Category Archives: Writing

From Pen to Print: Advice from the Author of ALLERGY BOOKS FOR KIDS!

From Pen to Print: Advice from Michelle Nel

From Pen to Print: Advice from Michelle Nel

I recall as a child wandering the library stacks, the pile of books in my arms growing steadily, teetering ever precariously. Author has been a title I have yearned for since childhood. Albeit not for lack of trying, each attempt to write was quickly foregone as frustration would ensue. I wouldn’t call it writer’s block as much as an underlying lack of direction or purpose. A turn in life’s path brought forth my passion to write as well of what to write. Navigating life with my son’s multiple anaphylactic food allergies has inspired my journey of ‘author’ … an entrepreneurship penned from passion.

In search of a creative manner in which to share allergy awareness, my mind began to reel with an unremitting onslaught of rhyming words. Penning each phrase before forgotten, I would frequently jump from bed or stop mid-street to scribble on a scrap of paper or the palm of my hand.

Once my stories were written, I then faced the challenge of bringing them from pen to print. With most publishers only accepting submissions from pre-published authors a scenario is created similar to that of ‘chicken before the egg’.

Click here to buy My Immune System Needs Glasses

Click here to buy My Immune System Needs Glasses

With time and the test of patience, I was unwavering in my belief that all would unfold as it should. Dismayed, but yet determined, I posted an online plea with an allergy parent support group. In my search for an illustrator (or anyone with an artistic inkling), unbeknownst to me right there amidst my allergy moms was Jennifer Terry, artist and graphic designer from Colorado, USA.

For five years now, Jennifer and I have worked together, our partnership as seamless as our vision. Jen and I have never met nor video chatted and we have seldom texted (as I do not have US data on my phone). It has been with only intermittent emails that we have created this series solely by sharing a passion, one fueled by the purpose found in sharing allergy awareness.

What advice may I offer? You must believe in the purpose of what it is you write, be mindful to measure your success only against yourself, allow openness for constructive critique (thank you Kyle Dine), and finally, follow your heart! As the dedication in my fourth books reads “ For my friends, who have been ceaseless in their support, offered kind critiques, as well graciously gifted me their time, talent and technical abilities. To pursue one’s passion requires an intrinsic belief in its plausibility and purpose; to know others recognize your journey’s worth is validating as well abundantly humbling”.

There is much in life I am unsure of but I know this to be true, navigating life with my son’s allergies, autism, language and learning delays has allowed me the opportunity to grow into a better and more empathetic person. He has shown me the beauty in viewing life not just outside the box, but that there is no box. And the rewards, financial gain will come, what is priceless has been the friendships found and that the books are being embraced.

It would be an Ottawa allergy dad/businessman who after reading my first 2 books (then print-on-demand) offered to pay for a full print run of each. With both high-quality work and winning customer service I have returned now four times to the same family run printers, Sotek Graphics, in Orleans, Ottawa. Last month, in order to help me hand in my book 4 printing file the owner met me at a gas station on the side of highway, an hour from his business!

Click here to buy See You Later Allergygator

Click here to buy See You Later Allergygator

During a time of single mom struggle, my gas and hotel were paid for by the owner/editor of Allergic Living Magazine, Gwen Smith, so I might attend the Canadian Anaphylaxis Conference three years ago. Gwen went as far as to allow me a corner of the A.L. Magazine table from which to share and sell my books.

I met Peter Ausland, editor of Ottawa Parenting Times Magazine through attending the Parenting Times Children’s Expo. Peter allowed me such an act of kindness I am still in awe. And when technology has had me in tears, many a time others have stepped in to offer not just a tissue but tech support.

There is no right way nor a singular road, be true to yourself and never lose sight of the passion that brought you to begin your journey with ‘words’. Along with his allergic lessons, I have instilled in my son that allergies and autism are what one has, they do not define who one is nor will they determine what one does or may become. I do not believe in disabilities only in the beauty found in different abilities.

With a love of reading bound by my fondness of books themselves, I am equally excited and honoured to sit as a new board trustee for the Augusta Township Public Library. This historical gem welcomes with its stone structure, red door, and the warmth found by stacks of books placed upon wood shelves.

Nestled near the St. Lawrence River, the Old Algonquin School was built in 1833 and was Ontario’s longest active schoolhouse at 133 years. The Augusta Township library began its conception inside the schoolhouse in 1896. Incredibly, in sharing of heritage and house, should you wish to read or hold a reception the Augusta Township Library welcomes rentals of the schoolhouse.

Click here to buy There Are No B List Allergies

Click here to buy There Are No B List Allergies

What has been the biggest benefit? Having others share how much the books have been enjoyed, that they instill equal laughter as lessons learnt. But the greatest reward has been watching my son as he reads ‘his’ books, for this journey, an entrepreneurship penned by passion, is one we take together.

I smile to think that wandering the library stacks, a pair of little arms will embrace a pile of books, mine sitting on the top teetering precariously.

Michelle and Jennifer are honoured their books are housed in the resource library at CHEO (Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario). Michelle has participated in the CHEO open doors event sharing her experiences as a parent navigating allergies.

Michelle was nominated top five food allergy books by BAAAB – The (San Francisco) Bay Area Allergy Advisory Board.

Allergic Living Magazine has published a review for each book as well Michelle has several published articles in A.L. Magazine as well on the BAAAB webpage.

Michelle was interviewed on CBC radio ‘All In A Day’ by Giacomo Panico also she has participated in the Parenting Times Magazine/Ottawa Children’s Expo. 

CLICK HERE TO BUY NOW

Michelle is a member of the AOE, Ottawa Arts Council as well is a board member for the Augusta Township Public Library.

ALLERGY BOOKS FOR KIDS! Michelle and Jennifer have aspired to create books which not only engage children who have allergies, but that they might also be used as resources to aid with allergy education. Michelle and Jennifer are pleased to share the upcoming release of their final two books thus completing the Allergy Books For Kids series of six.

Michelle was born in 1972, Gravelbourg, Saskatchewan although her parents’ home was in the neighboring village of Hodgeville.  From this small prairie community Michelle’s family moved to Saskatoon, then again to Kitimat, a coastal city in Northern British Columbia. A final childhood move, taken by ship, brought Michelle to the home where she grew up in the Vancouver suburb of Burnaby.

In 2007 Michelle moved from Langley, B.C. to Canada’s capital, Ottawa, Ontario. Most recently Michelle now calls home to Augusta Township, a picturesque piece of rural Ontario.

WEBSITE: www.allergybooksforkids.ca

TWITTER: @allergybookmom

LINKEDIN: Michelle Nel

FACEBOOK: Allergy Books For Kids – Author Michelle Nel

© Michelle Nel 2017

All https://blog.polishedpublishinggroup.com guest posts from before 2017 were included in Diary of an Indie Blogger VOL 1 which can be downloaded from AmazonKobo, or E-Sentral free of charge. All other guest posts from the original PPG Publisher’s Blog have been moved here: https://polishedpublishinggroup.com/category/guest-bloggers/.
You might consider syndicating this content on your own blog. If you do, make sure to attribute the original source so neither of us gets dinged on the SEO front. You can do that by including this line at the bottom of the article: This content first appeared on the PPG Publisher’s Blog and has been republished here with permission.




3 Reasons Why You Should Write Your Life Story

write your life story

write your life story

For a long time now, you’ve been thinking you may one day write your life story. But the chatter inside your mind has you second guessing this choice. Maybe you’re waiting for someone else to give you the go-ahead—the permission—to move forward with this project. You may fear failure. Or, you may fear that your book could one day become a massive success. And maybe that level of success will shine a light on all the dark corners of your life for everyone to see, or maybe it will separate you from cherished family and friends. These fears can be daunting, whether they’re right or wrong, true or false.

3 Reasons Why You Should Write Your Life Story

So many questions may be running through your head. What will people think of me? Will they understand or will they judge me? Will this hurt or embarrass the ones I love? Should I do it?

There are a lot of articles out there on how to write your life story. But, today, I want to talk about 3 reasons why you should write this important story. I want to help you past the fear that is holding you back so you can stop procrastinating and move forward with it. After all, you’ve been thinking about doing this for a long time now. Haven’t you?

1. It’s the story you know best.

The best way to learn how to write a book is to start with a story that is most familiar to you—your own life story. There is no character research to be done. You won’t even have to create fictitious scenes out of thin air. Everything is already there at your disposal, inside your memory. All you have to do is sit down and write it.

Where do you start? Well, I recommend starting with any pivotal moment that stands out in your mind, that you’ve thought about many times. Write it down. Then write down the next moment. And then the next one. You can rearrange the timeline later, as you’ve written out more scenes from your life. The important thing is to start.

“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.”
~Louis L’Amour

Do this religiously every evening, one scene at a time. The next thing you know, you’ll have a full book written.

