Monday, December 23, 2013

How to Stay in Writing Mode During the Holidays

During the next two weeks, most of us will be in holiday mode - parties, dinners, family gatherings, etc. We’ll either freely abandon writing thoughts or feel guilty we aren’t writing as much as we’d like during this time. But there are a few things we can do to keep us in writing mode so we don’t start out the new year with the momentum of a slug.

1 - People watch
Watch how others interact. Observe their body language. Note appearances and characteristics you’d like to use in your next book.

2 - Interact with people
Talk to people. (You’ll be talking to them anyway!) Ask them questions. Find out about their pasts, hobbies, and experiences. Use it as research for your next character or story.

3 - Notice settings
Take a good look at Christmas decorations. You may be traveling - an excellent time to observe new surroundings. What details could you use in your manuscript?

4 - Embrace the change of pace
The holidays always disrupt our routine. That’s okay. Let the differences refresh you. Let it be a vacation, even if only in your mind.

5 - Take photos
Most of us take photos over the holidays anyway. Like writing, it’s another form of creativity that can get us going. Take pictures of anything and everything that strikes your fancy - whatever inspires you.

6 - Schedule writing time
Take advantage of short breaks to jot down ideas. Reread part of your manuscript. Go over plot points in your head. But be aware of distractions and don’t get down if you don’t get to write.

The holidays don’t have to slow you down as a writer. Plan ahead and be sure to enjoy life, too.

Congrats to our IWSG Contest winners:

N. America prize package - Terri Rochenski

International prize package - Phil V. Ariel

Remember that the next posting for the IWSG will be on Wednesday, January 8th. We are skipping the first Wednesday since it falls on New Year’s Day.

Happy holidays!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Seven Lessons Learned from Blogging

Navigating the publishing landscape can be likened to exploring a major city without a tour guide. Landmarks abound, but not all of them carry the same weight in terms of history or importance. Whether you’re with a publisher, have self-published or you’re still mapping a path to publication, there are ways to make the journey less lonely and stressful.
Start Promotion Early each time you’re publishing a book. I’ve been caught flat footed time and again, so I know it’s important to keep potential readers and blogging buddies aware of what’s happening with an upcoming book. Lead up activity is important in that it creates awareness and gives people time to get on your bandwagon for blast off day.

Don’t be Afraid to Ask for help. Many of us in the blogging/writing community can relate to not wanting to be a bother when we have something to promote. Over the years, I’ve learned that writers do want to see others succeed and will help if given a chance to do so.

Be a Beacon to your fellow bloggers/writers. Even if you have a small following, you do have the power to help someone else. Ever come across a post with great information but little response by way of comments? Give it a tweet. You never can tell who might need the information or what connections you’ll make. I’ve picked up Twitter follows from influential writers simply by sharing a post.

Build Goodwill through your actions. I’m sure you can think of people who are kind and helpful, just because. I’m also sure that you find it easy to return favours when these persons call on you for help, because they freely give encouragement and support. A band of authors who share the same genre can help each other through cross-promotion of books, with good results.

Share the Love by following other people’s blogs and commenting. You might say ‘Duh!’ to this, but I had no clue what to do when I first started blogging. I wondered why I was the only one visiting me. When I did visit others, I didn’t follow. Instead, I’d lurk and not leave footprints. Over time, I learned that most bloggers would follow back if I left a trail to my blog, and they liked my content.  

Be Approachable. Each of us started with a single follower or perhaps a handful. I continue to be amazed by super-bloggers like Alex and Arlee, who take time to respond to comments, or if they don’t respond on their blogs, they make visits. A blogger who doesn’t respond to comments in any way is a turn off. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you is a good rule to live by.

Use Nifty Tools at your disposal. I feel like a hypocrite saying this as I don’t make enough time to pre-schedule my messages. Don’t be a random tweeter. Save yourself the hassle of tweeting manually by using one of the many auto tweeting services now available. I’ve tried several and have started using HooteSuite again recently. Triberr is a really cool site, basically it’s Twitter on steroids. Check it out and make use of it if you can. It gives bloggers a massive reach in combination with other people. 

Here’s something extra. ‘Brawta’ as we say in Jamaican Patois. Write things down. I can’t endorse this enough. As you become more serious about your writing, it’s important to be on top of all the obligations that you will take on in terms of promoting your work and that of other people. Apart from Google’s nifty calendar, I use one of those calendars from Microsoft where you can see a month’s activities at a glance. That way, I know where I’m supposed to be guest posting when, as well as the dates I’m supposed to be sending the post/interview over. I also know which blogger/writer I’m hosting and the date.

