Self-Publishing News: 3.3.2020

Word MARCH. Vector decorative unusual object

And now for the news.

Highlights from this month in the world of self-publishing:

Medium has become a welcome home for many excellent long-form articles unaffiliated with major news companies in recent years, and this article from Sumbo Bello of EDGY Labs–a “trend forecaster and SEO incubator providing guidance and end-to-end Enterprise level SEO solutions for Fortune 500 brands” according to its ‘about’ page–is representative of the kind of exciting material you can now find on Medium and other long-form-friendly web platforms. Where better to find a quality article describing some of the best content-creation tools out there for writers than a web platform that is itself a content-creation tool? Meta. “The best writing apps are those that help content creators attain a crucial goal, and that’s efficient writing,” Bello writes in the opening line of this piece, citing deadlines both internal and external as one of the main drivers behind the decision of which tool to use. Bello also notes that “Arguably, some of the most efficient writing tools are those that help optimize language mechanics and still cover SEO components like keyword density and relevancy.” (emphasis his) We were delighted to find this summary description list of platforms including the usual heavyweights of Google Docs, Apple Pages, and Microsoft Word–as well as several we are less familiar with, including FocusWriter, Scriviner, Final Draft, and Vellum (but his list goes on). We should note that we do not advocate for any one specific tool among these, especially given that many are paid services, but the information Bello includes is detailed and rich enough to hopefully help you make a decision if you are yourself on the hunt for a new tool, paid or free.

Once again we return to one of our all-time favorite topics in the news section of Self Publishing Advisor: the Zine! This early but time-honored form of self-publishing was absolutely critical to the development of interest in as well as tools to produce later self-publishing options such as on-demand print capabilities and responsive, timely turnaround from writing to publication. Zines were mostly locally distributed (but with some key exceptions) and were mostly individual projects (ditto) and focused around some niche or highly specific area of interest (ditto) … but they have proved an enduring form of what can only be described as a hybrid of art and print publication. Which is why we are so excited to see this article by Jeff Oloizia in Encore celebrating a recent zine exhibition at UNCW. “The best zines,” writes Oloizia, “are transgressive in their activism, born of any number of underground subcultures, and fly in the face of mainstream art and publishing norms.” They’re also, as the exhibition demands audiences to consider, a form of public artistry and worth enjoying and respecting as such. The exhibit described here by Oloiza will remain on display until April 3rd, but zines, as always, will live on indefinitely.


spa-news

As a self-publishing author, you may find it helpful to stay up-to-date on the trends and news related to the self-publishing industry.This will help you make informed decisions before, during and after the self-publishing process, which will lead to a greater self-publishing experience. To help you stay current on self-publishing topics, simply visit our blog each month to find out the hottest news. If you have other big news to share, please comment below.

 

 

Conversations: 12/8/2017

‘TIS THE SEASON TO SET THE STEEL OUTRIGGER

Have you ever had the feeling, just as you’re finishing a novel, that the whole premise is collapsing? Be assured you are not the first writer to experience this, nor will you be the last. I firmly believe that this excruciating moment in every author’s life is qusteel outriggerite simply just part of the process of creating an excellent novel. So, how can we avoid that moment? Here we are in the 2nd week of December and the holiday activities are increasing. However, I’ve set aside two days (well, a day and a half) prepare the foundation for my work in the coming year. I call it my scaffolding agenda.

I’ve been listening to so many ideas floating in my head that will eventually fit into my actual story. But it’s the premise—the very core concept (or “take-away”) that I hope my Readers will discover, that will be my basis and to secure that solid foundation I must ask myself two important questions.

  • WHY do I want to write this story?
  • Why will Readers buy this book?

My answers will lead to the Theme (premise) of the story which I’ve learned to write out in one sentence (even if it’s a paragraph long) and post it on the wall next to my desk. Then, later, I re-write that Theme Statement from the perspective of each of my characters and, again, tape those to the wall. These two steps keep me grounded throughout every stage of writing the novel.

Now, back to the scaffolding illustration. If you’ve ever noticed the scaffolding beside new buildings, or the steelwork of a bridge you’ve probably seen the individual triangle shapes utilized throughout. From the base of scaffolds (called steel outriggers), to the steel supports in raised bridges, these triangle shapes have been selected because of their extreme strength due to the rigidity of its sides which allows them to transfer force more evenly through their sides—or “balance” the pressure.

I don’t believe it is a coincidence that Plot Outlines are often illustrated as triangles because their foundation begins with a specific character or problem (with the world) that must be resolved. Upon the shoulders of this character and the challenge he/she faces rests every other element of the story.

plot diagram

Here are the quick and easy steps I’m taking to lay the foundation for the new novel I’ll start—and finish—in 2018.

