The Big Picture – Treating Your Writing Like a Business

KDP Books Unavailable to International Readers

2019 - November Writers' Forum -- all the indie pub news you need to know.

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. For readers, there are links to southern Wisconsin bookstores to preview their upcoming events. 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 use my skills to guide you through the steps of independent publishing!



Writing conferences are a great way to hone your skills, learn about the publishing industry, and network with other writers and agents and editors. If you're unsure of what you might get out of a conference, here are some tips about making the most of the experience

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

UntitledTown Book & Author Festival – Green Bay, WI – April 26-28, 2019

SCBWI Wild, Wild Midwest Conference – Naperville, IL – May 3-5, 2019 (Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators)

LakeFly Writers Conference – Oshkosh, WI – May 10 & 11, 2019



The Big Picture – Treating Your Writing Like a Business

Two articles from the past month give a framework for thinking about your book and the marketing you’ll do BEFORE you publish it as well as the ongoing efforts after. Often writers, particularly self-published ones, put their book out to the world and then plan on worrying about the marketing components after. To be the most successful you need to plan ahead.

The Book Designer’s article gives the author 5 questions they need to ask before publication. Asking yourself “Am I publishing the right book? And what are the expectations of my genre?” will get you thinking about how you can best position your book. 

Judith Briles of the Book Shepherd website has an eight-step author success formula that goes beyond the initial steps and covers ongoing tasks that you should think about like networking, when to hire professional assistance etc… 

Great advice from both websites to help you be a smart decision maker in this ever-changing business.

An Author Success Formula










KDP Books Unavailable to International Readers

Again – an Amazon issue. Could there be a month without some sort of weird thing happening over at Amazon? David Gaughran describes the problem that is occurring. Basically, Amazon is attempting to get Amazon users to order from their “nearest” Amazon online website versus using the US Amazon website. In so doing, they’ve made certain titles unavailable to purchasers who live outside the US but a are trying to use the US Amazon website. The story is more complicated than that—and all the details are here.

Book Imprint Consolidation

I thought this article from the Idealog website about imprint consolidation at the big publishing houses was an interesting read. It goes through some of the history surrounding the explosion of titles from self-publishing and the ways the bigger publishers are maintaining their competitiveness. There are some interesting statistics about the number of titles in print and such.  


Naming Your Characters

Just after Kristin Oakley and I had a conversation about how we named our characters (read it here) and the things to consider, I came across this article by Erin Somers “A Knack for Names”.  She spends time looking at the way names give us cues as to the character’s nature and the type of story we are reading. Fun examples! 

Naming Your Characters - creating a mood for your story










Redacted Text on Covers

Are you a fan of redacted text on covers? The Casual Optimist website’s article “Cross it Out” examines some of the most popular titles using this style or gimmick—depending on whether you’re a fan or not. Personally, I think it works well to make a point. I also like redacted text in stories. I thought it was particularly poignant in Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson. (This is an excellent YA title if you haven’t had a chance to read it.)

Hackers Targeting CreateSpace

This is just a quick FYI to check that your account is secure if you are still at CreateSpace and haven’t moved your titles over to KDP Print yet. If you’ve gotten a “your password has been changed email” from CreateSpace, don’t ignore it. Apparently, hackers have gotten a hold of some account info and were changing passwords and then changing deposit information to abscond with your hard-earned royalties.  Read the details here. 

Can NaNoWriMo Heal Your Creative Wounds?NaNoWriMo … the good, the bad, the ugly (?)

We’re at the end of the month and if you’ve participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), I’d love to hear whether you have appreciated the experience or not. (NaNoWriMo is an annual, Internet-based creative writing project that takes place during the month of November. Participants attempt to write a 50,000 word manuscript between November 1 and November 30.”) You can learn more on the project’s website. 

I have to say that my writing process does not lend itself to this type of sprint, but then again, my writing session word counts have been rather dismal lately—so maybe this kind of push and focus would be good for me. Anne R. Allen writes a reflective article about how NaNoWriMo might have helped her overcome ‘creativity wounds’ when she was a younger writer. This was based on an article written by Grant Faulkner (NaNoWriMo executive director) for Jane Friedman’s blog. He describes the wounds he received during his creative writing process—I am certain we can all relate.

Lyrics in Books

So, you want to include music lyrics in a book. (big sigh) This is hard. You’re going to need permission. It might cost you money. (There’s my succinct summary of this article.) But if you really want to do it, this article gives you the steps for getting the proper copyright permissions

I recommend that you write your way around this . . . here’s an example from one of my books showing how I referenced a song without violating copyright.

Excerpt from Circle of Nine Novella: Phoebe’s Mission

“Will you play something for me?”

“Sure.” Mack set down his beer and reached for the guitar. He strummed a few chords and made some tuning adjustments. “Here’s one of my favorites. Do you like Bob Dylan?”

Phoebe nodded and let her head rest back against the rocker as Mack began. His voice was very good. Combined with Dylan’s amazing lyrics, Phoebe was in for a treat as he sang “The Times They Are A-Changin’.” He continued on with more Dylan, obviously his favorite. When he got to the suggestive lyrics of “Lay Lady Lay,” Phoebe’s eyes flew to his face.

He stared right back at her, shamelessly challenging her with the words about lying across his big brass bed. The last line, imploring the woman in the song to stay, hung in the air.

Never breaking eye contact, Phoebe set down her empty beer bottle and crossed the porch to stand in front of him. The crickets chirped and the fireflies twinkled in the deepening darkness. Phoebe didn’t understand what had bloomed between them. She just knew that she wanted him. More than she had wanted any man—ever.

