December Writers' Forum 2020





2021 Literary Calendar

Sandra Beckwith of Build Book Buzz shares this awesome calendar that will help you plan out fun, bookish social media posts throughout 2021. Days like “World Grammar Day,” “Library Shelfie Day,” and “Bad Poetry Day” may make there way into my posts. How about you?

Show Me the Money: Royalties, Rights, and Riches for Indie Authors

Okay, before you all start laughing hysterically at the riches part . . . Erika Liodice’s article for Writer UnBoxed conveniently lists out in one place the royalty rates independently published authors get paid on all the different publishing platforms. She also delves into a topic that isn’t often covered for indie authors—subsidiary rights. Great article to jump start your education if you’re planning to indie publish in 2021. Just don’t expect to get rich anytime soon. Read it HERE.

National Novel Writing Month – Wrap Up

With National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) barely in our rearview mirror, there’s been a bit of a discussion about what a month-long writing focus can do to shape your writing habits long term. Earlier this month right here, Tracey Kathryn shared the lessons learned during her NaNoWriMo experience. (Hint: it wasn’t all about the word count.) Hannah Guy, writing for the Kirkus Reviews blog, gives us a pair of articles—one that adds to what Tracey offered with a list of five things you can learn from NaNoWriMo and apply to your own writing routine … my favorites are “that we aren’t in competition with each other!” and “Quantity isn’t quality but it’s a start!” Read more HERE. The other article; “I Survived NaNoWriMo. What Do I Do Now,” is worth the read for advice on the next steps for those words wrangled in November.


The tagline on Jane Friedman’s website is “Reporting and Consulting on the Publishing Industry”—a  straightforward, matter-of-fact line that I think should be in pulsing neon letters that scream look here, read this!! She is one of (if not THE) most informative resource in the publishing world (this is for both indie and traditional). If you’ve been reading the Writers’ Forums for any length of time, you know that I often feature links to her blog articles—either those she pens herself or the wonderfully curated guest posts hosted on her site. You should follow her blog directly (see the link below.) She also teaches some fabulous courses. Read her full biography.

Sign up for Friedman’s informative blog:


Raising the Stakes

Are you feeling like the plot of your current work in progress needs a little more punch? Then you’ll appreciate Rhiannon Richardson’s article on the Good Story Company blog that addresses the ways you can raise the stakes in your story. She starts with a discussion that will help you identify what is currently at stake for your main characters(s) and then moves on to four ways to raise the stakes, increasing the tension and improving your plot in the process.

How to Effectively Manage Multiple Narrators in Your Novel

Successfully moving between multiple narrators in your story takes some planning and quite a bit of skillful writing. Ken Brosky gives excellent tips for doing this well in his article on Jane Friedman’s blog. The advice I like the best is making sure each narrator’s voice is distinct. He also includes a stellar reading list with examples of some of the best multi-narrator novels.

How to Create a Coherent Crime Series

I’ve been reading a lot of murder mysteries and thrillers lately and while I’m not sure that I’d ever plan on writing a crime series, I can appreciate the planning that goes into one. Beyond the research that it takes to ensure accuracy in crime investigations, Andy Maslen’s other tips can apply equally well to writing any series—like creating a character bible. So, take a minute to read this one even if your series isn’t of the crime/thriller variety.

How to Balance Character and Plot in a Mystery Novel

Zara Altair gives us a super helpful list of considerations for creating a sleuth that readers will connect with alongside the puzzle of the mystery at the heart of the plot. A successful mystery needs both, and these tips make you think about the development of your character as much as the actual plot. While the mystery provides the framework for the story, it is the sleuth that pulls us through step by step. Read the full article here. 

Why Even Self-Publishing Authors Should Write a Book Proposal

I came across this smart article by Jo Finchen-Parsons and knew I had to include it in this month’s forum. The discipline of writing a proposal (even though you’re not sending it out for consideration) will have you defining things like ideal audience, need for the book, comparable titles and more. All of these items will put you miles ahead when it comes time to market your book.

Repurposing Content Guide for Authors

Gladys Strickland’s article could have been subtitled “maximizing your income by using content you’ve already written.” This article will guide you through developing all the revenue streams available for the work you’ve already done. This is a good checklist to bookmark and come back to.