  • When I answered the “Why do I want to write this story?” question I discovered that one rather unusual character has been telling me his story—so he will be my main character and the basis for this story’s foundation. My goal during this week will be:
    • Discover his name.
    • Describe his general physical appearance/condition,
    • Write one short paragraph about his back-story.
  • Answering the question, “Why will Readers buy this book?” provided me with the problem this character faces—which will resonate with a large portion of the Reading world. My additional task for this week is to: r
    • Do a quick Internet search to learn more about this challenge in people’s lives and…
    • Start a list of the resources I’ve discovered.

Accomplishing these tasks will, I know, tweak my need to write until sunrise. However, I will remind myself that I have permission to rest—more than I work—and relax (and reconnect) with my family and friends. THIS is the Season to regenerate and let Love and Laughter Ring! ⚓︎


Royalene

ABOUT ROYALENE DOYLE: Royalene has been writing something since before kindergarten days and continues to love the process. Through her small business—DOYLE WRITING SERVICES—she brings more than 40 years of writing experience to authors who need “just a little assistance” with completing their projects. This is a nice fit as she develops these blogs for Outskirts Press (OP) a leading self-publisher, and occasionally accepts a ghostwriting project from one of their clients. Her recent book release (with OP) titled FIREPROOF PROVERBS, A Writer’s Study of Words, is already receiving excellent reviews including several professional writer’s endorsements given on the book’s back cover.
Royalene’s writing experience grew through a wide variety of positions from Office Manager and Administrative Assistant to Teacher of Literature and Advanced Writing courses and editor/writer for an International Christian ministry. Her willingness to listen to struggling authors, learn their goals and expectations and discern their writing voice has brought many manuscripts into the published books arena. This is Royalene’s last month writing for Self Publishing Advisor.

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

In Your Corner: Battling Burnout

What is burnout? I love this definition from Merriam Webster, which draws inescapable comparisons to combustion engines:

burnout definition

But chances are, if you’re a writer, you’re already well-acquainted with burnout–its symptoms, and its effects. This is because the act of writing is itself exhausting, even when it is also necessary and therapeutic and good for us. Writing saps a person’s physical and emotional energy reserves, tapping into both left and right brain by requiring both creative and analytical thinking … simultaneously.

Writing is work. It can be fun and wild and wonderful, but writing is work.

Luckily, there are ways to combat burnout and to write past the sticking point. Emmy Award winning Gene Perret, in a 2011 interview with Psychology Today‘s Carolyn Kaufman, says that writers are “not people who can be superb 24 hours a day. We must allow ourselves to be mediocre at times…maybe even semi-terrible at times.” He cites Shakespeare as an example of a famous author who was still constrained by the same laws of time and energy–and self-criticism. “Burnout,” he says, “is a real phenomenon. Writers get weary of turning out so much similar material. The best cure I’ve found for this situation is to retreat to some sort of vacation. Get away from it all.” He continues with an anecdote:

However, I’m talking more about a brief vacation. Get away from your desk and take a walk, watch something on television, read a chapter or two of a book, take a brief nap. Then come back to your task refreshed. Many times my partner and I would struggle to get a new sketch idea. It would be so hard that we would often have words with one another and sometimes partners almost came to blows. Then we go to lunch, tell each other a few stories, trade insults, pay our bill, come back to work, and discover that one or the other had come up with a great idea for a sketch. – Gene Perret

And look, we’re not all Gene Perret. We’re all going to require different means of getting over the hump and back into a place where we can write comfortably. But taking our cue from Perret’s suggestion of taking a break or a short “vacation,” here are five tips for combating burnout:

  1. Know the signs. Burnout can present differently from person to person, but generally it shows up as a constellation of symptoms: exhaustion, lack of motivation, an unfocused general negative attitude towards people and situations you normally enjoy or tolerate, memory and perception troubles, poor health, and quality fade in your writing. There are plenty of other things which might cause these symptoms, of course, so it’s well worth reaching out to a professional to help verify that your problems stem from burnout and not depression, chronic fatique, Lyme’s, or any of the other possibilities.
  2. Accept that this is burnout, and don’t be too hard on yourself. Everyone runs out of gas sometimes, and it’s not a sign that you’re in the wrong profession or somehow otherwise “messing up.” It’s a sign that you need a break–nothing more or less.
  3. Unplug. You won’t truly ever get away from your writing unless you make a couple of big changes and physically distance yourself from the act of writing for a while. But you’ll also need to distance yourself from those sources of frustration and inspiration which remind you of writing, so it’s best to unplug not just the computer you type on but the smartphone or tablet you use to browse Twitter and Facebook and Instagram … and read New York Times Book Review and other works of literary criticism. A break means a break. A total distancing of yourself from the act of writing.
  4. Do something you’ve been putting off. For me, this is usually cleaning the house. I know, it’s disgusting. But I find cleaning does a good job of getting me out of my head and back into my body where I belong, and it also … well, it cleans the house. And having a clean, uncluttered workspace is vital to my own mental health, I’ve discovered. But maybe cleaning isn’t something you put off–maybe it’s going to the doctor, or the vet, or meeting up with friends. Maybe it’s a camping trip you’ve always wanted to go on but haven’t ever found the time for. Do the thing you never have time for when you’re chained to your writing desk!
  5. Remember your audience. As Pettit tells us in his interview, “Writing is a solitary profession. Many of us sit in a quiet room with only a keyboard for company. But to be a good writer, you must remember that there are readers out there. They’re waiting for what comes out of your printer. Keep them in mind and your writing will be all the better for it.” And your readers are why you do what you do, so don’t forget as you return from your break that you’re not just combating burnout because it feels bad and lowers your productivity–you’re in the battle because burnout alters your relationship to your readers, and they are a precious part of what you do.

