In Your Corner: Preparing for NaNoWriMo!

That’s right, it’s almost #NaNoWriMo time!

For those who’ve seen the acronym around but haven’t yet been read in on what the deal is, National Novel Writing Month is an annual tradition among writers looking to kickstart new projects through a dedicated month of drafting. While you can read more about NaNoWriMo’s origin story on the nonprofit organization’s website (www.nanowrimo.org), suffice it to say this has been a big deal for a very long time. As the NaNoWriMo website puts it, “before there was the Beyhive, or Nerdfighters, there were Wrimos” (participants in NaNoWriMo). The community has built up since the early days of the Internet to create a diverse set of resources for those interested in participating—or maybe in learning from the process even if writing 50,000 words in a single month is a bit much.

nanowrimo

There are two kinds of Wrimos: pantsers and plotters.

Pantsers are those who go through NaNoWriMo “by the seats of their pants” or however that expression goes, and plotters are those who prepare, or plot out their book outline, extensively beforehand. I myself have participated in NaNoWriMo several times, once as a pantser, once as a plotter, and once or twice just casually taking part in the prompts and sprints and group writing sessions without aiming to get to the 50,000 word mark by month’s end. These days I fall somewhere between these Wrimo alignments, as many writers do.

nanowrimo plotter pantser

With only two weeks remaining between now and the beginning of NaNoWriMo (my next post, for context, will arrive on the day before NaNoWriMo begins), I feel as though now is the time to encourage those of you who are plotters or plantsers or otherwise in-betweeners to start digging deep into the resources you will need in the month of November. Even those of you who are pantsers or who are not at all interested in participating in NaNoWriMo on any level might find it valuable to tap into the extensive writing-related resources that Wrimos have compiled over the years. These are the kinds of resources anyone can turn to at any time of year, not just during the official NaNoWriMo period.

First, I want to point you to the NaNo Prep 101 Workshop, which is hosted by the organization that really started it all. It can be completed at any time of year for free and provides tips on the following:

  1. Developing a story idea
  2. Creating complex characters
  3. Constructing detailed plots or outlines
  4. Building a strong world
  5. Organizing your life for and around writing
  6. Finding and managing your time

You can find out more about that workshop here.

I also want to point you to NaNoWriMo’s incredible collection of author pep talks, which include several from self-publishing successes like Andy Weir as well as a number of traditionally published authors whose names you might recognize (James Patterson, anyone? Neil Gaiman? Sue Grafton? No?). Those are all available (again, for free) at the link.

I also really recommend that you spend some time looking into all of the many other excellent resources that writers all over the world have compiled on their own blogs and websites. Every author’s experience is different, and chances are that any author you meet is going to have opinions about the usefulness (or lack thereof) of NaNoWriMo to their own process. It’s pretty definitely proven, though, that there are many amazing books in the world that wouldn’t otherwise have been self-published (or traditionally published for that matter) without that core group of writers and organizers who got together and made NaNoWriMo a thing.

So, will I be participating? I’ll let you know … in two weeks. I honestly haven’t yet made up my mind, and I’m okay with that.

You are not alone. ♣︎

Do you have ideas to share? Please don’t hesitate to drop us a line in the comments section, and I’ll make sure to feature your thoughts and respond to them in my next post!

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: 10.15.2019

hello October word abstrtact in wood type

And now for the news!

Some highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing!

