From the Archives: “12 New Year’s Resolutions for the 12 Days of Christmas (part I)”

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: December 24th, 2014 ]

I know it’s a bit early to be setting my New Year’s resolutions in stone, so I’ll consider this post something softer than stone, more easily reshaped, but still very much real and solid and tangible––perhaps something like the digital version of putty or artists’ plaster, which will slowly resolve itself into fact. 

My real reason for getting started early is twofold: I want to give myself the time to really think through the list, and I want to give you the time to put some of my resolutions to your own good use as 2015 rolls in.  And so, with no further ado:

I resolve to …

#1:  Host a new kind of marketing event. 

I must admit, I’m fairly predictable when it comes to planning marketing events––I know what I’m good at, and what I’m comfortable doing, and that pretty much boils down to short readings and Q&As at local libraries.  In 2015, I resolve to try something new, or rather, to plan and attempt to execute at least one event that isn’t a reading or a Q&A session at a local library. You’ll note I used the hazy word attempt just now.  I think it’s important to put together a plan and to make a few phone calls, but not to shackle myself to an impossible agenda.  If, for example, my (very-beginning-stages) notion to put together a bi-weekly podcast proves an enormous drain on my time and energy, then I may need to reevaluate in a few months.

#2:  Attend a new kind of marketing event. 

If I’m predictable about the kinds of events I host, then I’m even more predictable when it comes to the events I attend.  This last year, I’ve been a regular on the book-signing and book-reading circuits, but these are not the only events out there.  I need to diversify what I do so that I can become both a more well-informed reader and a more effective marketer myself!  In 2015, I resolve to attend at least one webinar, book festival, or other marketing event that is a little outside of my comfort zone.  Even if I have to travel a couple of hours to make it, or rearrange my work schedule for a few days, I intend to make this resolution a priority.

#3:  Learn some new code. 

I know a little HTML, but I’ve been out of the coding game for a spell.  It’s time to dive back in, particularly with an eye for coding––whether HTML, CSS, Java, or some other programming language––that can boost my digital footprint.  In 2015, I resolve to read at least one book on the subject, or attend a class, or otherwise broaden my understanding of at least one of these codes.

#4:  Try out a new digital device or software application. 

There are any number of apps out there which I can download to my iPad or e-reader which can help me keep track of my ongoing efforts at self-promotion––and many which can actually help me improve.  In 2015, I resolve to research, discover, and incorporate at least one new digital device, program, or app into my life, with a specific intention to boost my marketing efforts.  This resolution may actually pose a good challenge, since I have little to no idea of where to start.  There are so many possibilities!  The real trouble is narrowing the options down to just … one.

#5:  Launch a new round of SEO campaigns. 

I’ve written extensively about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) before.  Now it’s time for me to practice what I preach!  In 2015, I resolve to put into effect a rigorous and updated SEO program to boost web traffic to my websites.  I’ve dabbled in a great many of the strategies out there at one time or another, but with little accountability and thoroughness.  This time around, I want to be more organized about my SEO efforts––and more regular.  It’s not enough to apply some of the techniques some of the time––I need to apply most of the techniques on a regular basis, or else it’s all just wasted effort.  Readers respect reliability!

#6:  Establish ambitious goals and healthy boundaries for my social media presence. 

Just as I’ve casually speed-dated most of the SEO stratagems out there without committing to any one plan, I’ve felt my way around all or almost all of the major social media platforms––Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Blogger, Goodreads, LinkedIn, and many others––without putting into effect any rigorous plan of action.  I’ll post a picture to Instagram one day and forget about it for a few weeks, then write ten tweets in quick succession, only to let my twitter handle lapse for months on end. In 2015, I’ll put together a calendar, and a schedule, to better handle my social media accounts.  I pledge to dismantle the accounts I don’t actively use or am failing to use effectively, and pour my time and energy into the outlets that do effective work for my self-promotion.  I pledge, too, to make a habit of timing my posts, so that readers know when they can expect to see something new show up on one of my websites. 

… and you’ll have to stick around until next Wednesday for the other six.  In part because I’ve reached my word limit for the week, and in part because I want my final six resolutions to be even better than my first six!