Should You Submit Your Book to the Library of Congress

This Kirkus Reviews blog post gives a well phrased answer to this question, but it’s not a definitive yes or no. You don’t need to submit your book to the LOC, but you might want to … read why HERE

The Indie Author’s Ultimate Guide to Book Distribution

Do you know the difference between a book distributor, wholesaler, or aggregator? Do know the ins and outs of choosing who will distribute your paperback, ebook, or audiobook? Will you go wide with your ebook or be exclusive to Kindle? What are the pros and cons of this decision? Even if you think you know the answers to these questions, take a moment to update your knowledge base with this article from the Alliance for Independent Authors.

A Beginner’s Guide to Amazon Pre-Orders

Penny Sansevieri explains how Amazon pre-orders work, what the advantages are to utilizing this feature, and the details to setting one up for your next book.


The Top Marketing Articles of 2020 from the BookBub Partners Blog

A few of these articles have already been featured here on the Writers’ Forum, but many of them haven’t. This set of 10 articles covers book launches, author bios, how to use Instagram, reviving your backlist and more.

Marketing Ideas for the Technology-Challenged Author

The Marketing Christian Books blog gives solid advice to authors who might want to expand their marketing efforts beyond online or digital marketing. Whether you’re tech challenged or not, these ideas can definitely round out a marketing plan with outreach to local media and more. Read the full article here. 

Free Author Marketing 101

Before you start spending money on ad campaigns, Michal Leah gives tips on a number of book promotion tasks you can do for free (or nearly free). From social media to creating an email contact list and more, these items are all on my checklist.

How We Wrote and Promoted a Multi-Author Series

Have you always wanted to collaborate on a series with other authors but were unsure of how that might work. In this fascinating article, Pippa Grant details how she and three other authors coordinated both their writing and promotional efforts. Fun story!

The Shy Authors Guide to Book Promotion

Sandra Beckwith’s guide for shy authors helps them to flip their perspective on marketing and find their way around (and through) obstacles to accomplish promotional tasks by playing to their strengths. Smart article for those reluctant to step into the spotlight.

How to Set Up Automatic Targeted Amazon Ads

Amazon ads seem like a deeply difficult task, but I can tell you that they’re not. The strategies for some of the ads do take time to learn; however, the easiest type of ad to set up is an auto-targeted ad. This is when you let Amazon’s internal algorithm handle the targeting. You don’t have to worry about creating long lists of potential keywords—Amazon automatically targets what it thinks is relevant. This type of ad is currently the one that is doing best for me right now.

Find the instructions here:

Book Reviews

This past month The Book Designer blog had two good articles about gaining reviews. Do This – Not That: Professional Reviews in the Time of Covid” by Keri-Rae Barnum details how some of the typical editorial review requirements and lead time have changed considerably as the industry has adapted to the impact of coronavirus. In “Get Book Reviews: Your Book Can Always Find New Audiences” Beth Barany teaches that reviews are truly the way to gain new audiences and then goes on to give strategies on how to approach a DIY review strategy and/or employ trusted review platforms like Hidden Gems and Book Sprout.

Reader Magnet Ideas for Authors

A reader magnet is something you give away for free to get followers to sign up for your email list. There are lots of fun options in this post by the Smart Authors Lab for nonfiction and fiction writers. If this has been on your to-do list for a while, now you have no excuse to start building your email list in 2021.


The 7 Rules of Social Media Automation

If your social media world is complicated enough that you’re utilizing a social media management system or scheduling tool, then this article / info graphic from Social Media Today is for you. These 7 rules will keep your posts interesting and far from robotic. I particularly like the 5-3-2 rule – for every 10 posts, 5 should be sharing curated content, 3 should be sharing your content, and 2 should be personal/humanizing posts. Are you already doing this? Read all the advice HERE.

Photofunia for Creating Social Media Content

Have you heard of the Photofunia site? I just learned about them in the past few months, but I’m hearing good things about the quick way you can create fun images that include your book cover or other promotional materials. I use Canva nearly every day for this type of graphic image creation, but I’m going to see what this site is all about. Let me know if you already use it, I’d love to hear what you think about it.

Happy Writing (editing, marketing, and more!) - Valerie  


Thank you so much for the mention!

You're welcome, Zara! Love your insight and advice! - Valerie

Add new comment

To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.
Your email will not be displayed to the public.

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.