DECEMBER WRITERS' FORUM
FEATURED ARTICLE: The Writer’s Vision for 2019
The Writers' Forum is a compilation of the month’s important publishing news and helpful writing information for authors, particularly those independently publishing their books. I’ve been an independently published author since 2014 and provide this information to assist others in the way that generous writers assisted me when I was at the beginning of my indie pub journey. On a professional level, I also use my publicity and editorial skills to aid other authors through my company Lost Lake Press. I'd love to help you with your writing adventure!
Your writing career requires strategic planning (like any career). C.S. Lakin gives us a helpful framework for looking at our goals for 2019 within a “vision, strategy, tactics, action” plan. I really like how she talks about hopes and dreams and how to make them a reality. So many times, we know where we want to end up, but we don’t plan well for how to get there. Make 2019 your action plan year!
Myths and Facts About Traditional Publishing
The BookBaby blog article (Six Myths and a Few Facts About Traditional Publishing) is right on many accounts. This is a good look at what you can expect from the world of traditional publishing as well as some notes on indie publishing. I take issue with one of the "facts" that states one of the main reasons authors pursue a traditional publishing contract is ego. I think there are a lot of things you can say about ego and traditional publishing, but that single statement ignores the fact that a main reason for traditionally publishing can be access to markets that are hard to reach as an indie author. Overall this is a good read. On that same topic, author Dean Wesley Smith gives eight reasons to stay away from traditional publishing. Most of these reasons involve the lack of author control over the process once you sell the rights to your work. Important read if you are considering whether to indie publish or not.
Queries and Literary Agents
If you’ve already made your decision to pursue a traditional publishing contract directly with a publishing house or to seek an agent, you should read Mary Kole’s article on how to properly include comparable titles in your query. It’s rare to see this specific advice, and there are some nuances you should be aware of.
If any of you are agented already (but possibly not super happy with your current agent), you might appreciate this discussion between two agents on the protocol for switching to a new agent.
And, finally if you’re a picture book author and looking to break into this market with your manuscript, Writers’ Digest gives tips on how best to pitch your picture book.
Anne R. Allen (as always) offers excellent advice in this article about what to do (and what not to do) once you've finished your novel. The best line is “patience makes bad cinema but good careers.” She gives good advice on not rushing to publish your first novel. If you’ve recently finished your first book, take the time to read this one as you plan your next steps.
NaNoWriMo … the good, the bad, the ugly (continued from last month)
Last month, I featured articles about how jumping into the NaNoWriMo process (National Novel Writing Month in November) can heal your creative wounds by basically getting you back into the saddle. I heard back from some of you about your NaNoWriMo experiences:
R.R. Campbell reports that he has done both Camp NaNoWriMo (in the summer) and the official November Novel Writing Month as well. He says, “For anyone who hasn't done NaNo but is considering it for future years, the best bits of advice I can offer would be these: create a writing schedule if you can and stick to it as well as you're able. Having designated time set aside will go a long way into making sure there are fewer moments of "well, I'll just do it later," and that makes a huge difference in the end-of-month "wow I really need to hustle to make this goal" anxiety. The good news in all of this, too, is that if a writer doesn't make it to 50,000 words, that's okay! They'll still finish the month with more written words than they started it with, which is fantastic.” You can learn more about R.R. Campbell’s work on his website: https://rrcampbellwrites.com/ He’s the author of the recently released novel Accounting for it All and the forthcoming 2019 release Empathy: Imminent Dawn.
Becki J. Kidd says that she did NaNoWriMo unofficially a couple of years ago. “I had two books I was trying to write. I set a goal of doing one in the morning and one in the evening. It worked great for me to simply get the ideas out of my head and onto the page. You have to be in right frame of mind to do it and already have a good idea of where the book is going to go.”
Thanks for the feedback!
Video Writing Sprints
Recently one of my writer friends in Wisconsin, Amanda Zieba, wrote a blog post about using writing sprints to achieve her writing goals. I liked this idea because it teaches us that we don’t need vast swaths of time to accomplish our writing goals. A twist on this is using online video conferencing/ Facetime /Google Hangouts – whatever works – to increase accountability by doing video writing sprints with a fellow author each in your own location. Holly at Fiction Alchemy details “How to Use Video Sprints to Make Writing Fun Again”.
Helpful Hints to Aid You with the Description of Characters and Setting
Louise Harnby’s articles are a treat to read. This past month she discussed ways to Avoid Boring Character Descriptions. If you’ve ever struggled with this (I know I have), you’ll find this helpful. She uses excellent examples. In “World Building Wikis for Crime Novelists,” Harnby discusses how to properly describe your setting when you’re using real places and even when you’re creating the details of a fictional location. Treating your fictional location like a real place when you’re recording details, can make all the difference in believability. Her advice works well for any fiction—not just crime writing.
Quick List of Interesting Tidbits:
If you’re with Draft2Digital . . . you’ll like the Indies Unlimited article that explains the new option of selling to Baker & Taylor. D2D already distributed to Overdrive which feeds to libraries, but Baker & Taylor offers different services and is used by different libraries. Read the full article for a longer description on why this is a great opportunity.
