We’ll be back next week with more fresh & original content to get you through the self-publishing process!
This is my last post before Christmas, and indeed, this is my last post of 2017! Before I get on with my post, then, it’s time to wish you all a …
Hard to believe, isn’t it? Well, for me at least it is. I know that for many of you and many among my wider circle of acquaintances, 2017 has been a difficult year to navigate. There has been political upheaval, of course, and there have been so very many tragedies–the shootings in Las Vegas and elsewhere, drought, fires, floods, illnesses, and many more troubles of both a personal and a natural (and a national) nature.*
I sincerely hope that there have been good things that have come to you in 2017 as well as those hardships. The holidays are a time for celebration and rejoicing, but for so many people, they’re actually the hardest time of hear–a regular reminder that they do not have what others do: security, comfort, a loving family, and so forth. (HuffPost recently featured an article on this phenomenon.) Some of you may know what I’m talking about, though of course I’m hoping that the majority of you remain blissfully unaware!
As we move into 2018, I want all of you to know that here in the self-publishing community, you have a home. You have people who care about you and your creative endeavors, your health and security. We’re here to support you in this liminal space between old year and new, old projects and new projects, old dreams and new dreams.
What is a liminal space? In her Psychology Today article, Carrie Barron writes that it comes from the Latin for threshold, when something about your life has changed and you find yourself adrift, looking for that next thing to come along and help straighten you out. But liminal spaces can be rich territory for creativity, she goes on to say. They can, in fact, provide space for learning more about yourself–who you are and what you need out of life–as well and provide a mental break from the daily grind. And after a rough year? Barron writes that sometimes a “really simple interpretation can be much more helpful to a patient than a profound, deep one, if it is the right timing and offered with empathy.” And in that spirit, I’d love to repeat what her friend once told her:
You were really battered. Time heals.
And I would add: There’s more to come. The great thing about liminal spaces is that they are moved through. They’re places and times of transition, and you will transition through this one, if you’re having a rough holiday season. And as always … we’ll be here for you both in the difficult, creativity-sapping times, and in the glorious, high-flying times. We’re here for you in the holidays … and in the seasons that come after.
You are not alone. ♣︎
* If you’re still looking for tangible ways to help, the death toll in Puerto Rico was recently officially recounted and declared to be more than 1000, and much of the island is still without power. Charity Navigator has a list of highly-rated relief organizations you can support over the holiday season. They are a great resource no matter which cause touches you; you can search for many of this year’s disasters and see a full list of rated aid organizations.
This is the time of the year when there’s snow on the roads in my part of the world, the days are short and dark by five in the evening, and everyone’s going a bit stir crazy. Tensions are at a fever pitch, but so too is that special brand of optimistic cheerfulness which washes over and around the people I care about. Some people may not celebrate the religious aspect of the Christmas holidays, but you can’t help but love some of the perks they bring with them: hot cocoa and cider to drink, quilts and kittens and friendships to keep us warm, generosity to celebrate in giving and receiving.
It seems almost callow, perhaps, to talk about marketing in the midst of all this good-feeling. What does the commercial machine have to do with empathy and generosity?
Here’s the thing: What’s good for you as an author and what’s good for your relationships is also good for business.
I’m not just talking about the “family-friendly” or “family-owned” propaganda issued by big businesses like Starbucks or Chipotle or REI; I’m talking about your relationships on a personal level, and starting from the ground up. The real revolution in how we do business has to start with actual human connection rather than the cold and soulless opportunism that we’ve been taught is the marker of successful companies and their high-level officials.
So this Christmas, I’m not going to encourage you to break out a couple of new strategies for self-promotion success for several reasons–including the fact that we’ve already done so in past Christmases: here, here, and here––but rather to refocus on what you consider the most valuable and worthwhile aspects of your relationships. I guarantee you this: if you put your friendships and your loved ones first, the rest will fall into place. Friends want to hear about what each other do and love and are working on, and when your relationships are in tune you’ll know instinctively when it’s a good and natural and 100% organic moment to do so.
Who you are as a writer fits within a broader framework of who you are in connection to the other people in your life. Authenticity isn’t just nice; it’s imperative. It just makes sense that what’s good for your relationships would be good for spreading the word about your book, and the ingredients for a joyful and happy holiday season would also be the perfect recipe for a productive time for you as a self-publishing author!
You are not alone. ♣︎
Reading to (then with) my daughter when she was a child was a joy I’d tucked away in my memories until her son was born just five short years ago. Suddenly, I was reintroduced to great short stories that are beautifully illustrated (Goodnight Moon, Goodnight Construction Site, and Little Blue Truck) and are now duplicated in her house and mine. Some of them I will never part with again because they speak to the child within me and offer me sage wisdom that crosses all age, ethnic, and cultural barriers.
I greatly admire the authors who write and publish these amazing books. They not only offer parents priceless “connection time” with their children, but they often allow us to explore the depths of symbolism and character development (Winnie-the-Pooh) that enhance our adult lives. Today, I give you two examples of two very different stories that will bless your holiday reading.