2. It can be therapeutic for you.

You may find, as I did, that writing out certain scenes from your life is a therapeutic way of purging negative emotions—especially when it comes to writing about traumatic experiences. As you explain the situation and your reactions to it, you may also gain new insight that helps you heal, forgive, and move forward anew.

When it comes to your life story, there are no hard and fast rules on how to structure it. Just write. Let whatever comes to mind flow out through your hands onto that computer keyboard without judgement. Write from your heart. Feel it all again as you write it. By doing so, others will feel it when they read it later on. It will be that much more impactful. Which brings me to…

3. You may just help someone.

Lisa Nichols is a bestselling author, transformational coach, and professional speaker. She’s also one of my top sources of inspiration whenever I need a boost. What I love most about Lisa is her willingness to share her life story with others—including all the times she’s fallen during her lifetime.

Lisa is unapologetic about her journey. She encourages others to stand on top of their stories rather than carrying them as heavy baggage. One of her favourite sayings is, “The truth is sexy!” And she’ll help you to realize that if her truth is okay to share openly, then so is yours. You have nothing to hide or fear or protect if you’re sharing your truth in a productive way with genuinely helpful intentions.

“There’s a calling on your life that you don’t get to shake, and its only yours. No one else has the same calling as you. … I need you to fall in front of me. Because I’m not watching you when you fall. I’m watching how you get back up again. … I need you more than you need you. When you cross my path, and I watch you keep working at it, and I watch you keep coming back, you put oxygen in my chest.” Lisa Nichols, Mindvalley keynote

That’s perhaps the greatest reason why you should write your life story. In doing so, you may just help someone else.

One Important Disclaimer

No publisher can answer all your questions for you—particularly any legal questions you may have about writing certain controversial scenes or “characters” into your personal story. It’s always best to consult a qualified trademark, copyright and entertainment attorney in your area with these types of questions. Only a lawyer can provide you with legitimate legal advice.

As a user of this website, you are authorized only to view, copy, print, and distribute the documents on this website so long as: one (1) the document is used for informational purposes only; and two (2) any copy of the document (or portion thereof) includes the following copyright notice: Copyright © 2020 Polished Publishing Group (PPG). All rights reserved.




Why Ian Dainty Says B2B Content is So Important for Non-Fiction Authors

Ian Dainty

Ian Dainty

There is a lot of information on this blog that caters specifically to individual authors; but, until today, there wasn’t much here for the business authors—the executives who produce non-fiction books as part of their corporate marketing strategies. That’s why I was so grateful to connect with Ian Dainty on LinkedIn recently. As a CEO, business-to-business (B2B) sales and marketing coach, strategic business advisor, speaker, trainer, and B2B blogger, Ian is the perfect person to fill this “content void” on the PPG Publisher’s Blog.

I’m sending out a special thank you to Ian for allowing us to share this recent post from his own blog titled ‘Why B2B Content is So Important’ as it provides a fresh perspective (including relevant statistics) to back up so much of the other information here. Not only is it valuable to have a book published and available online nowadays, but it is also crucial to have a diversified platform to promote that book through because, as Ian states below, “…People gather information from mixed sources. So you need to put your content on a few social media sites. Blogs, LinkedIn, Twitter, Youtube and Google+ are relevant for B2B buyers.”

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Ian Dainty on content marketing

Ian Dainty on content marketing

Everyone is telling you that you need more and more content in order to grow your business.

But you’re not sure why it’s so important, and how to ensure you are getting the right content in front of your potential clients.

And there is so much content on the web that you wonder if your content is going to matter, and will the right people see it?

Let’s have a look at why B2B content is so important, and how to ensure the right people see it.

Importance

The reason B2B content is so important is because that’s how your potential clients are judging you, and more importantly, finding you now.

Here are some significant statistics for you to know.

1. 90% of B2B buyers say when they’re ready to buy, they’ll find you. (Earnest)
2. 94% of B2B buyers report conducting some degree of research online before making a business purchase. (Acquity Group)
3. Content creation is marked as the single most effective search engine optimization (SEO) technique. (Marketing Sherpa)
4. Most buyers are 50-60% of the way into the buy cycle before they’ll talk to you (Earnest)
5. 80% of business decision makers prefer to get company information in a series of articles versus an advertisement. (CMI)
6. 81% of B2B CEOs believe that the importance of marketing has increased, and 46% of them say significantly. (Stein IAS)
7. 73 percent of tech buyers surveyed said they consume two to eight assets (articles, videos, eBooks, pdf’s, etc.) before they purchase. (Eccolo Media)

Ensure Your Content is Relevant & Distributed Properly

The other side of the marketing coin is to ensure your content is relevant and distributed to the right platforms for maximum viewing and effect. Here is why that is so important.

1. 66% of B2B marketers with a documented content strategy feel they are effective, vs 11% of B2B marketers who don’t have a content strategy. (CMI)
2. 78% of CMO’s think custom content is the future of marketing. (Ragan)
3. Peer reviews matter. Ensure you have case studies and testimonials that sell. Customer testimonials are the most effective form of content marketing. (SocialTimes)
4. People gather information from mixed sources. So you need to put your content on a few social media sites. Blogs, LinkedIn, Twitter, Youtube and Google+ are relevant for B2B buyers.
5. 87% of B2B marketers use social media to distribute content. (CMI and Marketing Profs)
6. The average content length for a web page that ranks in the top 10 results for any keyword on Google has at least 2,000 words. The higher up you go on the search listings page, the more content each web page has. (QuickSprout)
7. 83% of B2B marketers invest in social media to increase brand exposure; 69% to increase web traffic; and 65% to gain market insights. (Social Media Today)

Click here to view the original post on Ian’s blog. It was republished here with his permission.

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IAN’S BIO:

Ian Dainty is the CEO of Maximize Business Marketing. Ian has close to 40 years’ experience in B2B marketing & sales. Ian started his career at IBM, in the large systems division, in 1974. He has owned, operated and sold two successful businesses in the technology field.

For the past 20 years, Ian has been working with B2B companies, helping them increase their revenue by 25% to 100% over forecasts, through better marketing and sales strategies and techniques.

With the advent of the Internet, and all of its many platforms for reaching people, Ian has become a student, researcher, advocate, coach and mentor, helping companies use these tools wisely, as well as more traditional marketing and sales strategies, to help B2B companies grow.

Ian has a good grasp of the marketing capabilities of websites, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+, PPC, and YouTube.

Ian also has over 40 years of B2B selling experience. He has trained and coached thousands of sales people, marketers, executives and business owners in how to sell their products and services.

Ian has developed, through his years of experience and also through extensive research and interviews, a methodology for growing your current accounts. The methodology is Strategic Account Management or SAM. It is taught to you and your team through extensive training and coaching.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/iandainty

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/iandainty

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/iandainty

© Ian Dainty 2017

All https://blog.polishedpublishinggroup.com guest posts from before 2017 were included in Diary of an Indie Blogger VOL 1 which can be downloaded from AmazonKobo, or E-Sentral free of charge. All other guest posts from the original PPG Publisher’s Blog have been moved here: https://polishedpublishinggroup.com/category/guest-bloggers/.




[The Law of Plenty] Everything You Need is Within Your Reach

The Law of Plenty by Nestor Eguez

The Law of Plenty by Nestor Eguez

As a writer, my first story took me almost ten years to complete. You can imagine all the things, good and bad that happened during this long period of time. I specifically remember one occasion, I was very frustrated and close to giving up the whole project. Suddenly, I received an email with the below article from a close friend. Apparently, it was extracted and adapted from an old book. After reading, it definitely changed my perspective a lot.

To tell you the truth, it wasn’t a magic recipe that gave me ideas and eased my long road I had ahead. But rather, it simply opened the barriers inside my mind.

In my case, I want to write a story, right? Well, I have an idea, a piece of paper and a pencil in front of me. What more do I need? Nothing, only time and the desire to do it. Is the story going to be good or average? Is it going to touch and inspire people? I don’t know, and I’ll never be able to find out if I don’t try.

I hope that for those of you who are in the same situation with your dreams right now, that this article could help you as helped me years ago.

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The Law of Plenty: All the things you'll need, are at the reach of your hand...

The Law of Plenty: All the things you’ll need, are at the reach of your hand…

                Have you heard of the Law of Plenty? This is the maxim that states whatever we could need or want, we have already. Even if we don’t literally have something plunked down in front of us, we certainly already have access to the raw materials in our lives right here and right now, available and ready to be put on the task.

                In order to use this rule to our advantage we have to be willing to see and understand what we have at this moment. This goes beyond taking inventory of our possessions; it is an inclusive, honest, open understanding of everything we are and have access to.