Can it really be––almost––2015?  It’s hard to believe, sometimes, that this entire industry has been born and made, and remade, and evolved into endless permutations––all within my lifetime.  All within living memory.  The printing press has been around since the 1300s, but since then the process of making and selling books has never seen such a rapid and total transformation as it has within the last twenty years, and perhaps even the last decade.  Digital publication and distribution, e-readers, self-publishing, collaborative writing forums, viral marketing—we live in an exciting time that shows no signs of slowing down.  I, for one, hope to match the broad spectrum of these changes with a few, specific, targeted evolutions of my own.  I’m going to start small, here, in the new year.  In 2015.  I hope you’ll join me!

– by Kelly Schuknecht

Originally my goal was to revisit this blog post after just one year of labor–perhaps in early 2016–but life being what it is, and my memory too, I instead am coming to it now at the tail end of two years of work. And yes, since it was originally a two-parter, I will be revisiting it in two parts … but all that is just scaffolding. It’s not why you’re here.

You’re here to find out if I succeeded or not!

  1. Did I host a new kind of marketing event? Yes, I did. But here’s the rub–I didn’t do it for me, I did it for someone else. I know that’s a bit of a cop-out, especially since we’re talking about a two-year gap between my original post and today, but the lines get really blurred when you work with so many self-publishing authors. And it was a success! In 2017 I’ll be continuing to apply what I learned at this event, which was held in a library and involved ice-cream tasting. Who knew?
  2. Did I attend a new kind of marketing event? This also is in the affirmative, and luckily, multiple times over. In two years, I have attended upwards of a dozen marketing events in total, and while many of them were simple iterations on the tried-and-true methods (book readings, book signings, etc) I also had the chance to sit in on several that were truly unique. They were all very different, but one thing they had in common was the author’s (or organizer’s) willingness to step back from tradition and completely re-envision the purpose of marketing start to finish.
  3. Did I learn some new code? This one, unfortunately, I might have well and truly failed on. I have spent some time with Arduino and MakeyMakey robotics kits in the last two years, but neither of these really ties back to marketing in a meaningful way … yet. But there are lots of Arduino projects out there–maybe I can still figure something out! That’s my goal for 2017.
  4. Did I try out a new digital device or software application? You bet your best pair of knickers I did! In fact, I tried a whole slew of new apps and softwares. On the hunt for a new digital device of my own, I was determined to put my hands on all of the new tablets and dedicated e-readers out there–from the iPad Mini to the Kindle Oasis–and the hands-on treatment proved to be incredibly useful in making an informed decision. (But I don’t want to sway you–unless it’s to try them all out for yourself, since your needs will be different from mine.) I tried Scribner to keep track of my writing, and a bunch of apps to retrain my sense of mindfulness and time-management, to keep me on-point during my limited writing time each morning.
  5. Did I launch a new round of SEO campaigns? Yes … sort of. By which I mean, I introduced a few new steps to how I’m setting up blog posts and book page listings and so forth online, to integrate some of the tips and tidbits I’ve picked up over the years. And honestly, slow but steady really does win the race. With all of the other things I’ve been trying to do, taking a few new concrete steps each month makes a big difference and is sustainable–and if it’s not sustainable, it’s not worth doing at all, in my opinion.
  6. And last but not least, did I establish ambitious goals and healthy boundaries for my social media presence? Yes … but it didn’t all turn out roses. I actually pared back my social media presence since I was over-extended and ineffective in trying to manage five or six sites at once on top of work and writing and family. So now I’m back down to the bare bones, which isn’t such a bad place to be … because it can only go up from here, right? Right! But don’t worry, I’ll be expanding again soon, in the new year.

You might have noticed there were 12 New Year’s resolutions mentioned in the title of this blog post, and 12 in the original (split) post from 2014. Never fear–I’ll be getting to the remaining six next week! But before I get there, I wanted to drop you, dear readers, a quick line to ask: how did you do on your resolutions for 2016? How about 2015? And what do you hope to accomplish in 2017?

perserverence

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.

From the Archives: “5 Reasons to Self-Publish in December”

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: December 4th, 2013 ]

With so much going on in December, you may be wondering if now is the right time to self-publish your book. Here are five reasons why December is a great month to start the self-publishingprocess.

