January Writers' Forum 2020

Make Writing Resolutions That Stick
Writer Beware: 2019 in Review


Make Writing Resolutions That Stick

Kristen Overman at the Good Story Company writes a perfect post for the beginning of a new year (and decade) on how to make writing resolutions that you can actually keep. Her key points are really thinking about what you want your writing year to look like, investing in yourself (maybe go to a conference?), and measuring your small steps toward greater goals. She even gives us five (sample) resolutions that might help us get started. See it all HERE.

Writer Beware: 2019 in Review

Everyone in the writing world should say a great big thank you to Victoria Strauss at Writer Beware®. She takes the time to research scams and the bad practices that prey on unsuspecting writers. Unfortunately, 2019 was no exception. Here’s the wrap up of companies you should be wary of.


Publishing trend predictions for 2020 continue2020 Predictions Continue

We all want to know what to expect from the publishing industry in 2020 . . . these posts continued to pop into my inbox throughout January. Those worth sharing include are:

Self-Publishing Predictions for 2020 and the 2020s from The Alliance for Independent Publishing. The Key Take-aways: Global reading growth, publishing networks will decentralize, growth in personal publishing, author business models will begin to diversify and more . . .

2020 Publishing Predictions: House of Indie on Fire from the Smashwords Blog. The Key Take-aways: Amazon is predatory and will face a backlash from its indie authors for making their Amazon author platforms pay-to-play. This is a good read of the criticism of indie author reliance on Amazon.

2020 Publishing Predictions by Laure McClean, Co-founder of Fuse Literary Agency (for the Anne R. Allen blog) The Key Take-aways: Audiobook growth, impact of China tariffs, and self-publishing is settling down.

Pathways to Publication

It’s not often that I find an article properly explaining the many ways one could pursue book publication, but it’s time for celebration because here are two you need to read and bookmark for future use! I’m not kidding. If you have any confusion about how traditional and indie publishing works, please read these.

Jane Friedman’s The Key Book Publishing Paths: 2019-2020 is brilliant. She has a marvelous chart that is visually appealing and easy to understand within an overall article that sums up the many paths to publishing available today. 

A good partner to the Friedman blog is Understanding the Paths to Publishing from the Christian Editing blog. This one gives a checklist of things to consider for properly publishing your work independently. Lots of links to longer articles are included, depending on what you want to learn more about. 

I found this incredibly timely, as I’m set to present a session on the Pros and Cons of Independent Publishing at the upcoming University of Wisconsin Writers’ Institute. This is a fabulous conference no matter where you are in your publishing career. See the full schedule and how to register HERE


How to Write Faster: 7 Steps for Writing More Productively

Author Rosie A. Point writes this very helpful post for the Kindlepreneur blog. Her points don’t exactly divulge any mysteries to writing faster, but I like her disciplined approach which includes things like free writing, timers, rewards, and schedules. Yes, schedules!! See if her advice can help you: https://kindlepreneur.com/how-to-write-faster/

Premise vs. Plot

The Good Story Company (Mary Kole) is a really good website to stay connected with for writing advice. Amy Wilson’s discussion on the difference between your premise and your plot and how to turn a premise INTO a plot is very helpful. Read it HERE.

What Makes a Character Interesting?

Also from Amy Wilson at the Good Story Company is an article about creating key character details. We all struggle with making our characters interesting enough to draw in the reader and continue along as a key component of a satisfying full-length story. This may help!!

Should You Use Pop Culture References in Fiction (For Kids and Teens)?

The diyMFA blog is another excellent resource for insightful writing articles. Bronwen Fleetwood delves into using pop cultural references in books. This is a great discussion. I’ve often struggled with how much technology or pop culture to put in a story, but to shy away from it completely is not an answer either. Is it logical to have a 13-year-old, modern-day character who doesn’t carry a cell phone or talk about certain musicians or tv shows? It’s important to pay attention to what is actually a current reference and what is already old—although we (as adult authors) sometimes aren’t up to speed. Fun article!

What To Do When You’ve Finished the First Draft

Belinda Pollard’s article is a good checklist of the next steps when your first draft is done. I particularly appreciate her advice to give yourself some distance from the draft for a while and come back to it with fresh eyes. Check out the rest of her advice HERE.


How to Create a Business Plan for Your Indie Author Business

Yes, publishing is a business and you need to approach it that way to be successful. The Alliance for Independent Authors features "How to Create a Busines Plan for Your Indie Author Business" by Tetiana Bak that begins with goal setting and walks you through a business plan creation. It sounds more intimidating than it is. I’m guessing you’ve already done a lot of these things, but maybe not all of them? 

5 Steps to Create the Tagline for Your Author Brand

Beth Barany for the Book Designer website gives clarity to the idea of creating a tagline that effectively communicates your brand as an author. Now, this might not work if you write in many different genres, but her advice is sound. Your brand helps to immediately identify your work to a potential new reader and can entice them to buy your books. Follow her instructions to examine what you write and see if you can create a tagline. I’d love to hear what you’ve come up with. (I’ll share these in a future post if I get enough replies.)

Book Cover Ideas Every Author Can Learn From (32 Examples)

This Kindlepreneur article is spot on. I love the no-nonsense advice and clear examples of how to build a book cover that draws in the reader. A properly designed book cover is one of your best marketing tools. Design wisely!! 

Are Your Fonts Commercial? That and more on the January 2020 Writers' Forum.Are Your Fonts Commercial?