Throughout my life I’ve enjoyed the companionship of many pets from goldfish and cats to English Bulldogs. As a child, I was unable to express just how much I missed those critters, especially around the holidays when we were looking in the stores to find just the right toy (or aquarium cave) to give to them that year. So, when I found this book—HOLIDAYS IN HEAVEN by Marcia Spilman—during a recent random online search, I was thrilled. It is 38 pages of beautiful illustrations that address multiple holidays such as Birthdays, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Veterans Day, Christmas, etc.
Spilman realized that our children “expect us to have answers and a brighter outlook on their loss.” This is what inspired her to write the book, offering comfort—to children of all ages—during the holidays when we are missing someone special who is no longer on this earth.
My second book selection this week is BOSS RALPHIE. One of the online reviewers says the story reminds him of a mixture of It’s A Wonderful Life and/or A Christmas Carol written through the lens of Goodfellas the mafia/mob novel. This is NOT an illustrated story for young children, but it undeniably tweaks the perspectives of everyone who’s read it.
Author Edward Carboni, has created this short story (51pages) that imagines God as the “Don of the universe” and His Archangel Raphael as “Boss Ralphie.” The Boss and his crew of “wise-guy angels” have been given a special assignment on Christmas Eve. They must save the soul of a lost man and the life of a little girl on the streets of Philadelphia. This very unique story has been heralded as “A heartwarming and funny story certain to become a new holiday classic.”
Each of my blogs this November offers us (yes, me too) the opportunity to explore different genres whether they fit into our general writing styles or not. Each of these authors has worked to develop their writing techniques and release their voices into the world. They’ve chosen to self-publish for multiple reasons (which is a topic for discussion at another time). So today, if you haven’t already picked up one of these books to read, I’m encouraging you to do so. There is much to learn from these authors.
Whether you are in the midst of writing that “great American novel,” or feel flat-lined in the concept development department, these books—and others in their genres—will inspire you in ways that cannot be anticipated. So, READ and relax a little and don’t forget to take notes when ideas begin to “pop.” This holiday season is definitely the Season to Read and Taste, Read and Imagine, Read and Seed, and simply READ FOR FUN! ⚓︎
This year, as you settle down for the Thanksgiving holiday, it’s worth considering all the ways we can and ought to say “thanks” to our readers, especially during the holiday season. Giving thanks is a fantastic way to connect with people and show them you care and that they matter to you—just as you matter to us here at Self Publishing Advisor!
No matter how you say “thanks!” … whether you use one of our ideas here or come up with your own … there are so many reasons to just “go for it” and make sure that your readers know you care!
And while we’re on the subject ….
Thank you, thank you, thank you, dear readers. I usually end my posts by saying “You are not alone” … but this week, I want to thank you. Because with you out there in the world, doing good things and self-publishing along the way, I always know …
I am not alone. ♣︎
Thank you, Thank you, to whoever placed this day on our calendars! Most of the writers I know enjoy going to coffee houses, finding a quiet corner (really?), opening their laptop and working on the next chapter of the their book. Personally, I prefer to make my coffee at home and working at my desktop. However, I do accept gift cards to coffee shops! Enjoying my favorite latte while talking about books, authors and/or writing projects is THE BEST!
So as I sip my morning coffee today, I’ll share some of the best techniques I’ve learned about “mulling over” plot ideas and allowing characters (and their personalities) to warm the innards of our imaginations. As Beatrix Potter is quoted saying, “There is something delicious about writing the first words of a story. [While drinking coffee, of course.] You never quite know where they’ll take you.” As writer and illustrator of her own books, Potter is an excellent example of a creative heart finding a way to become published (she self-published the 1st copies of The Tale of Peter Rabbit).
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is quoted saying: “The person born with a talent they are meant to use will find their greatest happiness in using it.” SO TRUE! When we exercise our writing talents and produce something that makes our hearts sing, our personal happiness zings to the top—and so will the happiness of Readers who purchase our books.
So follow your creative process to success. Enjoy the swirling flavor of your morning coffee and your smooth mulled cider as you release your imagination to the winds. And, when you’re ready, seek the support of publishing experts who will walk with you as you climb the steps to grab hold of your book(s) in print. ⚓︎
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 31st, 2014 ]
Well, today marks my last blog of 2014, so it’s only fitting that I finish my list of New Year’s resolutions with both a bang and a whimper—or rather, with a mixed list of strategies that require me to take initiative and steer clear of some of my past faux pas!
I resolve to …
#6: Read more.
Yes, yes, I know it’s a bit trite to say that “good writers are good readers,” but there is some truth to the matter (as there often is, with trite statements). I have let my reading lapse a smidgen this year, for a variety of reasons, and as a direct consequence I find my ability to verbalize my own ideas is suffering. In general, I find that a deficit in input results in a deficit of output, and for me that translates to: “No reading, no imagination.” I don’t know if it’s the same for you, but I for one resolve that this year I will reestablish my reading routines, and reintroduce my mind to the minds of others through the written word. (Or, more written words.) As with many things, I’ll try to remember to practice the “quality over quantity” adage. It’s more important to have an enriching rather than a time-intensive experience!
#7: Try a new format.