Savings

Many self-publishing companies are getting in the holiday spirit by offering great deals on publishing packages and marketing options. This can save you money and provide you with services that will enhance the success of your book.

A Gift to Yourself

Publishing a book is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. The sense of accomplishment and pride is better than any box of chocolates or new sweater. Celebrate the holiday season by giving yourself the memorable gift of self-publishing.

Plenty of Time to Market

By starting the self-publishing process in December, you will have your printed book early in 2014. This gives you the rest of the year to market your book and plenty of time to accomplish your yearly marketing and sales goals.

A Jump Start on Your To-Do List

If you are reading this, “publishing a book” is probably on your 2014 to-do list. Start the year off right by checking it off the list before the ball drops on New Year’s Eve.

Be a Part of a Great Trend

According to Bowker, the self-publishing market is up 59% compared to last year.You can be a part of that amazing statistic and be a part of the changing publishing industry.

Happy Holidays!

– by Kelly Schuknecht

2016 is not 2013, it’s true, but some things hold true–including these five reasons to self-publish in December which I originally posted waaaaay back when. But look, it’s all well and good to pat myself on the back for being accurate three years ago. What about now? What’s new in terms of arguments in favor of self-publishing in December?

I have one big contribution, a stellar sixth reason:

Holiday Marketing Bundles

The market and industry have both come a long way in three years, and one of the things an increasing number of self-publishing companies offer is a holiday marketing bundle geared towards providing both discounts (and attendant big savings) as well as specific services geared towards boosting sales during this generosity-inducing time.

Now, Christmas might seem like the absolute worst time to lay out a big chunk of change on your book when it could be going to so many other good things. And it’s true that there are other good things well worth investing in during the winter holiday season–friends, family, needy strangers, coffee kiosks–but I would argue, gently, that this is the perfect time. After all, you’ve been working hard all year to get your book out–and typically, a well-marketed book will move the greatest bulk of its copies during the months between October and January.

I of course have a slight vested interest in holiday marketing bundles–my employer, Outskirts Press, offers a stellar example. I don’t shy away from mentioning this because I truly believe in the quality of services that Outskirts offers, and have had the pleasure of working alongside the staff who put this deal (and others) together. But no matter where you choose to pick up your bundle–while the details may differ a little–the core principle remains the same: bundling services allows for great discounts, and for very refined targeting of your consumer base.

Now, if you miss out on the holiday marketing bundle this time around, don’t panic! There’s always next year. And you won’t even have to wait a full twelve months for such an opportunity; there is always a small bump in sales around late spring and early summer as well, due to the “beach reads” trend, and this gives you plenty of time to recoup those unavoidable (and, let’s face it, sometimes inexplicable) holiday expenses!

winter christmas holiday decorations

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.

From the Archives: “How NaNoWriMo Can Explode Your Writing Career – Yes, Really!”

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: October 19th, 2012 ]

National Novel Writing Month, shortened to the kitschy NaNoWriMo (nan-no-RYE-moe), is an annual, Internet-based creative writing project that challenges writers to pen a whopping 50,000 words in the month of November. Though it started in 1999 with fewer than two dozen participants, it’s estimated that more than 200,000 speed-writers tackled the challenge in 2010.

NaNoWriMo can kick-start a newbie’s writing efforts, or helped experienced authors loosen up and try freestyle for a while. Many NaNoWriMo participants have even gone on to have their projects published! At the very least, the project is a great writing exercise – and an chance to promote yourself as an author or your future book. In the true spirit of this virtual writing challenge, use the Web to turn NaNoWriMo into a prime marketing opportunity.

  • Start by crowing about your plans. If you don’t already have one, build a blog page on WordPress or another free blog site. Give readers daily reports on what work you’re doing to prepare for NaNoWriMo. Perhaps you’re reading Moby Dick for inspiration, attended writers’ conference, or you’ve bought a new thesaurus. Bring your audience along with you and get them excited about your adventure. Duplicate your efforts on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace and any other social media platform you wish.
  • Solicit feedback. Engage your readers in the process by sharing potential plot points and asking them for their ideas. People love the be involved in the creative process, and you may be surprised what scintillating characters and plot twists could spin out of these virtual brainstorming sessions.
  • Poll your potential audience. Ask your friends and readers to answer simple, multiple-choice questions: Should my protagonist be male or female? Which name do you prefer for the main character? Should the hero get the girl – yes or no? It’s a quick way to get people invested in your success and to gather a general consensus when you’re not sure which path to take.
  • Choose cover art. This could be as simple as changing your Facebook photo for the duration of the NaNoWriMo challenge or as involved as designing a prospective book cover. The idea is to associate an image with your project that will set a tone, create an image, inspire you and engage your readers.

