Author Solutions, Editing, Indie book publishing, writing

5 helpful things aspiring writers can learn from our dog, Charlie

Eight years ago we brought a chocolate lab into our home who answers to the name of Charlie and I find him to be a most interesting and delightful animal. As I was observing him a few days ago, I realized there were a number of habits which he has that would actually be beneficial to writers.

Have a routine

Watching Charlie's routine is a a reminder of the habits writers need to develop to get to their goals.

Watching Charlie’s routine is a reminder of the habits writers need to develop to get to their goals.

One of the keys to accomplishing your goals is setting a time on the calendar to write and keeping it like an appointment. Charlie has times like that. Every morning, he expects me to take him out about the same time and feed him about the same time. I don’t know if we have trained him or he has actually conditioned us, but the most important thing is he is committed to the same activities each day at almost the same time without fail. Aspiring authors who try to fit in writing around their other activities almost never get to their goal.

Aspiring authors who try to fit in writing around their other activities almost never get to their goal.

Be naturally curious

We can walk the same path. We can sit in the same room. We can follow the same schedule, but Charlie will always take time to take in a new smell or find a new toy or pause to watch the actions of a child he does not recognize. Writers should do the same. Pause to take in new information and sense experiences because you never know how it might help your writing have greater depth and interest.

Be observant of the things around you

This is similar to being naturally curious, but one thing I have seen is Charlie always notices a sound or smell or animal or person that is different from what he normally sees. Writers would benefit from the same attention to observation. From those new sensations and inputs, you may find inspiration for a more robust description of a scene or an approach to dialogue or something else to improve your story or writing.

Find a favorite spot to write and you will be more productive.

Find a favorite spot to write and you will be more productive.

Find a favorite spot

I have written about this quite often. My personal experience and conversations with other writers have confirmed that where you write can impact what you write. Some people need complete quiet. Others need the stimulus of a public space. It really doesn’t matter where you write, as long as you know the place where you write best. As for Charlie, he has certain places, often where the sun is coming through the window, where he likes to hang out. Not sure how productive he is in those spots, because he tends to nap there, but the principle is the important thing to remember in this case.

It really doesn’t matter where you write, as long as you know the place where you write best.

Celebrate the accomplishment of the day

Writing and rewriting is a long journey with stops of self-doubt along the way so it is easy to give up, but don’t.  Learn to celebrate the accomplishments of the day. Even if you just write a couple of pages or change the dialogue in a scene, focus on that.  Charlie is happy if all he gets to do in a day is run and chase sticks. He gets excited by what he got done that day. Writers can learn from that.

So if you have been stuck or laid aside your manuscript, hopefully Charlie’s routine will inspire you to get back at it and accomplish your goal.

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Author Solutions, authors, helpful hints, Indie book publishing, Publishing, self publishing, writing

3 helpful tips on how to work with a ghostwriter

Not too long ago I featured two guest posts from Kathy Ide. Kathy is a ghostwriter, editor/mentor, writers’ conference speaker and author of a must-have book, Proofreading Secrets of Best-Selling Authors  She also founded and is the coordinator of The Christian PEN: Proofreaders and Editors Network(www.TheChristianPEN.com) and the Christian Editor Connection(www.ChristianEditor.com).

Her previous posts LET’S EAT GRANDMA: The Importance of Proofreading and 5 ways that mistakes in your manuscript can hurt your reputation as an author were very well-received so I thought I would offer some additional insights from her.

I had the privilege of interviewing Kathy at the West Coast Writer’s Conference on the topic of ghostwriting. She had some helpful tips if that is something you are considering.

Don’t just rely on interviews

When people think of ghostwriting, they often think they will just dictate the whole story. That may be because they don’t have the time, confidence or skills to write a manuscript.  Kathy suggests even though a ghostwriter will do interviews, it is very helpful for you to write down your thoughts. It could be key stories or people, but it will help the interviews be more productive.

Create a chronological outline

Along with writing down significant moments in preparation for the interviews, it is also very helpful to create a chronological outline of the story. Again it will help create order and make the interviews even more productive. In fact, you should probably provide it to the ghostwriter prior to the interview.

