world-class editor, the most prestigious illustrator, etc. However, if you’re on a budget and really just want to pursue your passion for writing/publishing, you should always consider what the bottom line is. You want to turn your manuscript into a book. There are relatively inexpensive ways to achieve that dream and still have a product you can be proud of. Companies like Outskirts Press are full of professionals who can help you create a beautiful book–or ebook!–that you can be proud of and that won’t leave you bankrupt.

If you’re someone who doesn’t have the time or the know-how to market your book once it’s completed and published, and you find yourself wanting help with that side of the publishing process, there are packages offered by Outskirts to help you with that. But if this is more of a want than a need that you can’t necessarily afford, consider networking with other self-publishing authors for advice. If time if your main concern, simply allot a few minutes a day to making a simple social media post. If you have slightly more time, write a short blog and try to keep it up to date. An online presence is a great way to keep yourself in the marketing loop, and it’s free.

No matter what budget you’re working with, you can afford to publish your book. Sometimes we just have to acknowledge what it is we need to accomplish that goal, and maybe even push aside some of our bigger wants.

paper airplane decluttering


Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at selfpublishingadvice@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. ♠


Kelly

ABOUT 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

From the Archives: “Self-Publishing Advantages Out on the Table”

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.

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[ Originally posted: November 10th, 2009 ]

This posts and blog exists to help you make the best informed choices for the future of their books. Whether you’re still in the conceptualization phase or searching for a publisher, these are tips, each worthy of careful consideration.

For example, take a moment and write out your personal publishing goals…

For many authors, these 7 are the most important:

1) Keeping 100% of your rights and creative control to your book
2) Keeping 100% of your author royalties
3) Unlimited wholesale and retail availability
4) Additional marketing support and services
5) Publishing imprint and ISBN flexibility
6) High-quality book design
7) Complete print-run flexibility (1 to 1000s)

What would you add to this list?

I don’t know about you, but when we first published this piece on Self Publishing Advisor, we created a bit of cognitive dissonance; while the seven items listed are indeed advantages, they’re not necessarily advantages which show themselves on a shelf (unless you’re filling a shelf with 1000 copies of your book, which is quite a shelf indeed). Instead, we gave you a list of seven fantastic, but more general, advantages to self-publishing.

So, what are the advantages a self-published book might find on a shelf against other, more traditionally published books?

Many people are accustomed to thinking of self-publishing books as at rather a disadvantage, rather than an advantage, on such a shelf. This is because yes, once upon a time, the cover designs available to indie authors were far more limited in customizability than those available to their traditional competitors. After all, traditionally published authors have the full weight of their publishing houses behind them, with their marketing teams, their graphic designers, and their many other well-financed technical experts on staff.

But things have changed. So even if in terms of covers, the playing field is rather more level than tipped to advantage either traditional or indie authors, there are other ways at which indie books can–and often do–rise above the competition. First of all, there’s the local angle. Many bookstores and libraries privilege local authors over the general horde; all you have to do is bring this to the proprietor’s attention. This “local advantage” also works on potential readers, too. Don’t underestimate the immediate impact that this one simple factor can have on your ideal readers!

There are other advantages your indie book can have “out on the table,” of course! Because you control the price, you also control the price tag. The appeal of an affordable number should not be underestimated. But most of all, your book’s cover is your avatar in the world, a representation of you, and a truer one than any publication company could create. That alone is enough to make it stand out.

book cover designs

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.  ♠


Kelly

ABOUT 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.

Self-Publishing News: 3.20.2017

And now for the news!

This week in the world of self-publishing:

“According to data gathering website Author Earnings, self-published novels now make up 42 per cent of the fiction book market, offered via distributors like Kindle, Kobo, and niche websites like Smashwords,” according to this CBC news article by Maryse Zeidler. 42% is a pretty significant chunk of the fiction book market, considering what a niche, almost frowned upon practice self publishing once was; it now almost seems…mainstream. Public libraries across Canada are even going so far as to promote collections of self-published authors!

Because of how prolific self-published books have become, the cost for the readers can be very small, allowing them to try out authors they’ve never heard of without very much risk. This is good for authors who are just starting out and need to slowly gather a fan base. Zeidler points out that this also allows for a vast array of genres like “science fiction, mysteries and thrillers, not to mention ultra-niche genres like steampunk or even dinosaur erotica.”

