Decluttering…Publishing!

This week we’re going to discover the ways in which we can declutter our publishing lives. This begins by putting our wallets to good and simple use. What does this mean? It means paying only for what you need, not what you want, unless of course what you want comes affordably with what you need.

First you’ll have to sit down and decide what it is you need. Is it a children’s book? Do you need full-color illustrations? Do you need help with distribution? If so, there are packages offered by self-publishing companies like Outskirts Press (my employer) that can get you full color cover, interior, unlimited wholesale printed and distribution via Amazon, Barnes & Noble and others. A package like this could cover your needs while also providing a few things you want like an author representative and publishing consultant.

Those of us not writing children’s books don’t need to front the expense of full-color publishing. Basic publishing packages are a great way to provide authors who just want black and white interiors everything they need to make their publishing dreams come true, without stretching their wallets too thin while still providing a full-color cover, distribution, author representative, etc.

What if you’re just a hobby writer and don’t necessarily feel the need to have hard copies of your book? An ebook is a great way to fulfill your dreams of becoming published at a fraction of the cost. Not only that, a lot of readers are more apt to try a book from an author they’ve never read if it’s in the more affordable, ebook version.

Sure, some of us would love to have a literary agent, a world-class editor, the most prestigious illustrator, etc. However, if you’re on a budget and really just want to pursue your passion for writing/publishing, you should always consider what the bottom line is. You want to turn your manuscript into a book. There are relatively inexpensive ways to achieve that dream and still have a product you can be proud of. Companies like Outskirts Press are full of professionals who can help you create a beautiful book–or ebook!–that you can be proud of and that won’t leave you bankrupt.

If you’re someone who doesn’t have the time or the know-how to market your book once it’s completed and published, and you find yourself wanting help with that side of the publishing process, there are packages offered by Outskirts to help you with that. But if this is more of a want than a need that you can’t necessarily afford, consider networking with other self-publishing authors for advice. If time if your main concern, simply allot a few minutes a day to making a simple social media post. If you have slightly more time, write a short blog and try to keep it up to date. An online presence is a great way to keep yourself in the marketing loop, and it’s free.

No matter what budget you’re working with, you can afford to publish your book. Sometimes we just have to acknowledge what it is we need to accomplish that goal, and maybe even push aside some of our bigger wants.

paper airplane decluttering


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

Decluttering…Ambitiously!

This week I’d like to take a look at the ways in which we can “declutter ambitiously,” or find ways to set realistic and simple goals for ourselves–including for decluttering! If you had a New Year’s resolution list that was far too grand for your lifestyle, now may be a time to take a look at your goals for the day, week, month or year and refine them to something more accomplishable.

calendar planning

 

  • Draw up some numbers

 

How many social media posts do you want to make per week?

How many blogs?

How many pages or chapters do you want to finish per month?

Do you want to have a completed book by the end of the year? Or multiple books?

These goals are very simple and easy to measure. Once you have these numbers down on paper, you can begin to create a schedule that will promote progress towards these now clearly defined goals.

If you want to get three blogs done per week, pick three days that best work with your schedule to do them and treat it like a homework assignment due on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, for example. If you want a book done by the end of the year and you envision it having around twenty chapters, make sure you’re getting a chapter done every two weeks at least–you’ll need to give yourself extra time for editing of course!

  • Use a calendar!

This can be the calendar on your phone or computer or a good ole fashioned paper one. Use the data from step one to make yourself a schedule. Actively engage with this schedule rather than just look at it. When you complete tasks, use a symbol that shows you did so and reward yourself based on your consistency and progress.

This is also useful for noting when you may be realistically too busy to write some weeks, allowing you to stack your writing on other weeks when holidays, busy days at work, family vacations, etc., come up.

If you do use a calendar that is synced with your phone and computer, use the alerts that are available to prompt you and remind you of the commitments you made to your writing. Do not expect to be able to do all of your writing, blogging and marketing in one day, and do not clutter your schedule by even kidding yourself that that is a reasonable workload…which leads to my next point.

  • Set reasonable goals

For some people, writing 500 words a day is a walk in the park. For others, perfectionists and otherwise that might take a couple of days. If you’re honest with yourself you can avoid a cluttered schedule that just gets more and more backed up each day you fail to reach your goals each day. We all know what happens when we get overwhelmed by the idea of falling short of our overambitious goals–we grow anxious and are almost unable to work at all. This horrible paralysis can be avoided by just understanding yourself and being honest with yourself as a writer.


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

 

Decluttering…Your Schedule

Making time to write is something we all struggle with. In our day to day lives, when we’re choosing between finishing laundry, making dinner, staying late at work, helping out a friend, etc., we’re probably going to put our hobby on the back burner. Sometimes, this is a necessary evil to remain a functioning human being who still gets eight hours of sleep at night. However, there are a few things that you can cut out of your schedule that are actually just time wasters and there are ways in which you can clear your schedule so that there’s always time for writing.