Be clear on your audience

This is a key no matter what book you are writing or publishing. I have written about this extensively, but it is perhaps the most important thing for any writer to keep in mind when they are publishing.

If you would like to hear Kathy elaborate on these topics, here interview is available below.

 

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authors, book marketing, Indie book publishing, self publishing

3 statements I hear from first-time authors that make me cringe.

Over the years, I have had hundreds of conversations with authors and there are three phrases I sometimes hear that give me pause.Quote marrks

“The audience for my book is every man, woman and child on the planet”

Identifying your audience is one of the keys to creating an effective marketing plan for your book. If your target is too broad, it will be difficult if not impossible to be successful.  Plus, you set unrealistic expectations that will only lead to disappointment.  Instead you should:

  • Describe who you think will most likely read your book in terms of gender, age, occupation if relevant.
  • Write a simple statement as to why you think they will want to read your book
  • Identify where you think your audience looks for information. If they are engaged on social media, be specific about which platforms, such as Facebook or Twitter.
  • Consider what events do they attend and can you have a presence there as an exhibitor or speaker
  • Think of anywhere locally where your target audience might congregate?

“My daughter is an artist”

Your book cover is first marketing decision, so having an appropriate and eye-catching cover is very important. Unfortunately, too often first-time authors make decisions based on personal preference or to be provocative. Knowing someone who can draw or who is a graphic designer is not the same as working with a cover designer. Cover design is a particular skill so you will want to make sure you work with someone or a team who has experience specifically designing book covers. You can find more information about good cover design in the post I did titled, Six tips from wicked good book cover designers,

“My job was to write the book. Someone else can promote it.”

Book Marketing sign postOne of the great myths among first time authors is that if they get published by a traditional publisher, then someone else will do the marketing for their book. The reality is no matter how you publish, you still need to be involved in the promotion of your book.  One of the key ways is to use social media to connect with and cultivate an audience. In fact, one the criteria most traditional publishers consider when acquiring a title is the platform of the author.  If you want to learn more about how to develop your marketing acumen, you might want to consider reading this post, Confused about how to do book marketing? Here is a simple way to build an effective marketing plan.

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self publishing

5 ways an author can earn money besides selling books.

One of the most enjoyable opportunities I have during the year is to co-host a free webinar with Reid Tracy, the president

Royalty payments are only one of many ways authors can generate revenue when they publish a book.

Royalty payments are only one of many ways authors can generate revenue when they publish a book.

and CEO of Hay House that focuses on publishing and marketing. So full disclosure: this blog post was inspired by Reid and one of the webinars we did.

The key takeaway is book sales and royalties are not the main way most authors generate revenue. In fact, the savviest of authors use the book to help establish multiple income streams. Most of the list below applies to authors of non-fiction books, but some of these ideas would also be applicable to fiction authors depending on the content of the book.

  1. Create a curriculum you can sell based on your book. This may take the form of a workbook and could include both print and online content, but it takes your information and helps people focus on the application of your ideas.
  2. Offer workshops for groups of people. With your book and curriculum, you can create workshop opportunities where you work through the material with a group of people.
  3. Seek out speaking opportunities. A book helps establish you as an expert so it often gives you the credibility to speak to groups.  Don’t worry about the size of the group when you first start. The key is to take the opportunities as they are presented. It will give you practice as a speaker and you will get better the more you do it. You can refine your material as you present to different groups so that when you have the opportunity to speak to thousands, you will know you are doing the best you can. Finally, while the audience may be small, there may be someone in attendance who can get you connected to a much bigger audience.
  4. Write articles for paid media on your topic—A book often helps position you as an expert. That  means professional publications who are looking for guest columnists will pay you to write articles if the content is relevant to their audience.
  5. Sell the international rights to your books. Non-US publishers are continually looking for content to acquire and republish in their home markets. There are two ways you can pursue this opportunity. First, find an agent that specializes in foreign rights and have them represent you. Second, there are now data bases that you can subscribe to that foreign publishers scour for new material to acquire. A quick Google search will help find out more detail on both of these options.

