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.

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[ 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

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.

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[ 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.

Ringing in the Holidays: New Year’s Eve Edition!

Blogrunner’s Note: This is the post which was scheduled to post on Wednesday, November 23rd. For some reason unbeknownst to us, it failed to post successfully—so we’re bringing it to your feeds today! And still in plenty of time for NYE, thankfully. Thank you for your forebearance.


As New Year’s Eve approaches, we authors can often be found meticulously scribing resolutions for becoming more active writers or more active in our book marketing in the coming year. Some of these resolutions are probably rehashed from last year’s list, resolutions that we just couldn’t seem to uphold. They are resolutions that have become Ghosts of New Year’s past, ever returning to haunt us and remind us of our floundering in hopes to try to inspire “real change” this time around.

2017 happy new year

Hopefully when you look back at 2016–presuming you aren’t actually the Scrooge–you will have done some great and productive things that can be built on in the year(s) to come. That’s one of the great things about New Year’s: it forces us to look ahead. It is a unique day–much like a birthday–that reminds one of the passing of time, and that another year of our lives has “just begun,” so to speak.

So with 2017 about to begin, as an author it is important to evaluate what are important aspects of your writing and publishing that you need to improve upon. If you’re like most authors, when you’re trying to formulate goals, resolutions or whatever label you want to give them, you are probably at least in part motivated by a desire to sell more books.

While marketing is not every author’s forte, it is essential to be as skilled at marketing as you are at writing, that is, if you ever want anyone to read your stuff. If you set aside time each day for writing, why should you not also set aside time for marketing?

This year, I implore self-published authors to set aside 30 minutes a day for marketing efforts. 30 minutes is a  small enough amount of time that the tediousness of such a task won’t weigh on you, but over days and weeks, it is enough time to help you make huge strides in building your audience.

In those 30 minutes you can do a myriad of things. Reach out to people on Twitter, Facebook, Google+. Reach out to blogs that have a similar subject matter as your book. Gues what? Getting featured on a blog means that you get to do what you actually love–writing–while also promoting your book. It’s a two for one!

Creating a Goodreads profile, updating your Amazon author page and updating your headshot are all also quick and easy ways to revamp your book marketing.

Another relatively easy task that can fill your 30 minute time slot is to send emails to potential reviewers. Reviews are a monumentally important marketing tool, especially when they’re reviews from respected authors or professionals. Speaking of respected professionals…it’s never a bad idea to send a signed copy of your book to your college alumni magazine as well!

In summation, this New Year, commit to a small, daily marketing effort that will pay off for years to come.


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

In Your Corner : Resolutions for 2016 That Every Aspiring Author Should Make (pt 4)

Three weeks back, I launched off a new series for Self Publishing Advisor with the singular goal of answering one simple question:

What’s your goal for 2016?

This question, of course, lay the groundwork for a whole host of further sub-questions that rapidly morphed into a series of tasks I think every author probably keeps in mind as a new year rolls around–and indeed, these tasks make for an excellent New Year’s Resolution list if ever I saw one.  Even though a small part of me cringes at the thought of yet another to-do list, I can’t help but recognize that the recoil is somewhat a consequence of semantics: I may not have had much success giving up sweets or processed foods or otherwise accomplishing resolutions of years past, but I fully acknowledge the fact that structured and manageable goals are important and sometimes even necessary things to move a book from ideation to final publication.  If we divorce the word “resolve” from its holiday baggage, I think there’s no denying its powerful potential for instigating personal transformation.  Just think of its original–and simple–definition:

resolve

With a firmness of purpose firmly instilled in our hearts and minds, we have already examined the first eleven of the fourteen total resolutions I propose (click on the links to view the respective blog posts):

  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.
  7. Connect with other authors.
  8. Embrace a good critique.
  9. Learn to love rewrites.
  10. Try something new, and
  11. Stop comparing your achievements with others.

This week, I’m going to close out the series with three more:

  1. Writing consultation.
  2. Learn about self-publishing, and
  3. Embrace your style!

Now we come down to the brass tacks.

What is a writing consultation, and how can it help me?  Have you ever been stuck in a rut?  Is the dreaded “Writer’s Block” a regular or even constant companion of yours?  There are untold untapped resources out there to help jump-start or fine-tune your writing and get your book back on track, such as the writing consultation service from Outskirts Press (my employer).  A number of other indie, hybrid, and self-publishing companies offer similar services, and there are all kinds of free websites dedicated to the same thing–and the only downside to these free services is the fact that they can be hard to navigate.  When you have thousands upon thousands of web pages to filter through for relevant bits of information, where do you get started?  Herein lies the benefit of an actual, honest-to-goodness sit-down session with a live human being and professional: a consultation session gives you time with a skilled writer who is also an industry expert in order to address any writing issues you are experiencing.  You should also emerge with a great deal of valuable advice and a plan of action for moving forward.  A live consultation is the great rut-breaker!

consultation

And what’s this about learning about self-publishing?  Simply put, the more you know about the self-publishing industry–and the options available to you, the author–the easier it is to find your way forward.  Don’t be afraid of the Great Unknown!  You can’t afford to not know what you’re getting into, and if you find yourself overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the self-publishing community through web forums or even the experts that your prospective self-publishing platform keeps on hand for just such a moment.  They’re there to help!  And while I can’t speak for all experienced indie authors, the ones I have had the pleasure to meet and work with are unfailingly kind and generous with their time, advice, and feedback.  So: do your research and learn what you’re getting into.  Odds are it’s not nearly as scary a process as you may imagine.

Finally, embrace your style!  As a writer, you may do things a little differently from the next writer at the imaginary conference table, but that’s what makes you so special–and it is also what sets you apart and what will help you sell books later on.  Never give up.  Never surrender to self-doubt!  Your style and your choices as an author are valid.  Not only are they valid, but they’re your greatest strengths and your greatest selling points.

writing style

Don’t shrink from your quirks and “what makes you weird,” as one of my old writing instructors used to say.  Own them!  Play them up!  If you’re doing things your own way and you feel like you’re writing the book you want to write, then I guarantee you that you’re writing a superior book.

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.