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
Humans have the tendency to compare themselves to each other. As writers we look at what our fellow authors have accomplished and get bogged down if we aren’t achieving the same thing. It’s a toxic habit and something that will kill your creativity and cause some serious burnout.
We are all different. Some of us have spouses, children, demanding jobs, illnesses, etc. It’s impossible that we all achieve the same things at the same time. First, how incredibly boring would that be? I find joy in helping others and working with mentors. We all need to be at various levels to keep the circle of support going.
Second, we all define success differently. Our big picture is not the same as our peers. Selling ten books in one month might thrill an author, but disappoint another. Focus on the most important thing: YOU.
Third, surround yourself with supportive people. You want to be in relationships, friendships, and partnerships that are two-way streets. You want to be supported while being supportive. That’s how a healthy balance works and that is an awesome way to create a solid foundation for your goals. Get rid of the folks who do nothing but place themselves on platforms and talk about their shit all day long, seven days a week. It’s great to toot your own horn about your accomplishments, but there is a fine line before it becomes annoying and tacky. And no one has time for energy vampires either. Helping others is wonderful, but there comes a time where folks need to start making moves to help themselves.
Finally, be authentic. Follow your heart and dance to your own beat. If you do this, I promise you will attract those who you need in your life. Work at your own pace. If your big goal seems overwhelming, then break it down into smaller goals and when you reach them - celebrate!
It’s okay to be hard on yourself. You need to be, but don’t compare yourself to others. It’s a waste of time and energy. So maybe someone posted online that they wrote 3,426 words and you’ve only managed to squeak out 655. No worries. Pat yourself on the back for writing today and if it really bothers you that much, then stay off social media, turn off the TV, and write.
Yesterday I made an update on my author Facebook page that read:
NaNoWriMo Day 4: Don't stalk the daily word count & don't let it stalk you! JUST KEEP WRITING.
If you have participated or are currently signed up for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) then you know exactly what I am talking about. Your daily goal is 1,667 words and that word count rolls over to the next day if you fall behind and then to the next and the next.
It can be SO SCARY, but don’t stalk the daily word count & don’t let it stalk you.
Right now, I am a full day behind if I am following the recommended daily word count to stay on track of the ultimate goal of 50,000 words in November. It weighs heavy on my mind, but in actuality if I just write an extra 240 words for one week, then I would be right back on track. 240 words is shorter than this blog post – easy peasy!
We are all trying to take on this writing challenge while juggling jobs, families, and households, so don’t beat yourself up. If you can’t make the time to write 1,667 words in one sitting, then split that up into three quick writing sessions of 555 words! I bet in the time we (yes, WE. I am guilty too) spend on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, TV, TEXTING, we could be WRITING.
The moral of this blog post is JUST KEEP WRITING.
If you fall behind, it isn’t OVER. You didn’t lose. You are WINNING because you are writing.
PS: Find me on NaNoWriMo! I’m SageRA (http://nanowrimo.org/)
Below are 3 solid tips on how to have a positive experience working with book bloggers. I am an author and a book blogger, so I can see both sides of the experience. There are a few things authors can do to not only network well, but show some respect to those who have chosen to take time out of their lives to read our written work.
Comment on the post: If a blogger has taken the time to review your work, simply leave them a comment. A genuine and thoughtful comment is best, but if you aren’t sure what to say, then you can just say ‘thank you.’ It goes a long way Book bloggers are not paid to review books, so acknowledging them is a very kind thing to do.
Share the post: If you have social media (authors you must) then you should be sharing all content talking about your work. Many authors even share things that don’t speak highly of their work. It’s part of having (or growing) thick author skin and embracing all thoughts on your work. You have no excuses not to be sharing posts, especially if it speaks highly of you or your work!
Don’t be aggressive: I have eyewitnessed an author “argue” online with a book blogger because they did not like the review the blogger left - which in all honesty, was tactful. It made the author look unprofessional and it makes other bloggers not want to work with you! It’s just uncool.
Book bloggers are our friends. Let’s treat them as such. A huge part of building your author platform is showing your human side. Make sure it’s a good one!
It’s every author’s worst nightmare: typos in your book.