So, d’you feel any more informed and secure about some of the things you should be doing on your publication journey? Have any advice to add?

Don’t forget to enter the IWSG contest, which closes on December 18. Enter here to help us spread the word about the site. We have some fabulous prizes!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

IWSG Post Day and Announcing a Contest!

For those of you participating in the IWSG posting on your blogs, today is the day you throw your securities to the wind or offer words of encouragement. If you are a blogger, we encourage you to join us. Full description and sign up HERE.

IWSG Contest!

Open to everyone and anyone with a blog or a Twitter, Google+, or Facebook account.

Help us spread the word about our new site! The Facebook Page is already rocking. Let people know the two ways they can benefit from the IWSG website:

1 - It’s a database of information, focusing on major links, other databases, and resources for writers. Topics include writing tips; publishers, agents, and queries; self-publishing; marketing; contests; publications; and services. Each page is a wealth of information, leading to some of the top sites for authors, and we also post information to help writers every Monday.

2 - The IWSG itself – the first Wednesday of every month is the official posting day for those with blogs. Members post their insecurities, frustrations, and concerns, and others stop by to offer encouragement and advice. The kindness and words of wisdom have kept writers going when they were ready to quit. Many have discovered solutions to their problems. Friendships have been forged and critique partners established.

Help us spread the word –
Tweeting – one entry
Google+ post – two entries
Facebook post – five entries
Blog post – ten entries

We have two prize packages that will be awarded:

Package one - North America only-
Autographed copy of Dead Witness by Joylene Nowall Butler
Autographed copy of The Circle of Friends, Book V…Heather by L. Diane Wolfe
Autographed copy of Overcoming Obstacles with SPUNK by L. Diane Wolfe
Autographed copies of The Keepers of Sulbreth and The Greater Good by Susan Gourley, plus swag

Package two – International-
5 page critique of a manuscript and a blog badge/banner from Michelle Wallace
EBook of How to Publish and Promote Your Book Now by L. Diane Wolfe
First chapter critique from Lynda R. Young
All three eBooks of the Cassa series by Alex J. Cavanaugh
EBooks Christine's Odyssey & Saving Sam by J.L. Campbell

As you spread the word, come back and fill out the form below.

Contest is open until December 16 – winners will be announced December 18.

Thanks everyone for helping us reach even more writers!

And the winners are…

North America Package:

International Package:

Thanks to everyone who participated and helped spread the word!

Monday, December 2, 2013

4 Reasons to Celebrate Your Writing Milestones

Writing is a long journey. We can’t simply wake up one morning, say, “I’m going to write a book today,” and it’s done. It takes time to craft, develop an idea, research, plot, write the first draft, rewrite, revise and edit. The journey isn’t done once the book is complete. Those cover blurbs, queries, and synopses need to be written. And still the journey isn’t done once the book is out in the public. There’s the marketing, more marketing, and still more marketing … and then there is the next book.

Because of everything that needs to be done, the book can seem like a golden egg at the end of an arduous quest through rocky terrain, past fire-breathing dragons, across seas of flesh-melting lava. Okay, so perhaps not that bad, but you get the picture I’m painting here. The sheer magnitude of what we want to achieve can become daunting. We need to break the journey into manageable sections, the end of each with its own little treasure waiting for us. And that treasure is the celebrations. Here’s why:

Celebrations give writers:

1. A sense of achievement. By celebrating our milestones, no matter how small those achievements might be, we turn our focus from what we haven’t yet done, to what we have. We can look forward with a sense of satisfaction, which in turn builds our confidence to keep working toward that golden end goal of publication.

2. A reminder of the love of writing. Celebrations build the passion we have for not only the end product, but the little joys along the way. It’s easy to get caught up in the doubts and questions and hard work. As a consequence, we might begin to drag our feet. To regain our skip, and recall why we love writing so much, we need to step back and celebrate.

3. A ticket back to reality. Often when I write, I throw myself into my story world and get caught up with the characters. It’s good to step away and reconnect with the human race. Celebration is an easy way of doing this. It coaxes us from our self-made writing caves and invites others in.

4. A needed break. Celebrations provide a necessary break and enable us to dive into the next part of the process better equipped. If we keep working without taking a moment to step back, then we’ll lose that special something in the story.

So the next time you complete an outline, polish a chapter, or query an agent, celebrate. You’ve come a long way. You’ve taken an amazing step. You are a writer.

