Self-Publishing News: 10.24.2016

And now for the news!

This week in the world of self-publishing:

NaNoWriMo. Over the coming weeks, you’ll be seeing the buzz over this annual tradition–National Novel Writing Month–begin to cascade through your literary networks, then build to a crescendo over the month of November. We’ll be following its progress–and your progress–here on Self Publishing Advisor, in hopes that we can provide yet another resource to assist you in reaching your writing goals, even if they have nothing at all to do with NaNoWriMo itself and the nonprofit organization which has brought it to such international acclaim. After all, the same tips and tricks which help NaNoWriMo participants are the same tips and tricks that all authors need to brush up on every now and again!

“As a NaNoWriMo lover and participant for the last six years, I’ve only ever once completed and won the challenge. Even though I went to college for creative writing and try to write every single day, I still find this competition incredibly difficult. It doesn’t matter if you’ve won the contest multiple times or this year will be your first go, it’s always a new experience and one you’ll have to start preparing for.”

Thus, Weiss presents the titular ten tips, which include (but are not limited to): Using a journal, scheduling your writing times, setting a fun weekly goal, joining a local or digital writing club, and creating an inspiration board. Weiss’s article reads in many ways like a cross between a pep talk and a training session on how to bypass the dreaded Writer’s Block, and I definitely recommend taking a look–even if you’re confronting the dreaded beast outside the parameters of NaNoWriMo. Click the link for the full piece!

If you needed any additional motivation to move forward with either your latest writing project or your plans for NaNoWriMo, this article by Crissi Langwell of The Press Democrat a few days ago lays out a more specific groundwork for making good on your inspiration. Like Alex Weiss, Langwell has participated in NaNoWriMo for a number of years, and her recommendations are born out of that experience. With four published books under her belt, writes Langwell, “my writing process has been affected by this fast-paced way of penning a novel.” Her top recommendations? Plan ahead. (“I know there are writers out there that swear by “pantsing” […] But if you are just starting out as a writer, plotting is the way to go.”) Find ways to make writing your priority. (“Whatever time you like for writing, make that time sacred. No TV. No cellphone. No Facebook. No family. Just you and your story, making things happen. And? Never give up. (“If you throw in the towel before the month is over, you’ll only have regrets. Keep plugging away. Trust me, your whole world will be changed once Dec. 1 is here.”) Sounds like good advice to me. For more of it, check out Langwell’s full piece at the link.

Have I mentioned that NaNoWriMo is a global phenomenon? It is. And as this article from the Tri-Cities community section of the Chicago Tribune points out, this event is “not just a funny sounding word” but a bona-fide movement, and one in which otherwise typical “suburbanites will forgo their favorite TV shows, refuse to return phone calls, skip meals, and bypass sleep if they have to; in an effort to sync their brains to the rate in which they type; to free their thoughts from the constraints of their psyche.” This particular article, which points readers to specific “sprints” and other novel-writing workshops taking place in libraries in the Tri-Cities area, is just one of hundreds out there laying out the possibilities for you if you want to write in the company of others this November. As various of these articles point out, writing with others is one great way to keep ourselves accountable and maintain our forward momentum, so it’s well worth taking a moment to hop online and check to see if your local public library is offering NaNo-related events next month. Mine is, my parents’ is, and my siblings’ libraries are too. The larger the city, the more likely they will be involved, but even some tiny rural libraries are getting on board. And remember–your library won’t know they have an interested group of writers nearby if nobody alerts them! You might be the first to reach out, but I guarantee you’re not alone. If you’re an aspiring facilitator, this might even be a great opportunity to offer your services to the community in hosting a writing sprint!


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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.

From the Archives: “8 Reasons Not to Participate in NanoWriMo”

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: October 17th, 2012 ]

Lately, there is a lot of buzz in the writing community about NanoWriMo. Many writers are gearing up for the challenge, while others are still dragging their feet on signing up. Working with self-publishing authors, I hear many different excuses for why writers decide not to participate in NanoWriMo. Here are the top eight excuses I frequently hear and my response to each of them.

1.) You don’t feel inspired. Inspiration is a classic writing myth. Serious writers don’t wait until they feel inspired to write. They write every day, no matter what. You can create the inspiration to write by changing your daily habits; you shouldn’t wait for inspiration to strike.

2.) You’re scared. This should be a reason to participate, not an excuse not to. Tackling your fears is part of growing as a writer, and it can lead to unbelievable change.