                To do this, we have to quit nay-saying, cut out the complaining and thinking we’ll never have enough, or that we’ll never amount to anything. We have to get innovative and be able to see new possibilities within the old scenarios, to understand how and when to recycle and renew our resources to get the absolute most out of them.

                In the process, we’ll achieve a wonderful balance that engenders a new thrilling freedom. All without spending a dime.

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CLICK HERE TO BUY NOW

This is the story of Kalima, a young zebra born in a corner of the jungle of Kenya. She is the last descendant of a very special breed called The Guides, well know for being protectors of the herd, and always staying alert. She has recently been made an orphan due to a lion attack that killed off her mom. Her grandmother becomes her caretaker, as she is an old and wise zebra who holds great knowledge. Kalima loves flowers, chase butterflies and play with her friend Norba, the youngest member of the elephant pack. But as one of The Guides, soon she is going to receive a big responsibility, keep a very important secret hide in the jungle. Unfortunately, looks like she doesn’t have any clue about it. The first of a trilogy, this book introduces to Kalima’s journey. Beginning in the jungle, her homeland, the little zebra is going to confront the ancestors heritage and her dreams in the process to find her destiny. The first of a trilogy, this Fantasy YA book, ingeniously explores humanity’s perception of its respect to nature and animals rights.

© Nestor Eguez 2017

All https://blog.polishedpublishinggroup.com guest posts from before 2017 were included in Diary of an Indie Blogger VOL 1 which can be downloaded from AmazonKobo, or E-Sentral free of charge. All other guest posts from the original PPG Publisher’s Blog have been moved here: https://polishedpublishinggroup.com/category/guest-bloggers/.
You might consider syndicating this content on your own blog. If you do, make sure to attribute the original source so neither of us gets dinged on the SEO front. You can do that by including this line at the bottom of the article: This content first appeared on the PPG Publisher’s Blog and has been republished here with permission.




Patrick J. Power on Writing, Writer’s Block, and Overcoming the Fear of Failure

Patrick J. Power

Patrick J. Power

If you want to sail the Atlantic, single-handed, then you have nobody to blame if something goes wrong on your trip; if you are an enthusiastic amateur tennis player, or an ardent professional, then you have no fall back, no scape-goat, as it were, to point the finger at and release a torrent of invective whenever you might lose.

Much the same can be said for the writer. The writer of any written original word. You are on your own, full stop. You decide when to write; you decide what to write. You never have to clock in or out. You can take coffee breaks whenever you feel like it. You can go to the bathroom and browse your favourite magazine to put off going back to the PC. You make the rules.

This doesn’t suit everybody. Many would-be writers, are not cut out to be writers, regardless of whether or not they might have developed the greatest single most original storyline for a novel in their heads. But getting it from your brain to the computer screen is the tricky part. If only we could copy & paste! Maybe contact Microsoft or Apple and suggest that they might develop an app which burns your most brilliant ideas on to that blank screen in front of you. And of course, that app would also be grammatically and spellingly correct! Ups!

Sartre House by Patrick J. Power

But, (there’s always a but) writing can be good also. I wouldn’t go so far as to describe it as being fun. When your fingers seemed to have found that delicate touch on the keyboard, as if they were creating magic words just like Clapton, or BB King, or some other impresario creating magical sounds on their respective sets of taut strings; that’s when it becomes so worth it. And a little later when you emerge from your happy daze and take a well-earned break from your endeavours and bask in the knowledge that one day, because of what you have just engraved onto your page, either the Man Booker judges, or the Pulitzer people will be frantically searching out your life’s details from that agent of yours who it took many heart-breaking years to find.

Am I coming across to you sounding like some facetious pompous ass who thinks he knows all about the art/act of writing?  Well, let me state very clearly, that I do not! If I sound facetious it’s probably because when all those years ago, at age eighteen, just graduated secondary school in the South-East of Ireland, I was reliably informed by my English teacher that whatever else I was about to do with my life, that I should begin writing at once and continue to write for the remainder of my life; that I did not. I thought I knew better. Live my life first and then write about it. But I don’t think it works that way. So, I took that sage advice on board and stored it away for forty years. But to my credit, I think, I carried out the, “whatever else” segment of his advice to the letter.

The following day, I took a flight to Boston with another eighteen-year-old and soon after started out on an overland trip from Boston to Buenos Aires. Following on from that memorable (and dangerous) trip I have worked as; a wheat farmer; Jazz Club manager, on the Upper-West Side of NY; oil-rig worker; construction worker in both Twin Towers in New York; an English teacher in Prague; fronted two different Rock & Roll band’s in New York and Dublin;  event manager at a major Music Festival; landed a Soccer Scholarship to Uni of ILL in Chicago; landscape designer in Boston; lived in a Volkswagen camping-bus for six months in Europe, whilst Busking for a living; studied Film & Editing in Waterford, Ireland; produced a round dozen Documentaries; lived in six different countries whilst touching my toes into the waters of another forty, before deciding to move to Belgium four years ago and begin to take my writing seriously.

I tried every manner and means to escape the decision because I think I was afraid of failure. The greatest curse and drawback to becoming a writer, (a published writer, whether it be down the traditional route of, finding an agent/ agent finding a publisher/ publisher deciding to take you on, or, as I did, and so many more writers are doing, going it alone!) is that ever-present latent fear of failure. Those doubt ridden moments of assuming that your efforts of that day’s scratchings are simply not up to scratch! When you pick up a novel of one of your favourite authors and get that tremendous shock to your system on the realization that this person is so far ahead of you that you possibly may be wasting your time.

And this is the pivotal moment that I’ve been striving to get to over the past 800 words. This is the moment to dig deep into yourself and decide that you are not going to throw in the towel. You can handle the periods of writer’s block; the fact that your close friends become slightly embarrassed anymore to ask: How’s the book coming along? When the 27th rejection slip comes into your otherwise empty mail-box from an agent who you are most certain in your head (heart actually) has not even read your submission.

And there we are, back to that place again. Alone again, naturally! (song lyric from the 1970’s) Decision time! Are you going to stand up and walk away, or, sit back down and beat the crap out of the keys? Beat them into submission! Own them! Devour them! Write the best you’ve ever written! You know it’s true-the hell with anyone who doesn’t!

Don’t stop! Write, write, write! Till your fingers bleed! Till the sun goes down! Till the sun rises again! And then, write some more! And love it when you’re doing it!

As an old Irish proverb goes: Live life to the full, my son (or daughter) ‘cause you’ll be dead long enough!

I don’t offer advice but I’ll repeat a piece from someone else.

Start with short stories. Hone your craft with short, sharp stories. Easier to tackle a 6th draft of a short story than the onerous task of a 6th draft of a long first novel.

Then when you have finished honing your craft, you can begin your masterpiece!

© Patrick J. Power 2017

Goodreads Author: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13955676.Patrick_J_Power

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/patrickjpower31/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/patrick-j-power-a4939412b

All https://blog.polishedpublishinggroup.com guest posts from before 2017 were included in Diary of an Indie Blogger VOL 1 which can be downloaded from AmazonKobo, or E-Sentral free of charge. All other guest posts from the original PPG Publisher’s Blog have been moved here: https://polishedpublishinggroup.com/category/guest-bloggers/.
You might consider syndicating this content on your own blog. If you do, make sure to attribute the original source so neither of us gets dinged on the SEO front. You can do that by including this line at the bottom of the article: This content first appeared on the PPG Publisher’s Blog and has been republished here with permission.




9 Things Star Trek Can Teach You About Writing

9 Things Star Trek Can Teach You About Writing with Michael LaRocca

9 Things Star Trek Can Teach You About Writing with Michael LaRocca

1) Readers Matter

In the first STAR TREK film, Gene Roddenberry finally had the budget to create all the footage he wanted of ENTERPRISE just sitting there, looking real purty, and by gum he was gonna use it. While I don’t mind watching all those minutes, 22 or 187 or whatever it was, most folks think that’s too much. If most of your readers say something needs to be changed or added or deleted, listen to them.

2) Characters Matter

When the second pilot was filmed, it was pre-ordained that William Shatner was the star. Since Spock was the only character from the first pilot to also appear in the second pilot, it was safe to assume Leonard Nimoy was a costar. McCoy and the chemistry just kinda happened.

When I write, character comes first, and plot etc. unfold from there. Even if you start from some other place, character always matters. Nothing happens unless it happens to somebody, and that somebody is who your reader cares about regardless of species.

When you write, have some sort of plan, and have some control, but be flexible. If your story’s telling you to go in a certain direction, listen to it. That might be your characters talking to you. (And yes, I know you made them all up. Don’t bother me with details.)

3) Turn Weaknesses into Strengths

Why did the ENTERPRISE have a transporter? Because it wasn’t in the TV show’s budget to film launch and landing sequences for shuttlecraft on various and sundry new planets every week. This forced the writers to invent the transporter, and that’s some seriously cool tech. STAR TREK wouldn’t be STAR TREK without it.