 

  • Stop using social media as a way to unwind after a long day.

 

In college, I often used StayFocusd, a Google Chrome app that helps you block certain websites for certain blocks of time when you want/need to be productive. Seriously, these things are great. You find yourself drifting off, go to open Facebook, and are immediately reminded that you are procrastinating. Scrolling through a newsfeed does not help you become a more well-rounded human being and does not teach you anything you don’t already know about the world–namely that people are self-absorbed and that politics are frustrating. Writing is time to focus on what matters–you and the things you care about. Clear out time wasters from your schedule and you’ll realize that those 20-40 minutes you spend per day on social media could be spent far more productively.

  • It’s okay to say “No!”

Nobody wants to be the naysayer. Someone needs you to cover a shift at work and they’ve asked you to do it, putting you in the awkward situation of not wanting to be a bad friend, but not wanting to add another shift to your already busy week. Guess what? When you’re overworked, you assuredly will be undermotivated to write. Sometimes you have to just say no. Putting yourself first doesn’t make you a bad person; if you think about it the person asking you for a favor is simply also putting themselves first, so you should follow suit and keep your spare time for partaking in the things you care most about.

  • Use a timer.

If you have two hours that you can allot to writing today, don’t force yourself to sit down and just hammer out two hours straight without blinking or using the bathroom. Set an alarm for every half hour and to give yourself five minutes to stand up from your desk, breathe some fresh air, grab a fresh coffee, etc. If you’re really on a roll and don’t need a break, so be it! But it’s always nice to be reminded that a break is an option, and it’ll keep you fresh!

  • Dial your meals

If you cook for yourself (which, hopefully…you do at least once in awhile), you know how time consuming it can be. Plan your meals out a week in advance and make them ahead of time. Throw together your breakfast and lunch while you make dinner and make lots of extras! This way, tomorrow you won’t be stuck with cooking, dishes, etc. all over again. This will free up hours between mornings, afternoons and evenings!

schedule scheduling agenda


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

Planning for 2017: Coping With Writer’s Block

“Writing about a writer’s block is better than not writing at all.”

–Charles Bukowski

Writer’s block. The two words that no author ever wants to have to mutter aloud, nonetheless suffer from. While a myriad of writing ailments get lumped under the cognomen, “writer’s block,” it can generally be summarized as an overwhelming feeling that you are incapable of being creative or productive in your writing.

What are the causes of the infamous writer’s block? One could be timing: maybe you’re not in a good headspace for writing or you need more time to process your thoughts before getting them onto the page. Make sure to not confuse the wrong timing for procrastination. If you’ve worked a 40+hour week and just need to catch up on sleep before starting that next chapter, then that’s probably a timing issue. If you just sit in front of the computer day after day with one Microsoft Word window open and another Google Chrome window clogged with Facebook and news tabs open that you can’t help but check, that’s an issue of focus and dedication to the task at hand.

Another cause of writer’s block could be a general fear: fear that you can’t do your big idea justice, fear that your work won’t turn out well or will be ill-received or even go unread. If you fear those things, it becomes rather easy to ask the question, “What’s the point?”–falling prey to the inactivity bred by hopelessness and despair. I’d be lying if I said I don’t ask that question in many aspects of my life. Who doesn’t have days when they wake up to the alarm they set for work in the morning and contemplate just hitting snooze? Sometimes there seems to be little point in heading to work to carry out what sometimes seem like meaningless tasks for a wage that doesn’t feel as though it reflects the quality of our labor. Yet, we crawl out of bed and show up anyway. If we show up for things like a paycheck, we should show up for things that are more near and dear to us, like writing, even if we have doubts or fears associated with it.

Maybe you’re a perfectionist, and the idea that your work isn’t going to be perfect if you start it when you’re a bit tired means you don’t want to start it at all. That kind of thinking is highly unproductive for many reasons. Writing is a practice, some days you won’t perform at your highest, but it’s important to keep the creative juices flowing no matter what. If you’re worried about perfection, focus your energy on something that doesn’t need to be perfect, like a stream of conscience journal entry, blog or social media post.

If you, or someone you know and love is suffering from this horrible condition, I have a few suggestions that may help get you back in line.

