In Your Corner: An Abundance of Gratitude

Happy Thanksgiving from
Self-Publishing Advisor!

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

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

thanksgiving table

Here’s my theory:

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

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

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

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

You are not alone. ♣︎

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

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Director of Sales and Marketing for Outskirts Press. The Sales and Marketing departments are composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

Self-Publishing News: Thanksgiving Week

And now for the news.

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

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

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

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

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


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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 each month to find out the hottest news. If you have other big news to share, please comment below.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

You are not alone. ♣︎

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

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Director of Sales and Marketing for Outskirts Press. The Sales and Marketing departments are composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

Self-Publishing News: 11.11.2020

Veterans Day. November 11. Honoring All Who Served.

And now for the news.

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

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

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

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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 each month to find out the hottest news. If you have other big news to share, please comment below.

In Your Corner: Home by Midnight

In the story of Cinderella, our heroine must get herself and her carriage home before the midnight bell, when the spell breaks that has turned a pumpkin into a carriage and a poor orphan servant into a lady. In some tellings of the tale, Cinderella doesn’t quite make it in time, and finds herself mixed up with the pulp and seeds as her carriage reverts to its original state. I liked these stories the best as a child, mostly because I can’t imagine explaining that to a prince (or a mean stepmother). Then I would imagine the scene as it played out, with Cinderella explaining: “I’m sorry, I lied about everything and am not a princess, but would you like some pumpkin seeds for your garden? I understand this variety can grow to be the size of a carriage!”

Now, if you search for “Cinderella” and “Halloween” together online, you’re likely to pull up a list of absolutely useless Halloween costumes based on the Disney animated (or live action reboot) version. They’re cute, but they’re not demonstrative of an actual connection between the two.

But consider: On this particular Halloween––that is, October 31st, 2020––the night between Halloween and a candy-induced migraine of a Sunday is also the night in which we get to celebrate midnight twice. ÂNDˆa full moon. This particular pumpkin patch of coincidences, in which Halloween, Daylight Savings Time, and a full moon. This particular full moon will be the Blue Moon, as it is the second full moon in the month of October, and that is a fairly novel event, which explains the origin of the phrase “once in a Blue Moon” to describe an event that is rare. It’s kind of weird, but it’s also kind of amazing. What a year, right?

Halloween is an astronomical celebration. It is a cross-quarter moon, which I am just beginning to wrap my head around, that falls roughly halfway halfway between equinox and solstice. But don’t trust me, trust diagrams from the great and wonderful Internet full of amateur astronomers!:

There’s a lot of fun science behind this astronomical event, one definitely worth celebrating (maybe even in a Cinderella costume). It is also, of course, considered something of a spiritual event, with both its lovers and its haters due to its pagan origins. Of course, a person could say the same thing––that there’s a lot of fun science behind it––about each of these things: the Blue Moon, a full moon on Halloween, and Halloween as a cross-quarter event.

Perhaps this is just me connecting the dots between two very different things, but I always think of Cinderella around Halloween, mostly because of that iconic pumpkin carriage scene. If there was indeed a ripe pumpkin on the vine the night that Cinderella’s fairy godmother transformed her into a high-status lady for the prince’s ball, then the events in the story may very well have happened on Halloween. There’s a shared wistfulness and aspiration behind the story of Cinderella and the stories of modern day trick-or-treaters (or since this is 2020, those folks who dress up for the day even though it’s difficult to go door to door safely in some areas due to COVID-19).

They are aspirational because they reflect some larger than life passion or desire. For Cinderella, that desire was to be seen for who she was inside and not be defined by her poverty. For many trick-or-treaters, often it reflects someones or somethings that they find interesting and compelling enough to put on as a costume. (Unless you’re an infant, in which case, it reflects your caregivers’ passions.) Kids dress up as superheroes, first responders, heroes and villains from any number of shows and movies and books––and they do so because they wish to be extraordinary too, deep down.

They are wistful because so often our lives take us in a different direction from those aspirations. (It’s extremely difficult to find available fairy godmothers these days who are taking on new clients.)

We as writers often feel similar things about the publication process, that it won’t ever possibly work because it’s too difficult, or requires specialized editorial or software know-how, and so forth. We are afraid of still being in the pumpkin as the carriage reverts, and feeling publication as an impossibility that one can only wistfully watch from afar as it happens to other people.

Today, as you go about your final preparations for Halloween (maybe complete with a splash of some Cinderella story), I want to challenge you to see publication as something that is, in fact, within your ability to achieve. This is where you see the connection between all of these different dots. Self-publishing exists for a reason. For many reasons. And unlike Halloween, to become a published author isn’t something that you can only ever be aspirational for. If you ever figure out how to get a radioactive spider to bite you, I want to know your secret. But suffice it to say, most Halloween costumes do not reflect achievable career paths. It’s extremely difficult for Spider-Man to pay the rent if he’s constantly running away from work to do a second, unpaid job of saving people and annoying Tony Stark.

(Yes, I’m a nerd.)

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But self-publishing isn’t some remote once-in-a-blue-moon possibility. It exists precisely to get you from your aspiration to whatever the complete opposite of wistfulness is. Celebration of past accomplishments, perhaps? Pride in a job well done, and pride in a dream realized. And it isn’t something that you have to do alone through impersonal computer-mediated steps. Self-publishing as an industry is absolutely packed with amazing people with useful and related skills who are not just happy to talk with you in a casual sense––they’re eager. And delighted to help aspiring authors become published authors, and then to welcome new authors to the author club.

This has been a year of feeling alone in the face of all the things our world is throwing at us. But don’t fall into the trap of including publication on that list. You can chat with your local librarians, your local bookstore staff, the excellent employees of self-publishing companies, and yes, you can chat with me too.

Don’t let yourself be frightened to publish––or at the very least, don’t let yourself talk yourself into a self-fulfilling prophecy of publication being impossible. Get yourself and your pumpkin carriage of a manuscript home (and published) by midnight––and see what kind of wonderful things can happen when you believe in yourself.

You are not alone. ♣︎

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

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Director of Sales and Marketing for Outskirts Press. The Sales and Marketing departments are composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.
pumpkin