There are so many formats in which we can publish these days that the list can grow overwhelming—hard cover editions, paperback editions, Kindle editions, Nook editions, e-book editions, .pdf files, audio book editions, and et cetera—and like many authors, I tend to channel most of my energy into work within my comfort zone. This year, I resolve to try a new format for a book that I haven’t tried before. I haven’t quite decided which of these formats I will choose and for which piece, but I promise you (and you can hold me to this!) that I won’t allow myself to get stuck in the “research” stage for so long that I neglect to actually produce a new product. Perhaps you’d like to join me? Let’s jump into 2015 by making it easier than ever for readers to access our work!
#8: Make more inspiration boards.
Ever heard of an inspiration board? Essentially, it’s the practice of putting together a visual display of objects, quotes, and other things that create a focused touchstone for your writing. For example, an author who’s writing a book set in the corn fields of Nebraska might put together an inspiration board that has some pictures of corn fields in various lighting, a couple of quotations about the hardships and rewards of farming, and maybe a song or two that really captures the desired mood or atmosphere of the piece. In this day and age, it’s really easy to make inspiration boards. You can actually put one together physically (
see this excellent blog post by the Procrastinating Writer), or you can take advantage of tools like Pinterest (see this equally excellent blog post by Melissa Donovan over at Writing Forward). Personally, I enjoy using my hands to put something together in the real world, but the interactivity of digital forms can be really great, too. This year, I resolve to play around more with this idea of the inspiration board.
#9: Build a community.
I’ve already resolved to be more ambitious with my social media presence (see #6 on last week’s list!). Much of a self-published author’s success lies in his or her relationship with readers, and in establishing a community of people who are just as invested in consuming good writing as the author is in generating it. Over and beyond just creating more social media platforms to reach more social media users, this year, I resolve to build and broaden my community of readers by reaching them where they are at and giving them what they need. By keeping my various blog posts about creating a social media platform in mind [here, here, and here], I will tweak my digital presence and refine my physical outreach to meet my readers’ needs, rather than just satisfy my own vision of this idea of ‘presence.’ To do so, I will first need tounderstand that community, perhaps through polls and surveys, and perhaps through a more effective use of Google Analytics. It is my hope that understanding will lead to outreach will lead to genuine and authentic connection to my readership.
#10: Write more.
I know we say this every year, but I really mean it! This has been a year of major changes for me, as I’m sure it has been for many of you, my readers. Changes in my family, my work, my health, and so on. When you consider the fact that we’re social creatures, any change in my network comes rippling back to me, so that a new addition to an in-law’s family or a friend’s vacation plans can become a distraction—for me! A large part of buckling down to do the thing I love is, I’ve discovered, narrowing my focus and eliminating distractions. And the self-published author can’t afford to let writing lapse. I can’t exactly stop change from happening, and I definitely don’t want my family to stop expanding or my friends to stop going on vacation, but I can take initiative in establishing healthy emotional boundaries that keep these changes from becoming calamities. This year, I resolve to make writing as much of a habit as eating a healthy breakfast (another practice I need to improve upon, I’m afraid). Whether it’s fifteen minutes or eight hours a day, I will get some words out of my head and onto the page!
#11: Celebrate success.
Because writing and self-publishing is my job, not just a hobby, I sometimes fail to celebrate the successes I’ve already achieved. Perhaps you’re this way, too, in that it’s hard to justify taking a moment away from the stacks and stacks of to-dos in order to take pride in what has already been done. But that’s not a rewarding way to live, as we all know well! So, this year, I resolve to celebrate each and every success, as I check items off of my list of resolutions, or bring other goals through to execution. You and I both love to celebrate other peoples’ successes, so taking a few minutes to practice joy over our own shouldn’t seem like such an outlandish notion.
#12: Take action.
I find this perhaps the most important resolution of all, given my own predilection for procrastination in making good on resolutions in years past. I hereby pledge not to let this list sit here just as a list, but rather to turn it into a tangible action plan for the coming year—not a list of obligations, mind you, that weigh on my conscience if I fail, but as a coda of potential ideas to launch me into 2015 in the best possible shape. Carpe diem? After all, as a self-published author, I understand that while I have to work hard to make what I love to do a success, I want to remain in love with what I do. And that’s always the hardest part, isn’t it? If I fall out of love with writing and self-publishing, well … I don’t want to allow even the seed of that thought to germinate in my mind. And so, I will think of this list as inspiration, rather than obligation—inspiration that I can make good on, by decisive action.
And so we begin a new year, with hope, and an eye for progress. I am so lucky to have had you all as readers, and I look forward to another year in partnership with you! If you have any resolutions or ideas that didn’t make my list, I’d love to hear them. Drop me a line in the comments box, and watch this space on Wednesdays in 2015 as I blog my way through some of these resolutions!
– by Kelly Schuknecht
As I stated last week, originally my goal was to revisit these blog posts 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 (this being the second part) … but all that is just scaffolding. It’s not why you’re here.
You’re here to find out if I succeeded or not!
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. Last week’s list of the first six resolutions can be found at the link. But what about you? How did you do on your resolutions for 2016? How about 2015? And what do you hope to accomplish in 2017?
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. ♠