The Career Indie Author website is another helpful site you ought to bookmark. Bill Peschel’s recent article about fonts will make you examine something you probably never really think about—until you realize you’ve used a font that ISN’T for commercial use and have to totally redesign something. Good knowledge to tuck away for when you format your next book. https://careerindieauthor.com/index.php/2019/12/02/are-your-fonts-commercial/

What to Include on Your Book’s Copyright Page

The BookBaby Blog gives the list you need to construct your book’s copyright page properly. There are actually options on how you want this to look, but there are certain things you must have in place to protect your work. Learn more HERE.

7 Kindle Keywords: Use All 50 Characters or Not?

Back on the Kindlepreneur site again. (Can you tell where I’ve been hanging out this month?) This is a deep dive into utilizing your Kindle keywords to optimize findability when someone searches for books on Amazon. The new view on this (and it’s been tested) is that you don’t have to necessarily use natural sounding phrases. Amazon will pick up on individual keywords that are part of a longer keyword phrase and even pull them out to match a search in an order that is different than what you’ve entered on your KDP dashboard. If you want to increase your findability on Amazon, definitely read this article and see where you can make improvements on your keywords.  


Universal Book Link (UBL)

Do you have one? It’s a short link that will go to a webpage showing the links to all of the stores where your books/ebook/audiobooks are available for purchase. Here’s how to create one. And this is mine if you want to see how it looks: https://books2read.com/u/4XgXzv

How to create a universal book link and more on the January 2020 Writers' Forum




No One Knows What Will Work by Dan Blank

This is an incredibly important article to read!! Dan Blank makes the point that everyone’s path to success is going to look different. Many times we work our butts off trying to copy the path another person followed to ‘success’ without the same results. In this article Dan first unpacks the truth that no one knows what will work. Then he walks you through a discovery process to identify what will work for YOU! He explains that it’s not just about goal setting . . . it’s more about finding your real intention, which you might not know, but you can start by asking, “What am I curious about?” He includes an incredibly intuitive and helpful “Creative Success Pyramid” that is composed of five basic parts. This is amazing stuff he’s sharing to help you create a path to your ultimate goals. He generously includes a video walking you through how to use the chart, too. LOVE IT!! See it all HERE.

No Sales or Lackluster Sales: It Isn’t the Reader, It’s the Book . . . Really

That’s a painful headline from Kristen Lamb’s post – funny, but painful. Yes, sometimes, our books just aren’t as good as we think they are for many different reasons. If your sales and reviews are not great, take a step back and walk through this list with an open mind to see what you might fix. Check it out at: https://authorkristenlamb.com/2020/01/no-sales-or-lackluster-sales-it-isnt-the-reader-its-the-book-really/

12 Free Design Tools for Authors

David Gaughran curated this excellent list of design tools you can use to create graphics for your website, social media posts and more. I prefer Canva but it looks like there are some excellent alternatives listed here. https://davidgaughran.com/2020/01/16/12-free-graphic-design-tools-authors-writers-canva/

BookBub – Best Ads of 2019 and BookBub Reviews

If you’re curious about what the best BookBub ads of 2019 looked like. You’ll want to check this article on the BookBub Partners Blog: https://insights.bookbub.com/best-bookbub-ads-2019/

Plus, Anne R. Allen walks us through the BookBub Review or recommendation system in: BookBub Reviews Offer an Alternative to Goodreads and Amazon: It’s Not Just for Pricey Ads Anymore. She explains BookBub’s book recommendation process, calling it civilized and adult and free of the “adolescent cruelties of Goodreads and fake review crazies of Amazon.”

Reviving Backlist Books You Thought Were Dead

For those of us who have books that were published ages ago, there’s hope to revive them. The BookBub blog article by bestselling author Laurelin Paige gives ten really awesome ways to bring books back to life.  


Fun February Dates for Book Promotion

Sandra Beckwith’s calendar is filled with special days that are often hilarious and fun and sometime both . . . February 18 is National Drink Wine day by the way. See if any fit your book topics at: https://buildbookbuzz.com/fabulous-february-book-promotion-opportunities/

40 Major SEO Mistakes You Must Avoid in 2019

Yes, I know it’s 2020, but this particular info graphic has aged well. Reading an article about SEO (search engine optimization) is rarely at the top of anyone’s list, that’s why I love that Barb Drozdowich put this into an infographic. If you have a WordPress site, you might want to install Yoast to help you identify SEO issues on your website. Check out the infographic here

Podia - The best platform for creating and selling online courses. Online Courses: Are You Ready to Create One? Where Should You Host Your Course?

As many of you know, I recently started creating online courses. There were a ton of choices when it came to a hosting platform. I chose Podia for a lot of reasons, but mostly for customer service, quick payment, and ease of use. (This was after a dreadful initial experience that cost me a bit of money over at Teachable.) This article walks through a number of options. (Podia sadly isn’t one of them). It’s important to find the right one for you and Podia may not be it, but I’m very happy with them. Click HERE to give Podia a free try. (Note: this is my affiliate sharing link.) 

How to Get the Most Out of Instagram

Yes, clearly, I am a Kindlepreneur addict . . . here’s another great article to benefit authors. If you’re not on Instagram yet – or even if you are and are looking for great tips on how to use this platform, this article is for you: https://kindlepreneur.com/instagram-for-writers-and-authors/

Three Social Media Mistakes for Would-Be Authors

Okay, this BookBaby blog headline is serious click bait. I mean – GASP – am I making these mistakes? I have to know, so of course I click. Even so—there’s good advice inside with guidance that helps you decide how to utilize social media for your book marketing. Basics include: don’t start too late,  take it seriously, but don’t be overly salesy, be social.

Happy Writing (marketing, blogging, reading and more!) - Valerie  

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