Taking Charge in the New Year

New Year's Resolutions 2020

Around this time last year, I was busy making resolutions for the new year–2019, the year we’re now bringing to a close–and in some cases I have actually managed to make good on those resolutions.  This year, however, I’m pushing back a little against the instinctual attraction to “list-fever,” that special kind of holiday mania that leaves us mellow and warm and happy once the list is complete (it always feels good to write up a list, doesn’t it?) but panicked and anxious as the year reaches its end and we haven’t yet accomplished all that we set out to do.  And so it is that this year, instead of compiling all of the things I want to do, I thought I’d craft a little manifesto for us all.


In 2020 …

We hereby claim the mountain of content and the island of method for us, the (few, the mighty) self-publishing authors of the world.  We assert our right to write what we please in whatever manner we please and within whatever time frame we deem fit.  We declare nothing off-limits, nothing too “edgy” or “tame” or “niche” or “unique.”  We are the fearless in life, and we have the right, too, to write and publish as adventurously as we live.

We hereby claim the lake of responsibility and the waterfall of ethical treatment for us.  In the little skirmishes and give-and-take between the traditional and self-publishing worlds, we occupy the high moral ground, ground from which we foresee a future in which authors are treated with the respect that they have earned, simply by virtue of being authors, and in which no one–neither the authors nor the publishers, the editors, the graphic designers, nor any other professional involved in the industry–uses their influence to abuse or undervalue others and the services they offer.  We assert our support for a future in which no-one can claim a monopoly on distribution or quality of product.  I claim the right to creative freedom and creative control–as well as an ethical flow of profits to and from the right people–for us, the self-publishers.  And we also claim the collective right to not tolerate unethical behavior from the corporate publishing sector which routinely reneges on its commitments to writers, readers, and its own employees.

We hereby claim the plains of ambition and the foothills of inspiration for us.  We will write, to the best of our ability, the best books we are capable of writing.  We will create, to the best of our ability, the finest covers and illustrations and altogether visually pleasing objects of which we are capable of creating.  We will learn from our mistakes without damage to our sense of self or our ego; we will seek out expert feedback and emerge with a refreshed sense of purpose and vision for where to go next.

We also claim the right to act out of self-interest, collectively and individually, for us–the authors who have been told we don’t belong or aren’t good enough but most definitely do and are–while also upholding our commitment to generosity, compassion, and social responsibility.  We claim the right to take full advantage of the digital revolution, to look forward to and think with a futurist’s imagination about, a publishing world and a market that looks radically different from the one we work with now.

We hereby claim ownership of our own decisions.  We do not ask for permission from others to write what we write or publish what we publish; We write and publish what brings joy to us and to our readers.  We do not ask for compliments or pats on the back or for any recognition which undervalues our skills and the intelligence of our readers.  We declare our obligation to respect, value, and represent the interests of others, and to balance this obligation with our own needs as authors and human beings.  We recognize the privileges of our position as people of influence, people with the vocabulary to reflect and shape the world around us, and seek to put that privilege to good use for good ends.

We are not shy about recognizing our strengths, and we are not afraid of our weaknesses.  We hereby claim the valley of well-earned pride and the city of well-learned failures as our province.  We are proud to work with self-publishing authors, and proud to be a part of a wider community of independent creators as well as the readers who open their hearts and minds to the books we place in their hands.

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: 8 Tips for Self-Publishing Your Book in 2018

The second-most common New Year’s resolution is to publish a book, and that’s a lot less fraught than the most common, which is to lose weight. Now, with the advent of Web 2.0 and digital print-on-demand technology, at least accomplishing one of your top New Year’s resolutions is almost … easy! Here’s how you can do it.

1 : Identify your goals
Is your goal to make a lot of money or to find a lot of readers? Perhaps your goal is more modest – to have a book that you can share with family and friends, or to have a book that shares a certain belief or experience. By identifying your goals early, you can increase your chances of choosing the right publishing path to meet them.

2 : Identify your weaknesses
Publishing a book is different from writing one; it is a business rather than an art. Unless you have the technical and financial know-how (or the patience, time, and money to absorb the learning curve) you will be better off having a company publish your book for you rather than trying to do it yourself.

