In Your Corner: What to do after #NaNoWriMo?

nanowrimo

November, National Novel Writing Month, is now firmly behind us—and December is well under way. For those of you who participated in NaNoWriMo, the question remains: What next?

Of course, you don’t have to have participated in NaNoWriMo in order to be facing this question, and you don’t have to have participated in NaNoWriMo to benefit from the materials and resources that the NaNo community has put together for those working on complete or partially complete drafts.

So this week, I wanted to point you to some of those resources.

First of all, you definitely need to follow the official NaNoWriMo blog if you aren’t already. The blog runs year-round, and often tackles thorny issues like what to do when you’re stuck in drafting, or editing, or overcoming specific challenges to publication. The blog is easy to find at blog.nanowrimo.org. The post on December 2nd (“30 Covers 30 Days: Wrap-Up Post“) covers some of the highlights from the 2019 November writing crunch. Even more recent articles cover what to do when times get tough, and writing with chronic illness—all part of a 20th anniversary special series. Definitely worth a look. Their older articles are also invaluable, including Lana Alam’s 2017 piece, “6 Steps for Editing Your Novel.” And don’t forget all of those AMAZING NaNoWriMo “pep talks”! They finished out November strong with a pep talk from Anne Lamott, one of my all-time favorite writers and a rock in the sea of changing publishing noise. The Young Writers Project has a separate page of pep talks geared more toward young people too. (Anne Lamott appears on both.)

Writers Digest also hosts a number of useful blog posts and articles on what to do after NaNoWriMo. I recommend “9 Lessons Learned from a First Attempt at NaNoWriMo” by Jess Zafarras from December of last year, and “5 Habits to Help You Go from NaNoWriMo to Published Author” by Tina LeCount Myers from April of 2018.

I also wanted to point you toward Bustle article from last week (“What’s The Next Step After NaNoWriMo? 7 Published Authors Give Their Best Advice”) in which Sona Charaipotra gleans some truly wonderful nuggets of wisdom from authors who have walked the path of drafting, editing, and publishing before. Many of them are self-published or taking a hybrid approach, so there are some gems of wisdom on self-publishing as well.

And of course, we hope you take a look back at our many posts about editing and finishing manuscript drafts here on SPA; in perusing our backlist, I’m continually impressed at how evergreen many of the articles here are. We’ve even written about publishing during the holidays, if you’ve already brought your draft to a polished stage of completion!

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.

In Your Corner: At the #NaNoWriMo Midway Point!

First of all, if you’ve made it this far and are still achieving your 2019 NaNoWriMo goals, whether they’re the traditional 1,667 word per day or something else–all projects are valid and celebrated!–congratulations!! It’s an accomplishment simply to get anything done, and you deserve to feel affirmed for the important work that you are doing. Well done!

nanowrimo

Now that you’re halfway through the month, the true doldrums of NaNoWriMo, you’re no doubt facing the universal challenges all writers face, only condensed down into a two-week span: the hard slog of keeping on keeping on even when the finish line isn’t quite in sight yet, tying together plot threads that are doing their absolute best to defy your control, and (depending on whether you draft consecutive chapters consecutively or jump around) writing those final and all-important moments of drama leading to the climax and denouement of the book’s action (if it’s fiction).

If you’re writing poetry or memoir or any number of other genres, you face a slight variation on these problems; just as with fiction, poetry and other genres still need to build toward some sort of emotional beat, and identifying the heart of a book that isn’t fiction can often be a challenge. Memoirists often decide upon what scene from life will serve as their crux in advance, but since many people (pantsers like me) get underway without a lot of preparation, one of the key challenges for Wrimos is developing the book’s structure after the fact (or partially after the fact). This is much easier to do at the midway point than at the end, which is why I mention it now. Unfortunately, it’s not always a lot of fun to do, so doing so can contribute to the general misery of the mid-month doldrums.