If these ideas are helpful to you, I would encourage you to take an opportunity to hear Reid’s presentation on this topic. He usually gives it at the Hay House Writer’s Workshops. If you cannot attend one in person, Hay House is about to launch an online version of the Writers Workshop. A free preview of that course is available by registering here.

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authors, Editing, Indie book publishing, iuniverse, Publishing, self publishing, writing

Lisa Genova: From self-published author to being thanked on Oscar night.

Still Alice book cover

Still Alice started as self-published book and look where it ended up.

If you have read this blog before, you know I have mentioned Lisa Genova in previous posts.  She is a gifted author in her own right, but her own story is amazing. Recently Kevin Gray wrote about her journey on the Archway Publishing blog. I thought it was a great summation of the path she has traveled from being a first-time, self-published author to having Oscar winner, Julianne Moore, thank Lisa in her acceptance speech. As I have said many times when I speak to writers groups and at publishing conferences; “changes in publishing doesn’t mean everyone will be successful, but it means everyone has the opportunity to be successful”.  I can think of no better example of what that can mean for authors, than Lisa. Enjoy.

Still Alice” author Lisa Genova is living a dream. The night before the 87th Academy Awards, she posted a picture on her Facebook page all smiles, standing next to an ebullient Julianne Moore at a party hosted by Sony Entertainment. It’s an unusual setting for a Harvard-educated neuroscientist, to be sure, but perhaps an equally unlikely place to find a self-published author.

Long before Hollywood parties, celebrity meet and greets or a seat at the Academy Awards; Genova queried publishing’s gatekeepers, seeking a publisher for her novel, “Still Alice.” Agents and publishers alike told the unknown author the audience for a book about Alzheimer’s disease was too small. One agent even cautioned Genova that self-publishing her story would “kill her career.”

Despite that warning, Genova took the plunge and the book in 2007.

Fueled by her dedication to researching dementia and other neurological disorders, Genova tirelessly spread the word about her newly self-published work. Her diligence, and a little bit of luck, resulted in hitting the jackpot: a review in one of America’s top newspapers – The Boston Globe.

Beverley Beckham’s expectations for “Still Alice” were meager, but Alice’s story captured her: “It had arrived in the mail a week before; I’d promised to take a look and that’s all I was doing – just looking–but I couldn’t put it down,” Beckham wrote in her May 16, 2008 review for the Globe. Beckham led her piece with a ringing endorsement: “After I read ‘Still Alice’ I wanted to stand up and tell a train full of strangers, ‘You have to get this book.’

This blog post first appeared in the Archway Publishing blog.

This blog post first appeared in the Archway Publishing blog.

Fast forward to early 2009 – shortly after Beckham’s piece – a literary agent took another look and agreed to shop the novel and several publishers expressed interest. Simon & Schuster, owner of Archway Publishing, came to terms with Genova to acquire “Still Alice,” and to rerelease it through its Pocket Books imprint. Upon its 2009 rerelease, the book debuted high on the New York Times Bestseller List, where it would stay for more than 40 weeks.

In the ensuing years, Genova’s released two more bestsellers: “Left Neglected” and “Love Anthony,” becoming to novels about neurological disorders what John Grisham’s become to legal thrillers. The rise of Lisa Genova and “Still Alice” from self-publishing to silver screen feature film is not typical. Luck was part of the winning equation, but Genova did so much more to advance her book.

  • She wrote about a specific topic about which she had vast knowledge and a deep personal passion.
  • Despite warnings that her book’s appeal was too narrow, she developed and filled previously unrealized niche.
  • She believed in her work, ignored negativity, and took the self-publishing plunge rather than letting her manuscript gather dust on the shelf.
  • She was relentless. She networked, she spread the word. She convinced a reviewer from a prestigious outlet to glance at her book.

First and foremost though, Genova wrote an exceptional book; a book that is bringing attention and changing perceptions about a devastating condition.

And anyone who reads it will never, ever forget Alice.

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Author Solutions, authors, helpful hints, Publishing, self publishing, writing

Blog to book: How to make it happen.

Build Your BlogThis past weekend I had the opportunity to speak at the Build Your Blog conference on behalf of LifeRich Publishing to help bloggers better understand how they can take their blog content and turn it into a book. Not surprisingly many of the attendees were tremendously interested to learn what it takes to become an author, but also confused by the options available to writers today.

