March Writers' Forum 2019


Book Publishing: Are You Keeping Up? – Part 1

& 13 Tips for the Work-at-Home Author

The March 2019 Writers' Forum -- All the writing craft hints and indie publishing tips you need to know.


Book Publishing: Are You Keeping Up? – Part 1

Lee Foster writes a summary about the current state of the publishing world for The Book Designer website. This article is a quick look at how publishing best practices continue to evolve—sometimes very quickly. He includes the historical perspective on how indie publishing arose. Nice summary, particularly if you’re on the cusp of deciding whether to go the indie route or seek to traditionally publish your work.

Turning a teen bedroom into my writing office!

13 Tips for the Work-at-Home Author

If I’m being completely honest here, I do not follow all of these rules, but I probably should. I do NOT leave my house every day, and I often jump into my work routine in my pajamas, which can be a bit embarrassing when you answer the door to sign for a package at 2 pm. However, I’ve learned to follow the other rules on this list—mostly by learning what happens when I DIDN’T follow them.

You must unapologetically set your work hours. A lot of people think that if you work from home, you’re not really working, and will expect you’re available for other things at any time. Guard your work time! Set a routine and turn off the annoyances that are distracting. Let non-emergency calls go to voice mail.

Read all 13 Tips here. 


Writing Craft


I love discussions about choosing the right point of view for your work. Sometimes a story will only come to us in a certain way, and it’s clear which point of view we’ll be using, but other times this may require some consideration. See what you think of the article: Third-Person Limited: Analyzing Fiction’s Most Flexible Point of View from the Writer’s Digest blog.

What Is Your Story’s Theme?

Mary Kole from addresses the issue of identifying the literary theme in your story. I find that for myself and other writers pinpointing the theme of our book can be elusive at times. I didn’t note where I found this definition/description of theme, but I found it very helpful: “The theme in a story is its underlying message, or 'big idea.' In other words, what critical belief about life is the author trying to convey in the writing of a novel, play, short story or poem? This belief, or idea, transcends cultural barriers. It is usually universal in nature.”

Should I Compile an Anthology?

Have you ever thought of working with other writers and compiling an anthology? Stephanie Chandler at the Nonfiction Author Association gives both a list on the benefits of anthologies and a comprehensive checklist on the steps to take when pulling one together with other authors. Read her tips here.

Picking the Right Typography for Your Book Cover and Interior PagesBook Titles – Cover and Interior Fonts

Maybe you had a clear idea in mind for your book title from the moment the inspiration to write it came to you, or maybe you’re struggling to come up with the perfect words to convey the feel of your story. John Doppler on the Alliance of Independent Authors’ website gives a formula of sorts on how to come up with a title you love. Read through his hints in How to Find the Perfect Title. 

Once you’ve picked the title, you now have to consider how to best present it on your book cover. Writer’s Digest gives us Five Tips for Better Book Cover Typography. The examples in this article are excellent and will definitely point you in the right direction. 

And we’re not done talking about fonts! The Book Designer article Fun with Fonts – Getting Ebook Typefaces Right advises first on what fonts to choose for your electronic book as well as how to embed them and whether you should do that or not. 

When is the Best Time of Year to Release a Book?

According to the Self-Publishing Review website, the answer is . . . it depends on your book. The article is very helpful in noting special calendar tie-ins for specific book topics as well as general guidelines for broad genres. If you’re indie publishing, you have control over you release date, so you might as well pick the timing that is most beneficial. Good advice. 

Quick Resource List for March:

25 Publishers with Excellent Distribution that Accept Unsolicited Submissions

The 2019 Guide to Amazon Fees and Royalties for Kindle eBooks and KDP Print

An Easier Way to Upload Book Metadata to Distribution Platforms: I included this one because it has a handy checklist of the items that are defined as metadata. (Basically, all the info search engines look for when a reader is searching for a book.

Pre-launch advice for book sale success.NEW SECTION NOTE:

Previously, I split advice into two categories, pre-publication and post-publication. I’m adding a third category which fits between the two and I’m calling it pre-launch. These articles will be addressing what you need to be doing in that time between the creation of your work and its release to the world. Many marketing tasks, if done properly, must fall into this time frame before the book release.