The stigma around self-publishing has not disappeared, as there are some poor quality things that do get published. However, there is a rising number of professional authors who are putting out high quality material and offsetting that stigma and sometimes even becoming best sellers!

This is an absolutely fabulous and entertaining article by James Altucher, a successful self-published author, in which he gives all the reasons he has decided to self publish.

First on his list? Speed. Althucher once challenged himself to write and publish a small novel…in a weekend. He successfully did so and published it on Amazon under a pseudonym almost simply because doing so would’ve been unthought of even just a few decades ago. Six months is the normal time frame James will take on one of his books, which is still unthought of if he were to go through a traditional publisher who would want outlines, drafts, etc over a span of most likely one to two years. “Another friend of mine publishes a book every two or three months. Another friend writes fantasy novels –maybe two or three a month,” he says, “He’s sold over two million copies of his books. All through self-publishing.”

Second on his list is control. Now that the best designers and editors have discovered that freelancing is more profitable, that’s what they do, and that means anyone who wants to publish a book can hire them. For James, the cost of hiring the best freelance writers is well beyond worth it, as he prizes his readers more than money and knows that a well designed book will sell infinitely more copies.

Another reason he gives is that you don’t need permission to write a book anymore. “You don’t need to be a good writer,” he says, “You don’t need to have a good story. You don’t need to have anything to say.” He finds a beauty in this. Writing has now become an artistic act available to any/everyone. Self-publishing being the great equalizer.

Money is an oft-cited reason by many successful published authors, but James cites some pretty staggering figures from his traditional published earnings -vs- his self-published earnings. The maximum figure he gave from traditional publishing was $100,000, and his current self-published novel has made him between $300 and $400,000.

I’d go on, but you should really read the list yourself. He’s curt, to the point, and a hoot to read. He’ll make you want to go out and hug a stranger or publish a book this weekend on Amazon.


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.


Kelly

ABOUT 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.

Decluttering…Ambitiously!

This week I’d like to take a look at the ways in which we can “declutter ambitiously,” or find ways to set realistic and simple goals for ourselves–including for decluttering! If you had a New Year’s resolution list that was far too grand for your lifestyle, now may be a time to take a look at your goals for the day, week, month or year and refine them to something more accomplishable.

calendar planning

 

  • Draw up some numbers

 

How many social media posts do you want to make per week?

How many blogs?

How many pages or chapters do you want to finish per month?

Do you want to have a completed book by the end of the year? Or multiple books?

These goals are very simple and easy to measure. Once you have these numbers down on paper, you can begin to create a schedule that will promote progress towards these now clearly defined goals.

If you want to get three blogs done per week, pick three days that best work with your schedule to do them and treat it like a homework assignment due on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, for example. If you want a book done by the end of the year and you envision it having around twenty chapters, make sure you’re getting a chapter done every two weeks at least–you’ll need to give yourself extra time for editing of course!

  • Use a calendar!

This can be the calendar on your phone or computer or a good ole fashioned paper one. Use the data from step one to make yourself a schedule. Actively engage with this schedule rather than just look at it. When you complete tasks, use a symbol that shows you did so and reward yourself based on your consistency and progress.

This is also useful for noting when you may be realistically too busy to write some weeks, allowing you to stack your writing on other weeks when holidays, busy days at work, family vacations, etc., come up.

If you do use a calendar that is synced with your phone and computer, use the alerts that are available to prompt you and remind you of the commitments you made to your writing. Do not expect to be able to do all of your writing, blogging and marketing in one day, and do not clutter your schedule by even kidding yourself that that is a reasonable workload…which leads to my next point.

  • Set reasonable goals

For some people, writing 500 words a day is a walk in the park. For others, perfectionists and otherwise that might take a couple of days. If you’re honest with yourself you can avoid a cluttered schedule that just gets more and more backed up each day you fail to reach your goals each day. We all know what happens when we get overwhelmed by the idea of falling short of our overambitious goals–we grow anxious and are almost unable to work at all. This horrible paralysis can be avoided by just understanding yourself and being honest with yourself as a writer.


Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at selfpublishingadvice@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. ♠


Kelly

ABOUT 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