Giving you an itemized list of suggestions for what to do runs somewhat against the spirit of NaNoWriMo–remember, you’re not supposed to edit yourself as you write this month, in the interest of generating as much raw material as possible toward your final manuscript–so I’m going to keep my advice simple:

  • Spending the first five minutes of each day’s writing session thinking about the emotional heart of your book–before you set your pen to paper!–may just be the best possible service you can do your manuscript just now. In a separate document or on a scratch piece of paper, consider jotting down whatever comes to mind, whether it’s snatches of dialogue you want to include or descriptive words that evoke the feelings you want to inspire, and tape that up somewhere near your computer (or keep the document open in the background, if it’s digital).
  • Remember to write for yourself first and your ideal audience second. If you’re prone to obsessing over what your readers will think or need, as I am, this can totally paralyze your writing process and keep you from doing the necessary free-flowing writing exercises that are needed to reach your word goal for the month. The time to worry about other people is December, if you’re doing NaNoWriMo. Although if it helps you focus to get those thoughts down on paper and out of your head, consider jotting them down the same way you would material in the previous point (see above).
  • Clear your mind of all the things other people have told you makes for good writing or the “right approach” unless you immediately are 100% convinced that it is actively helping you write. We all love Stephen King and Margaret Atwood and all of the other authors who’ve put out “how to write [x]” books, but sometimes we get so caught up thinking about how other people think we should be writing that we freeze. Or at least, I do. The fact of the matter is, you will have your own “right approach” that is specific to you, and you don’t need to worry about anything else right now than what feeds your work and your heart as you write.

That’s it! That’s my advice for the coming weeks of NaNoWriMo! As always, I wish you all the best and look forward to hearing about your projects!

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.

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.

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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.

#NaNoWriMo2017 is Coming to an End!

Tomorrow marks the close of the 2017 National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), and its participants’ pledge to write 50,000 words in 20 days. “Winners” (those who met or exceeded that goals) have already started to be recognized on the NaNoWriMo website.  If you’re one of those ambitious few (statistically speaking), congratulations; that’s impressive!  Many writers enter.  Much fewer cross the finish line.  But everyone who participates is a winner in our book, because NaNoWriMo is a stepping stone toward establishing a writing habit. As they say, a writer writes.  And in order to crank out 50,000 words in 30 days, you must force yourself to write every day.

That being said, 50,000 is no reason to stop writing. Books are rarely as short as 50,000 words, so crossing the finish line for NaNoWriMo is not the final step. The final step is completing a manuscript and then revising it, editing it, proofreading it, and then publishing it.  One doesn’t publish 50,000 words. One publishes a book.

In order for NaNoWriMo to accept your word count you need to cut and paste your manuscript into their word-count validator.  Sounds easy enough, but it’s surprising so many writers are so willing to give their hard work to an organization without a second thought.  Many writers exhibit hesitancy about sharing their work with publishers and that’s even AFTER a contract has been signed expressly protecting them and their copyrights.  No such agreement exists on the National Novel Writing website.

It’s clear that this issue has come up from time to time because on their forums, they provide a link to another website that “scrambles” your manuscript for the specific purpose of only providing your word count to NaNoWriMo, rather than a book that makes any sense.  But to do that, aren’t you submitting your manuscript to the 3rd party (who may hold even less legitimacy than NaNoWriMo)?

You’ll be happy to know that US Copyright protects you in these instances, as long as you can establish the date your manuscript was completed. Send it in its entirety to a friend via email, and keep the send-receipt.  Or use the “poor man’s copyright” and mail a hardcopy to yourself through the mail, and then keep the postmarked package unopened.  These are quick, easy, inexpensive measures you can take IF you are worried about NaNoWriMo or the 3rd party scrambler taking liberties with your work.  Or, you can rely upon the reputation of the NaNoWriMo organization and rest assured they have better things to do.  

For those of you who cross the 50,000 word finish line tomorrow at midnight… kudos!

nanowrimo 2017 winner


brent sampson
In 2002, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Semi-Finalist Brent Sampson founded Outskirts Press, a custom book publishing solution that provides a cost-effective, fast, and powerful way to help authors publish, distribute, and market their books worldwide while leaving 100% of the rights and 100% of the profits with the author. Outskirts Press was incorporated in Colorado in October, 2003.
In his capacity as the Chief Executive Officer and Chief Marketing Officer, Brent is an expert in the field of book publishing and book marketing. He is also the author of several books on both subjects, including the bestseller Sell Your Book on Amazon, which debuted at #29 on Amazon’s bestseller list. 

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.

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[ 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.