4) Forget Grammar

Okay, not really. Spock used English with scientific precision and it wasn’t even his first language. Speaking as your editor, please don’t forget grammar. You can break any rule you want if you have a good reason. Never break a rule from ignorance. But if you’ve got a reason, go for it. That’s how we as authors change the language.

Why did Shakespeare invent 10% of the words he used? Because if he’d invented 20% or 50% he’d have confused too many of his viewers.

Meanwhile, the “rule” about splitting infinitives is totally bogus. “To boldly go” is a perfectly good English phrase. In Latin, it isn’t possible to split an infinitive because “to go” (for example) is one word. You can’t write “to boldly go” in Latin because “to go” is only one word. Someone decided English grammar should follow Latin grammar — that sounds like some of Noah Webster’s rubbish — and was soundly shouted down for being too stupid to live. Feel free to boldly split infinitives like James Brown split tight pants. Then jump back and kiss yourself.

5) Wishful Thinking Is Allowed

In the STAR TREK future, everybody quotes long passages of Shakespeare from memory. If I say it like that, it might sound hard to believe, but in the context of the STAR TREK world, it fits. It’s allowed. Dagnabbit, people should quote Shakespeare from memory. I taught a customer’s cockatiel to recite Hamlet’s soliloquy without warning the humans. I never could teach him context, though.

6) It’s Not About the Money

Okay, sometimes it was about the money. But in roughly two years of the original show and roughly ten years of Next Generation, it wasn’t about the money. In most of the films, including some of the stinkers, it wasn’t about the money.

I’ve always said that you should write what you’d like to read, then find readers who share your interests. Yep, that’s what Gene Roddenberry did. He believed in world peace, racial and gender integration, trying to shake off old prejudices to the best of our limited abilities, freedom of religion and non-religion, true equality for women rather than today’s lip service, gay rights, cooperation rather than killing, the Prime Directive of non-interference in viable developing cultures, war as a last and not a first resort, and seeing just how much political and religious commentary he could slip past the censors, who weren’t as bright as the average STAR TREK viewer. (I like to think the censors weren’t always as clueless as they pretended to be.)

7) Choose Your Battles

That’s what Roddenberry had to do every time he butted heads with TV executives. It’s what I do as an author when I disagree with my editor, and what I expect an author to do when I’m his or her editor. “I’ll say Starfleet pays its officers in credits if you let the white guy kiss the black girl.” Or whatever.

8) YOU Are The Writer

Remember when I said to listen to your readers? That doesn’t mean you have to always agree with them. When Gene Roddenberry’s vision put him at odds with the majority, he went with his vision. We should all do that. Such judgment calls are what separate the great writers from the merely ordinary. And to pull all that off within the confines of a 1960s TV show is nothing short of extraordinary. You could do far worse than to follow his example.

9) Posterity Matters

How long has it been since Captain Kirk first flexed those biceps and paused in funny places during his speechifying? It’s been over 50 years since Roddenberry started writing STAR TREK, and we’re still talking about it. That’s what we write for. I don’t want you to love my writing now and forget it tomorrow. A novel is not a blog or a tweet. Write something timeless. Something to annoy future generations the way it does your immediately family, something teachers can torture students with, something that just will not die.

Technical editing since 1991. Business editing since 2006. MichaelEdits.com

© Michael LaRocca 2017

All https://blog.polishedpublishinggroup.com guest posts from before 2017 were included in Diary of an Indie Blogger VOL 1 which can be downloaded from AmazonKobo, or E-Sentral free of charge. All other guest posts from the original PPG Publisher’s Blog have been moved here: https://polishedpublishinggroup.com/category/guest-bloggers/.
You might consider syndicating this content on your own blog. If you do, make sure to attribute the original source so neither of us gets dinged on the SEO front. You can do that by including this line at the bottom of the article: This content first appeared on the PPG Publisher’s Blog and has been republished here with permission.




3 Reasons Why Reading Helps Writing

If you’ve ever wondered what sorts of writing courses you should take to become a better writer, this post is for you. Here are 3 reasons why reading helps writing in the most useful ways.

3 Reasons Why Reading Helps Writing

3 Reasons Why Reading Helps Writing

Why Reading Helps Writing Reason #1: You’ll Pick Up New Skills

In a recent guest post, one of PPG’s top guest bloggers, Michael LaRocca, talked about why he is a voracious reader. Here’s what he had to say:

I read voraciously, a habit I recommend to any author who doesn’t already have it. You’ll subconsciously pick up on what does and doesn’t work. Characterization, dialogue, pacing, plot, story, setting, description, etc. But more importantly, someone who doesn’t enjoy reading will never write something that someone else will enjoy reading. (LaRocca, 2019)

Even Stephen King agreed with this when he said, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”

So, maybe you want to pay money for some writing courses. Fair enough. But, perhaps, your first step toward becoming a better writer is simply to pick up some books in your chosen genre and start reading. Start learning that way first.

Why Reading Helps Writing Reason #2: You’ll Be Inspired to Write

Whenever I get writer’s block (which we all get sometimes), I read something to cure myself quickly. In fact, writers who spend even as little as half an hour per day reading another person’s work often find that they are more creative during their own writing sessions.

It doesn’t even have to be another book or anything related to your topic matter at all; it can be an online article, magazine, newspaper, or blog. Sometimes, the least likely source can inspire the greatest creativity. The most important point here is to keep yourself open and aware of the infinite pool of ideas all around you. Whatever it takes to get that first sentence out, do it. From there, thoughtful inspiration can—and will—take care of the rest. It always does.

I think this quote by Steven Wright sums it up well: “It usually helps me write by reading — somehow the reading gear in your head turns the writing gear.” So true!

Why Reading Helps Writing Reason #3: You’ll Have a Healthier Brain

Here’s an article you may find interesting: This is your brain on Jane Austen, and Stanford researchers are taking notes.

Researchers observe the brain patterns of literary PhD candidates while they’re reading a Jane Austen novel. The fMRI images suggest that literary reading provides “a truly valuable exercise of people’s brains.”

I think we’ve always known this. But now there is scientific proof.

Creativity is similar to muscularity in that it will begin to atrophy with a lack of regular stimulation. Just as even the finest athletes have those days when they must dig a bit deeper to find the will to carry on, all writers will have the same experience. Reading will help you keep your brain healthy which, in turn, will help your writing.

You might consider syndicating this content on your own blog. If you do, make sure to attribute the original source so neither of us gets dinged on the SEO front. You can do that by including this line at the bottom of the article: This content first appeared on the PPG Publisher’s Blog and has been republished here with permission.
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[Jeannette DiLouie] Do You Really Have What It Takes to Write a Book?

Jeannette DiLouie

Jeannette DiLouie

In this post, Jeannette DiLouie asks: do you really have what it takes to write a book? You may be surprised by her answer.

So you wrote a book? Congratulations! That’s amazing.

But do you really have what it takes? Are you a good enough writer to reach the audience you want without making a fool out of yourself? How do you actually know your writing is worthwhile?

Those are questions every single writer wonders at least from time to time no matter how many books he or she has written. Sometimes they pop into our heads on their own. Other times, they grow from a single negative review we get on Amazon or GoodReads or maybe in person.

In those cases, it doesn’t matter how many compliments we’ve gotten and how many positive reviews we’ve received. Our personal doubts or outside critiques – constructive or otherwise – can cut through our egos like chainsaws through butter.

The resulting mess is time-consuming to clean up, to say the least.

[Jeannette DiLouie] Do You Really Have What It Takes to Write a Book?

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But guess what? You have, in fact, written a book! So clearly you do have what it takes. You put in the time and effort necessary to start, continue and finish your manuscript. So the question you should be asking yourself isn’t whether you have what it takes. You need to switch gears completely by focusing not on approval so much but improvement.

What you really need to be asking is: How do I strengthen my current book or my next novel or my writing style in general?

Because there’s always room for improvement. Always. And it doesn’t matter whether you’ve just completed your first manuscript or you’re on your 25th. We writers never perfect our craft, only strengthen it.

Fortunately for us, there are a number of great ways to grow, mainly by seeking out other people’s opinions and advice. This could be by:

Finding a writers’ critique group: Just about anywhere you look, there are writing communities to be found. One might be offered through your local church or synagogue, on meetup.com, or perhaps posted on Craigslist. And if for some reason you can’t find one in any of those hotspots, then consider starting one up yourself! After all, if you build it, they could come.

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Getting a writing buddy: While it’s always nice to get multiple opinions about your work, a writing buddy has the potential to be more consistent than a writers’ group. With the latter, you might be able to submit a chapter every six weeks, whereas with a writing buddy, you could be swapping story segments every 10 days or less. Just be careful if you go this route that you’re getting just as much as you’re giving. There are some very selfish writing buddies out there that you need to be on guard against.

