Monday, May 25, 2020

You're Almost Half-Way There

You set out on January one with those applaudable, and you hoped, achievable writing goals for 2020. We’re now five months into the new year, so how has that worked for you? 

1___Great?  2____So-so?  3____Not at all?

If you checked number one, my hat’s off to you and you can go do something besides read on, but if you opted for two or three, maybe you’ll be interested in the rest of this article. 

If you’ve read any of my posts or comments around social media, you may have stumbled on my interest in Eastern philosophy. I have practiced meditation and yoga for many years, and somewhere along the way, I realized I needed to apply that philosophy to my writing. 

 That’s when instead of only setting goals, I began with setting intentions

“Okay, stop right there,” you say. “What’s this mumbo-jumbo anyway? There’s no difference between a goal and an intention.”

Well, yes there is. Think about what a goal looks like expressed in words. 
  • I’m going to write 1,000 words a day. 
  • I’m going read three books on writing craft this year. 
  • I’m going to post on four social media platforms daily.

Each of those goals while possible to achieve, are all about how you see the future. What that means is they quite possibly aren’t what will satisfy or fulfill you over time. Once you feel the let down, it becomes harder to slog ahead through the year.

But what if you: 
  • set that keen and very busily plotting mind aside and just take a seat for a moment?
  • stop all that brilliant thinking and go to where you are right now, to what you desire most? 
  • forget the future. It doesn’t exist anyway, right?   

Let’s start with the intention of being awake and aware and in the present moment as much as possible. Or maybe you’d like to bring joy into your writing. Having a few gallons of that on a regular basis, just might buoy those goals of 1,000 words a day, but what if those 1,000 words don’t come for a week, does that mean you have to give up on joy? No. Having joy is possible without your putting a single word on the page. And tomorrow when your joyful self plunks down in your writing space, who knows but that 2,000 words won’t flow from you onto that page? 

A quick recap: 
  • Goals are focused on the future. 
  • Intentions are your deepest desires at the present moment. 
  • Goals are a destination or specific achievement. 
  • Intentions are lived each day, independent of achieving any goal or destination.
  • Together they carry you to your destiny.
How's your year going so far? Do you still have those goals in mind? Maybe you've reached some, but are still hoping to achieve others. Does the difference between goals and intentions make sense to you as a creative person?

Monday, May 18, 2020

How to Set Up Online Webinars and Meetings

With so many events canceled and people conducting meetings online, now is the time to look into this option. This gives authors an opportunity to reach out to people, offer valuable information, and keep marketing.

There are a lot of companies that offer this feature:
Click Meeting
Flow App
Join Me
Click Meeting
Webinar Jam
Mega Meeting
And the list goes on and on…

When trying to decide which is the best for you, here are some things to consider:
  • Overall cost
  • Ease of use
  • Available chat room
  • Slide show capabilities
  • Recording for later viewing
  • Number of participants allowed
  • Is automatic linking available to PayPal for paid events

Once you have selected your platform and set up your account, it’s time to set up your webinar/event. Most have a simple dashboard where you can set the title, the date, the time, paid or free, and how participants will join.

Once that’s set, it’s time to send out invites or advertise. If it’s a paid webinar, create a banner with all of the information and links to register. (See the sample one I created for my own webinar below.)
Register here: JUNE 9 / JUNE 11

During this time, start putting together your webinar. (Note it’s best to have the meeting/event planned before you set it up!) Will there be slides that need to be created? Will you be using a virtual whiteboard? Will you be on live feed yourself? Will you have a chat room during the event? You want it to look as professional as possible, so pick a good background for yourself and/or create detailed slides.

Check your equipment. At the least, you will need a good microphone. You also might need a good camera on your computer or tablet. Run a test meeting/webinar with your spouse or a friend and make sure everything works.

Once you have everything set, do a full test run with one person in attendance. Make sure the visuals and your talk flow smoothly and your participant can access and see everything needed.

After that, continue to practice until you’re sure you are comfortable with the material. Speaking in front of others is one of the greatest fears, but you can alleviate a lot of that by knowing your material inside and out. You don’t want to just read from a script. It needs to sound natural and you need to know your stuff.

Event day! You can either set up an automatic reminder or email the participants yourself. Get to your meeting/webinar room early and make sure everything is set and ready. Be sure to keep your microphone off until you are ready to go live. Confirm materials are ready, you have something to drink, and you are in a private setting where no one can interrupt you.

Once you begin, just relax. Pay attention to what others are saying, either verbally or through the chat. This means you need to be open to questions but remain in control. Address issues without deviating too far from your plan.

Once the event is done and you’ve logged off, congratulate yourself! Even if you messed up in a few places. You’ll get better.

Be sure to send a thank you email to everyone who participated by the following day. They might have more questions for you.