Once November 1 rolls around – and, trust me, it will sneak right up on you – it’s time to hunker down for real. To successfully complete the NaNoWriMo challenge, you’ll have to write consistently most days from November 1 through November 30. You’ll need to average 1,667 words per day to meet the 50K quota, more if you take any days off. That means at least a couple solid hours of writing most days. (And leave a little extra writing time to update your blog or Twitter followers and post progress reports on Facebook.) The trick is not to get caught up in achieving perfection in a few short weeks; the goal is a lot of words in a short time, so focus on quantity in November — you can sort out the quality later.

I highly recommend joining a regional group so you can communicate with other participants, listen to ideas, share writing tips and gather suggestions from others. Many past NaNoWriMo authors have valuable advice that can help you make the most of the NaNoWriMo experience.

Now get writing!

– by Elise L. Connors

On this, the second-to-last day of NaNoWriMo 2016, I thought we might take a quick peek back a the beginning of things—not because, at this point, any of us want to travel full-circle, but because sometimes it’s important to be thinking more in terms of beginnings than endings. (And trust me, there will be plenty of time to talk about what comes next over the coming weeks and months. We’ll be checking in with you on what you do with your NaNo projects, dear readers.)

nanowrimo

In the beginning, when you decided to dive into this NaNoWriMo thing, you were excited. Passionate. Completely blinkered to the outside world as you dove into this other world, the world of your own creation. (Even if you were writing about the “real world,” it’s never quite as magical as what you put down on the page, is it?) As the days passed, you began to feel the grip of pressure tighten and the weight of responsibility begin stalking you seriously down the block. And at some point or other, you considered giving up. Maybe you did, in fact, give up.

That’s okay.

But again, let’s go back to that beginning—where everything was golden and rose-colored glasses weren’t even necessary to see things as bright and full of opportunity. Every author needs that moment, once in a while, to reinvest the writing process with joy and meaning. And it’s so elusive, so fragile, so easily lost.

Don’t give up on yourself, even if you gave up on NaNoWriMo or your latest lengthy writing project. Don’t despair of never getting that golden moment back. It will come. It might take its time in coming, but it will come. It might crop up unbidden, or it might crop up as you work hard to cultivate it.

Whether you finished NaNoWriMo or not, go back to those early structures and habits and practices—like the one in Elise’s list from 2012, above—and evaluate: what worked? What hurt? What can you use or adapt moving forward? Don’t beat yourself up about what’s over and done and beyond altering; keep one eye on the past and one eye on the future, and you’ll find a way forward.

And as always, we’re here to help you with that.

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.

From the Archives: “Seven Ways to Make NaNoWriMo More Enjoyable”

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: October 31st, 2012 ]

I am so proud of all the self-publishing authors who are beginning the NaNoWriMo challenge TOMORROW! It takes courage and dedication to commit to writing a book, especially when your timeline is only 30 days. To make the task easier, it is important to stay organized and focused. Here are seven tips to make the NaNoWriMo experience more enjoyable for all self-publishing authors.

1. Get in the “write” mindset. Before you begin each writing session, prepare yourself mentally. Everyone has a different approach that works for them. If you aren’t sure what is best for you, try different tactics. Some ideas include reading a few pages written by one of your favorite authors, listening to inspiring music, or doing a few yoga poses. The goal is to clear your  mind and get focused on your book.

2. Create a schedule and write it on the calendar. Decide exactly when and where you will write, and make sure friends and family know when you’ll be unavailable. You may have to pass on a few social events this month to fit in extra writing time. If you do have events you have to attend, schedule writing time elsewhere during that day.

3. Don’t forget about your outline. While your story may morph into something you didn’t expect, it is a good idea to keep the outline you created prior to NaNoWriMo on hand at all times. It is your road map to finishing your book and will keep you from getting off course. There will be time to make changes to your manuscript after NaNoWriMo has ended. For now, your goal is to finish the manuscript.