Bring tissues for this one! David Holmberg over at Forbes brings us this powerful story of Susan Padilla, daughter of an Alzheimer’s patient whose self-published book “Losing Everything: A Family’s Journey With Alzheimer’s” (published under the pseudonym S.P. Murray) hasn’t yet hit the stratosphere in sales–but has had an enormously positive impact on Padilla’s family. Writes Holmberg, “Padilla, a middle-aged human resources manager who works in New York, said the book has sold under 500 copies (mostly through Amazon) with no royalties yet, but her family is ‘very happy I put my feelings on paper.’ She paid her publisher $2500, plus $350 for advertising. For her, though, the benefit was personal, and therapeutic. ‘I kept myself from going crazy by writing this book,’ she said.” Holmberg, who covers retirement-related issues for Forbes, argues that profit shouldn’t be the only factor in consideration when thinking about whether to self-publish or not. “Padilla’s made a valuable contribution to Alzheimer’s literature,” he writes, and she wouldn’t have been able to do so given the traditional publishing industry’s reliance on blockbuster sales to break even. Going indie and self-publishing makes it possible for important books like Padilla’s to get out there and find their readers, even if they’re not selling as many copies as a, say, James Patterson novel. Books with niche audiences, like Padilla’s, are hungry for good books, too. Holmberg’s response to Padilla’s story is both touching and telling: “She’s the reason I say: if you have an instinct toward self-publishing, if it’s something you feel like trying in your retirement years, go ahead and do it. Study the stats, cast a cold eye on conflicting sales figures, but go ahead and do it.” You heard the man!

We never get tired here on Self Publishing Advisor of hearing all of the cool places where self-publishing is making inroads and bringing more exciting stories to light. Self-publishing has been shining a light on important stories all over the world recently, from India and China to Australia and Britain to Nigeria and now, Kenya! At this year’s Nairobi Book Fair, which celebrated its 22nd year in 2019. Mercy Muthoni, the director of CCL-K, which was behind one of the fair’s popular self-publishing programs, says that “[h]er advice to those with the ambition of becoming writers is that self-publishing and e-book world are not short-cuts to quick riches and fame. Excellence must be cultivated, and some of the programmes CLC-Kenya is pursuing can be both instructive and inspirational in the pursuit of excellence and cultivation of a healthy reading and writing culture in Kenya.” Other events at the Kenya Publishers’ Association-sponsored book fair included further discussions of the value and role of self-publishing in providing quality content that can do great work in representing Kenyan stories and culture to the world. We look forward to seeing what else is in store for self-publishing in Kenya!


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

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Self-Publishing News: 10.9.2019

hello October word abstrtact in wood type

And now for the news!

Some highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing!

We don’t often see self-publishing referenced on Book Riot, one of the foremost book recommendation services out there on the Internet, but this week Enobong Essien really stepped up in this article on the pros, cons, and functions of a book coach. We’ve written about book coaches here on the blog before, but Essien brings a unique approach and voice to the subject. Writes Essien, “If you’re pursuing the self-publishing route, then a book coach could be the difference between a book that never makes it off the shelves to a breakaway Amazon bestseller.” ‘Book Coach’ is in itself an umbrella term of a title for a number of support positions to both traditional and self-published books, including our favorite, the publishing consultant. Essian goes on to answer the all-important question: Do *I* need a book coach? when she writes:

Self-publishing sounds like a great idea. You have full control over your vision, you don’t have to face piles of rejection letters (or more likely emails) and you can get your book out there in a matter of hours if you so wish but more likely months instead of the minimum year and a half of traditional publishing. But it can also be a very lonely road and at the end of it you’re going to want some sales to back up all your efforts, right?

A book coach is a shepherd that will guide you through the ins and outs of the whole process, highlighting both the strengths and weaknesses of your writing and keeping you on track. A good book coach will have some industry experience, even if it’s not necessarily in book coaching, and will therefore have the contacts to refer you to for book cover design, Kindle formatting, and marketing strategies. But, most importantly, they will ensure that what you put out there is a well thought out, well-written, quality book.

Concluding her article with some expert advice on how to become a book coach if being the helper rather than the helped seems more your speed, Essian’s article is an absolute must-read.

One group of authors who might make good use of a book coach or two is the academic community—or so we might assume from reading Rose Ernst’s article for The Good Men Project. While money, writes Ernst, “isn’t the reason academics should consider self-publishing, […] it’s a fantastic side benefit.” But there are more important reasons to consider going indie, Ernst notes, including the fact that academic presses really fail to reach the general audiences that a self-published work can. Self-publishing is also timely, with a much more rapid turnover from manuscript submission to distribution of the finished product, an important facet of the publishing experience for those writing in fast-moving fields where getting ahead of the curve is important to guiding the conversation. Ernst gives academics a template for getting started in publishing, with suggestions for those well-established in the academic sphere but looking to extend and widen their audience.


