Posts Tagged ‘Self-publishing’

Two crucial skills for the writing life.

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

Each day, we are bombarded by the tasks we must do, by the things we want to accomplish, and by the demands of tasks and people upon our time. There is only so much time, and so often too many things to do. We necessarily must master the skill of multitasking, of doing more than one thing at a time: answering the phone and emails, scheduling meetings and signings, managing children and pets, managing a household, making time for love, tracking our books and our word count.

Writing & publishing have become a multi-skill career, especially for writers, where we must write, have a business plan, set goals, design covers, write a blog, maintain a website, and market our books. Some of us do all of these things, some of us out-source some of it. And most of us do have other demands placed on our time, like family, friends, favorite past-times, other jobs.

And all of this demands that we multitask, and that is necessary. It’s almost a survival skill.

Lost in all of this multitasking, all of this busyness, is the equally crucial skill of … focus. Being able to focus fully, for long periods, is very important. Lost too is perhaps our best work, our richest and most engaging writing, and our real potential as writers. Without focus, our work suffers, our creativity isn’t as great or as deep. The constant interruptions and distractions mean we not only do not get as much done of what is really important for our dreams (writing, for example), but what we do during those crucial hours isn’t of the quality that we could want.

What can we do to more fully apply that skill of mental focus to our work, our writing. On my blog post about writer’s block (filed under Writer’s Life), I recommend using a timer and freeing up the mind from other things that might intrude. It’s kind of like beginning to practice meditation, where other thoughts and distractions must be kept to a minimum, and where mental discipline must be continually exercised. Once you’ve decided that it is more important that you become more deeply focused when you write, then you will probably think of other ways to accomplish this.

Here are some tips on focusing from that previous blogpost:

1) Before ending the day’s writing time, write a few lines of the next scene or a few ideas for that scene, so that it’s easier to pick up at the next session.

2) As you sit there, take the first 10 to 15 minutes to read a section of a book on craft or articles on craft, to switch your mind from the daily grind to writing and craft.

3) Set up your writing time so that all you have to think about is writing. Since you have other pressing things to do in your day, perhaps schedule your day on the evening before, so that when you begin to write, all of those other things are settled, done, and you’re not thinking about all the other things you have to do that day. Instead you’re thinking about and focused on writing. (see No. 5 & 6)

4) Write in a Journal before you begin your writing time, to dump all the things that are bothering you or distracting you. Assign a maximum time for this (5 minutes), otherwise it could take over much of your writing time.

5) Set a timer for the length of time you want to write and then think of nothing else during that time–that is the time you have for writing–until the timer goes off. This allows you to fully focus on your writing, and to set everything else aside for that hour or for whatever time you’ve allocated.

6) When you sit down to write, if other things occur to you that must be done or that are competing with focusing on writing, then quickly create a list of those things you need to do or think about. And then put it aside, so that they’re all written down and will be less likely to distract you.

7) Plan–an outline or variation of one, but at least a general idea of where you’re going with the novel, whether it’s a general statement, a synopsis with the main plot points, or an outline.

And a quote on the subject:  “…when you are completely open, when on all levels you are in complete communication, completely integrated, then there is joy and you begin to create … creativeness is a sense of total self-forgetfulness, when there is no turmoil, when one is wholly unaware of the movement of thought.” — Krishnamurti.

How do you see yourself applying & balancing these skills in your life?

 

 

Marketing for authors…and readers

Saturday, January 19th, 2013

Marketing means ensuring your own “discoverability.” Or how readers on the internet can find you, can learn about you and your books, and maybe receive some free books or books at sale prices. It provides connection.

There are a number of sites that provide this, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads.

But there are some others that do this and they could be worth your time to check out.

The first is Bublish.com. (@Bublishme on Twitter). The site offers something for both readers and writers. There is an easily navigated author’s page, with the author’s picture, cover, synopsis, blurb(s), excerpt, link to the author’s website, and a buy link. This is great for both writers and readers, as readers can sign up and access the genres they love to read and enjoy new authors and books.