What are some ways you like to celebrate? What have you most recently celebrated?

Don’t forget this Wednesday is IWSG day where we all post about our writing insecurities. If you haven’t already joined our group and would like to take part in our encouraging community, then you can sign up HERE.

Lynda R. Young found success as a digital artist and an animator for many years, and now as a writer of speculative short stories. Her work is published in a number of anthologies and online. She is currently writing novels for young adults. In her spare time she also dabbles in photography and all things creative.
You can find her here: Blog, Twitter, Facebook

Monday, November 25, 2013

Tips for Surviving Revisions

It’s the last week of NaNoWriMo and thousands of writers will be finishing up their manuscripts. After the frenzy of the first draft comes the next step – revising that mess!

Whether you winged it or followed an outline, that manuscript will need some work. You’ll be facing edits, revisions, and possibly a complete overhaul. Don’t be overwhelmed! And don’t threaten to burn that manuscript. We have some tips on how to handle it without losing your sanity or taking hostages.

Here are some suggestions –

Let the manuscript sit for a few weeks. Get some distance.

Work from a hardcopy – it’s easier on the eyes and mistakes are more apparent. You can also make notes in the margins.

Read through the entire manuscript once. Familiarize yourself with the story as a whole.

During the first read through, note what needs more research, but don’t stop to research right at that moment. Get to the end first.

Write a short letter or note to yourself – what do you want to achieve with the next draft?

If you didn’t do one initially, make an outline. Write down what is happening in each chapter. Note where characters come and go.

One the next pass, either focus on one chapter at a time or one issue at a time.

Read dialogue out loud. Use the character’s voices and facial expressions. (Try not to do this in front of your family or they’ll have you committed!)

Is the story told from the right point of view?

Individual issues and items:

Punctuations and spelling
Sentence length and variation
Plot holes and inconsistencies
Description – too much or not enough
Unnecessary characters
Character voice and consistency
Spots that drag or become boring
Consistency with people, descriptions, details, and storyline
Length of chapters
Proper amount of world building
Proper pacing and tension
Word count acceptable for genre
Repeated words and phrases
Use of active and forceful verbs
Timeline for events is accurate and believable
Unnecessary or overwhelming subplots
Show versus tell
Character actions and body movement

That may seem like a lot, but when you know specifically what you are looking for, it’s easier to spot and fix it.

And of course, once you have been through your manuscript many times, pass it off to a critique partner. (Or two or three…) Let them know where you need help or if something isn’t working. Trust me, they will find those rough spots! Just keep an open mind to suggestions.

I’m sure that list is just a drop in the bucket. If you have other tips or suggestions, please leave them in the comments.

Ready to revise? You can do it!!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Getting To Grips With Genre

I used to think that writers were born with a writing skill.  

End of story.  

But I’ve since changed that point of view. 
(Okay, I needed to get that off my chest.)

You may or may not have a talent for writing, but you can develop it. It requires hard work. I’ve also learned that a certain streak of stubbornness coupled with the development of a thick skin really helps.

So the no#1 issue on my mind is - genre. There are a variety of genres to choose from, sci-fi, romance, horror, mystery/suspense and I’ve noticed that most writers find their niche all wrapped in one. To make a comparison, it’s specialist versus the handyman. A specialist is highly skilled. The handy man has knowledge of a number of jobs required around the workplace, like a little bit of plumbing, some electrical, some painting, a little carpentry. A jack-of-all-trades, he has basic knowledge and knows a little something about them all.

In general, writing can be like either, specialist or jack-of-all-trades. Even the great writers will break form or genre from time-to-time. Just look at Fantasy author JK Rowlings of Harry Potter fame, who has recently revealed that she is actually Robert Galbraith, the writer behind The Cuckoo’s Calling, which is a detective novel. The great poet and dramatist, Oscar Wilde, known for his clever, pithy sayings, penned one work of fiction, The Picture Of Dorian Gray.

Reality check. Not just anyone can become a JK Rowlings or Oscar Wilde, even with development. But you can grow as a writer, get published and feel a sense of personal pride... and even become a fairly well-known author... who knows?

It has been said that newbie writers shouldn’t worry too much about genre. They should focus on getting words on the paper. Let the genre manifest itself as the writing develops...

That’s good and well. But we need to think ahead.