Are You Ready for Book Marketing? Take This Quiz

Love this quick quiz from Frances Caballo at Social Media Just for Writers. The questions posed force you to reflect on whether your book is ready for market and think through the best practices for launching it. Many book promo activities need to be engaged or set in motion in the months leading up to a successful book launch. Great list—bookmark this one!

Top 100 Book Review Blogs, Websites, and Newsletters to Follow in 2019

This list is a treasure of a resource for anyone who has a new book coming out or that was recently released. This was newly updated for 2019. While not every reviewer on the list will be the proper fit for your genre, you’ll be sure to find quite a few that are worth the try. Scan the whole list here.  

Amazon Review Policies

Are we talking about this again? (big sigh) YES! However, this article is a comprehensive guide on Amazon’s review policies. I love the title As the Author World Turns on Amazon Book Review Policies because it does feel like a soap opera at times. Too much drama. Unless there’s some earth-shattering news here, I will not be revisiting this issue any time soon. (You’re welcome!)

Early Marketing and Promotion

Two articles from The Book Designer spoke to the myths that sometimes crop up in the world of book promotions. First, in Three Book Marketing Myths to Avoid, succinct tough-love advice is handed out. 1. A traditional publisher will not do all the marketing for you. 2. You can't just copy the book marketing efforts of other authors. 3. You shouldn't wait until your book is OUT to begin your marketing. That’s the heart of it, but read the whole article here for more detail. 

The second article is Seven Myths of Using Press Releases to Promote Your Book. No, the press release isn’t dead, but you should learn how to both write one and also use it properly. This is one of the must reads of the month! 

How to Announce Your Book with an Email Blast

Sandra Beckwith at Build Book Buzz gives clear direction on the best way to reach out to your email list when announcing your newest book. These eight steps might seem like things you would do (or not do) automatically; however, in the crazy run up to your book launch certain things can fall through the cracks. Keep this handy list in your book launch file and you won’t go wrong.


Deep Dive into Book Marketing

David Gaughran’s multi-part series How to Sell Books in 2019 is a fabulous guide for any author. Here’s Part 4 (you can access parts 1 – 3 via this link as well.) This post focuses on BookBub Ads. David has a new book out on BookBub ads, too. I grabbed my copy, but I haven’t had a chance to read it yet.

If you’re interested, click on the book to go to the purchase page:

Changes to Amazon Advertising: What Authors Need to Know

Dave Chesson (who I previously mentioned in this forum) writes a guest post on Jane Friedman’s blog about recent updates to Amazon advertising. Chesson also has a free course on Amazon advertising that I recommend, if you decide to go this route. Remember though that crafting ads that work (on any platform) takes multiple stages of testing, so patience is a necessity. 


10 Social Media Tips for 2019

Judith Briles of The Book Shepherd consistently gives excellent advice in an easy-to-follow way that keeps tasks from feeling overwhelming. Here she gives 5 social media tips to start now. (Maybe you’ll find you’re already doing these.) Then she gives 5 social media warnings about how these platforms are ultimately out of our control and we need to be aware that changes can happen overnight that change the way we engage with our followers. Her advice backs up what I keep saying . . . acquire your own email subscriber list, so you are not completely at the mercy of social media changes. Read all 10 tips here. 

Optimize Your Social Media Content for Each Age GroupHow to Optimize Your Social Media Content for Each Age Group

Here’s a fabulous info graphic from Bakerview Consulting that will help you optimize your content for every age group on social media platforms. gives the statistics of each age group on social media, where they hang out, and the best way to engage them. Find your target audience and see if your practices match up—if not, make plans to work on this in 2019!

New to Instagram? Here’s How to Start Plus 9 Tips for Authors

If you learn in the previous article that your target audience is over on Instagram, here’s some smart help to get you started from Frances Caballo. In reading the 9 Tips for Authors, I found some advice that I need to follow to engage better on this platform. (Adding it to my to-do list now.) If you think that you can’t handle another social media account, my advice is that you should first spend a little time looking at how Instagram works. I think you’ll find that you may like this platform a lot. And, you can connect both your Facebook and Twitter accounts so you’re not creating posts on the same thing on each platform.

Where will I see you this spring? 


Registration is still open for next weekend's conferences:

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 Magnificent 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  


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