3.) You don’t have any ideas. Everyone has ideas. You just have to take the time to find them. There are plenty of books and websites dedicated to helping writers generate ideas. Even if it seems corny, complete some writing exercises to get your juices flowing. Look for ideas in your everyday world: the newspaper, books, tv shows. Be sure to keep track of all your ideas in a notebook.

4.) It’s holiday season. Sure, November is known for kicking off the holiday season, but that doesn’t mean you have to put your dreams on hold. In fact, writing can be a great way to relieve some holiday stress.

5.) You’re anti-social and hate events. Many writers prefer being left alone when they are working on a book, but there are many benefits to participating in events such as NaNoWriMo. All of the information and support makes your task of writing easier. Plus, you can choose how much you interact with the other writers.

6.) You don’t believe it’s possible to accomplish. There are plenty of writers who don’t think it is possible to write a novel in 30 days, but the truth is the process works for many people. In fact, more than 90 published novels began as NaNoWriMo projects.

7.) You don’t have time. Writers always use this excuse, but the truth is, there is always time, if you make time.

8.) You have too many other responsibilities. We all have responsibilities besides writing, although many of us dream of a life where we have nothing else do except read, write, and drink coffee. The real problem is that many of us don’t know how to ask for help. You don’t have to do everything yourself. Learn to delegate and free up time to pursue your writing dreams.

So, what’s keeping you from participating in NaNoWriMo this year?

– by Kelly Schuknecht

Many things have changed in the years between 2012 and 2016, but one thing that hasn’t changed is … how much I love NaNoWriMo. In fact, this year we’ll be setting aside several blog posts to talk about the event and how you can benefit as an author–even if you don’t buy in to the whole notion of producing an entire novel in a month, or like signing on to yet another institution.

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I think what’s special to me about my original post about this matter–all the way back in years of yore, in 2012–and that keeps bringing me back is the problem–every author’s problem, at some point or another–of finding excuses not to write. Here’s what I think of excuses:

They’re telling you something.

I mean, technically they’re telling everybody something. But against the advice of a friend who happens to be a forensic psychologist, I’m going to dip into a little psychoanalysis here and postulate that we make up excuses not to write in order to justify a truth that our bodies and our minds know on some uncommunicable level: we’re not ready. Either we’re burnt out and exhausted from other things, or we haven’t planned as well as we’d like, or maybe we’re suffering from some chronic ailment (known or unknown). And furthermore, I postulate that we can’t be our best selves much less the best writers we can be without first addressing these underlying issues–head on.

So this November, instead of challenging you to see which excuses you’re coming up with not to participate in NaNoWriMo, I challenge you to try and figure out what’s underlying your excuses. 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 forever as a result;
  • Deal with them to the fullest extent possible and find a solution that allows you to write; 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. 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!

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.

News From the Self-Publishing World: 11/02/15

This week in the world of self-publishing:

The big news this month is, of course, the yearly advent of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), a challenge undertaken by tens of thousands of people the world over––including around four thousand in India.  Aditi Maithreya, in a November 1 article for the Times of India, reports on what writers are doing there.  According to Maithreya, one Chennai-based blogger, Nandhithaa Hariharan, says that “Many of us have a story at the back of our minds but are lazy to write. The challenge brings in a kind of discipline that pushes you to pen down your thoughts.”

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Hariharan, who is based out of Chennai, is undertaking NaNoWriMo for the first time, but many writers in India return year after year to write 50,000 words in the month of November.  And because NaNoWriMo operates outside the boundaries of traditional publishing, Maithreya writes, it presents opportunities to writers of regional dialects and fringe interests in a way that intersects nicely with self-publishing.  Depending on circumstances and output, participants may be eligible to receive discounts on Scribner, a manuscript-friendly word processing software program, or to receive free e-book editions of their novels.  But NaNoWriMo writers must remain cautious, Maithreya warns, especially since the breakneck pace of writing so many words a month can lead to loopholes and continuity errors slipping in under the radar.  She quotes Mumbai author Neil D’Silva, who warns participants that “NaNoWriMo writers must remember that after the first draft they need to edit and proofread before publishing.”  Luckily, there are plenty of services out there to help move busy authors from first drafts to final ones.  For more information, check out both Maithreya’s article and the NaNoWriMo website.


