In Your Corner: The Business of Writing

So, you’re an author. Writing is your business, right?

Well … hopefully. The problem with being an author, particularly a self-published author, is that the real work is a solitary activity, taking place at home or in another not-a-standard-office-environment workplace, and is oh-so-easily interrupted by the ordinary vagaries of daily life. Anyone who works from home can attest that it’s difficult to keep home life and work life separate!

So how can an author make writing a business, with all of the peculiar challenges authors face?

Draw up a business plan.

Whoa, whoa, a business plan?! Isn’t that for people who are, like, starting a bakery or a coffee shop or maybe a lumber yard? Yes. But it’s also for you, the indie author. You have to prioritize making a business plan if you want to make a profit off of your writing. There are plenty of small-business handbooks available through your local public library, so I won’t go into great detail for you here, other than to say you don’t need to be afraid of the spreadsheets … you just have to be willing to bow before the truths they present to you. If the spreadsheets and the business plan requires you to sacrifice certain luxuries in order to make a good go at becoming a profitable self-publishing author, that’s what you’ll need to do. In most cases, however, a business plan will simply help you figure out which services you ought to pay for, and which ones you ought to train yourself to manage. Like bookkeeping, or website design. It will help you organize your author-related budget and separate it from your personal, regular budget, articulate your needs and your vision, and filter out distractions. I promise, this is the best possible thing you can do, whether you’re just starting out or midway through your career!

Figure out your brand.

What do you want to be known for, as an author? Are you going to be recognized for some sort of narrative through-line to your works, a passion for author advocacy, for your engagement with your audience, or something else entirely? (Hint: you can be all of things, and more.) Your “brand” is as much a product of your personality and your priorities as it is the actual physical product you publish on the page.

You can probably name a couple of brands off of the top of your head. Starbucks, Wal*Mart, Toyota … and when you think of these brands, what do you think of? Their visual presence, like their logo and their website or smartphone app? Or perhaps the little jingle that plays during their commercials? Now, what about authors? Which ones spring to mind as having distinctive presences out in the world? Terry Tempest Williams? Ann Rice? Stephen King? Figure out what draws you in, and what you can feasibly do as a creator in order to tap into the same strengths.

Find your market.

Have you spent much time thinking about your ideal reader? This isn’t a simple thought exercise, it’s an important part of delivering your business plan into the world without undue complications. Spend a few hours researching and drawing out characteristics and qualities you think of when you contemplate who will or ought to be drawn to your work, and then brainstorm ways to reach them which you can manage in a regulated, sustainable, and protected way.

Protected? Yeah. As with all other new things, it can be hard to build new muscles and tap into new markets, because such things rely on habitual, scheduled curation. Statistically speaking, readers are far more likely to subscribe to your social media accounts, blog, and email newsletters if they know they’ll get updates regularly—even on the same day each week. You absolutely must protect such habits from the encroachment of daily distractions! Otherwise, they’ll go the way of all other resolutions. And if you want to treat your work as an author like a business, that’s just not going to help much.

businesslike business suit coffee child

If you’re feeling frustrated with your attempts to put together a business plan for your writing, get in touch! We’d love to hear your stories and help you face the challenges ahead with the best possible resources at hand. We’re here for you.

You are not alone. ♣︎


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.

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  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠


ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at, 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,

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.


[ 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.  ♠


ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at, 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,

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 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.


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.


ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at, 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,

Saturday Book Review: “The Journey Begins: A Walk Of Faith”

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

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

The Journey Begins A Walk of Faith by Lynn M. Strong

The Journey Begins:  A Walk Of Faith

by Lynn M. Strong

Publisher: Outskirts Press

ISBN: 9781478776932


Spiritually fed, spiritually led and poetically said. When Lynn Strong found himself forced into early retirement at age 58, he felt utterly lost. In desperation, he turned to God and prayed for answers-for guidance on this unplanned detour. That day, he surrendered his all and vowed to serve the Lord as never before. The Journey Begins: A Walk of Faith is a collection of poetry that reflects Lynn’s personal and spiritual journey. Inspired by the Spirit as God led him each day, the poems are simple and accessible, yet filled with raw emotion and a joyful celebration of faith.

 * courtesy of


There are times where knowing something about the context of a book makes it more enjoyable to read.  This short book, about 90 pages in length, was written by the author when he was put on early retirement at the age of 58, and struggled with feeling old and unappreciated, and having a hard time finding good work again.  What he did was something remarkable, and wonderful, and that is writing this particular short book and sharing with the appreciative readers of this book his own reflects and thoughts and poetry.  As someone who has read many books from this publisher [1], this book definitely gets self-publishing right, and that is by providing something other people are going to want to read.  There are a lot of people who struggle with growing older and being forced into early retirement, and this book is short enough and well-written enough that it would be a comfort to many people and an encouragement for them to write about their own thoughts and feelings and to share their own struggles with the negativity involved in feeling like the purposes of life have been reduced by a lack of work.