I am no master when it comes to the publishing process, but I always say – logic prevails. So further down the line, logic tells me that playing coy with your genre may present a three fold problem. As a reader, I have no idea if it’s a book I like. As a book seller, I have no idea where to put it on the shelf. As a publisher, I have no idea if it’s a genre I represent or if there’s enough of a market to justify the time/money that accompanies the publishing of your book.

A writing buddy once said to me: Write what you want to say. Worry about the genre once it's finished, not earlier.  And who cares if you end up not fitting in any specific genre?  There's always *literary* Or maybe you'll invent a new genre of your own: "In the tradition of the marvellous Writer-In-Transit's unimitable style…."? Ha! Yeah... right...

So back to the question of choosing genre. I’ve heard a writer say that she did not choose a genre, but the genre chose her. Fascinating thought. Maybe I should just continue with my flash fiction pieces and wait for a genre to come knocking on my door?

Knock. knock.

Who’s there?


Horror who?

Eeeeeeeeeeek! It’s you. *takes one look at my face and bolts*

You get the idea?

But to be serious, I’ve always imagined that I would write mystery/suspense. But that’s only because it’s my preferred reading genre. Is that reason enough? I don’t know. Probably is. I do know that I feel comfortable writing in this genre.  

So what if you decided that you wanted to try something in another genre. Where do you start? When stuck for inspiration, anyone can use a picture, word, statement, or even an idiom/proverb as a starting point, for example: “between the devil and the deep blue sea.”

Now, if you want to create a story from that, do you take it literally and write a non-fiction about the freedom of choice and the difficulty that lies therein? Or maybe a sci-fi story featuring parallel universes and a devil attempting to take over a planet? What about a Seussical-styled tale filled with rhythm and rhyme.  Or a fantasy about  merfolk and a devil? Or a steampunk adventure with a steam-powered boat? What about a romantic suspense/thriller, involving a devilish rogue, which takes place aboard a luxury liner? The possibilities are endless. A simple prompting word or phrase can take you to so many different places. You need to begin to see the world from differing perspectives.

So does that mean I’ll be writing a horror or sci-fi story some time in the future? Probably not. The point is that we need to stretch the imagination... experiment... get out of your comfort zone... keep an open mind... it’s not only about genre, but also about growth!

Develop different ideas. 

Put them together. 

Your story starts to take shape.

That’s a large part of the growth process...  and the essence of good story-telling.

Monday, November 11, 2013

On This Day and Every Day

For those of us in the USA, today is Veteran's Day. A day to remember and give thanks to those who have served our country in the military. Every day I am grateful that I live in this country and have the freedom to write as I wish, worship as I wish and work for what I want. And on this day and every other day there are ways to give back.

Writers are generous people. Check out these writers who are donating the proceeds from their books to help veterans in some way. Marie Gilmore is donating the profits from her book about running a small business to pay for WWII vets to visit the war memorial in Washington DC. I wish my father could have seen before he passed away. He's the handsome guy on the right, this picture taken during in Japan at the end of that war. Thanks, Marie.

Ivan Mehosky wrote The Story of a Soldier about his father. He's donating all the profits to the Paralyzed Veterans of America. The care his father had for the troops who served under him inspired Ivan's book and his generosity.

Readers are generous people too. Books for America is a website where you can click through to Amazon and have a share of the price go to this benevolent organization. Read this quote I lifted from their homepage. They have many ways to donate books to help young people read.

61 percent of low-income families have no books at all in their homes for their children. Families living in poverty must use their financial resources to pay for food and shelter, not books. Reading Literacy in the United States 

There are many opportunities to donate books if you know where to look. We have local organizations who collect books along with other items to send to our troops. Others that collect books to re-gift to people who don't have access or the means to have their own books. And it's not a one way street. Giving feels to good. Knowing someone might have the chance to fall in love with books as you have is a terrific feeling.

Many writers have involved themselves in anthologies where writers work together to raise awareness and funds for a cause. How about the Holiday Food Drive Blog Fest being run by Tina at Life is Good? It's a great idea.

And on a note that hits close to home for many of us, Nick Wilford's stepson, Andrew, passed away a few days ago. Many of you know Nick from Scattergun Scribblings and have also heard of the anthology, Overcoming Adversity, he put together to support Andrew. Kyra Lennon is putting together something to support Nick and his family during this difficult time. Please visit her site for details on how to donate.

I'm betting that all of you have even more suggestions of ways we can honor veterans this day as writers. And as readers and writer and plain old citizens of the world, there are so many ways we can help others. Please share in the comments what you'll be doing to honor veterans today. Also share any causes being promoted by you or writers you know across the blogosphere. We're all about the links here, so let us know where we can make a difference.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

IWSG Post Day - A Question and a Challenge!