If you’re participating in NaNoWriMo 2015, we’d love to be there to support you!  Drop a line in our comments section to let us know, or send us the link to your NaNoWriMo profile and we’ll follow your progress and keep the digital equivalent of coffee and pep talks waiting in the wings.


If you were wondering, India is a phenomenal powerhouse of a market when it comes to the publishing industry, but it’s also rapidly becoming a leader when it comes to self-publishing, as well.  In another November 1 piece for the Times of India,  Gunjan Verma transcribes an interview with the freelance writer and self-published author, Ganesh V., whose debut book (The Underage CEOs) follows the stories of eleven successful student entrepreneurs.  When asked about his thoughts on where readers are at in respect to self-publishing, Ganesh V. replied that “the audience is ready. They want to read different genres, especially something which is off literary fiction. People [have] realized that heavy literary fictions are not for the masses and so the mood of the audience currently is right for the content which resonates with the common man.”  By simultaneously providing both a broader appeal and more niche genres, self-publishing simply presents both readers and writers with more options, Verma reports.  Before his book, says Ganesh V., “no one wrote about student entrepreneurs who dared to do something different. These are young entrepreneurs, in their 20s, who have just finished college and said a ‘No’ to the conventional path of the corporate world.”  Sounds like a fitting entry into the canon of self-publishing masterpieces, doesn’t it?  For more of this week’s interview, drop on by Verma’s article.

The numbers are in, reports Tom Holman, as of his October 29 report for The Bookseller.  The big takeaways are as follows:

1. Mobile overtakes tablets and dedicated e-readers as the device of choice […]

2. Digital sales are still growing, but they are also slowing […]

3. Self-love levels recede as many indie authors report lower satisfaction levels […]

4. Publishing remains very much divided on matters digital […]

5. … And the majority believe publishers remain unprepared for what is coming [….]

And while I’d love to sit here and unpack these points first thing on a Monday, I think you deserve more and better than that.  So, as I wrap up my Wednesday series on e-readers, I’ll be turning my eye towards this year’s Digital Census and the other materials that have emerged from The Bookseller’sFutureBook” conference that have profound implications for the self-publishing author.  There’s a lot to take in.  In the meantime, check out Holman’s summary of events!


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.

October Writing Challenge #5 NaNoWriMo

Over the past month I’ve challenged you to complete a weekly Halloween inspired writing challenge. These challenges were designed to spark creative ideas, help you stick to your writing routine, and provide a little fun in your hectic week. (After all, writing is supposed to be fun, right?)

Now that October is almost over, I have an even bigger and more exciting challenge for you — NaNoWriMo. If you’ve followed my blog posts in the past, you know I not only encourage authors to try NaNoWriMo, but I have also done the challenge myself.

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month. It is an annual, Internet-based creative writing project that challenges writers to pen a whopping 50,000 words in the month of November. Hundreds of thousands of writers participate in the challenge each year.

NaNoWriMo is great for new writers looking for a creative jumpstart or experienced writers looking for a new challenge. It begins November 1st and ends on November 30th.

To sign up or learn more about NaNoWriMo, visit www.nanowrimo.org. The website helps you track your progress, gives you access to pep talks and inspirational stories, and provides a place to meet other writers.

Also, if you missed any of the October challenges, be sure to go back and check out them out: Spiritual Poetry Challenge, 15 Minute Challenge, Short Story Challenge, and Children’s Halloween Story Challenge. (You never know, they might inspire your NaNoWriMo project.)

I’d love to know, are you going to participate in NaNoWriMo this year?

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the 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 at http://kellyschuknecht.com.

Character Development Tips for Fiction Writers

Back in November 2012 I participated in NaNoWriMo.  As a first time fiction writer, one of the things I found the hardest was keeping character traits straight in my head. Did he have red or brown hair? Was he short or tall? As I was working through this problem, I developed some tricks to help me keep all those important character traits straight. Here are my favorites:

1. Let someone inspire you.

Even if you are writing fiction, you can use people in your real life as inspiration. Picture someone you know or see and base your character on that person. Not only is this a good way to generate ideas and help you remember your character descriptions, it is also a great way to ensure your characters are realistic because you will be describing someone you’ve actually seen or met.

2. Keep a list of character traits.

Even if you think you know your characters well, it is hard to remember all of the details once you are well into writing your book. To avoid messing up descriptions half way through the book, keep a list of all the character traits. You can format this however is most convenient for you. Perhaps create a table with headings such as physical characteristics and personality traits. The key is to keep the list updated and to review it often while you write and edit your book.