burnout matchsticks

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.

In Your Corner: How to Rewrite WITHOUT Going Off the Deep End

We’ve all been there, haven’t we? FAcing the manuscript, the first draft, with the question “What’s next?” dying on our lips, and a growing realization sitting like a lead weight in our bellies: Rewriting. That’s what comes next. The Elysium Fields of publication seem to hurtle themselves back into the distance, once so close we could almost touch them, and that’s how we find ourselves staring at our computer screens at six in the morning, wondering how not to tear out our hair over the rewrite process.

I have some thoughts on that.

  • Take a clue from your normal writing habits.

This is assuming you have writing habits, of course. I’m an extremely disorganized writer, which means I’m writing at all times of days, usually in my pajamas with a cup of tea, but sometimes with a bowl of pretzels. Still, take a clue. Rewriting is often a point of contention because it doesn’t feel like “real writing”–it feels more like butchering something you produced while doing “real writing.” So put yourself in the same creative space, frame of mind, and habitual place as you would if you were generating new material–and make the leap to recognizing rewriting as an opportunity for creativity, too. Maybe if you feel the way you do about “real writing,” you can trick yourself into resenting it less! That’s my theory, anyway.

  • Pay attention to your body.

Some of the writers I went through school with ascribed to the “starving artist” stereotype, churning out reams of paper on old-school typewriters at 3 AM fueled solely by cigarettes and certain controlled substances. These authors were incredibly productive–to a point. They were also complete emotional wrecks who could do nothing else with their days than write (often disorganized) manuscripts. But you and I? We can’t afford to burn the candle at both ends, to let ourselves be eaten up by life-destroying fuels like these. We have lives and families to take care of, that we delight in taking care of, when we’re not writing. So writing, of course, has to take its place among an ever-changing, always difficult to manage, list of priorities … and the only way to manage them all is not to go off the deep end. So: pay attention to your body. You will produce your best work, and leave the most room for life outside of writing too, if you take care of this collection of bones and blood vessels and brain cells to the best of your ability. Write healthy, with a full meal under your belt and a full night’s sleep just over with. Don’t rely on anything that’s not good for you to be your brain fuel–even the seemingly harmless caffeine, which in point of fact is a strong bowel irritant and likely to break up your concentration with a half dozen bathroom breaks each writing session. (It also, naturally, will dehydrate you–even if you’re constantly chugging caffeinated liquids.)

  • Alternate between a “GET-UR-DONE” attitude & a more forgiving one.

Look, for some people, it’s never going to be fun, this rewrite thing. But constantly punishing yourself for not getting it done is counter-productive, and will leave you feeling more and more dissatisfied with the whole process over time, just as constantly forgiving yourself for not working on it will also snowball into a giant lump of self-loathing and regret. So: set yourself some deadlines, and carve out some time just to slam away at that keyboard. But also: establish some boundaries within which you can forgive yourself for not being as productive as you’d like, and etc. Always remember that rewriting, like “real writing,” requires moderation in all things. So alternate between those driven and those relaxed modes of working, and you’ll find yourself chipping away at the monolithic manuscript, despite your fear of the thing.

  • Accept change.

Duh, right? Only … no. This is actually the hardest part: reconciling your original vision for a book with what’s coming off of the page before you. There’s no more obvious place or time for this to happen than during the rewrite, when your analytical mind is hard at work trying to sew up loose ends and fix flaws. But producing something with a mind of its own isn’t a flaw–it’s a natural consequence of creating interesting characters who evolve past your original vision and into something greater, more complex, and … different. If you can, take a step back and admire the reality of what you’ve written instead of wasting time and energy bemoaning the departure from your intent. Then approach your book the way a professional editor might, from a mindset of: “This is what I’ve been given to work with, so how can I make it the best possible version of itself?” instead of feeling cheated of something different. You’re your own harshest critic, remember? And whatever you’ve put on the page, predicted or not, changed or not, is magnificent and wonderful–and we’re proud of you for it. Work with and not against this new and wonderful thing! You won’t regret it.

rewriting

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.