It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. I encourage everyone to visit at least a dozen new blogs and leave a comment. Your words might be the encouragement someone needs.

The co-hosts today are CD Coffelt, Tina Downey, Isis Rushdan, and Michelle Wallace! Please be sure to thank them for their time and effort to make all IWSG members feel welcome.

Those of you who participate in the monthly posting for the IWSG know it’s a special day. We share our fears and concerns. We offer encouragement to others. We receive support from our fellow writers.

I have a question and a challenge for you today!

Is there a particular post of yours that garnered the support and encouragement you desperately needed? Or a specific issue that IWSG members helped you with? Or a comment that changed everything for you?

And the challenge – can you invite just one other writer to join the IWSG? Or suggest they follow this site or our Facebook page? Can you help us double our numbers by the beginning of next year?

You guys are awesome!

Monday, November 4, 2013

I Promise...

... we've all had this happen: you upload a post on your blog, then go about the business of writing and waiting, working and waiting, eating and waiting.

Two hours pass and there's no visitors. Not a single comment. Maybe you wait two more hours, check after lunch, dinner, before bedtime, first thing the next morning, but ...


So what do you make of that?

You sent it out on all the wires, right? Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Goodreads ....

Receiving no comments is not personal. They aren't ignoring you. They're caught up in life's dramas, just as you are. They may have even read your post, loved it, but (for reasons that probably have nothing to do with you) didn't have time to comment.

Writers care. That's why you're on their Twitter, Gather, Facebook, or Farcebook, as Penny the Jack Russell dog and modest internet superstar likes to call it. That's why you're on the wedding list, maybe even in the wedding party. It's why you're invited to dinners, baby showers, barn risings, to the neigbour's to see the slide presentation of their trip to Roswell, to your brother's-in-law colonoscopy party, or any number of other events you sometimes wish you weren't invited to.

Nobody thinks they're the only one who can't respond at that precise moment. They're expecting that if you don't see a comment from them, you won't notice because you'll be swamped with comments from all your other blogroll buddies. How many times have you thought that same thing yourself?

There are always reasons for a lack of response. You're new. You have no one on your blogroll. Your timing is bad. Something momentous is happening at work, or on the news. Your blog post was swallowed up by the bigger picture. Or they planned on sending you an email and forgot.

Again, trust me, it's never personal.

For whatever reasons your post didn't receive a comment or at best only received a few, it doesn't matter. It shouldn't stop you from ever posting again. Simply lift yourself up, brush yourself off, and next time someone on your blogroll broadcasts a post, take a moment and check it out. Even a simple and sincere: "That was interesting, thanks" goes a long way.

Besides, it'll say volumes about you, the blogger.

If you ask our Ninja Captain how he does it, receives hundreds of comments every post, I bet he'd say it's because he takes the time to reciprocate. It's all about fellowship. In other words, it's that wonderful old saying, "Do unto others..." my blogging friend.

I promise.

 ~ ~ ~

Now for an all-important message:

The first Wednesday of the month is coming up and that means our official IWSG Day, Insecure Writer's Support Group is upon us. IWSG is a group dedicated to supporting and encouraging all writers of all genre. If you'd like to learn more, if you're tired of crying in your soup alone, click here

If, like me, you live a solitary and sometimes insecure writer's life, you'll meet some terrific like-minded writers. It's definitely made a difference in my life.

~ ~ ~

Joylene Nowell Butler lives in Cluculz Lake, BC with her husband and three cats, Garagee, Marbles, and Shasta. She is the author of mystery thriller Dead Witness and winner of the IPPY awards 2012 for her psychological thriller Broken But Not Dead.  You can learn more about Joylene at her blog.

Monday, October 28, 2013

How to Present a Professional Appearance as a Self-Publisher

If you have self-published or are considering that route, you are more than just an author - you are a business owner. You have to think like a business owner and present a professional appearance. There are things you can do to elevate yourself to publisher status, which in turn garners you a little more respect along with some clout. After all, you are competing with the big boys. Plus there are added bonuses, such as access to larger pre-publication reviewers.

1 - A publisher name. Establish yourself with a company name, and preferably not your own. (Keep you the author and you the publisher separate.) Google several names to see what is available. You can register your business at the local county court house for a small fee. If your state collects sales tax, you will need to register your business at the Secretary of State website and get a resale number. (Sales tax is collected only on physical books sold within your state.)

