In Your Corner : Resolutions for 2016 That Every Aspiring Author Should Make (pt 3)

Two weeks ago, I kicked off a new series for Self Publishing Advisor geared toward addressing a single and seemingly simple question:

What’s your goal for 2016?

Many of you probably have a few goals already lined up, consciously or unconsciously.  I know I do.  But you might also be of a similar strain to mine in that many of your goals, historically, have been doomed by a perfect storm of ambition, short-sightedness, and limitations of time, energy, and other resources.  When it comes to your books, however, failure is not an option.  Your book needs to be written, and your book needs to be read!  So how do we make this happen?  Over the last two weeks, I’ve covered the first seven steps to turning your New Year’s literary resolutions into reality:

  1. Set goals.
  2. Facilitate goals.
  3. Make writing a priority, and
  4. Read, read, read.
  5. Master at least the basics of social media.
  6. Research deeply, and
  7. Connect with other authors.

Today, I’d like to look at the next four steps:

  1. Embrace a good critique.
  2. Learn to love rewrites.
  3. Try something new, and
  4. Stop comparing your achievements with others.

collaboration

Let’s take a closer look at these points!

What does it mean to “embrace” a good critique?  We all want to improve our craft but find it difficult to be objective about our work without fixating on the flaws, large and small, that we as authors are bound to spot.  You may be one of the lucky ones who doesn’t obsess over these cracks in the pavement, but if you are, I can’t begin to recommend joining a critique group highly enough.  (Check out my comments last week about using social media to find your fellow writers.)  Not only is constructive criticism a writer’s best friend, but it’s the bedrock foundation of the rewrite!

And what’s this I’m hearing about rewrites?  On the scale of editing to revising to rewriting, editing involves a great deal of “tweaking” but rewriting involves the most intensive kind of substantial alterations.  Many people who self-identify as “pantsers”––authors who write the first draft quickly and without a lot of research or reference to an outline and so on––are the most in need of rewrites … but that doesn’t mean that a careful planner and strategic author can’t benefit from the freedom that only radical changes can offer!  No matter what kind of author you are, you must make rewrites, edits, and revisions a normal part of your writing process.  It helps to set your work aside for a few weeks before tackling revisions, but trust me … it’s worth doing.

rewrites

So I guess it’s time to try something new.  Are you feeling uninspired by the space opera novel you’re working on?  How about that Western or that crime novella?  If you find yourself facing the dreaded Writer’s Block and your love for writing endangered by boredom or frustration with how things are turning out with your current project, it’s time to mix things up and experiment with writing in other genres.  Doing so may reignite your passion for that romance novel or that book of poems … and stretching your creative wings is never a waste of time!

And lastly (for this week), it’s time to stop comparing your achievements with the achievements of others.  Every writer wants to be a published author, but each author’s journey is unique.  You must concentrate on your own goals, and your own personal definition of “success,” and remember what Teddy Roosevelt once said: “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

theodore roosevelt comparison is the thief of joy

Only once we lay aside our insecurities and our fear of failure can we truly thrive as authors, rediscovering day after day what it is that drives us to do what we do––write!

Always remember: you are not alone. ♣︎

ElizabethABOUT 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.

In Your Corner : Resolutions for 2016 That Every Aspiring Author Should Make (pt 2)

 

Last week, I opened a new series of blog posts with a simple question:

What’s your goal for 2016?

To steal a line from Spiderman’s playbook, “With great power comes great responsibility,” and with great optimism I think you’ll find a great capacity for willpower and determination to see your New Year’s resolutions through.  When it comes to self-publishing, I realize that I have a bit of a vested interest––alright, I definitely have an extremely vested interest––in that I both work professionally as an advisor within the parameters of the self-publishing industry and I personally believe in the mission of self-publishing, and in recapturing the rights and privileges that come with calling the shots on your own manuscript.  But despite my proximity to the issue, I think I’m being fully objective when I say that self-publishing this year is not “too much” or somehow “beyond” your ability to make happen.  You can publish in 2016, and I hope to provide you with some resources here in this series that will help you make that happen.