Getting beta readers: Beta readers are great resources to utilize if you know how to find them. These are random reviewers out there on the internet who will critique your manuscript for free. Though – warning – some of them can be pretty harsh. You asked them for their opinion, and believe me, they’re going to give it to you. While you can simply send out social media requests for beta readers if you’re up for this route, you can also find them on organized sites such as Wattpad and Scribofile.

Hiring an editor: Depending on how thorough of an edit you want, you can hire an editor for anywhere from $15 an hour to $4,000 for your whole manuscript. $15 an hour is going to get you a speed-read edit, so if that’s all you can afford, you’re probably better off just going with beta readers or a writing buddy instead. Though that’s not to say the $4,000 option is worthwhile either, since that usually gets you a read-through with grammatical and spelling corrections, plus a summarized edit. Try going for something on the cheaper side of the middle instead ($25-$35 an hour). And regardless, make sure to ask your editor what you’re going to get out of that investment in return.

One quick note about that last statement: When I say to make sure you know what you’re getting out of an edit, what I mean is to ask lots of questions.

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Will they be using track changes? Will they be adding in comments? Will they be looking for plot pitfalls as well as spelling and grammar? Are they going to look line by line, or are they simply critiquing the big picture?

For example, when I edit someone’s book manuscript, I take a holistic approach. That means I’m looking to make sure the dialogue is convincing, that details mesh together, characters are believable and the story flows well from paragraph to paragraph. So my clients get a thorough edit from start to finish, complete with a complimentary summary that highlights areas they’ve already sold me on as well as spots that need improvement.

Whatever editor you go with though, make sure you feel comfortable with them before you sign on. Don’t let them pressure you at any point.

And always keep in mind that you really do have what it takes to write a book. The rest is just practice.

 * * *    * * *    * * *

Where Can You Reach Jeannette DiLouie?

Jeannette DiLouie is the published author of 10 books and counting, and the Chief Executive Editor of Innovative Editing, a full-service editorial business with a special focus on authors and authors-in-the-making. You can find her writing insights and guidance at www.InnovativeEditing.com, and her books on Amazon.com.

© Jeannette DiLouie 2017

All https://blog.polishedpublishinggroup.com guest posts from before 2017 were included in Diary of an Indie Blogger VOL 1 which can be downloaded from AmazonKobo, or E-Sentral free of charge. All other guest posts from the original PPG Publisher’s Blog have been moved here: https://polishedpublishinggroup.com/category/guest-bloggers/.
You might consider syndicating this content on your own blog. If you do, make sure to attribute the original source so neither of us gets dinged on the SEO front. You can do that by including this line at the bottom of the article: This content first appeared on the PPG Publisher’s Blog and has been republished here with permission.




How Timothy Ellis Consistently Sells 3000+ Books Per Month

Let’s talk about how Timothy Ellis consistently sells 3000+ books per month. Here’s the success formula he shared with me in May of 2017. You can use it, too.

Timothy Ellis

Timothy Ellis

[Timothy Ellis] Thank you Kim for inviting me to your Blog. I’m delighted to be able to talk about publishing novels, and what I’ve found works for me. I find myself answering a lot of author related questions on Quora these days, and the following represents a lot of merged answers. I hope some of this is helpful.

[Kim Staflund] How many books have you published? What genre are they?

[TE] I started writing in 2006, with a spiritual how to heal using meditation book, followed by a how to do Feng Shui book. Both were rejected by traditional publishers, but I must admit, I didn’t try very hard.

These were followed by 2 game handbooks for a PC space combat simulator style game. I’d been writing game guides for several years, before I suggested all the guides by everyone be put together into a handbook. The answer came back, your idea, you do it, so I did. It had 5 versions in pdf format over as many years, and now has 2 Kindle editions.

Once a long running thread on a spiritual forum vanished in a clean-up, I turned it into 8 Wisdom of the Ages books, based on questions and answers in the thread. The last three deal with Karma, Indigo’s, and Ascension, and include a lot of articles I’d been writing over the years, all brought together in one place.

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I was late to adapting to Kindle, somewhat accidently discovering how good it was to read in that format. Once I accepted it, I used the first of the game Handbooks to test how to publish this way, followed it with the spiritual and Feng Shui book, and then the 8 Wisdom of the Ages books. This was in 2014.

At this point, with practically no sales of anything but an occasional handbook, I started writing fiction novels. Even now, if I sell more than 20 non-fiction books a month, I’m doing well. So currently the count goes like this, if you break it down by genres.

  • 1 Feng Shui.
  • 11 Spiritual, including one 5 volume omnibus.
  • 18 Space Opera Science Fiction books, which includes 14 novels, 1 novella, 1 Christmas story,1 Companion book, and 1 short story which was included in one of the novels a year after I wrote it, but is still available on its own.
  • 2 Omnibus editions, covering 6 books.
  • 2 PC Game Handbooks.

So a total of 34 books.

Technically I have 4 series now. The Wisdom of the Ages in the spiritual non-fiction genre, the X3 Handbook in the PC Games genre, and The Hunter Legacy and A.I. Destiny series in Space Opera.

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The interesting thing is, only the 2 Handbooks do not have a spiritual connection. So while Space Opera is my main thing these days, I am still a spiritual author, mixing genres quite successfully.

The Space Opera is by far my best sellers. But because I chose to mix spiritual into Space Opera through a spiritual main character, several of my novels link back to a spiritual book, and there is a small feed of sales as a result.

[KS] What do you do in terms of promotion for your books?

[TE] The single best way of promoting any book is to release another book.

It’s not enough to write a good book. It needs to be visible, it needs to be findable, it needs to attract the eye, and suck the reader inside.

Visibility comes with rank. I can only talk about Amazon’s ranking system, and it is very cut-throat. The single most important thing is release day debut rank. You achieve this with a mailing list and social media presence, where you already hyped up your readers to expect the new book in some time frame, usually short.

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The more people who buy the book on day 1, and the more people who download it to read using Kindle Unlimited, (remember, I’m only talking Amazon here), the higher the book debuts in the ranking system.

The book gets a rank in the paid store in a number of places. The whole book store, the Kindle store, the main genre, and the sub-categories of that genre. For a lot of genres, the sub-categories happen because of the keywords you use, and especially for Sci-Fi, there are specific words which put you in specific sub-categories.

The better your rank in all of these, the more visible the book is. How well all your books are doing determines your author rank. Getting your author rank high in a major category makes you very visible, but it’s quite difficult to do.

After the debut, ranks begin to slide. About a week later, Amazon sends out emails to your followers, and this can spike you up again. But at about 20 days, you start being cycled downwards unless you have promotions which can hold your sales up. At 30 days you fall off the new releases lists. By 60 days, your book is gone into Neverland.

The best strategy is to release a new book, before the 60 day abyss comes along. It used to be 90 days, and this is still a major accelerant into the abyss when you get there.

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For me, with a main series of 13 books with 3 extra books, and now into a spin off series, each time I release a new book, I get a small back flow to the first book in the first series, as people go looking for what else I’ve written. Some of those continue on to book 2, and a slightly diminishing percent continue on through the whole series. So each new book I release, keeps a flow of people starting my first series, and as long as I keep releasing in timely fashion, all of my novels sell.

And this is how you make a living, once you have a series people like. With each book, your mailing list gets bigger, your social media presence is bigger, and you have a solid group of fans to buy each book on day 1. The visibility brings your book before new people, and these feed back into your older books. With enough visibility, each book doesn’t have to perform all that well to give you a decent income.

Visibility isn’t enough though. Once it’s been seen, your cover has to attract the eye, so it must be good looking, and be what the genre expects it to look like. With the eye drawn, the blurb has to entice the reader into the sample.

Bad covers and bad blurbs are where most people fail. Too many blurbs give backstory and a synopsis, which I recommend are never used. Backstory should be in the story. A synopsis always gives away too much, and once I’ve read one, I have no need to read the book. Blurbs should be about who the main character is, what their challenge is about, and what the stakes are, put together in a way which entices the reader into the first chapter of the book.

The sample is the first 10% of your book, and it is freely available both online and as a download. The object of the exercise is to make sure a reader gets to the end of it immediately wanting to know what happens next. But too many books start with backstory and info dumps, and a bored reader doesn’t finish the sample. The sample must also be formatted correctly, with no spelling mistakes, bad grammar, or typos. A common mistake is releasing a book which needed an editor or proof-reader, or both, and didn’t get either. Such things bounce people out of a story, and stop them buying.

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So the art of not needing promotion is to write stories people want to read, and present them to the highest standard you can, in a time frame where you don’t lose the momentum of the previous book.

The days of 1 book a year are well and truly gone. On Kindle, although it varies by genre, more than 6 weeks between the release of say 75,000 word (avg.) books means you lose the momentum of the previous book. At 3 months, you need to jump start things again.

