From the Archives: “‘Tis the SEASON to …”

Welcome back to our new 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 6th, 2013 ]

‘Tis the SEASON to …

Last year I pretty much gave up shopping—well shopping in the marketing-media frenzy sense, anyway.  My passion for books—and the authors I’ve worked with—inspired me to buy their books and send them to family and friends.  I enjoyed the “holiday bargains,” of course, but much more than that, I felt as if I was passing forward the legacy of writing (and good story telling) that my self-publishing clients represent.

It was also last year that I seemed to hit a wall of mounting disappointment as I listened to the younger generations of my family and friends talking about their “exasperating,” even “frightening”, holiday shopping experiences.  A long-hidden rebellion within me grew and my fingers flew over the keyboard writing op-ed pieces to send to every daily or weekly print publisher.  I wanted to make a statement!  I wanted THE SEASON to be different!  I wanted it to be PEACEFUL!  Full of GOOD CHEER!  LOVE and LAUGHTER abounding on every block, in every city, town and nation!  However, to my own discredit, not one of my pieces was sent.  Too many last minute details derailed my fervor.  However, this season, I’m thinking of pulling out those pieces—developing them into a book—and self-publishing it in plenty of time for next year’s marketing-media-frenzy.

In the meantime, I hope you’ll join me in a taste of rebellion and allow your thoughts to stroll back to your favorite Holiday Season(s)—and WRITE about them.  Besides finding “just what you wanted” under the tree, what other memories do you see?  A favorite aunt bringing her deee-licious walnut fudge to Christmas dinner?  Your grandmother telling her version of “naughty” stories about your dad?  The next door neighbor stopping by with a handmade toy carved from oak wood just for you!

Over the years our family has enjoyed many traditions such as the youngest child placing the ceramic Baby Jesus in the manger on Christmas Eve and attending Christmas Eve church services.  One fairly new tradition in our house is watching a made-for-TV movie titled Silent Night.  This true-story, produced in 2002, stars Linda Hamilton as the German mother of a young son (age 12) who will soon be conscripted into Hitler’s army.  She takes him out of the city to a cabin in the woods—not far from “enemy” lines.  It is Christmas Eve, 1944, and unexpected guests arrive: first three American soldiers, then three German soldiers.  She demands a truce between them—for this one night.

You may be wondering why this movie?  Simple answer.  It inspired me.  This movie was created from an oral history interview with a high school student!  Her subject was Fritz Vincken, the boy in the “story,” and the one thing he remembered most about his childhood was war.  Many of us—many of our neighbors—and too many the world over hold such memories or actually live in war zones today.  I don’t want to forget that.  I don’t want to get so caught up in shopping or party-planning that I misplace my compassion for those who are hurting.  And, for me, seeing/experiencing a well-written, well-directed, well-acted movie such as Silent Night helps me hold my center; helps me appreciate the gifts I’ve been given that cannot be wrapped.

Plus, realizing that this story was developed (written/scripted) from a collection of oral histories done by high school students is exceptionally inspiring to me.  Important, vital, must-be-told stories are out there waiting for the right person to write them!  Is that YOU?



It may only have been two years since our friend Royalene first posted this piece for us on Self Publishing Advisor, but I personally think it’s worth bringing back every Christmas.  Why?  Because storytelling is what we do, and there’s simply no more fertile ground for storytelling than the holiday season.

“Holidays bring holiday memories, and, often a sense of nostalgia for good times long gone, perhaps even loved ones long gone,” writes Wynne Parry over at LiveScience.  “This bittersweet nostalgia helps us feel connected, both around the holidays and at other times. And, it can be a salve to those suffering through hard times,” says Parry, quoting psychology professor and “nostalgia expert” Krystine Batcho, of Le Moyne College in New York.

According to Batcho, “whenever there is a major change it can be very helpful to kind of keep grounded in the sense of who you are. That sense of nostalgia helps to link you to your own personal past; it helps you remember who you have been.”  By that definition, nostalgia is both an important element to our scientific understanding of the human brain and consciousness, and an important element of the way we tell stories about ourselves and to each other.

My thoughts, as we progress into yet another holiday season, following a year of both fantastic “highs” and incredible “lows”–personally, as self-publishing authors, and simply as human beings on this planet–are as follows: We ought not to be afraid of nostalgia.  We should use the nostalgic impulse as we use all others: that is, we should allow it to spur us on in our writing, to compel us to create new things that make the most of old things.  Do the holidays–does Christmas, specifically–make you feel something?  Use that as fodder for prose.  Do the holidays leave you hungering after something more substantial or just something different in your own life?  Use that as impetus for transformation, as a writer as in all other things.