Last week, I examined four goals to get you started down the path to self-publishing this year.  They were to:

  1. Set goals.
  2. Facilitate goals.
  3. Make writing a priority, and
  4. Read, read, read.

parkour goals

This week, I’m going to take a close look at three additional goals, and challenge you to:

  1. Master at least the basics of social media.
  2. Research deeply, and
  3. Connect with other authors.

 

So, how does one become a social media guru overnight?  Well the short answer is, you can’t.  Or I should rather say, I couldn’t.  Not easily, anyway.  As with so many tips and tricks of the trade, mastery of social media platforms doesn’t just require proficiency––it requires significance.  Because social media is selling a product and that product is you, self-publishing authors have to be careful to create extensive social media presences without sacrificing what makes platforms like Facebook and Twitter and Goodreads so attractive in the first place: personality, presence, and authenticity.  (And a side note: it’s always better to pick up new social media skills slowly and incorporate them into a sustainable long-term strategy rather than burning yourself out on producing new content at a breakneck pace all of the time.)  Given all of the hassle of setting up a dozen separate accounts with their own quirks and password combinations, is it really worth going through the trouble?  Short answer: YES.  If you want to publish your book, you need to connect with your readers, and you need to stay up-to-date on the ways in which they discover and respond to their favorite stories.  If you’re strapped for time, you can always turn to a hybrid self-publishing company like mine, Outskirts Press, to take care of this part of the process for you.

And what’s this about “research”?  I thought I’d left all that behind when I graduated from school.  But research, when push comes to shove, is what elevates a book from being “interesting in theory” to “convincing and immersive.”  This isn’t to say you should stifle your impulse towards creative license, but it is to say that you should always be intentional about your digressions from fact––you should alter reality, not out of ignorance, but rather out of ambition, curiosity, and cleverness.  Says author Robert McKee,

“Do research. Feed your talent. Research not only wins the war on cliche, it’s the key to victory over fear and it’s cousin, depression.”

But “research” can look like many things, including visits to your local library to grill the staff on duty or, yes, even the occasional perusal of Wikipedia pages.  These are not the only options, however!  As Roman Payne writes,

“Who’s to say what a ‘literary life’ is? As long as you are writing often, and writing well, you don’t need to be hanging-out in libraries all the time.  Nightclubs are great literary research centers. So is Ibiza!”

Speaking from my own personal experience, boots-on-the-ground research is every bit as invaluable for the writing process as is amassing a databank of all of the relevant facts which circle your piece like electrons around the nucleus of an atom.  Research is not, however, the end goal: The end goal is to write and publish your book.  Never forget, in the immortal words of Dune author Frank Herbert:

“Highly organized research is guaranteed to produce nothing new.”

Which is to say, research alone won’t write your book for you.  Only you can actually bring a world to life on the page!

And while there are many ways to motivate yourself to leap (back) into the writing process, none has proven so valuable as the chance to connect with other writers.  Ultimately, no one knows the internal life––and struggles, and strengths, and successful strategies––of a writer than … you guessed it! … another writer.  This year, I recommend that each and every one of us involved in the indie, hybrid, and self-publishing industry should resolve to use social media or in-person or even online writing groups to connect with these rare global citizens, these other writers.  The relationships we build will prove invaluable, and provide us with opportunities to share publishing tips, encourage and inspire each other, and transform the “solitary life” of a writer into a journey that feels less lonely and more part of a greater collective effort to move forward.

Always remember: you are not alone. ♣︎

ElizabethABOUT 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.

 

Self Publish a Book in 2013: Step 4 – Share Your Goal with Others

Whether we are setting a goal to self publish a book or lose weight or make any other change in our life, we often keep those resolutions to ourselves. We fear sharing them with others because we don’t want to be judged if we fail or we worry that our friends and family won’t support our mission, but sharing your goals with others can actually help you achieve your  mission. When you share your goals with other, you not only force yourself to be accountable for your resolutions but you also allow others to share in your excitement and provide the support you need to accomplish your goals. Here are four ways to improve your chances of self publishing a book by sharing your goals with others.

1. Tell close friends or family who will support you.

We all have someone in our lives who supports us no matter what. They are the people you want to share your goals with because they are the people who will motivate you when you feel like giving up. You don’t have to share your resolutions with people who will discourage you. Seek out support.