Now, who is ready to take on their own webinar?

Don’t forget that the 2020 IWSG anthology contest is now open.

Monday, May 11, 2020

Finding the Right Freelancer To Work On Your Novel

In the NBC series The Good Place, Chidi Anagonye is a character who’s notoriously bad at making decisions, whether big or small. Based on this alone, Chidi would have a tough time writing a novel, as the whole process is packed with decision-making: what will happen next? Will this character end up happily ever after? Should the story end here or later? Should my novel start in media res? These kinds of questions would send Chidi spiraling. And that’s just the writing! Once the manuscript is finished, one of the biggest decisions authors face is who they’ll trust to help them polish it into the final product that will find its way to readers. Luckily, for any of you writers out there who might relate to Chidi, we’ve got a couple of tips to help you find the right freelancer for your novel.

Do your homework

The search for your dream collaborator starts with a few different types of homework.

Know what type of freelancer you’re looking for

If you’re looking for an editor, are you hoping for them to focus on big-picture items such as plot holes, inconsistent characterizations, or structural issues? If so, you’ll want to look for a developmental editor. Perhaps you’ve already taken your story through its paces and want a professional eye to sweep your manuscript clean of any copy issues. In that case, a copy editor or proofreader will be your book’s new best friend. (You can learn more about the different types of editing here!) These kinds of distinctions can be important for book design and book marketing, too. Do you have an intricately illustrated book cover in mind? Are you hoping to work with a marketer who can show you the ropes of Facebook ads? The more you can figure out what it is you’re looking for, the more you can tailor your search to ensure you’re looking in the right places. And while you should certainly do this due diligence before you start looking, freelancers are often happy to point you in the right direction if you ask for their feedback. (Such as this editor who encouraged her client to get a copy edit after being approached for an editorial assessment!)

Review freelancer portfolios for relevant-market experience

For authors who are hoping to turn their foray into self-publishing into a full-fledged writing career, knowing your market is not only an important part of the writing process. A firm understanding of your market will inform almost all of your publishing decisions, including the freelancers you hire to ready your book for proverbial bookshelves. Let’s say you’ve already determined you need a developmental editor to address the pacing of your romance novel. A quick search of “romance developmental editors” on Google will yield thousands of results — and on the Reedsy marketplace, you’ll find about 250 vetted editors using the same search terms. Now let’s say your romance novel falls into the regency category. Why not take your search one step further by looking for developmental editors who have specifically worked on regencies? On Reedsy, the first editor you’d come across is Rose Lerner, and a quick scroll through her portfolio will show you she’s worked with bestselling historical romance authors Courtney Milan and Tessa Dare, and that she’s edited a number of regencies. Or perhaps you’ve written an apocalyptic sci-fi novel and know you want a boldly illustrated cover. Again, the first result on Reedsy will take you to Ryan Schwarz’ portfolio, where samples of his past work will give you immediate confirmation he’s experienced in that particular niche.

Establish a budget, but be willing to adjust expectations

Establishing a budget can be tricky for new authors who aren’t yet familiar with the costs of different services. If you’re hoping to turn book-writing into a career, something to keep in mind is that you’re essentially starting a business — and all new businesses require investment. That being said, you don’t want to break the bank, so you should come up with a solid idea of the budget your self-publishing career can reasonably afford. To get a better understanding of the averages certain services cost, you can turn to resources like this pricing calculator, which takes into account the length and genre of your book to provide you with a price range. However, the cost of working with a freelancer varies according to a number of factors, including the scope and complexity of the work and the experience level of the professional. So your best bet is to reach out to freelancers you’re interested in working with and request quotes from them. At Reedsy, we allow users to request free quotes from up to five professionals at a time. Remember, these are people who make a living by working with authors; they want to find projects that spark their interest. So don’t be shy when it comes to asking questions! And on that note...

Ask questions

Achieving a harmonious and fruitful collaboration relies heavily on communication. You absolutely want to hire a freelancer with experience working on books similar to yours. But it's also important that you’re able to have productive conversations with them. You want to feel comfortable giving feedback. At the same time, you want to know the feedback you receive will be delivered constructively as well. Finally, you want to be able to enjoy the collaboration process as well! You don’t want a working relationship emulative of Edgar Allan Poe and his editor, Rufus Wilmot Griswold. (Trust us, it was strained.) Friendly chit-chat and cordial interactions might not seem like a vital part of successful collaboration, but the opposite can undoubtedly lead to an unsuccessful one. So how do you know if you will “click” with someone before you’ve hired them? Ask questions! Inquire about a previous project or ask about their work process. You don’t want to pepper them with queries — keep in mind that freelancers are usually busy juggling multiple projects at once. But engaging in brief conversation while you’re still in the hiring process can help you get a sense of what communication might look like down the road.