When you can’t release inside the 3 month expectation, keeping a steady income happening requires external promotion. Of these, the freebie Bookbub ad is by far the best in terms of results, but also the hardest to get, since Bookbub are very limited in the number of places on their emails, have hundreds of books for each slot to choose from, and are very picky about the books they put on them.

Most of the main promotion sites are for free or 99c books, which means you get almost no return on downloads of your promoted book. Which is where the back catalogue of your work comes into its own, and where writing series really helps. You offer your first in series for free, and make your money from it as people read down the series. It’s when you have few books to your name, or they are all stand alone, that the freebie promotion sites are ineffective for anything except getting your name out there.

I’ve been submitting to Bookbub for 2 years now, and am yet to be accepted. This is normal and should be expected. Since my third novel took off, I’ve only had to use a freebie service once, when I was over 3 months between releases, and this worked well enough to keep me going until the next book was released. But all the same, it was my worst month since that first take off month.

The bottom line here is, you either choose to write enough to release within a 3 month period, or you promote. The first costs time, the second costs money. I’ve been lucky enough to be able to write enough to release regularly, and only needed to promote once.

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Bonus tip: The authors who release a new novel of a decent size every 4 weeks, never lose their momentum, and these authors make a decent income. It only takes 1 book to get the ball rolling, but you will never know which book it is until it happens. Once it does, a whole heap of things kick in to boost you up, and as long as you keep releasing, you can stay there and make a living from writing.

[KS] You’ve indicated you consider “3000 sales per month is a bad month” for you. This is phenomenal. How are you achieving this level of sales?

[TE] My first novel series was originally supposed to be 6 books. I started book 1 to get it out of my head. It took the longest to write, nearly 14 months, because of health issues, and the need to learn how to change from writing fan fiction and how-to books, into a novel writer. A lot of this was how to proofread and edit to a much higher standard, and initially being taught how by someone who used a great deal of red ink. It is worth the frustration of all that red to learn how to edit effectively yourself.

After release of book 1, I kept writing book 2. And the same with book 3. Book 1 was attracting maybe a sale every couple of days, with book 2 it became a sale most days, and occasionally two.

With book 3, I suddenly found the story wasn’t anywhere near finished, had taken on a life of its own, and 1 book turned into its own trilogy. So I was already well into book 4 before I completed editing of 3. And when released, 3 took off with 16 sales on day 1, much to my total amazement. This was enough, even without a mailing list at that time, to boost me into visibility range. Book 3 also had a much better opening hook, a substantially better cover, and people were reading it without having read the first 2. Then they went back to them, and between the sales of all 3, an upward spiral began.

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Now the key point here is book 2 was released about 5 weeks after book 1, and book 3 was about 4 weeks later. Book 4 was another 4 odd weeks after, and continued the momentum, with book 5 being 5 weeks later. So each one built on the previous one. Book 6 broke the momentum as I had a bad health period, and so it was released at 7 weeks, and was only a novella.

Book 7 was 5 weeks later, and hit the beginning of the 2015 Christmas book buying season, and I managed to get an author rank of 14 in Science fiction. It only lasted a few days, but this is the visibility you really need to do well. Being in the top 20 of a major category is where you have to be to do really well. I’ve never managed it since, but this was what gave me the biggest boost.

The series went for 13 books instead of 6, with diminishing returns after 9, indicating 9 books in a serial type of series is as far as you should go. But I’d locked myself into a time line by the time I reached book 10, and couldn’t stop.

I then began a spin off series, using the most loved secondary character as the main character, in a completely new setting, but directly following along from the first series. I’m finding the new series is feeding people back into the original series, even though it’s been designed to be read stand alone.

So at the moment, I’m getting the benefit of a new release in a second series, which is feeding back into the old series enough readers so all my books are selling consistently at a rate where the accumulation boosts me past the 3000 a month mark.

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I should also point out this 3000 a month includes Kindle Unlimited full reads. Amazon’s subscription service pays less than a sale, but in money terms, it generates more income than sales do. This has dynamically changed the eBook market place, and it works for some authors and not for others. It certainly works for me, and early on I had reader feedback they wanted my books in KU from minute 1. What this does for me is day 1 is almost all sales from my mailing list, Facebook Group and Facebook Page, and day 2 is mainly made up of the KU reads from day 1 appearing on the day 2 report.

There are 3 parts to a monthly income. The release that month, the flow-back from that release and its subsequent ripple down the back catalogue, and the base sales and reads from each book’s own rank and visibility sending people to book 1. From book 1, people can directly find all my books in order, from the links in the back-matter of each book, where I put both cover thumbnails, and the direct links. The months where I’ve had 3000 or less sales/reads, were when I didn’t release a new book in the previous 2 months, and was in freefall into the abyss.

The most important thing for sales on day 1 is the mailing list, and the link to it should be in the back of every book. You also put the links to your Facebook Page and Group if you have them, from which your fans will buy on day 1, sometimes before you even know the book is live, given you announced the upload as soon as it’s done. You also include links to your Amazon AuthorCentral page, where people can follow you, which gives you a boost a week after launch. You should also include your Goodreads page, and Bookbub page. Each of these helps people find your book rapidly after release.

[KS] What advice do you have for the other authors who aren’t selling anything right now?

[TE] Write. Write more. Write faster. Write more often. Keep writing.

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Making a living from writing novels requires you treat it like a job. You allocate a time each day to write, you write for a set amount of time, and nothing interrupts you. It becomes a habit, and the people around you learn to leave you alone.

How much you write every day is less important, but it determines how much momentum you can keep in the rankings.

The biggest comment people make is how long it takes to write a novel, with the assumption it has to take a year for a decent book. But it doesn’t have to take very long, if you look at it on a constant daily basis.

3000 words a day for 30 days writes a 90,000 word novel in a month. Plus editing and it can be released in 6 weeks.

2000 words a day for 40 days writes an 80,000 word novel inside 6 weeks, and you might get it out in 7, depending on its editing needs.

2000 words a day for 30 days writes a 60,000 word novel in a month, and gets it out under 6 weeks.

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1000 words a day takes 2 months to write a reasonable length novel, and you can get it out in 3 months before you fall off the 90 day cliff.

How long it takes you to write 1000 words is a different thing, and everyone is different. But if you do it daily, you can release a novel on a regular 3 month basis. A novel is 50,000 words or more, and while in some genres this is way too short, in others this a good length. Know your genre and its expectation. But also try to be consistent with book length so your fans build an expectation you can deliver.

What matters the most is writing something every day. Establish the habit, and try really hard not to break it. The habit will keep you going, when other things try to put you off. The habit only needs to be what you can do consistently. Even 100 words a day will write a book in a year. A small book, but still a book.

One thing I keep writing about on Quora is motivation. Anyone who goes into writing novels thinking they will write the next best-seller straight off, is delusional. One of the most often asked questions on Quora in the books topic is a variation on how do you write a best seller. You don’t! You write a book, get it out there, and a whole heap of hard work, circumstances and luck, might make it one. But so many things have to happen exactly right for this to occur, and most of the time, it only takes one thing wrong to make it certain it won’t. It can be the best book ever written, but just one wrong thing will doom it to the abyss. Unfortunately though, those who think their book is the best ever, are generally blind to reality. Sorry to be blunt. Blind and delusional are very common these days. Do yourself a favour, and don’t be. The advice you will need is out there, seek it.

I’ve yet to write a best seller. I’ve had books below 500 in the Kindle store a couple of times, and I usually debut below 1500. This is Woohoo territory, but it doesn’t make a best seller. To have a best seller on debut requires 1000’s of sales on day 1, and no drop off in the weeks following. It means debuting below 100, and keeping on going down. Once you get below 500 in the Kindle store, the sales curve to go lower is almost exponential. You can’t do this on a first book without having the movie first or pumping in serious money. And yet, this expectation is very common. Do yourself a favour, and don’t even think about it.

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It’s important to go into writing with the right attitude. You are writing the book because you love writing, you need to get the idea out of your head, and your characters are driving you to tell their story. You are writing a story in the hope someone will read it and like it, but the writing is the important part. Write it, edit it and proofread it as best you can, get as good a cover as you can, write an enticing blurb, and get it out there. Then forget it, and go on with the next one.

The authors who give up are the ones with unreasonable expectations. Any given book not only might not sell, but probably won’t. So give it the best launch you can, and then forget it. Even if this one does the rocket, you still need to finish the next book.