2. Join a community of writers.

Whether you find a writing group who meets periodically or you join an online group, connecting with fellow writers can encourage you to achieve your goals. No one better understands the struggles and excitement of writing a book like other writers. They can offer advice and support that non-writers can’t provide, and seeing other writers accomplishing their goals can inspire you to achieve yours.

3. Be accountable.

Don’t keep your progress a secret. Regularly update your writing group and friends and family on  your progress. If you are having trouble reaching your writing goals, tell them. If you’ve had a successful week, tell them. They can encourage you when you need extra motivation and celebrate with you when you are successful.

4. Let them join the fun.

Let your support people be a part of the writing process. Ask them to help you brainstorm ideas. Let them read a draft of your work. Have them help market your book. This will fuel your creative drive and make your support team more invested in the project. Always be sure to show appreciation for their efforts and return the favor when you can.

I’d love to know, who do you plan to share your writing goals with?

ABOUT JODEE THAYER: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Jodee Thayer works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable customer service reps and publishing consultants; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process in order 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, Jodee Thayer can put you on the right path.

Self Publish a Book in 2013: Step 3 – Set Mini Goals

Over the past two weeks, we’ve spent a lot of time talking about setting and reaching your goals. Well today I want to talk about a strategy called mini goals. Most of us set big goals for ourselves: write a book in 6 months, self publish a book before the end of the year, write 5,000 words a month. This is great because I encourage everyone to dream big, but it isn’t always the best way to achieve our goals.

Setting large goals for ourselves can make us feel overwhelmed and lead us to giving up. If you want to better manage your goals, you need to set mini goals. This is basically a process of breaking your main goal into digestible pieces so you don’t become overwhelmed by a large dream. For instance, if your goal is to finish your manuscript in the next six months, ask yourself what you need to do to accomplish this. How many pages per month do you need to write? How many pages per week? How many pages per day? These numbers will vary depending on where you are in the writing process, but let’s say you want to write 30,000 words in 6 months. That means you need to write 5,000 words a month or 1,250 words a week. It also means you only need to write approximately 180 words a day. This is a very reasonable goal!

I’d love to know, what are your mini goals?

ABOUT JODEE THAYER: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Jodee Thayer works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable customer service reps and publishing consultants; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process in order 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, Jodee Thayer can put you on the right path.

Self Publish a Book in 2013: Step 1 – Set Goals

Last week, I vowed to help you achieve your New Year’s Resolution of self publishing a book in 2013 by dedicating this month’s post to helping you stick with your resolution. We are now a week into the new year, and many of you are probably pumped up to get started on your resolutions. The beginning is always filled with excitement and motivation. Take advantage of these emotions by writing down your goals. These will serve as your map throughout the year to remind you what you are trying to accomplish and hold you accountable for your actions. Here are four tips for setting goals that will help you self publish a book in 2013.

1. Be realistic and specific.

Don’t just say I’m going to write every day. How long will you write for? Twenty minutes? An hour? What time of day will you write? In the morning? On your lunch break? How many pages do you want to write each week or month? When will you finish your first draft? When will you start the self publishing process? Be very specific with your goals, but don’t be unrealistic. If you work 60 hours a week and have a family, you probably can’t dedicate 40 hours a week to writing, but you could dedicate twenty minutes a day during your lunch hour.

2. Hold Yourself Accountable.

Goals are useless if you write them down and forget about them. Decide when and how you will measure your achievements. Perhaps you will keep a writing log to record how long you write each day, or  maybe you will count page numbers once a week. For each goal, write down how and when you will hold yourself accountable.

3. Don’t be afraid to revise.

The purpose of holding yourself accountable is to determine what is working and what isn’t working. Periodically assess whether or not you need to update your goals. If your goals are unrealistic, break them into smaller, more achievable chunks. If your goals aren’t challenging enough, amp up the pressure. Just because they are written down doesn’t mean they are set in stone.

4. Keep them in sight.

If you want to achieve your goals, you need to constantly remind yourself of what you are trying to achieve. Keep a visual reminder of your goals somewhere you will see it often. You may want to keep your list of goals on your desk, or tape a picture of your main character or setting to your fridge. The key is to frequently remind yourself of your goals.

I’d love to know, what are your favorite goal setting tips?

ABOUT JODEE THAYER: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Jodee Thayer works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable customer service reps and publishing consultants; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process in order 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, Jodee Thayer can put you on the right path.