It’s the eve of the New Year! I am watching my friends and acquaintances post their goals and desires for 2016 online. Some may roll their eyes, because this is the notorious time of year where people are extra pumped to make significant life changes, but soon lose their momentum and go back to their old habits. I for one do not roll my eyes when I see these posts. I believe these folks have the best intentions, and that they are truly trying to make these changes. And believe it or not, a lot of these people do end up succeeding in meeting their goals. I wish them the best. I don’t think there is anything wrong with looking at life as though you get a fresh start or a second chance. That is magical, and I will never roll my eyes at that.
I like to spend New Year’s Eve doing something to prepare myself for the upcoming New Year. For the past three years, I have spent my New Year’s Eve surrounded by Leonie Dawson’s Create Your Shining Year in Life and Biz workbooks. I firmly believe that they have inspired me to make and accomplish the many goals I have set for myself over the years, such as publishing a book, traveling across the country on a book tour, leading multiple workshops, doubling the income from my small business, launching a Self-Publishing course and eCourse, and many other awesome things.
But you can’t just order the workbooks and flip through the pretty pages. You have to do the work! You have to fill out the pages, set your intentions, and map out a way to make it all happen. The workbooks are a tool, and you have to work the tool in order to reap the benefits. I believe in these workbooks. If you are looking to make 2016 the most awesome year ever in your life, business, or both, then you should definitely check them out! Click here. If you order them, let me know. I would love to be your 2016 accountability partner!
There are quite a few things that should be done between finishing the first draft of your manuscript and preparing it to be published in a print book or ebook format. I created a checklist for NaNoWriMo writers on what to do after writing 50,000 words for the November writing challenge. (To learn more about that challenge, visit http://nanowrimo.org/.) If you’d like the checklist, please send me a message; I would be happy to send you a copy.)
I feel there are three important steps that a writer needs to put their manuscript through before publishing, regardless if you are self-publishing or going down a more traditional route. First, you need to flex your creative muscles by reading a book you love, to see if your story includes the key points that excite you as a reader. Second, you need to have avid book readers sit down with your manuscript, and third, you need to craft an exciting book description.
Yes, I am serious. Go back and reread one or two of your favorite books. While you are reading, think about what makes this book intriguing to you. What draws you in? What do you love most about the dialogue or characters? Then reread your manuscript to see if you’ve evoked similar emotions through your own writing. This isn’t about shadowing another author’s writing style. This step is for you to focus on your own writer’s voice while including a solid structure for readers. It’s a good way to decide if you need another run through on your story.
Have other people, aside from your friends and family, read your polished manuscript. I do believe that you can receive some insightful and honest feedback from friends and family, but it is wise to locate some dedicated and impartial readers to read and critique your manuscript. You can find beta readers online by doing a simple Google search, but hopefully you are already forming relationships with book bloggers that you can reach out to. Get in touch with fellow indie writers, and ask them if they have any recommendations. Word of mouth has always proven to be the most effective way to connect with qualified people.
Craft Your Book Description
Book descriptions are not just blurbs about your story, they are the perfect map for identifying your audience. You have to know who your audience is in order to market your book. The book description also reflects your book genre, which is a critical factor in book promotion. You should put the same effort into your book description as you did into your novel. You don’t want to give away too much, yet you want there to be enough info that readers are enticed to pick up your book.
There are three types of authors on social media: those who understand the importance of using social media as a promotional tool and do it well, those who create an account and walk away, and those who think the idea of jumping on the social media bandwagon is useless.
You want to be the first type of author.
Now let me tell you why.
Meet New Readers. Millions of people are on social media. You have the opportunity to reach out and connect with potential readers of your novel. All you have to do is create content that excites your audience and then simply share it with them using social media. Attach relevant hashtags and you are on your way. If you make it fun and stay genuine then you are sure to attract like-minded individuals to you. It takes time so put your patience pants on.
Talk about your book. I don’t mean posting “Buy My Book!” every day. No one wants to see that, not even your best friend in the world. When I say talk about your book, I mean share information about your book that is interesting and deliver it to the internet. Talk about your characters, their quirks, the town or city your story is set in, etc. Do you discuss a big topic in your book like mental health, physical health, bullying? Post information about those topics – it’s completely relevant.
Opportunities. Journalists, agents, publishers and radio hosts are on social media. You never know what you post that may peak their interest in you and your book. Not putting yourself out on the social media platform is basically slamming the door in the faces of opportunities. Make connections with these folks. Every new experience opens a door to something. It’s a statement said around the world for ages and there is a reason for it. It’s the truth.
Social media can be a great asset to your author presence. It’s not supposed to be a time waster. The object is to make genuine conversations with others. It’s not about collecting a huge amount of followers. That is doing it wrong. It’s about making a connection with people who like your stuff, share it and who look forward to your posts. I repeat: put your patience pants on. It takes time.
Experiment with it. Log on to Twitter. Set a timer for 15 minutes. Type out 140 characters about you or your day. Hit send. Then scroll through your feed, find something you like, click the heart and retweet. Search a hashtag that resonates with you. Find a new person to follow. Rinse and repeat.
You can do it. I believe in you. Now let me tell you about my book …. Just kidding.
In my last blog post I offered a free download of a NaNoWriMo checklist. You downloaded it, right?
Let’s be real. Your first draft is a complete brain dump of your story ideas, characters, and plot. It’s not a flawless piece of work but it is an extremely important part of the writing process. It is the foundation of your novel and just as a home needs a solid foundation so does your story.
I am asked quite often – how long do you allow your work to rest?
My recommendation is to let your writing cool down for at least one week but no longer than one month. It truly depends on the person. You have to follow your gut when you sit back down for round two of revising your manuscript. The goal is to let your work rest enough that you come back to the project with fresh eyes.
If you’re not sure if it’s been long enough, ask yourself the following questions.
Can you spot segments that need revision? Then you’re ready.
Are the words blending together and nothing stands out? Walk away and try again next week.
I do set a deadline for my work’s cool down period. I am guilty of pushing things out and then losing interest mostly out of my own fears about the project. Giving myself a deadline forces me to stay focused and motivated. I need that push. My cool down sweet spot is about two weeks. Any longer than that and I am in trouble. Your job is to find out what works best for you!
Whoa! NaNoWriMo was a wild ride. This year was the third time I participated and the second time I won. I am the type of person who needs deadlines to stay motivated and reach my goal. For me, it’s pretty imperative to participate in challenges like NaNoWriMo. Even though I have a story in my head and I love to write, I need that push to stay focused. I need some type of accountability and logging my word count each day, having a bar graph, and other tools that NaNoWriMo provides is perfect. Now I have a solid first draft of my second book to work with.
A lot of people want to know what’s next.
First thing is first, step away from your manuscript. I repeat, step away from your manuscript. Don’t touch it, read it, edit it, or drool on it. Let that sucker rest. This is the time for you to pat yourself on the back. Go ahead and do it. I’ll wait. It’s time to celebrate and cross winning NaNoWriMo off your bucket list.
Maybe you are reading this and you didn’t reach 50,000 words. That’s okay! You made the attempt and that in itself is worth celebrating. Once you carve out a schedule to write consistently, you will kick ass next year. Don’t beat yourself up for no crossing the finish line. Rejoice that you showed up to the race.
I created a simple yet spot on checklist for those who finished NaNoWriMo and you are wondering what you do with those 50,000 + words. Honestly, this awesome checklist applies to anyone who as finished any writing project. Click here to download this fun freebie: http://eepurl.com/bIwC9X