I had never spoken at a conference like this so I did not know what to expect, but I was quite impressed with the enthusiasm and passion of this group. Writers as a whole are a passionate bunch, but for some reason, committed bloggers seemed even more so.

ASI_FourPaths_HomeGraphic_240x130As I have seen at other conferences, identifying the 4 Paths to Publishing was very helpful, judging by the nods I saw in the audience as I unpacked the idea. Explaining the advantages and differences of the DIY, General Contractor , Supported Self Publishing and Traditional publishing paths seemed to really help them understand their options and which may be best for them.

WHY PUBLISH A BOOK?

The place I started our discussion was establishing why publish a book if you have a blog. There are certainly a number of reasons– ranging from a purely personal motivation to a business decision, but these were some of the more important ones.

Credibility and cache—Like or not, there is still something about the word author that carries more weight than just the word blogger. That’s why taking the rich content of a blog and publishing can change the perception people have about a writer.

Build your brand—Blogging isn’t just about writing. Bloggers begin to develop their own brands. A book is one more way to do that.

Expand your audience—With a book, you have new ways for people to find you and your content even if they have never seen your blog.

Create new income opportunities—In a future blog post, I am going to talk about the 8 ways an author can earn money besides book sales, but suffice it to say, a book gives you ways to sell you and your services in a way a blog alone does not.

SO WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO GET PUBLISHED?

At this point, there were no arguments that publishing a book was a great idea personally and professionally, but the question at hand was how. So based on my conversations with bloggers who did publish, I suggested these three key steps.

  1. Organize your material—by this I mean, look at your blog content and see what themes you see. Then organize chapters or sections around those ideas.
  2. Choose your title—Title is a key and so you want to do the research and make sure your title makes sense for your audience and genre. I have written about this topic on this blog here
  3. Pick a publishing path—this is where the 4 paths discussion proves very helpful.

 HOW TO DECIDE WHICH PATH IS BEST FOR YOU

To make a decision among the four publishing paths, you need to be clear about four specific points: your goals and expectations, skills and experience, time commitment, and budget.

Goals and expectationsThink about what your goals and expectations for your blog’s success and how that translates to publishing. What are your goals for publishing?  Write those down.

Skills and experience–How do your skills and experience in writing and your blog’s subject matter come into play when choosing a publishing path? Do you know how to format page layouts or ebook formats? Do you want to even bother with it? Being clear on what skills you have will help you decide what you need to hire out.

Time commitment–How much time are you willing to invest to make your book as good as it can be? That is also a key question to answer as you think about which publishing path

Budget—publishing is not free and really is just a trade-off between what you want to do yourself and what you want to hire someone to do, but know what you want to invest before you begin and you will make a good decision.

THE BLOGGER DAVINCI IS A GREAT EXAMPLE OF HOW THIS CAN WORK

Davinci the bloggerAs part of my presentation, I shared the platform with Da Vinci who writes YourLifeAfter25.com, a lifestyle and women’s blog, and is the author of The Pocket Sous Chef: Da Vinci’s Guide to Cooking for 1 + 1, which was published by LifeRich. From her experience, she shared three key ideas to help bloggers get to published book as she did. She summarized by saying you need to build your book, brand your book and broadcast your book.  All three are critical.

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Author Solutions, authors, book selling, iuniverse, Publishing, self publishing

From book to screen in 8 years: Still Alice movie released this weekend

For those of you follow this blog, you will know I have periodically mentioned the book Still Alice written by Lisa Genova. It was originally self published with iUniverse and then went on to be a best seller in multiple countries for Simon and Schuster. This weekend, it is being released as a major motion picture.  It is a compelling story and I hear there is Oscar buzz for Julianne Moore’s performance. In fact, this past weekend, she won the Golden Globe for best actress.

I really enjoyed the book and am looking forward to seeing the movie. Also, I wanted to bring this to your attention because I think it is a great example of  how long it can take for a book to be made into a movie. Still Alice was first released in 2007. Eight years later the movie comes out. Still worth the wait.  Enjoy.

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