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

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Ask the Book Doctor: A Different Way to Divide a Novel?

Question: Is there any technical reason for a novel not to be broken up into parts? I want to break my next novel up in a way that I haven’t really seen before.

Part 1 – Introduction of the main character (the good guy). Provide plot and conflict.

Part 2 – Introduce opposing character (the bad guy)

Part 3 – Good and bad characters clash, and conflict is resolved.

The first twelve chapters focus on the “good guy” perspective. The “bad guy” is introduced in Chapter 13. If I spend the next twelve or so chapters telling the other side of the story (the bad guy’s perspective), will readers forget the plight of the good guy in the first twelve chapters?

I really want to have the two sides (good and evil) make compelling arguments. By breaking up the novel this way, I hope the reader will be conflicted going into the third part of the book. Any thoughts?

blue and silver stetoscope
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The Book Doctor Says: The reason you can’t find any specific material on the subject of breaking a novel into parts is that (at least to my knowledge) there is no absolute rule regarding it.

The only problem I can perceive is that according to your outline, all the clash occurs in the final part, so what will make readers continue reading through the first two parts? Yes, it says plot and conflict will be provided in Part 1, but if there’s only one character in that part, how can there be conflict? Conflict and tension are the elements that make readers turn pages and keep reading.

That said, I can’t judge the book without seeing it, so if you sense that it is working the way you are writing it, trust your gut and move forward. I have seen good books broken into parts for the characters; Franny and Zoey by J.D. Salinger comes to mind, for one.

Bobbie Christmas, book doctor, author of Write In Style (Union Square Publishing), and owner of Zebra Communications, will answer your questions, too. Read more “Ask the Book Doctor” questions and answers at www.zebraeditor.com. This article is reposted from the Self-Publishing Advisor archives.

Self-Published Book Review: “Rambling Squirrel”

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:

rambling squirrel

reader views award

Rambling Squirrel

by Wendy Laird

ISBN: 9781432738761

 

Synopsis*:

Learn interesting squirrel facts as you read about a curious squirrel’s journey.

Little squirrel has learned a lot about life as a squirrel but he hungers for more of life’s challenges. Follow his exciting adventures ahead!

 * courtesy of Amazon.com

Reviews

“Rambling Squirrel” is a book about a squirrel wanting to learn lots of things. He was born on a bright, blue-sky day and learned very quickly. He learned how to climb down a tree head first, gather nuts for winter, where to build a safe nest, to hide in a safe place and, of course, use his tail as a blanket, a rudder and an umbrella. But he wanted to learn more! He went to talk to his mama and she suggested he should visit his cousins to learn more. He packed all of his squirrel-needing items and went to visit his cousins.

First he visited his cousin Beaver, He taught him how to build a river dam. It was cold, hard work! Then he went to visit his cousin Prairie Dog, He told Squirrel to always stay alert and keep safe by digging a tunnel and live in it! But Squirrel didn’t want to live in a tunnel so he went to visit his cousin Flying Squirrel; he couldn’t wait until he could fly! He also learned from his cousins Woodchuck, Chipmunk and Mouse. He was gone from his family for many weeks when he went to go back home. When he returned home, he told his family all about his trip!

My favorite character was the baby squirrel because he wanted to learn more about things. My favorite picture was when he was with his cousin Beaver because the squirrel really looked like a beaver! My favorite part was when he was with his cousin Prairie Dog. I liked the artwork a lot! I also learned more fun facts about squirrels in “Rambling Squirrel.”


tuesday book review

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

Self Publishing Advisor

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Self-Publishing News: 10.1.2019

hello October word abstrtact in wood type

And now for the news!

Some highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing!