3 : Investigate your publishing options
There are three main roads to publication:

  • Traditional publication, where a publishing company accepts your book and purchases the rights to it in exchange for an advance on book royalties. You will still be required to market your own book.
  • Independent self-publishing, where you keep the rights to your book and undergo the arduous task of starting a publishing company on your own in order to print, distribute, and market it.
  • Full-service self-publishing with a print-on-demand company, where you keep the rights to your book and pay experts to perform the publishing tasks for you, although you are still required to market it yourself.

4 : Recognize the advantages and disadvantages of traditional publishing

The main advantage to traditional publication is that they pay you for your book up-front. However, that is also their disadvantage; since traditional publishers take a financial risk on each book they publish, they often only accept books by celebrities or from authors who have already published previous books successfully.

5 : Recognize the advantages and disadvantages of independently self-publishing
The advantage of independently self-publishing your book is that you retain your rights and all the control to your book. The disadvantage is that it is time-consuming and very risky to self-publish a book by yourself, due to the up-front financial investment. Distributors rarely work with one-time authors, so once you have books printed, you may find it challenging to move them from your garage and into the hands of readers.

6 : Recognize the advantages and disadvantages of full service self-publishing via POD.
The majority of new authors self-publish their books through a print-on-demand publishing company.  Like independent self-publishing, full service self-publishing authors keep their rights.  Another advantage is that the financial investment is much lower (usually less than $1,000).  The disadvantage is that POD books share the same marketing hurdles as independently self-published books – getting into the hands of readers is a challenge, although most full-service companies typically include wholesale distribution and online listings with major e-retailers to assist the author in getting started.

7 : Just do it
Your manuscript will not publish itself, so the last tip is the most important. You have to be motivated to reach for your dreams. To publish your book traditionally, buy the latest edition of The Writer’s Market for contact information of nearly every mainstream publisher. To independently self-publish your book by yourself, buy the latest edition of The Self-Publishing Manual for the financial models and technical specifications you will need to adhere to. To publish through a full-service print-on-demand book publishing company, read Self Publishing Simplified. (All three books can be purchased via Amazon.com.)

8 : Revisit #1 — check in on your goals!
There is literally no more important point for any of us writers to internalize than the injunction to simply take the plunge. There’s no one point and no one step to follow in order to become the successful, published author that you want to be.  There’s nothing easy about the process of publication, whether you choose to pursue the traditional route, self-publish, or work with a full-service print on demand (POD) publishing company like Outskirts Press.  But the only step that you can’t ultimately do without is the step where you actually choose to push your foot into the soil and get started.

I guess what I mean to say is: “Just do it” may seem like a deceptively simple thing to say, but it’s actually both the difficult and the most vital for authors to buy into.  Whatever it takes for you to get yourself there, to take the plunge, I just want to encourage you: You can do it.  You have the strength, and the resourcefulness, and the capacity for excellence.  If you’re feeling paralyzed by fear or a lack of information, take things one step at a time go back to #1. It’s not failure to have to start over! And it’s definitely useful to recenter yourself and your project every now and then. What’s the next thing you need? Is it a recommendation from a friend? Is it time? Is it the energy to face something new and complicated? Baby steps. You’ll get there, I promise. And I for one can’t wait to see what you bring into the world in 2018!

You are not alone. ♣︎


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.

From the Archives: “Self Publish a Book in 2013”

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, 2012 ]

It is hard to believe another year is already behind us. As 2013 approaches, many of you will set New Year’s resolutions for yourself. One of the most popular resolutions is writing and publishing a book. Whether you write fiction, non-fiction, adult or children’s books, the Self Publishing Advisor blog is here to help. Every week we share tips, advice and news about self-publishing to help you achieve your goals, and I’m dedicating my January posts to authors whose 2013 resolution is to write and self-publish a book before the year ends.

Whatever your writing obstacles have been in the past (a busy schedule or a fear of failure), I am here to help! Enjoy the last night of 2012 and get ready for the best year of your life — the year you become a self-published author.

Happy New Year’s!