Recap – Amazon Keywords

I know delving into choosing the proper keywords to position your book on KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) can be an agonizing chore. This article from the Book Designer gives us some new hints on crafting these phrases. The original tutorials that many of us followed were to choose natural sounding phrases—HOWEVER, that’s not the case anymore. You do not have to match a customer’s search terms exactly to get your book to pop up.  This article walks through test cases with concrete examples. Maybe it’s time to adjust your keywords? 

Your Website Landing Page

Nate Hoffelder of the Digital Reader offers advice on the “Five Secrets to a Fiendishly Effective Landing Page"--that's your home page, by the way. If you haven’t designed your author website yet—read this. And for those of you who already have a website, maybe it’s time for a bit of housekeeping?

PublishDrive’s Subscription Option

Until I read this article, I had never heard of PublishDrive (PD) – an ebook arregator like Draft2Digitial (the one I use) or Smashwords. I’m intrigued by their subscription plan vs a royalty percentage. PublishDrive gives you the option to pay a $100 flat subscription rate—which depending on how many books you sell--could be a great bargain over the 10% on each book sale you pay normally. Read the whole article here: Driving a New Path to Publication: PublishDrive’s New Subscription Option 

PublishDrive's New Subscription Option -- Will it save you money?









Making Sure You Enter Your Book Info Right the First Time

This is a cautionary article about making sure that when you enter your book’s main information – title/subtitle, series info, author name that you are consistent across all channels. It’s nearly impossible to fix certain things or adjust after the fact, say you decide you’d prefer to include your middle initial with your author name or something. Read Gordon Long's struggle to fix errors

What To Do 8 Months Before Book Launch

Dan Blank shares the 8-month journey preparing for Pamela Toler's book launch. This is helpful framework to follow if you’ll be launching a book in 2019. I find Dan’s blog incredibly helpful. You might want to sign up for his Friday newsletter once you check out the info he has to offer. 


Why Readers Aren’t Reviewing Your Books (and what you might do)

Sandra Beckwith at Build Book Buzz gives us the two main reasons readers don’t write reviews: The process is intimidating and they think it will take too much time. BUT she has a solution. She has created book reviewer forms for fiction and nonfiction that you can distribute to your readers, making this process easier. I think this is a bargain at $9 . . . it would take me more than an hour to come up with what she’s created, so I consider this a reasonably priced shortcut. (There are some bonuses included, too.) 

Getting Started with Podcasting - An Author How-To









Author Podcasting: 10 Tips You Need

Are you thinking about beginning a podcast? This article from Frances Caballo at Social Media Just for Authors gives a step-by-step list on how she got started with her podcast. Excellent tips! One of my favorite local author podcasts is Writescast hosted by R. R. Campbell. I’ve been a guest a couple of times and find his podcast informative and fun to listen to. 


There’s always advice about blogging for authors, but this month there were two articles that seemed more helpful than most. One gives tips on how to be a guest blogger: “How to Blog for Other Websites: Simple Steps to Guest Blogging, Including Sample Pitch” and “12 Strategies for Blogging Your Way to Expert Status” by Nina Amir. This info is applicable to both fiction and nonfiction writers, so if you’re hoping to make blogging work for you take a look.

Book Advertising

Part of my ongoing marketing of my book series has included online advertising. Where can you advertise? Facebook, Amazon, BookBub, Goodreads and others. But there’s a lot to know and the process can feel very intimidating. David Gaughran’s newsletter gives his beginner’s guide to Amazon advertising. And BookBub is good at sending out articles to aid authors on how to be successful advertise on their platform. I thought author Carlyn Robertson’s article “How an Author Doubled First-in-Series Sales Using BookBub Ads” was particularly helpful. 

Email Marketing

On “Your First 10,000 Readers” website, Nick Stephenson walks authors through how to nurture their email list. (Again, I will encourage all of you to set up an email subscription system so that you control access to YOUR followers.) Social Media sites can change the rules at any time (HELLO – Facebook and Google+) and limit the way that you communicate with those hard-won contacts. The only way to insulate yourself from this is to create your own mailing list. I like Nick’s ideas in “Email Marketing for Authors: How to Nurture Your Author Platform for Effective Results.” 

Social Media Tips for AuthorsSOCIAL MEDIA

Make Your Posts Visually Appealing

Yes, I’m a broken record . . . please use an image to support your posts on social media. Frances Caballo gives some excellent stats as to why we respond better to information presented with an engaging image. 

Social Media Marketing Strategy

Barb Drozdowich at Bakerview Consulting shared this fun infographic with 10 steps on creating your own social media marketing strategy. It’s a quick, visually engaging list that will help you see if you’re doing the right things.

Automating Your Social Media Marketing

This month, Barb also gives a guide for “Effective Social Media Automation”. If you’ve ever wondered how you can save time with your social media posting, this article walks through the ins and outs of automating/scheduling posts.


Get to your local bookstore.

A Room of One’s Own, 315 W. Gorham Street, Madison

Books & Company, 1039 Summit Avenue, Oconomowoc

Boswell Books, 2559 N. Downer, Milwaukee

InkLink Books, 2890 East Main Street, East Troy

The Little Read Book, 1406 W. State Street, Wauwatosa 

Mystery to Me Bookstore, 1863 Monroe Street, Madison

Tribeca Gallery & Café, 1318 S. 1st Street, Milwaukee and 401 E. Main Street, Watertown


Happy Reading & Writing, Valerie  

PS Don't forget to tell me about your experience with NaNoWriMo! Comment below or send me an email.



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