3. Plan ahead.

Some people let their characters develop as they write the story, but if remembering character traits is an issue for you, it may be beneficial to create your characters ahead of time. Before you begin writing, envision your characters. Imagine you are interviewing them and write down everything they would tell you and you would observe. What do they look like? Where do they live? What is their temperament? What are their motivators? Their fears? Their strengths? The more you figure out ahead of time, the easier it will be to write about them as they come into your story. Be sure to keep all this information in a safe, organized place that you can reference often.

4. Double and triple check your work.

As you write your book, your character may begin to take on a different personality than you expected or you may decide different characteristics are more suiting for certain characters. It is okay to change things, and you don’t have to be glued to your list of character traits as you write. You do, however, have to make sure everything is consistent before you self-publish your book. While you are revising your manuscript, read through it while focusing on character traits. You should also have at least one other person review your manuscript because he or she will often catch subtleties you missed.

5. Hire help.

If character traits is a struggle for you, a developmental editor may be able to help. Unlike copyeditors who review your manuscript for grammar and style issues, developmental editors look for consistency and structural elements such as character development and realistic dialogue. They can point out errors in your manuscript where you made mistakes and offer advice on improving your characters.

I’d love to know, what do you do to help you remember your characters’ traits?

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the 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 at http://kellyschuknecht.com.

NaNoWriMo – 6 Month Check-in

It has been six months since NaNoWriMo. Yes, six months! Time really does fly. As you probably know, I spent a great deal of time back in November sharing about my experience with the NaNoWriMo challenge. I’m embarrassed to admit this, but when I hit the 50,000 word mark, I saved the working document and haven’t looked back…not once!  For me, the six month mark is a chance to reflect on my project and set goals to refine and further improve my manuscript.

If you’re in the same boat, here a few things you should ask yourself as you reflect on your NaNoWriMo project:

How is the book coming along?

Since the challenge ended, what have you done with your manuscript? Have you continued working on it? Is it sitting in a (virtual) drawer somewhere collecting dust? Now would be a great time to open it back up and finish your manuscript. With six months passed, you can look at the manuscript with fresh eyes and bring new life to the project.

Is your manuscript done?

You may have finished writing the manuscript, but is the project truly finished? Maybe you still need to edit. Maybe you need to come up with a great title. Maybe all you have left to do is publish and market your book. Now is a great time to set new goals for your project so you’re ready in six more months to start a new novel all over again.

Are you ready to publish your novel?

If your manuscript is complete, now may be a great time to look into publishing options. Research self publishing companies. Talk to other authors. Figure out your goals and choose an option that is best for you.

Are you ready to market your book?

Even if your book isn’t yet published, it is never too early to begin marketing your book. You can share the news with family and friends. Set up social media sites. Talk to your local press. Begin making a marketing plan now, and you will have a much easier time promoting your book once it is complete.

I’d love to know, what have you done since NaNoWriMo?

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the 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 at http://kellyschuknecht.com.

Didn’t Finish NaNoWriMo? No Problem!

So you tried your best to complete the NaNoWriMo challenge, but you just weren’t able to finish the manuscript. Don’t feel guilty. It happens to the best of us. Sometimes, our daily lives prevent us from committing our time to writing. While all self-publishing authors would love to dedicate their free time to their manuscripts, life often has other plans for us. Or maybe you had the time, but you just couldn’t find the words to explain the story bubbling in your head. It happens, so don’t feel like a failure.

Just because NaNoWriMo has ended, that doesn’t mean you should give up on your manuscript. Set realistic goals to help you complete the book. If time is an issue, space out your writing and give yourself a longer deadline. Maybe three or six months is a better goal for you. If finding the words is your challenge, brainstorm ways to get your creative juices flowing. Take a creative writing class. Pick up a new book on writing. Read books by your favorite authors. Google writing prompts.

If the above ideas still aren’t enough to help you finish your book, there is another solution: hire a ghostwriter. Many self-publishing authors choose to hire a ghostwriter to help them finish their book. Whether you don’t have the time to commit to your project or you need help getting your ideas on paper, a ghostwriter can help make your dream of self-publishing a book come true. Outskirts Press offers ghostwriting services. You can also get recommendations from other writers or look for freelance ghostwriters online.

I’d love to know, would you consider hiring a ghostwriter? Why or why not?

ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the 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 at http://kellyschuknecht.com.