– by Jodee Thayer

Okay, so one last “resolutions-related” blog post for 2017 and I’ll be done. Probably. I suppose it has been on my mind a great deal in the last few months–what with my participation in NaNoWriMo this year and an encroaching sense that if I don’t finish my book now, I will never ever finish it–and I’ve been simply unable to let go of the hope that 2017 can somehow be different … that it has to be different, for my sanity’s sake and the sake of peace and equilibrium at home. And my back. My back would really appreciate it if I could stop internalizing all of my existentialist anxiety and self-recriminations over my lack of progress.

So, how to kick things into gear? Plan. Plan, and then turn plans into the kinds of good habits which lead to a finished book, and ultimately, a published book.

But enough about my story. What about yours? Is 2017 the year–or a year, for those of you who have already self-published–when you publish your next book? Oh, yes. Yes it is. I firmly believe it can be done–even if you haven’t started writing it yet. A dash of fierce dedication and a plethora of hot coffees and maybe a couple of kale smoothies every week, and you can get there. I firmly believe this, not just because I need to for my own reasons, but because 2017 is shaping up to be a fantastic year for self-publishing.

There are countless book expos and fairs making space for self-publishing authors and companies; there are dozens of new technologies and applications in the pipeline to smooth all of the ancillary experiences circling around publication, like marketing and scheduling and getting books into libraries; there are new products and services available pretty much everywhere you look when it comes to choosing your self-publishing company itself (you all already know which one I recommend!); and last but not least, readers are hungry, oh-so-hungry, just positively ravenous for new self-published material to read.

Let 2017 be the year you publish your book. It’s time. Conditions have never been better. And you’re ready. I know you are, because you were born for this.

antique old typewriter dandelion puff

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.

In Your Corner: Resolve!

What is resolve? And why do we talk so much about it at this time of year? Simply defined, the word can either be a noun or a verb, a thing or an action we espouse, involving firmness of purpose and determination to reach some sort of goal.

resolve definition

So why do we do this whole “New Year’s Resolutions” thing? Is it because starting a new year somehow frees us up to do things we weren’t able to do before? Unlikely. Or is it because, historically, many cultures have a tradition of ceremonially marking the passing of an old year by letting go of past worries and struggles? Possibly. My personal theory is that New Year’s Resolutions came about as a combination of cultural ceremony and human psychology, wherein people find it useful and perhaps easier to lay the groundwork for big tasks or challenging years if they do it all at once, while they’re in a certain frame of mind. And the winter holidays in North America are the perfect time for reflection; in many parts of the continent, we’re all stuck inside due to forbidding weather, and exhausted by the passing of a full year. Holidays like the one we’ve just had give us some much-needed emotional distance from our experiences, past and future, that can be fuel for making plans for change.

new year's resolutions

As authors, our resolutions automatically look a little … different. We might also resolve to go on diets or quit smoking or any of the other “top tens” out there, but we usually sneak a couple of writing-related objectives into the list, too. And with so many people setting the goal of publishing their next book in 2017, there are some specific resolutions which might be of use to you which I thought I might mention here–ways in which you can achieve your dream of book publication in time.

  1. Keep writing, and keep it structured. At least, you know, to the extent which is useful. I started scheduling an hour before getting ready for work each morning during NaNoWriMo this last November, and that has proven to be a habit I can more or less stick to now. Very useful for me, personally. It may not be useful for you. But one thing is certain–no matter when you schedule yourself to write, make sure that you do make it a habit. Publishing means very little if you give up on the thing you love most: writing more books!
  2. Lock in a deadline for your first draft. If you write for an hour a day, you can reasonably expect to finish a first draft within two to three months of steady writing. It doesn’t need to be a full draft, but it does need to capture the main essence of what you’re trying to get at. You can go back and diagnose problems of plot and characterization later, but if you agonize over the details during the drafting stage, you’ll never get it done. I speak from personal experience.
  3. Lock in a deadline for your second draft, too. A second draft is where you fill in all the big blank spaces you left while drafting the first manuscript, and maybe address some of the larger issues of pacing and structure. I recommend another two months for this process.
  4. Stop writing–and stop editing, too. Once you have a good second draft in hand, it’s time to leave the writing desk for a little while and look for some outside assistance. Layer your personal crew of early readers–family and friends–with the expertise of a professional editor. I can’t emphasize the importance of this professional help enough! Our friends and family are wonderful, but they tend to be bound by affection in some ways, or they  might lead busy lives which prevent them from giving your manuscript their full, expert attention. And I recommend seeking professional advice at this stage because you still have the emotional room to make big edits and changes without feeling as though you’re butchering the text. A copyeditor, later on, can catch your spelling mistakes and so forth, but a true professional edit at this stage will help you fix character flaws, plot holes, and large-scale disorganization. Very important. And editors are available in many places, including through Outskirts Press.
  5. You guessed it–schedule your last round of edits. Give yourself that deadline, maybe a month or two out. This will bring you to six months from today–June of 2017. And that gives you a couple of months before Awards Season rolls around to get your book to a self-publishing company and out into the world, making you eligible for those awards submission deadlines.