  • Go for a walk or a run. Get the blood flowing and clear your head. I find some of my best writing ideas have come to me mid-run.
  • Brew some coffee or tea. This gives you a break from writing, a fresh boost of caffeine, and who doesn’t feel more ready to write with a mug full of some delicious hot bean or leaf juice by their side?
  • Read. Read quotes, books, articles, blogs…anything. Reading is part of the writing process and if you’re struggling to find your voice, sometimes it helps to draw inspiration from others.
  • Freewrite. Stream of conscience writing can clear some of those spider webs of the mind. Sometimes I surprise myself when I write with reckless abandon. Maybe you’ll even come up with a fantastic poem or epigraph for your book.
  • Call a friend. Sometimes talking about writer’s block helps you get over it.
  • Change your environment. Sometimes I have to go to a library or cafe to get any serious writing done. When I’m at my house I’ll randomly find myself scrubbing the toilet or baking banana bread when I was in the middle of writing. I also find that being in an environment full of other people being productive makes me feel like I also have to be productive…to “fit in.”

writer's block

Overcoming writer’s block is really overcoming a mental block. Figure out what your mental block is, face it head on (with a cup of joe in hand), and get back to it. You are a writer. Get back to 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

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

Planning for 2017: A Call to Arms

Christmas is over. You made it. Time to briefly pat yourself on the back, fawn over all of your presents, and then get back to work.

Sure, you could sit around until New Year’s Day to kick back into gear, but that carries the risk of you being too tired after a night of celebrating, or the risk that you’ll just want to soak in some last minute relaxation before returning to your day job. These crucial days don’t have to be unproductive, and your resolutions don’t need to be arbitrary goals that last (or don’t last) just one measly year.

Let’s start by reflecting on last year. What were some bad habits that need work? What were some positive habits that need to be reinforced? Look back and try and identify which writing practices, marketing strategies, and other routines in your life contributed to your success over the last year.

Once you’ve drawn from the past, it’s time to look toward the future! You don’t need a laundry list of resolutions that will only make you feel guilty for not living up to. Instead, pick a few essential ones and concentrate all of your effort on actually fulfilling those.

If increased productivity–be it on the marketing or writing front–is on your resolution radar for the year, it’s best to begin by honing in on your organizational skills first and foremost. Forming good habits will lead to good practices and routines, and this will lead to good work.

calendar planning

Buy a calendar or planner. If you’re looking for one that you will guide your marketing for the year, Outskirts has a specific marketing calendar that will draw your attention to some of the most important deadlines and most helpful marketing options & services in the industry.

Once you have your calendar or planner, start writing your goals down in it. Planning out your weeks and months in advance is great for two reasons. One being that it keeps you accountable, and two being that it helps prevent you from overbooking yourself and creating writing goals that may interfere with other things you may have going on in your work or personal life.

Always overestimate the time you’ll need to achieve the tasks you have laid out for yourself–this way, if/when you finish early, you have time for relaxing and extracurricular activities. (Having life experience helps with the writing process too you know!)

Routine is a great way to ease the burden of a giant workload. If you have only have 30 minutes on Fridays for marketing or writing, that’s still 30 minutes that you’ve cut out from your planned effort on Monday! Chipping away at your to-do list will make your work feel less overwhelming than trying to sit down and just get everything done at once.

When initiating these new routines and plans, remember, don’t be too hard on yourself. Making serious life changes is not always an easy thing, and sometimes life will get in the way. Make sure the expectations you’ve set for yourself are realistic and reward yourself when you reach milestones in your goals! Most importantly, enjoy your work and embrace the New Year.


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

Planning for 2017: Plans for the Pantser

This week we’re going to talk ‘plans for the “pantser.”’ No, not plans for someone who likes pulling people’s pants down, but rather, plans for someone who is writing or marketing by the seat of their pants. Now it may seem counterintuitive to think that if you’re doing something by the seat of your pants that you’d have any sort of plan at all, but it doesn’t have to be! Sometimes we’re forced to write by the seat of our pants because life is so busy, thus we need to plan around our busy lives to make time for our writing.

clock with wings procrastination

So, how is it that we can plan as we go when writing or marketing our newly published book? First off, set aside time for writing or marketing every day. If you only have five minutes, so be it. Make a social media post, pat yourself on the back and call it a day. If you have multiple hours, make some serious progress on that chapter or blog you’re working on.

If you haven’t begun writing yet, start by researching to get an idea for your story. Once you have a story idea, write a 100-word synopsis–one you’ll find on the back cover of your book when you successfully publish it in the future!

When you finally get the ball rolling and start having regular writing sessions, always finish them by making a plan for where you’re going next. This can be bullet-pointing the next scene, deciding which character you’re going to develop in the coming chapters, or maybe you have a hole in your plot that needs to be filled.

Ask yourself questions at the end of each writing session about where your time could be used most productively next time you sit down to get to it. Write this down. Give yourself enough detail so that when you come back to it, you won’t be stuck wondering where to start. That way if it’s a week from now, you won’t forget what seemed like a pressing issue today.

The thing is, having a plan makes you accountable to yourself and yourself only. If you’ve written out your goals, it is you who sees whether or not you’ve followed through with them. A mental note is a lot easier to shove into the dark recesses of your mind when you’re feeling unmotivated after a long day’s work. So whether you write it on a word document that you’re working on and will open up next time, or you do it the old fashioned way with pen and paper, keep yourself accountable, and keep yourself 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