4. Keep an idea notebook with you at all times. As you write your story,  you may think of ideas for later chapters. Be sure to have a spot where you can joint down any ideas that come to mind. It is a good idea to keep this notebook with you even when you aren’t writing. Sometimes the best ideas appear when you aren’t working on your book at all.

5. Give yourself a break. Writing a book in a month is time-consuming. This is not the month to hold yourself to unrealistic expectations. It is okay to order take-out for dinner, accept your mother-in-law’s offer to switch your laundry, and let the kids watch an extra hour (or two) of TV. For now, focus all of your energy on your book.

6. Get moving. Sitting at a computer all day is tough on your body, so be sure to schedule in some time to exercise. Go a for a short walk, or do some stretches. Not only is it good for your body, but exercise can else help clear your mind and break through writer’s block.

7. Reward yourself. When you reach your writing goals each day, acknowledge your success and reward yourself. Treat yourself to a bubble bath, ice cream sundae, or other special reward. You deserve it.

Writing a book can be challenging, so you need to have a plan, be surrounded by supportive people, and take care of your mind and body. Doing so will help you stay on track and focus on your book. It is when we let ourselves become overwhelmed and exhausted that we aren’t able to stay organized and successfully finish our manuscripts.

I’d love to know, how do you plan to make NaNoWriMo more enjoyable?

– by Kelly Schuknecht

By  now you’re more than halfway through November and your NaNoWriMo challenge—congratulations!! I couldn’t be more proud to be part of this fantastic community of authors than I am today, in November of 2016. Let’s talk a little about how it’s going!

nanowrimo

(That badly, huh? Well, let’s hope not. There are a gazillion “Keep Calm and …” memes out there and I will use all of them if I have to in order to cheer you up and keep you motivated. I say “you” but really I mean “me, too.”)

What are the challenges we face most often in the midst of November? I can’t necessarily speak for you, but I can speak for myself and those writers who I keep in close contact with—and we all seem to suffer most from three concrete struggles:

  1. Low energy.
  2. Lack of direction.
  3. Low confidence.

You’ll note that all three of these issues are touched on, even if only obliquely, in my original post from 2012. The ways to conquer low energy include getting up and moving around and giving yourself a break. The ways to find a sense of direction include putting yourself in the “write” mindset and working from an outline (if you haven’t written one ahead of time, it’s still a good idea to set aside an hour or two to sketch out something mid-November). And the ways to combat low confidence? Let’s just say one of the first things I write in my “idea notebook” each year is a list of quotes and facts about authors I love, many of whom have faced the exact same challenges and overcome them.

There’s no one way to “Keep Calm and Carry On”—instead, there are many, many ways. Not all of them will work for you, and even the ones that used to work for you four or five years ago might not work now. I find that the older I become, the more I struggle with maintaining my sense of focus and direction, which puts the related coping mechanisms under a lot of strain. Take a moment this November to evaluate where you’re at and what struggles you face, and tailor your approach to those needs—objectively, and with an eye out for how you’ve changed. Consider it the writing equivalent of your yearly physical exam at the doctor’s!

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.

From the Archives: “6 Ways to Keep Up the NanoWriMo Momentum”

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: November 5th, 2012 ]

The first few days of NanoWriMo are now behind you. If you are like most writers, you probably started out enthusiastically and determined to reach your goal, but as the days go by, you may start to lose motivation and focus. You are not alone. If you want to ensure that you finish the first draft during NanoWriMo, consider these six tips.

1. Accept that it won’t be perfect. NanoWriMo more is about writing a 50,000 word novel in a month, but no  one ever said it has to be a perfect, ready to publish novel. This is a first draft, and like all first drafts, it will need work later. Right now, focus on finishing the 50,000 words. You can go back and make changes after the challenge.

2. Set daily goals. It can be overwhelming to think about writing 50,000 words in a month. Instead, focus on how many words you will write each day or during each writing session. This will help you break up the project into manageable steps and will keep you from feeling overwhelmed.

3. Check out Write or Die. This is great software for self-publishing authors who are struggling to meet their goals. This creative software lets you enter a time or word count goal, and encourages you to accomplish it without letting your inner editor take over. After you’ve meet your goal, you’re praised by the sound of trumpets.