Pay attention to what the successful books in your genre are doing. That means reading them. It means looking at which sub-categories they are in, why they are there, what the cover looks like, how the blurb reads, and how they convert a sample into a buy. There is no real competition in eBooks. The competition for rank and visibility is major, but the average reader finishes a book inside 2 days and spends the next 30 to 45 days waiting for your next book, by reading someone else’s. Some people read multiple books a week, all in the same genre. So there is plenty of room for you, as long as you write what people want to read. And being the number one also-bought on an author doing better than you, is really helpful to sales, and you achieve this because your readers read everyone else. So your main competition is also your best friend, especially if they do better than you, but all your readers read them too. The flow-back from your book on the first page of another author’s performing book’s also-boughts, can be exactly what you need to boost your book.

In some genres, it’s common to write in trilogies, long serials, or a series of stand-alones with the same characters. Series are great because once any book in it takes off, the series itself will take off. And this is what you want. Any one book which converts into series sales, gets you the momentum to make a living. The trouble is, you never know which book it will be.

CLICK TO BUY NOW

My recommendation is to write in trilogies. Leave the door open for sequel trilogies, and spin offs, but see how it’s received at the end of the first one. Build a universe, and start filling it. So first trilogy is world building around a story. The spin off extends it with new characters. The sequel extends the original and maybe merges in the spin off. When you get to 9 books in the same universe, assuming the books are liked, you should have a fan base. If you use a Facebook Group to talk to them, they will tell you which way to go next.

If the first trilogy doesn’t work, start work on something different. But here’s the thing: Always complete your trilogy. Nothing annoys readers more than a trilogy which isn’t finished. In fact, a lot of people won’t start reading a trilogy until book 3 is out, just to make sure it is completed. I found a lot of people didn’t read my 13-parter until it too was complete. Breaking your covenant with your readers is a sure fire way of losing a reader forever, and by announcing this is book 1 of xyz series, you are making a covenant with your readers to finish it. So make sure you do.

A trilogy which doesn’t sell is not a waste of time. It’s part of your back catalogue. This converts to dollars when you finally have a book take off.

If you can, and you take longer to write than 6 weeks a book, hold off releasing book 1 until book 3 is in editing, and then release all 3, 30 days apart. This gives you the most momentum. On book 1, you include the series list for the other 2, noting they are forthcoming. You update each book as you release the next.

If the first series isn’t successful, as I said, it’s now part of your back catalogue. Get on with the next. And the next. And the next. When you finally get the surprise of your life when one book takes off, people will go back and look to see what else you wrote. And it’s how the whole catalogue performs rather than any single book, which defines income. What do trad publishers do when a new author hits the best seller list? They relook at their last decades’ writing, groom it, and then release it while the next book is being written. In eBooks, they are already out there, just waiting for the jump start. Your next book might be it.

CLICK TO BUY NOW

The last big thing to talk about is sample conversion. You have a good cover, an enticing blurb, the reader opens your sample, and what? When the reader reaches the end of the sample, they should immediately click on the book and buy it. But will they? This depends on you, and how you write the front end. The best way to do it is genre specific, and I can only talk about Space Opera. In Space Opera, you need a big hook. Your words need to reach out of the book, grab the reader by the throat, and drag them inside their own reader device. Way too many books in Sci-fi and Space Opera start with back-story, world building, and boring conversations. Somewhere around chapter 5, some action happens. WRONG! You lost your reader already, and didn’t get the sale.

If you have action, start with it in the first paragraph, and keep writing it until it’s over. Hit the reader in the face, and then keep on hitting them. Somewhere around chapter 3 or 5, you can slow down, go back, and show the reader how you got there, and start filling in details. But up the front end of the book, never explain anything. Drop the reader into the action, and carry it to its conclusion.

There are some very successful exceptions to this, but the main reason is two words. Bookbub ad. Forget it. You’re not going to get one as a new author or so far unknown author, so let’s get the reader hooked on the first page, and simply don’t let go. Yes the backstory is important, the world building is important, the info dumps are important, but they are no use if the reader gives up on page 1, or is bored at the end of the first chapter. By the time they end the sample, you want them invested in knowing what happens next, to the point they click the buy button without thought. Only the really established authors with very large mailing lists can ignore this.

Learning the craft of writing novels isn’t easy, but there is a lot of help out there. There are writer forums and groups, where it’s safe to ask questions. You won’t always like the answers, or the way they get delivered. But the people who do well, learn the lessons the successful authors are happy to teach. Sad to say, the ego driven people who ignore all the advice available, are the ones who crash and burn, then give up. So find a place you like, read everything posted there, and start asking intelligent questions. Someone will give you something which works.

CLICK TO BUY NOW

Bottom line on being a writer though, is to keep writing, and keep releasing. You can only get better with each new book, and at some point, something has to work.

There is no waste in not selling now. Stephen King’s worst books were the ones he wrote early on before his first trad published book was accepted, which all were released later on, and because he now had a name, they still sold well.

You are building a catalogue, and one day, it will pay off.

Stay positive, and keep writing.

As Douglas Adams once said on a totally different subject, “Go to it, good luck.”

The Hunter Legacy series Amazon Page:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01I8EAL1C

The Hunter Legacy series Facebook Page:
https://www.facebook.com/TheHunterLegacy

The Hunter Legacy series Facebook Group:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/TheHunterLegacyUniverse/

The Hunter Legacy universe mailing list:
http://eepurl.com/bqMgVz

You can also follow me on:
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00HRTTIJG.
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/timothy-ellis.
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8020436.Timothy_Ellis.

Timothy Ellis ranks (paid store), as at writing time (which was May 17, 2017, on the original guest post):
1853 in the Amazon Book store.
1023 in the Kindle store.
180 in Science Fiction and Fantasy.
79 in Science Fiction.

© Timothy Ellis 2017

All https://blog.polishedpublishinggroup.com guest posts from before 2017 were included in Diary of an Indie Blogger VOL 1 which can be downloaded from AmazonKobo, or E-Sentral free of charge. All other guest posts from the original PPG Publisher’s Blog have been moved here: https://polishedpublishinggroup.com/category/guest-bloggers/.
You might consider syndicating this content on your own blog. If you do, make sure to attribute the original source so neither of us gets dinged on the SEO front. You can do that by including this line at the bottom of the article: This content first appeared on the PPG Publisher’s Blog and has been republished here with permission.




The Ins and Outs of Outlines: Plotters Versus Pantsers [PART TWO]

Jennifer D. Foster on Pantsers

Jennifer D. Foster on Pantsers

What an honour it is to be able to share this article from
Jennifer D. Foster, freelance writer, editor, and content strategist. This content was originally published in 2016 Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market: The Most Trusted Guide to Getting Published. There is so much information here that I’ve split the article into two separate guest posts. This second one deals with what Jennifer describes as “pansters.” Enjoy the read!

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Behind every successful novel or short story is an outline, right? Maybe. Some authors swear by a detailed plan (they’re known as “plotters”), while others, namely those fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants  writers  (known as “pantsers” or “SOPs”), despise outlines. New York Times best-selling author Joseph Finder, for example, believes that “writing without an outline is like doing a high-wire act without a net. Some people can do it, but wouldn’t you really rather have a net? I would.” New York Times best-selling author J.A. Jance, however, says she “met outlining in Mrs. Watkin’s sixth-grade geography class in Bisbee, Arizona. I hated outlining then; I hate it now. I do not outline.”

What exactly causes this great divide?

By examining this question of process via authors who do and don’t outline—and why—and via key insights from a selection of those working directly in the world of publishing, including authors, agents, writing instructors, editors, and publishers, we’ll get front-row seats to this age-old debate. For those looking for practical how-tos, tips on creating an effective outline will help send you on your writerly way.

PLOTTERS VERSUS PANTSERS: THE GREAT DEBATE

Pantsers: The Cons of Outlines

For those who love to hate outlines, the writing process is viewed as more organic and free-flowing. Weiland believes many authors are “so talented and so able to hold the entire novel in their heads. They simply don’t need the tools that help the rest of us achieve that same end product.” Key West, Florida-based Meg Cabot, a number one New York Times best-selling author, is one such writer. “Because writing a book, to me, is like taking a trip. I know in my head where I want to go. I just don’t write out an elaborately detailed itinerary. Because the fun part—to me—is figuring out how I’m going to get there, and checking out the interesting sites I see along the way.” Author Harlan Coben is another New York Times best-selling writer with a similar mind-set. “I don’t outline. I usually know the ending before I start. I know very little about what happens in between. It’s like driving from New Jersey to California. I may go Route 80, I may go via the Straits of Magellan, or stop over in Tokyo … but I’ll end up in California,” he says. In an interview for the U.K.’s The Telegraph, he clarifies further: “E.L. Doctorow has a wonderful quote on writing where he says that it is like driving at night in the fog with your headlights on. You can only see a little bit ahead of you, but you can make the whole journey that way. I concur, except that I know, in the end, where I’m going.” And, interestingly enough, for Coben, “there is no ‘why’ I don’t [outline]—you just do what works for you as a writer.” Sims believes that memory plays a role in why some writers, like Coben, don’t outline—they can hold seemingly endless amounts of material in their heads before turning it into a book. But she muses on the impact time may have. “I sure wouldn’t tell him to change, but I wonder how that method will work as he gets older and the brain cells get a little less efficient!”