2 - Register with Bowker Link. Once you have a company name, you can register with Bowker. This will give you access to their Books in Print database, the largest in the world, plus access to their services and products. You can list upcoming books in Books in Print, and booksellers will be able to pull up this information.

3 - Purchase your own ISBN from Bowker. They are the only company authorized to sell ISBNs - you can purchase them in batches of 10, 100, etc. Purchasing ISBNs from Bowker lists you as the publisher. (As opposed to “renting” them from CreateSpace, Smashwords, or a POD publisher. They are listed as the publisher, not you, and true self-publishing is defined by who owns the ISBN.) Many sites will allow you to upload and sell ebooks without an ISBN, but it looks a lot more professional with one. In a batch of 10 or more ISBNs, the prefix identifies you as the publisher, giving you more clout. Bowker also sells bar codes for print books.

4 - Get a Library of Congress Control Number. This only applies to print books - ebooks are not yet accepted. As a small publisher, you won’t qualify for the official LCCN, but you can register for a PNC instead. (The numbers are basically the same - the big difference is that the Library of Congress won’t design a CIP block for you for free.) The LCCN/PNC is listed on the copyright page. To look even more professional, you can hire someone to design a CIP block. (Catalogue in Publications) The CIP block helps libraries catalogue your book.

There are a lot of others things a self-publisher can do to appear more professional in the areas of editing, cover art, formatting, etc. But those items are often overlooked and most people aren’t aware of them. If you’re serious about your career as a self-published author, look into those four items. It could make a big difference in your sales!

Monday, October 21, 2013

The ABC's of a Writing Career

If you’ve been writing for a while with little results, it’s challenging to stay focused. Your writing buddies may have landed contracts, launched a second or third book or perhaps hit a best-seller list. While it may seem as if some writers achieve success overnight, there is no such thing. A book or series will come to prominence and it seems as if they materialized out of thin air, but the reality is that the writer laboured over the book/s for months, did numerous edits and re-writes before coming up with a product good enough to submit or publish. A prime example of this is Michael Wallace who talks about his ‘overnight’ success.

Since we know there is no magic formula, let’s talk about the building blocks of a career in writing.

Apprenticeship - There’s no getting around it. We learn to write by putting our brain in gear, pasting butt to chair and fingers to keyboard. We may buy dozens of books on the craft of writing, attend conferences and/or workshops. Some of us have Diplomas in creative writing. Although they are useful, none of these tools can take the place of practical experience, which we gain by writing short stories and novels. Over time, we develop a style that is unique and with each new story our skill level climbs.

Build a Body of Work - If you’re convinced there is no overnight success, you’ll also believe what I’m about to tell you. The best form of advertising is your finished product—your book. All the advertising in the world won’t be worth much if people buy your novel and it is full or errors, plot holes and incredible situations. However, if you’ve written a good book and follow that up with a few more that can stand on their own, you’ll have the freedom to call yourself a writer by profession.  That said, once you have a few books under your belt, it’s time to find at least one method by which you can expand your fan base.

Create a  Loss Leader - I’ll state up front that I’m not a fan of giving away my books, but I’ll also say that the one book I’ve made perma-free has rewarded me. It’s been in the number one spot on Amazon several times in the short story category and after a year and a half has fallen out of the top ten. Between March 2012 and last month, that book was downloaded 165,580 times. This is modest by the standard of best-selling writers, but the positive spin-off is that gradually, I’m seeing an uptick in sales. If you don’t have enough books to let one go free, you can offer a sample of something new in the back of your current book, compile short stories or write a prequel for an upcoming novel and use it as a deal sweetener for readers.

Yes, there’s a D.

Don’t Become Discouraged - When you’ve worked hard to produce a good book and sales are a trickle, or you haven’t sold to a publisher, it’s easy to become discouraged. You’ve probably come across this data in one form or another, but I invite you to read this article about thirty famous authors who faced rejection time and again. Self-publishing has opened other options to the enterprising writer, but some struggles are the same.   

A career in writing is a marathon, not a sprint and if you give up now, you’ll never know if you would have had a respectable writing career. It’s also important to remember that your stories will never have a bigger champion than you. Nobody can spin a tale the way you do and if you don’t believe in your writing, nobody else will.

Keep studying the craft. Keep writing. Keep believing.

Do you feel less insecure knowing that overnight success is more of a myth than reality? Are you prepared to keep working on that masterpiece you’ve yet to complete? Will you continue putting your building blocks in place?