Should You Use a Pen Name?: Kristina Adams of the Writers’ Cookbook gives a comprehensive list of why you might consider this. Last June the Writers’ Forum featured a detailed discussion of pen names.
A Quick Tutorial on Copyright Concerns: Last month we talked about the copyright concerns when using song lyrics, this is a broader look at copyright and your own copyright protections.
InDesign: If you use the InDesign book feature for formatting your books, you’ll find a step-by-step tutorial on the Book Design Made Simple website. Fiona Raven also gives the pros and cons of this program.
Ghostwriting – The One Trait You Need: Are you considering ghost writing? See if you have this particular trait for ghostwriting success.
Make Free Book Trailers with Lumen5: I am intrigued by the simplicity of this site. If you’re in the market for a book trailer, check it out here.
Word Counts for Different Fiction Genres: Are you looking for a comprehensive guide to word counts that you can trust? I like this list from the Christian Editing website.
Romance Book Blurbs: Are you a romance writer? Check out these brilliant rewrites of book blurbs that tighten and entice a reader to purchase the book. I love the before and after examples here. You can apply this to any genre!
How to Move your KDP Print Book Expanded Distribution Over to IngramSpark
Best practices for physical book copy distribution involves having your book on KDP Print (or formerly CreateSpace) for distribution to Amazon customers and over at IngramSpark for expanded distribution to other book sales’ sites and stores. We’ve discussed other reasons for splitting up your paperback distribution in this way in the September Writers’ Forum. The Birds of a Feather blog walks through one author’s experience switching a book from KDP Print’s expanded distribution over to IngramSpark. Lots of details here, but good info.
How to Work with Your Audio Book Narrator
If you’re ready to get your books into the audio market, author Zara Altair’s article on this subject is a must read no matter which platform you choose for production/distribution. You can also create your audiobooks independently with voice talent that you hire directly. Author Kristin Oakley recently did that and tells us all about the process in her blog post: Adventures in Audio Book Recording Land
Six Author Website Mistakes to Avoid
This list of six website mistakes from the BookWorks blog should be first on your 2019 To Do List. Double check these things and you’ll know if you need to fix up your website content to start the new year right.
FOR YOUR LAUNCH:
How to Use Top Book Blogs to Build Your Author Brand
Dave Chesson gives us a curated list of top book bloggers by genre and discusses the best way to reach out to them to be included on their blog to build momentum at the time of your book launch.
Reaching Out to Reviewers: How Amazon’s Actions Have Changed the Process
Amy Collins of The Book Designer discusses how Amazon Reviewer email addresses are no longer viewable and gives an alternate way to find contact information for the top reviewers you want to reach.
Clever Ways Authors are Using BookBub Ads
We all know about the elusive featured deals on BookBub, but you can also purchase direct advertising on this site. I’m still working to figure out the best type of ad for my book series, but I like the samples given here from other authors’ successes on BookBub. David Gaughran has a lot of great information on advertising on online sites.
Your Ideal Reader Avatar
Again the BookWorks blog gives us smart tips on how to imagine the characteristics of our ideal reader. If that seems hard, ask yourself who do you want to read your book—who did you write it for? The reason to do this is to know which type of people you should be targeting with your marketing efforts.
Marketing By the Numbers:
Author’s Guide to Email Marketing Plus 3 Best Practices
The Social Media Just for Writers website gives probably the best tutorial I’ve seen on getting started with email marketing with their article on email marketing first steps and best practices.
Seth Godin’s Marketing in 5 Steps for Authors
This is an overview of creating the best product possible.
The Ten Biggest Book Marketing Mistakes You Need to Stop Making
BookBub has increasingly shared great advice this year and this article is no exception with the 10 Biggest Book Marketing Mistakes. You probably already know some of this, but these are good reminders here on what not to do.
The Top Ten Book Marketing Articles from 2018
This list of ten book marketing articles is also from BookBub and ranges from book launch checklists to constructing BookBub ads and much more.
Ten Daily Book Marketing Techniques for 2019
If you’re looking for a manageable list of daily marketing tasks, this list from the Christian Book Marketing website might work well for you. Now, I’m not sure I’d do all ten of these every day, but you could certainly put these into your weekly rotation of marketing and promotional tasks.
Got Books to Sell? Try These 22 Book Marketing Tips
Frances Caballo at the Social Media Just for Writers website gives us these 22 marketing tips, including some housekeeping items that you’ll decide early in your indie publishing journey but which can affect your visibility and marketing later on. This is a very good list!
WRITING CONFERENCES 2019
Let’s Just Write: An Uncommon Writers Conference – Chicago, Illinois - March 16 & 17, 2019
Writers’ Institute – Madison, WI - April 4-7, 2019
WisRWA Write Touch Conference (Wisconsin Romance Writers) – Milwaukee, WI – April 5–7, 2019 (I’ll be attending this one.)
UntitledTown Book & Author Festival – Green Bay, WI – April 26-28, 2019 (And this one!)
SCBWI Wild, Wild Midwest Conference – Naperville, IL – May 3-5, 2019 (Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators). (I’ll be at this one, too!)
LakeFly Writers Conference – Oshkosh, WI – May 10 & 11, 2019
Happy Reading & Writing, Valerie