Pronovost looks at it this way: “Instinctive writers sometimes hold a book’s architecture in their mind—essentially, the outline for them is something private, maybe even sacred, and speaking it out loud or commit- ting it to paper can feel counterintuitive or even rigid.” Deborah Grabien, author and editor at Plus One Press in San Francisco, California, is in full agreement. “As  both a writer (eighteen published novels and music journalism) and an editor of other peoples’ work (two anthologies of short fiction), I loathe outlines. I find working with an outline the functional equivalent of trying to dance in a straitjacket or having sex while wearing a suit of armor. My mantra is, ‘A writer writes, period; just tell the damned story.’ An outline is rigid and, for me, unworkable.”

Embracing the Serendipity

Many writers simply love the serendipity and unpredictability of writing that comes without an outline. They don’t like what Finder calls being “constricted by the steel girdle of an outline.” Hiyate agrees. “The biggest flaw is, you can write yourself into a corner, and the characters are fighting where you want to go with them. Or, because you’ve planned too much, some of the spontaneity—and suspense—might be lost.” Cabot concedes: “Story ideas don’t come along often, and when they do, you have to treat them with care. Outlining them too thoroughly—even talking about them too much over coffee with a friend—can actually ruin them, because it can make you feel as if the story is already told. And when that happens, if you’re like me, you’re dead.”

MacKinnon explains it this way: “Some authors might be less inspired to start writing if they think they have the story all figured out. They find the story as they write it. Maybe they need the excitement of finding the characters’ motivations and the plot as it unfolds to them as well.” J.A. Jance is such an author. “I start with someone dead or dying and spend the rest of the book trying to find out who did it and how come. Knowing what the end will be would make it impossible for me to write the middle,” she says. “I think if I knew what the ending would be, my motivation to write would disappear, as would the sense of discovery. I write for the same reason people read—to find out what happens—and I have never read the end of a book first.” Her reasoning? “This way, I discover the answers at the same time the characters do. This morning, at 60 percent of a book, I just found out that a character I thought was dead isn’t. If I had written an outline, would that even have happened?” Finder, a big fan of outlines, agrees in this case: “That’s just the kind of unpredictable twist you want, because if you didn’t expect it, your reader won’t either.” And that’s exactly why, says Cooper, the biggest hazard of outlining comes to those who refuse to deviate from their meticulously plotted course. The story may have decreased energy or mystery or sense of surprise—for the reader and for the writer. Writing without an outline or with only a loose outline ideally allows the story to unfold like a movie as it’s being written.”

Sims, who has worked on both sides of the outlining fence, can relate to Jance, Finder, and Cooper. With her Rita Farmer mystery series, she’s had to put together a very detailed outline for each book for her agent. But, she says, “the more detailed I got while outlining, the more frustrating the process, because my natural inclination is to figure out a lot along the way. Things come to me, answers to difficult plot questions appear as I write chapter after chapter. And, of course, as I develop characters, I get to know them better and better, and they themselves suggest action, plot points, resolutions, and so on.”

Remaining Surprised

For Black, despite her attempt, outlines do not work. While she’s not against them and “envies” people for whom they do work, for her “they are a little deadening,” and here’s why: “With the first novel I wrote—one I wrote, sold, and then withdrew because I saw its failings all too well—I used a pretty detailed outline. But I found that my ‘knowing’ what was going to happen took out some element of something like a romantic, if rocky, relationship with the book. I wasn’t intrigued by it. The process was a bit like paint-by-numbers for me, and finally I realized that the product was a bit that way as well.” So for Black, spontaneity and what she calls “openness” are imperative. “One of the great benefits of winging it—or making it up as I go along—is that I feel fluid not only about such things as what is going to happen but also about the deeper meaning of the story. I like being a little stupid about my own work as it’s in process, so I don’t fight too hard against its natural process of evolution.”

Green, a creative writing professor at Western University, cautions against outlines in terms of their relationship to the organic processes of change and revelation inherent in writing. “If one is a micromanager in terms of adhering to the outline, the pleasure of discovering that your character is going to do something that you didn’t know he or she was going to do (like a real human being, your character is unpredictable) seldom happens, and formula fiction often rears its head this way. If writing is discovery (and often self-discovery), the fully outlined and adhered-to story can become a ‘product’—albeit a professional one.” When it comes to writing, Green has “found it more valuable to keep a charted summary of each segment or chapter after it’s completed than to try to chart it in advance (like a journal of the novel; Steinbeck did this).” The purpose? The summary “lets me review it each morning and see clearly what has gone before and what I should be addressing next. Then comes the actual writing that day, and often (in best case) the sense of wonder at what has been created at day’s end. And repeat the next day. And the next. In that sense, it’s a kind of reverse outlining and progression, tied into what has come before.”

In her book Escaping into the Open: The Art of Writing True, Chicago, Illinois-based, New York Times best-selling, and award-winning author Elizabeth Berg says, “there are two kinds of writers: those who start with a plot and those who end up with one. I am one of the latter.” Berg says the few times she tried to plot a novel, “it was as though the book rebelled—it went another way entirely, and then all those notes I’d taken to follow the ever-so-neat sequence of events I’d planned were in vain.” Like Jance, Black, Sims, and Green, for Berg “part of the joy in writing fiction is the surprise of it, the discovery of things I hadn’t known were in me or that I wanted to say, or, more likely, the way those things chose to be said.” Berg starts her novels only with a strong feeling of something she wants to say and/or understand, and the novel helps her do it. “I find almost nothing more enjoyable than to be working on a novel and wake up not having any idea what’s going to happen that day. It keeps me interested. It keeps me excited. If I had to write what the plot told me was ‘up’ next, I’d be bored—it would feel too much like homework.” Like other pantsers, for Berg “the magic in writing fiction comes from taking that free fall into the unknown and, rather than making things happen, letting them.”

Mockler, who outlines depending on the project, shares Berg’s overall sentiments: “I’m not a fan of obsessively outlining every scene because, for me, it kills my desire to write the story. Writing is a process of discovery, and you can miss great nuggets and details if everything is pre-planned. Too much focus on the structure and not enough on the characters and details and themes can make the writing seem formulaic and flat.”

FINAL FOOD FOR THOUGHT

The reasons why some writers outline and some don’t are as vast and varied as the creators themselves. Bottom line? Use whatever structure, or lack thereof, works best for you, without judgment. “Explore and experiment, and figure out what best unleashes your creativity,” says Weiland. Writing is a highly individual and personal process, a journey of finding balance and what works best. And the tools and techniques that work best for each writer are always based on “personalities, backgrounds, and circumstances,” emphasizes Weiland. If you choose to go the outline route, then remember, she says, that outlines are “about discovering your story and organizing it, so you will then have an accurate road map to follow when writing your first draft.” But, stresses Wiese Sneyd, remember not to become too attached to your outline. “Outlines need not be written in stone, but in sand. And don’t buy into the idea that an outline is essential to writing. It’s not,” she stresses. “I know many writers who sit down every day and write into the dark, so to speak. They allow the story and the characters to carry them rather than relying on an outline to do so.”

Regardless of your path to the finished product, keep this quote in mind, from Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, for inspiration: “Writing is magic, as much the water of life as any other creative art. The water is free. So drink. Drink and be filled up.”

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Watch for Jennifer’s feature in the upcoming 2018 Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market in mid-September 2017.

Jennifer D. Foster is a Toronto, Canada-based freelance writer, editor, and content strategist. She’s been in the writing and editing business for two decades, and her company is Planet Word. Jennifer’s clients are from the book and custom publishing, magazine, and marketing and communications fields and include The Globe and Mail, Art Gallery of Ontario, D. F. Plett Historical Research Foundation, Greystone Books, McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Canadian Children’s Book News, Dundurn Press, Ontario Dental Association, and Firefly Books. When she’s not busy spilling ink for her first novel, walking her greyhound, Aquaman, or reading, Jennifer enjoys travelling, antiquing, gardening, camping, and yoga. She’s a long-time mentor to novice editors via Editors Canada and novice writers via the Professional Writers Association of Canada. Jennifer is chair of Editors Toronto and administrative director of the Rowers Reading Series. Find her online at lifeonplanetword.wordpress.com.

© Jennifer D. Foster 2017

All https://blog.polishedpublishinggroup.com guest posts from before 2017 were included in Diary of an Indie Blogger VOL 1 which can be downloaded from AmazonKobo, or E-Sentral free of charge. All other guest posts from the original PPG Publisher’s Blog have been moved here: https://polishedpublishinggroup.com/category/guest-bloggers/.