And that’s it! I highly recommend keeping your resolutions simple and straightforward, and of course … don’t punish yourself if you perceive yourself somehow “falling short.” Resolutions are guidelines and motivators, and should not ever be a source of shame. Use what’s useful, and lose what’s a distraction, I say! And may 2017 be a year of firm resolve for all of us!

You are not alone. ♣︎


Elizabeth

ABOUT 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.

Planning for 2017: Where do plans come from? And where do they go?

Here we are: the last Wednesday before the New Year. As the New Year is often associated with planning out resolutions, we figure the best way to ring in 2017 would be a discussion about what happens when our plans go either right and wrong.

plans calendar

First of all, how many of you actually planned to be writers? When you were five years old and an adult asked you what you wanted to be when you grew up, I doubt writer was the first thing out of many author’s mouths. Author Ian Rankin told the Guardian that when he was growing up, he was inspired by his aunt’s husband who drove a fancy car and was an accountant. To Rankin, that high standard of living that included owning a home and flashy possessions seemed appealing, so he thought, ‘I should become an accountant as well!” However, when we travel down a path with only the end in sight (in this case, material possessions), the journey tends to feel hollow and meaningless and becomes easy to abandon. Rankin found this to be exactly the case, which is why he decided to follow his actual desire for reading and writing and change courses from his plan to become an accountant to his plan to become an author.

With this scenario–or the particular scenario that drove you yourself to become a writer–in mind, why should we think that our plans with regards to our work as writers would be any less subject to change?

First of all, there is no cookie cutter plan that will work for every writer. Some people who are less spontaneously creative need excessive planning that includes timelines, outlines, character sketches and diagrams for success; while others will tell you they never plan, they just let the story unwind as they write it. The most important place to begin then, is to decide what kind of planner you are, and that will allow you to have a measure for your success or failure relative to those plans (or lack thereof).

Whether or not you’re a deadline-driver planner or a “pantser,” the most important thing to ensure is that you are writing–no matter what. If you call yourself a writer, then you should be spending time (even if it’s only a half hour) every single day honing your craft, because writing is a lot of work. Gratifying work, but work nonetheless. Sandra Felton told Writer’s Digest that “prioritization and dedication” are essential tools for writers to have. For Felton, focus is essential, and if writing is your focus then there may be times when you have to choose it over other extracurricular activities in your life.

Much like exercise, the more you write, the better you’ll feel, and the stronger writer you’ll become. So when you make plans to work on that chapter today, don’t let it fall to the wayside because you had a long day. Everyone has the same amount of hours to spend every day, it is up to us how we plan to use them. Sure, you might be tired when you sit down to write, but much like the runner who doesn’t feel inspired to run, but goes anyway, you’ll find yourself feeling rejuvenated and happier for having done it afterward.

Sticking to your plan won’t just make you a better writer, it will make you feel more fulfilled as a person. We only have ourselves to let down and we all know how we hang our heads in shame when we fall short of expectations we have for ourselves. Remember that your plans are worthwhile, that writing is a therapeutic release that will only aid in winding down from a long day, and that working hard on something you love can be its own reward. And if you do have one of those days where you just can’t get it in, don’t beat yourself up or tell yourself you’ve failed. Get back on the horse as soon as you can, because you’re a writer…so get writing!


Thank you for reading!  If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, or contributions, please use the comment field below or drop us a line at selfpublishingadvice@gmail.com.  And remember to check back each Wednesday for your weekly dose of marketing musings from one indie, hybrid, and self-published author to another. ♠


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