Adam Rowe of Forbes is back with yet more excellent coverage of self-publishing-adjacent news, this time with an article on the evolution of ghostwriting. For those who aren’t already read in on what ghostwriting is, the Lexico definition of a ghost writer is:

ghostwriting definition

That’s it. And loads of recognizable names in the publishing world employ ghostwriters, if only because the demand for books under their name is so high (and ghostwriters are a common occurrence in other industries, including music). Robert Ludlum, James Patterson, and even Alexandre Dumas all used ghostwriters. Many authors don’t actually exist or have never existed, and publishers will hire rotating casts of ghostwriters to assume the one continuous name; examples of this second kind of ghostwriting include Carolyn Keene (of the Nancy Drew series), Franklin Dixon (of the Hardy Boys series), and a number of other famous junior fiction “authors.” There are ethical guidelines to ghostwriting, of course (we don’t want to open the door to identity theft or libel), but ghostwriting has also become a common occurrence in self-publishing. Rowe’s article touches on this relationship. Rowe quotes Dan Gerstein:

Second, the explosion of self-publishing options and the rise of disruptive platforms like Wattpad has largely decimated the barriers to entry for a class of authors who could never get published before. These folks look at the amazing success stories of Fifty Grey Shades of Grey and The Martian — both of them self-published — and they understandably say, ‘why not me?’

Why not, indeed? Check out Rowe’s full article for more on ghostwriting.

While less flashy in title than Rowe’s article, it’s worth reminding readers near and far that Publishers Weekly is in the habit of posting monthly lists of recommended self-published books that hit shelves in the month prior. Each article also includes instructions on how self-published authors can submit their own publications for inclusion. The list of September publications includes some 97 titles, ranging from children’s books to adult nonfiction and beyond. Well worth a glance if you’re looking for reading material, and well worth a glance if you’re looking to get your own name out there, too!


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

icon logo self publishing advisor

In Your Corner: Fall Abundance (Part II)

Are you facing down the same cold snap that I am? It’s looking to be quite an early start to Winter, almost skipping straight over Fall, but I’m determined to wring every last drop of sunshine and joy out of these long afternoons.

Last time I wrote to you, dear readers, I launched this series about fall abundance and taking a moment just to breathe it all in … along with all those pine needle and pumpkin spice and fresh-baked shortbread aromas that are spiking the air right now.

fall cookies pumpkin autumn halloween

As the evenings take on a distinct bite, there’s still the tang of summer smoke in the air–all the fire of a season packed with heat and mixed feelings–and it’s time to start thinking of how to make the most of the Autumn writing and marketing season. Yes, it may be most often called the ‘back-to-school’ season, but we all of us go back to things in Fall. Back to work, back to family routines, back to the marketing strategies we … may … have let languish during the busy summer months.

How can we flip the switch and get back to work?

Here are my recommendations:

  • You’re not the only one who may need a reminder that change is upon us. Use the next month as an opportunity to launch a special deal or giveaway. You can frame it as ‘back-to-school savings’ or you can use it as a promo for new or upcoming releases.
  • Think visual. Fall is perhaps the most striking of all (or at the very least, one of the most striking) seasons. Take advantage! Your book is a product, and selling a product is at least half of the time about selling an image. If you haven’t created an Instagram and Pinterest, now is the time! These two social media platforms offer a great way of humanizing your brand and showcasing your product.
  • Fall is a great time to get your networking game on! People may not be thinking about taxes just yet (or they might be thinking about them a lot if they applied for an extension), but you certainly want to get your foot in the door before the holiday craze so that readers remember your name and your book come tax time–and come the holidays! Connect the dots between everyone you ‘meet’ on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Goodreads, and even LinkedIn and work those contacts and relationships now, while they’re planning out their budget, calendar, and holiday schemes for the school year.
  • And on that note, it’s time to plan your own editorial and marketing calendar–or at least to sketch out the outlines! Is it your hope to write some newsletters, blog posts, or social media updates in the coming months? Do you have some new work on the horizon? Now is the time to schedule not just your writing time or your own holiday marketing plan–it’s time to lay the groundwork for an entire year of editorial works!

And these are just a few of my recommendations! As you might expect, there are plenty of chances to enrich your opportunities during the Fall. Don’t put things off–start now! More than just a hint of pumpkin spice is wafting on the rising breeze of Autumn ….

fall cookies pumpkin autumn halloween

You are not alone. ♣︎

Do you have ideas to share? Please don’t hesitate to drop us a line in the comments section, and I’ll make sure to feature your thoughts and respond to them in my next post!

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.