After an introduction, that explains the genesis of the author’s writings, this book consists of more than 40 reflections with a particular format, given a title and with three verses or short passages from the Bible, a commentary of one to three paragraphs, and a short poem made up of quatrains with an ABCB rhyme scheme that sound like the metrical psalms popular in many English-speaking Protestant churches.  The titles generally give a fair picture of the contents:  Help Us Lord, Old Age, Power Monday, Our Walk / Your Way, Keep The Faith, In The Press, and Thoughts In Mind are some examples of the contents provided in these pages.  The contents are all very straightforward–this is not deeply symbolic and mysterious poetry but rather direct and often didactic poetry written in the first and second person.  As someone who has read more than my fair share of really bad poetry, it is nice from time to time to read poetry that has no pretensions and that manages to convey its point straightforwardly.  Those who read this book will not be in any mystery about what the author is talking about, and are likely to find some encouragement in the author’s words as well as the choice citations from scripture.

The title of this book gives the indication that there is likely to be more material from the author yet to come.  If, for example, this is the beginning of a journey, there may yet be more volumes of writing from the author, and that is likely to be enjoyable.  The author has been married to his high school sweetheart for 40 years and has also been involved in prison ministry, both of which are spoken of here in the book, and both of which likely can provide the author with insight for further books.  Perhaps having begun his writing with this particular volume, the success of these efforts will encourage the author to future books, which, if they are as good as this volume, will likely also be encouraging and pleasant to read.  The author strikes the reader as someone who was likely not encouraged to be a writer during his youth, and as a result the author appears not to have spent years practicing work.  It is noteworthy that it was a crisis of retirement that prompted the author to begin to write, and one can only hope that he found as much peace and enjoyment writing this book as others are likely to find reading it.  The world can always use more people who write honestly and well.

reviewed by Nathan Albright of Edge Induced Cohesion ]

Here’s what another reviewer said:

At age 58, Lynn M. Strong was forced into early retirement. He felt lost, desperate, looking for guidance…. Lynn turned to God and his prayers were answered. He surrendered himself to the Lord and was filled with these poems and verses that are written in his book, The Journey Begins.

I feel so blessed to be given the opportunity to review this book. As I read each poem I could feel the difficulties that Mr. Strong faced and I could feel how God’s love and guidance lifted him and help him along the way. As I read the poems and the verses I could feel the Lord lifting me from a time of sorrow that I had been placed inside. I know God is there for each of us. Loving us… helping us.. we just need to give him our all. That’s exactly what Lynn Strong did and in his book you feel the love of God as you read each page and enjoy his beautiful soul.

– Amazon Reviewer Amy

saturday self-published book review

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

Self Publishing Advisor


Conversations: 3/24/2017



There is another layer of the Inspiration genre that is a blend of True Story/Memoir/Life Lessons. Many of these books (and their authors) have offered totally new perspectives that have enhanced my writing abilities. I am fairly certain you have a few favorites on your bookshelves, too. They definitely fit my criteria of educational reading as they enhance the skills of all writers of every genre.

royalene4The first example I’ve selected today is by author Eane Huff. I must admit that I was drawn to the book by the author’s last name because of my friendship with a husband and wife writing team who share that name. I have no idea if they are related. However, Eane Huff’s book Wednesdays with Jerry, definitely fits my friends’ concept of encouraging others.

When a student (who has experienced a challenging head trauma) dreams of obtaining a master’s degree it would be understandable if he gave up. But he didn’t—because—an amazing teacher walked into his life and gave him the tools needed to succeed.  This short book is highly recommended reading for all special educators—a True Story/illustration of ways to introduce compassion, belief and mastery of life’s bumps to help others reach for their highest hopes. AND, for fiction writers, you’ll be inspired to develop your protagonist characters with many of these qualities.

My second example today is from author Elizabeth Stone: The Midnight Call.

Some might say it is the exact opposite of book and story above because of the tragic royalene5moments it reveals. However, by honestly sharing the events in her son’s life it is the author’s hope that—as people read the pages of their family’s true story—they will find the support and encouragement needed to go beyond surviving the moments of their own difficulties to find the brighter days of tomorrow.

Stone shares the joy of their first son’s birth—when that brand new person, that new individual whose personality and passions—entered and gladdened the hearts of their whole family. She also tells about his later days of addiction to alcohol and drugs which trapped them all in days, months and years that often spiraled out of control. Many hearts were broken—yet today they are healing and making choices to live life and smile again. Writing and publishing this book (which offers helpful support resources) will help anyone who is experiencing these life events. AND, again, the fiction writer will find many key components to help develop multi-level, real characters.