4. Turn off the internet! Email and social media sites are major time-suckers that distract from your writing. During writing sessions, do not let yourself use the internet. If you can’t resist the urge, consider software that blocks the internet during your writing sessions.

5. Set a timer. Instead of focusing on word count, let yourself freely write for a set period of time, but don’t focus on the time. Instead, set a timer and forget about it. Write without interruption until that timer goes off. Then, take a break before writing again.

6. Become a morning person. Writing in the morning is great because the stresses and excitements of the day haven’t taken over yet. Your mind is clearest in the morning, and there are fewer distractions. Some writers like to wake up early and write until their brains get tired. Then, they allow themselves to enjoy the rest of the day however they wish. If you find that you’re having a hard time completing your writing goals because your to-do list grows throughout the day, writing in the morning may be the perfect solution.

I’d love to know, what are you doing to keep the writing momentum going?

– by Wendy Statina

nanowrimo 2016

50,000 words.

Let that sink in for a minute:

50,000 words!

(That’s a lot of words.)

There are so many pitfalls awaiting the eager author, whether participating in NaNoWriMo or just slaving away at the mines on some other project outside of the NaNo-verse, and a lot of the advice you’re going to read out there about how to move past Writer’s Block and so forth is going to sound canned. At this point in your journey, you’re past the point where trite pep talks land with any sort of impact; you know what works for you and what doesn’t, and looking to others for insight just strikes you as … derivative. Everybody’s doing it, and that kind of takes away from its power.

Or does it?

I would caution our readers here at SPA from becoming disenchanted the way I have become disenchanted after so many years, and so many writing marathons. I caution against this because, ultimately, losing hope is the only thing that will truly ruin your November—losing faith that you can do it, and that there’s wisdom to be picked up from those others who have passed through this process.

And while I would be the first to admit that any list, including our old list of ideas from 2012, is bound to be incomplete … well, I would also be the first to stand by the efficacy of the points contained therein, the points tested and verified by the experiences of so many authors.

Don’t give up! Don’t lose hope! And don’t lose your faith in others … as well as yourself.

You’ve got this, dear reader. You’ve got this.

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.

From the Archives: “5 Online Tasks for Self Publishing Authors to Complete Before 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.

∗∗∗∗∗

[ Originally posted: October 22nd, 2012 ]

There is a little more than a week until NanoWriMo begins! If you’re like many self publishing authors, you’ve been spending the month of October preparing for the challenge. You’ve probably started brainstorming and outline and cleaning off your desk, but there are a few online tasks that you should complete before the official beginning of NanoWriMo. Here is your to-do list.

1) Make sure you are registered.

Before you start all the fun tasks below, make sure you are registered for the event. You can do so by visiting NanoWriMo.org. This will ensure that you have access to all the benefits and resources the challenge has to offer.

2) Create social media pages.

Social media is a great way to market yourself and your book, and many readers, agents, and publishers expect you to take advantage of this marketing tool. You could create social media pages for yourself, your book, or your characters. Be creative, and have fun with social media. This is also a great time to start a blog.

3) Connect with other authors.

Of the greatest benefits of  NanoWriMo is the opportunity to connect with other authors. They can encourage and support you during this project. You can connect with authors by visiting the NanoWriMo website as well as by searching social media sites for people who are participating.

4) Download some music.

Music is a great way to become inspired. Download a few songs that you can listen to when you need some inspiration. Listen to songs that your characters would be interested, or search for music that reminds you of your setting or plot.

5) Play on Pinterest.

Pinterest is a great way to find inspiration as well as promote your book. Create boards for your characters, setting, or plot. Be creative, and have fun with this. What outfits would your character wear? What food would your character eat?

I’d love to know, what are you doing to prepare for NanoWriMo?

– by Wendy Statina

Most of the time, we like writing.

Or don’t we?