And yes, be a rebel.  If the popularity of dystopic young adult literature has taught us anything, it’s that people–our readers–are thirsty for change, to see the world move away from the sorrows and griefs and injustices that sometimes rule it.  Readers are rebels, too, and they love it when they stumble across that voice which perfectly captures the carpe diem spirit of a spirit in search of positive change.  Just as that German mother portrayed in Silent Night brought a small slice of peace and change to that cabin in the woods, you can do great things in this world.  We’re excited to see where the holiday nostalgia leads you! ♠

Silent Night (2002) with Linda Hamilton


KellyABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at, 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,

Friday Conversations With A Self-Publishing Writer 9/06/13

Today I’ll step a little aside from speaking with self-publishing authors to encourage all writers—whether published, not published yet, or who never plan to publish yet seem to find themselves “writing little things” all the time.

Last week one of my very, very best friends (yes, I know, it’s not quality writing to use the word very, let alone use it twice; but the truth of it stands as is) passed from this earth. She was one of the people I consider to be an extraordinary writer; one who could write with great empathy whether she was developing a children’s novel, poetry, or creating magazine articles. Her gift of writing extended beyond the written page as she used those intricate, intuitive skills to bring out the best in all the people she knew—whether a writer or not.

I will give my friend the name Annie, so this will read more smoothly.

Annie never wanted to stop learning. This desire sent her back to school in later adult years, where she graduated from college the same year as one of her sons. Of course, her favorite class assignment was writing essays, and she was often acknowledged for the excellent work.

This love and passion for writing was what drew both Annie and me to the same creative writing summer class, which eventually spun itself into the cocoon of our own writer’s workshop. We both fed off the high energy of our eclectic group of writers and were inspired through the many hours of weekend critique and work sessions.

Over these many years, being privileged to know numerous writers, I’ve developed a great appreciation in the uniqueness of each individual. But it was Annie who taught me how to listen to their writing voices and see their unique perspectives—ideas that must be put forth. Yet, that won’t happen—can’t happen—until the writer becomes the author who releases their work for publication.

Much of Annie’s work has been published, especially in her magazine editorial years. But she always returned to her prose writing. At one point Annie became a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers, which helped her hone this specific genre. One story in particular carried such intensity of emotion, woven with the power of colliding circumstances, that I have not forgotten it—in twenty-plus years. The characters were alive and the workable resolutions were clearly demonstrated; inspiring to all of us who were privileged to read the manuscript. However, she never published that novel.

So it is that I dedicate my writings today—in honor of my very, very best friend Annie—and to all those writers out there who are holding tightly to a manuscript that needs to see the light of day. Don’t hold back! If you need help to complete it, call a writing friend, join an active workshop, or find a ghostwriter who shares the passion for your topic, and GET IT PUBLISHED!

Royalene ABOUT ROYALENE DOYLE: Royalene Doyle is a Ghostwriter with Outskirts Press, bringing more than 35 years of writing experience to authors who need “just a little assistance” with completing their writing projects. She has worked with both experienced and fledgling writers helping complete projects in multiple genres. When a writer brings the passion they have for their work and combines it with Royalene’s passion to see the finished project in print, books are published and the writer’s legacy is passed forward.

Back to Writing: Publishing Challenge

August is here and as summer is winding down, it’s time to get back to your writing and publishing goals.  Each week this month I will present you with a writing challenge for the week.  Come back every Wednesday to join the challenge and get back into the habit of writing on a regular basis. As Desiderius Erasmus once said, “The desire to write grows with writing.”

Over the past three weeks, I hope I’ve been able to help you get back into writing by completing the poetry challenge, short story challenge, and 15 minute challenge.

Now that you are feeling motivated and inspired to write, perhaps you have started thinking about publishing. Have you been working on a book you want to publish? Or have you always wanted to write and publish something, but haven’t started yet?  This week, your challenge is to set mini writing goals to get you from where you are now to where you want to be: I call this the publishing challenge.  

Let’s say you want to be a published author by the end of the year and you are about half finished with writing your book.  Imagine what you have left to write and set goals for each week in September, October and November (if necessary).  Give yourself some room the last couple of months as the publishing process can take several weeks.

The more you have left to write, the more aggressive your goals may need to be, but challenge yourself to write a chapter a week (or a certain number of pages or a certain number of words) to get you to your end goal of publishing a book by a reasonable date.  Then, discipline yourself to meet your goal each week and be sure to review your goals often to be sure you’re on target.

Good luck and happy writing!


ABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at, 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 at

Comparison of Outskirts Press and Trafford’s Self-publishing Packages

Deciding which self-publishing company to go with can be a real challenge. To assist you with this process, I’m writing a series of posts where I do the leg work for you! I’ll prepare a side-by-side comparison of two similar publishing packages from two self-publishing companies. I’ll strive to keep it as simple as possible to help cut through the vast amount of information out there by giving you an easy to read chart and a brief summary of my impressions on the comparison.

This installment of the series is a comparison of two of the most robust self-publishing packages available: The “One Click for Coaches & Speakers” from Outskirts Press (which you can enjoy even if you’re NOT a coach or speaker, by the way) and the “Scroll,” from Trafford. The information shared here is current as of the date I completed the comparison (19 December 2012) and is dependent on what I could located on the websites without contacting representatives.

Outskirts Press One-Click Publishing For Coaches & Speakers
Trafford Publishing Scroll Publishing Package
Production Options Paperback Format
Custom Cover
Professional Interior Formatting
Copyright registration
Library of Congress Control Number
Interior Elements Up to 20 images Up to 60 images
Copyediting Up to 75,000 Words Up to 250,000 Words
Author Copies (Paperback) 10 Copies 40 Copies
Expedited Service
Cover Scribing
Your ISBN/ Imprint or ours
Hardback Format
Author Copies (Hardback)
Indexing Up to 500 entries
Additional Formats Secure EBook Edition
Amazon Kindle Edition
Espresso Book Machine Edition
Marketing Services Book Video Trailer & Distribution
Custom Press Release
Author Webpage
Barnes & Noble See Inside
60 Second Book Video Trailer 1 of 3 choices
Social Media Marketing Setup PMA
Post-Publication Marketing Assistance Marketing COACH (2 years) Learning Center (1 year)
PR Publicist Campaign
Personal Marketing Assistant (PMA)
Submission to 10 Reviewers
Electronic Clipping Service
Publication Press Release
Streaming Audio
Amazon Cover Enhancement
Amazon See Inside the Book
Bookseller’s Return Program
Marketing Promotional Materials 100 pieces

With Outskirts Press, for $1,252 less you receive expedited service, a private label (optional), the Amazon Kindle edition of your book, the Espresso Book Machine edition, a PR campaign, 10 Book Reviews, a clipping service and 5 hours of personal marketing assistance with a professional book marketing expert, among other benefits.

There are a few options that come with Trafford’s Scroll package that are not included with the Outskirts Press package such as a hardback format and more author copies.  Although, you could order most if not all of those services a la carte with Outskirts Press and likely still come in at an overall lower cost.

My vote? Outskirts Press! See all the benefits and features of the One-Click Package for Speakers & Coaches by clicking here.

I’d love to know, which option would you choose and why?

Self Publish a Book in 2013: Step 4 – Share Your Goal with Others

Whether we are setting a goal to self publish a book or lose weight or make any other change in our life, we often keep those resolutions to ourselves. We fear sharing them with others because we don’t want to be judged if we fail or we worry that our friends and family won’t support our mission, but sharing your goals with others can actually help you achieve your  mission. When you share your goals with other, you not only force yourself to be accountable for your resolutions but you also allow others to share in your excitement and provide the support you need to accomplish your goals. Here are four ways to improve your chances of self publishing a book by sharing your goals with others.

1. Tell close friends or family who will support you.

We all have someone in our lives who supports us no matter what. They are the people you want to share your goals with because they are the people who will motivate you when you feel like giving up. You don’t have to share your resolutions with people who will discourage you. Seek out support.

2. Join a community of writers.

Whether you find a writing group who meets periodically or you join an online group, connecting with fellow writers can encourage you to achieve your goals. No one better understands the struggles and excitement of writing a book like other writers. They can offer advice and support that non-writers can’t provide, and seeing other writers accomplishing their goals can inspire you to achieve yours.

3. Be accountable.

Don’t keep your progress a secret. Regularly update your writing group and friends and family on  your progress. If you are having trouble reaching your writing goals, tell them. If you’ve had a successful week, tell them. They can encourage you when you need extra motivation and celebrate with you when you are successful.

4. Let them join the fun.

Let your support people be a part of the writing process. Ask them to help you brainstorm ideas. Let them read a draft of your work. Have them help market your book. This will fuel your creative drive and make your support team more invested in the project. Always be sure to show appreciation for their efforts and return the favor when you can.

I’d love to know, who do you plan to share your writing goals with?

ABOUT JODEE THAYER: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Jodee Thayer works as the Manager of Author Services for Outskirts Press. The Author Services Department is composed of knowledgeable customer service reps and publishing consultants; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process in order 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, Jodee Thayer can put you on the right path.