You spent hours upon hours writing multiple drafts, you settle on the final draft, send it through the editing process and then finally to the printer. You wait impatiently for the printer to email informing you that your book is ready, and then you finally get your hands on a hard copy. It’s a sweet moment that within minutes turns bitter when you spot not one, but multiple typos in your book - *insert horror movie scream*
You want to hide under the covers. How can you face the world? No one will ever take you seriously as a writer - you have typos!
It’s okay, just breathe. I understand your grief. No, really, I do. I published my book two years ago and it has …. typos. I thought I did everything right. I chose a dozen beta readers, had friends with writing experience read through my manuscript and I hired an editor, yet I ended up with a book that has typos.
Unless you’ve been through this, you can’t quite understand the pain of spending so much time and energy on a creative project to only find the completed version is not the one you wanted to introduce to the world. It’s a crushing moment. But, it’s survivable.
I can only blame one person and that is myself. I rushed the most crucial process and that was the task of going through the final copy of my book prior to approving it to go to print. I had spent weeks planning a Pacific Northwest book tour, so I was on a strict time schedule. I had to get my book to the printer by a certain date to have them printed and ready to go on tour with me.
Anyone who has gone through edits of their own book knows how draining it can be. Reading the same text over and over until the letters blur and nothing makes sense. It’s easy to rush this process because it is tiring, both mentally and physically. If I could go back, I would have spent way more time going through my edited manuscript with a fine-tooth comb, but I didn’t.
Instead, I learned a hard lesson as a newly published author. I had to embrace my typos. What other choice did I have? I had hundreds of books in boxes waiting to be sold to eager readers. I could only hope my story swooned the readers enough that they could overlook the errors and luckily, most have. I truly believe I created a solid story and learned a few lessons from my editing mishap as well.
I’m currently working on my second book and implementing the knowledge I gained after publishing the first book. I am approaching the editing process in a patient manner and have decided to have multiple editors go through my manuscript.
I learned how important it is to let your work go through a cool down process. When you are reading the same text over and over, it’s incredibly easy to lose focus, get bored, and overlook important things.
This book publishing adventure has pushed me to grow as a creative person. I am excited to unveil my new book and show the world that yes, I learned a thing or two from book one and this second book is proof. Errors aren’t bad if we can take something positive away from them. True fans and friends will be thrilled to watch you blossom with every piece of work you put out.
If we did everything perfectly it would be a snooze fest because we wouldn’t learn anything and our craft would be mediocre. We excel when we face obstacles. My printed typos made me a better author, and I am thankful for them.
I have worked with hundreds of authors through my blog tour company, Sage’s Blog Tours, and I’ve decided to write an article about the purpose of a blog tour (at least from my perspective) and things authors can do to have a more successful blog tour.
First, let’s talk about what a blog tour is. When I describe it to my clients, I tell them it is a promotional event to spread the word about their book and themselves. It’s an opportunity to reach a broader audience, gain some new readers and build relationships with bloggers. Book bloggers love to read and rave about authors they enjoy. Connecting with them is vital.
Sometimes I think authors focus solely on sales – which I understand, I am a published author. I want sales, too! But, the problem with that is you have to “sell” yourself before you can sell your book. Yeah, I feel a little gross typing that, but it’s true. You can’t post info about your book and expect sales to shoot through the roof, that’s just not going to happen.
What you need to do is introduce yourself to the book blog world, offer complimentary copies of your book for review, entice readers with a giveaway, be active on social media … yes, it is hard work. If you don’t have time to do it all, then consider hiring someone.
So, you’ve signed up for a blog tour, now what?
· Read the tour company’s policies very carefully. Make sure your expectations match what the company offers.
· Get involved while the tour is running! Take a moment to comment on the blog that is featuring you. Something as little as “ Thanks for hosting me today!” is better than nothing. You have to show interest in your own promo tour.
· Share the blog posts on social media. Talk up your tour! Get excited about the promotion you paid for. If you don’t have active social media accounts then that is an entirely different problem. Email me. I can help you. Social media is crucial to creating your online author presence.
· Have good communication with the tour company owner. If you have any questions or concerns, let them know! Unknown problems can’t be fixed and professionals will make sure they handle your issue to the best of their ability.
We’ve all heard it before but let me remind you: You are going to get what you give. You can’t sit back and wait for stuff to happen. You have to make it happen. Blog tours can be extremely beneficial to you and your books, but you have to work it.