Sometimes, writing feels like writing. And sometimes—not just because of Halloween, but for other reasons too—writing feels like one long protracted scream into the void. (My scream? “WHY ARE WRITING OUTLINES SO DARN HARD??” Yours might be different.) It’s realistic to expect that at some point during an intensive writing spree—whether you’re doing NaNoWriMo or not—you’ll face insurmountable obstacles and unstoppable forces and immovable objects. Or at least, you’ll face challenges that seem like all of the above: Writer’s Block, characters gone haywire, plot holes, inconsistencies, and that one thing you really really want to edit but shouldn’t yet because it’ll totally torch your forward momentum. You know, those things.

nanowrimo inkygirl will write for chocolate

If I’ve learned anything from my many attempts at NaNoWriMo—mostly unsuccessful insofar as word count is concerned—it’s that preparation and a little foresight goes a long way towards keeping November (or, again, any intensive writing spree—especially if you have to meet some sort of deadline) fun. Thus, I thought it worth reviving Wendy’s wonderful 2012 blog for both your benefit and mine. Her suggestions still hold true today, four years and many gray hairs later, even though social media and even relationship-building is a moving target (So long, Vine. You’ll be missed*sob*).

Better still, the principle underlying Wendy’s post holds true:

Think ahead.

Spend a day or two setting yourself up for success and you’ll not need to spend thirty-odd days obsessing over the details. Look for your inspiration and put together that inspiration board on Pinterest. Spend a few hours building an architecture for your piece. Take a moment to either hop on social media and give warning that you’ll be scaling back your presence to help with focus—or to lay the groundwork for increased involvement, predicated on the knowledge that doing this thing in community is so much nicer than doing it solo. Register with NaNoWriMo if you think that might give you a little extra motivation, or register with a local writer’s club for something in your own backyard. Swing on by your libraries for writing sprints! (Those things are wonderful.)

Whatever you do, don’t wait to do it! This post goes live the morning that NaNoWriMo gets started, but it’s worth doing all these things even if it takes away from one day’s word total. After all, you’re laying the groundwork for everything that follows.

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.

From the Archives: “Last Minute To-Dos for Self Publishing Authors Participating 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.

∗∗∗∗∗

[ Originally posted: October 29th, 2012 ]

There are only a few more days until NanoWriMo begins. To help you prepare, I’ve prepared a last minute to-do list for all self-publishing authors participating in NanoWriMo. Check it out below.

  • Read a few pep talks, which are available on the NanoWriMo website. They are sure to give you the motivation you need to succeed.
  • Add a web badge to your website. Not only will you help promote the event, but it is a fun way to let everyone know that you are taking the challenge.
  • Get inspired. Spend some time before the writing begins listening to music, watching strangers, drinking coffee, reading books, or doing any other activity that gets your creative juices flowing.
  • Relax. The next month is going to be hectic, so prepare your mind and body by practicing relaxation techniques such as exercising or meditation.
  • Remind your friends and family. You will need they their support during this process, so remind them of your goals and writing schedule.
  • Have fun. NanoWriMo is a fun process, so just enjoy it.

Good luck to all of the self-publishing authors who are participating in NanoWriMo. I can’t wait to see your books in print!

I’d love to know, what is on your last minute to-do list?

– by Wendy Statina

There’s no improving upon Wendy’s list from 2012, to be perfectly honest. (It’s perfect!) Like many of her fellow SPA contributors (including me!) she has participated in past NaNoWriMos, so she really knows what she’s talking about. Or she knew, at the very least, back in 2012 when she wrote her timeless recommendations–recommendations which are relevant, frankly, for every writer, no matter when you decide to plug away at your next novel.

As you’ll probably be beginning to realize, given the trend of several of our most recent posts here on SPA, we’re going to be writing our way through NaNoWriMo again this year, and we invite you to join with us. This isn’t just a vanity project for those of us who actually intend on participating in the event; this is us making a serious attempt to tackle many of the thorniest issues related to writing and authorship, specifically as self-publishing authors, that emerge when we settle into a long and sustained attempt to generate material. These issue include (but are not limited to) finding inspiration, maintaining motivation, vanquishing writer’s block, and navigating our complicated relationships to editing. (Do we do it before, during, or after we write? Or all of the above? Stay tuned to find out!) NaNoWriMo is simply the experiment–or the thought experiment, for those of you not participating this year, which is more than fine!–which helps us examine the issues.

Watch this spot–and our blog in general–over the coming weeks as we dive into November with our pens and notebooks at the ready!

last minute rush nanowrimo

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.