As I was searching for examples in this True Story/Memoir/Life Lessons category, I remembered a very special newspaper columnist by the name of Gene Amole. He not only “did” a column for Denver’s Rocky Mountain News, but his creative writing legacy touched radio and television. His first book was AMOLE: One More Time, a collection of his wisdom, wit, and humanity that earned him intense reader loyalty. His last book, The Last Chapter, starts with the column that announced he was dying. “Still, I am not retiring,” he said, “Just taking on a new assignment.” And so he did—for six months. His craftsmanship with the written word, his humor, compassion and celebration of family and friends, has left behind a writers legacy to be admired and emulated.

Deep within every writer’s heart I believe we all have this dream of leaving a legacy of written work behind us. It is not a pipe-dream. We can do it, too!  ⚓︎


ABOUT ROYALENE DOYLE: Royalene has been writing something since before kindergarten days and continues to love the process. Through her small business—DOYLE WRITING SERVICES—she brings more than 40 years of writing experience to authors who need “just a little assistance” with completing their projects. This is a nice fit as she develops these blogs for Outskirts Press (OP) a leading self-publisher, and occasionally accepts a ghostwriting project from one of their clients. Her recent book release (with OP) titled FIREPROOF PROVERBS, A Writer’s Study of Words, is already receiving excellent reviews including several professional writer’s endorsements given on the book’s back cover.  

Royalene’s writing experience grew through a wide variety of positions from Office Manager and Administrative Assistant to Teacher of Literature and Advanced Writing courses and editor/writer for an International Christian ministry. Her willingness to listen to struggling authors, learn their goals and expectations and discern their writing voice has brought many manuscripts into the published books arena.

In Your Corner: Distinguished Gentlepen

(I know, my puns are the worst. I just can’t help making them; it must bed some kind of compulsion, or character flaw.)

Today I’m going to take a peek at what makes a book–and its author–distinguished. Now, if you haven’t used this word recently in a sentence of your own, you might be thinking of ball gowns and tuxedos and those nifty eyeglasses that attach to one’s watch-pocket by chain. You might even be thinking of particularly thick mustaches, and a well-maintained Model T Ford. The word is straight out of Victorian literature, but I would make the argument that it has continued relevance today. It is defined as:

distinguished definition

And as you can see, it actually lies a touch above the curve in terms of popularity–Merriam Webster places it in the top 40% of words according to usage. At least it’s not … fulvous … with envy of those more popular words.

If being “distinguished” simply means some rough equivalent to “being excellent,” then why not just say so? Why use a slightly dated word, other than to add a little buff and polish and appeal to an idea we cover each and every day here on Self Publishing Advisor in some way, shape, or form?

There are connotations to pursuing a distinguished persona or book that do not apply to something simply “excellent.” These connotations include, for the word in question, a sense of superiority, of fine texture, make, or production quality–and of course, the connotation of public presence. After all, even the Victorians understood that a very fine frock or overcoat wasn’t about keeping warm; it was about putting on a good show for others.

A distinguished self-publishing author is more than just “getting by.” He or she thrives under the heavy thumb of freedom which is pressed upon them by the choice to ditch traditional publishers–heavy because there is a cost to pay, in that so much of the burden of marketing and promotion falls on the author–and stands out from other authors by virtue of his or her attitude. That’s par for the course; so much in life comes down to attitude, doesn’t it? To be distinguished also has, of course, connotations of gentlemanly or gentlewomanly behavior, hence the terrible pun at the beginning of this post. The most gentlepersonly person I’ve ever met was a lumber salesman, a truly distinguished fellow who treated the world and every person in it with kindness, generosity, and respect. This most certainly holds true for self-publishing authors, however, since the average author has to navigate hundreds of relationships and social contracts in order to publish and market a book successfully. May you be distinguished by your curiosity, your kindness, and your intrepid spirit in pursuit of the best possible life as an author,

So, too, may your book be distinguished in all of those little ways which will help it stand out from the herd: quality design and production value, a beautiful feel in the hand and look on the page, perfectly copyedited content and fiercely individualized material, as well as its accessibility to all of those potential readers lurking out there in the ether.

It may not seem like much, recommending that you look into the nature of distinguishment, but in fact it’s everything. As mentioned earlier, it’s an attitude which encompasses everything else you could possibly be or make or do–as an author, and as a human being in general. It’s on my heart and mind today that we live in a world which is often hostile to the point of making us focus on the struggle for survival far more than living well, and while survival is necessary, so too is emerging on the other side proud of who you’ve been and become. We’re here for that, and we’re here for you.

You are not alone. ♣︎


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.