The second is Story Cartel (storycartel.com). This is a new site. Currently there are over 1,900 readers, who get notifications about free books and other cool stuff.  There is an author signup and dashboard. Readers sign up with name & email address. They notify readers when there are new book giveaways, and if  the book sounds interesting, then readers can sign up to review it. After reading and posting a review on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads or their blog, readers can submit the link to that review(s) and then get entered into raffles for more free stuff (such as gift cards from Amazon or B&N).

The third is BookBlast (BookBlast.co (note: it’s not .com, which is another website) ). It’s a Digital Media Revolutions site. Advertising for authors is free right now, in exchange for sharing their service with readers. When you plan to have a book on sale for less than $3, you can contact them for inclusion in their email blasts to readers. And readers can sign up to receive free and best-selling books at sale prices. Sign-up is easy.

The fourth is Criminal Element, a community website from Macmillan that features content for fans of crime fiction, mysteries, and thrillers, with excerpts, blurbs and blog highlights. Authors like John Connolly, Karen Robards and Joseph Finder have been featured in the past. Categories at Criminal Element are: Detective and police procedurals, traditional mysteries and cozy mysteries, thrillers and noir, historical mysteries and Westerns, and true crime and nonfiction. Readers can sign up to receive current info on their favorite genre and authors, enter book giveaways, and participate in book discussions on the site’s community forum.

The fifth one is Omnimystery Books (Omnimystery.com). They provide current information about everything about mysteries: books, authors, characters, movies, T.V series, and so on. Their emails contain links to free books on kindle, to books for less than $2.99, and so on. Authors can sign up for promotions, book reviews, guest blogging. and so on.  They also offer contests and author events.

Other sites to check out are First Glance Books, Tor.com, and Heroes and Heartbreakers.

What’s on your reading list? Are there other sites that you enjoy that I haven’t mentioned here?

 

 

 

 

 

How is your Publishing sonar? Or Size matters?

Saturday, November 24th, 2012

Publishing and the future. Change is, of course the key word here. We’ve been seeing change, but not much of a response from the big 6 publishers.

Now some of the big publishers are merging or considering a merger–Random House & Penguin and possibly now Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins. One wonders if this is the best direction for them to go, but it certainly makes sense to want to combine resources to survive.  I enjoyed the November 3rd article on TechCrunch.com, the “Quick, Tie the Rafts Together” by Devin Coldewey (the link is here:  http://techcrunch.com/2012/11/03/quick-tie-the-rafts-together/ ) where he discusses the Random House/Penguin merger.

But with so many authors self-publishing and thus becoming entities that are both more nimble and faster in the new market–publishing in 2 months, thru ebooks, rather than in 2 years, thru print–I have to question this trend with publishers to want to go bigger. Normally, in the past, this would be the way to go in any industry that faces such change–to find ways to strengthen your company and maybe diversify a little.

It’s great that they’re finally really perceiving the need for change. As best-selling author and Cool Gus Publishing’s copublisher Bob Mayer said, back in April 2011 (and actually before that), the big publishers response to the epublishing trend was basically to rearrange the deck chairs on the Titanic–mostly they have been just protecting their turf (see his Write It Forward blog post, “I Don’t Know; I’m Guessing; I Know–the future of publishing for authors”). And in the industry itself, the rearranging has been in the percentage of books that are Indie vs Traditionally published, ebook vs print. Personally I like the combination–ebooks & print–and see the necessity for a combination of them in our society, but that’s another story.

I’ll take the analogy of the Titanic just a little further. The Titanic itself was so huge that it could not be turned in time to avoid that collision with the iceberg. And it didn’t help that it was also going too fast for the dangerous terrain.

So, while it’s good that these publishing houses are no longer just rearranging the deck chairs, are they becoming like the big ship itself? That is, a ship that’s too big to navigate through today’s uncertain waters, where the normal sonar may not register the shifting undercurrents and icebergs of change..or at least signal that a change of course could be needed quickly to avoid a disaster. And about the number of lifeboats…

As an aside, our government is facing the same issue. In the form of the Fiscal Cliff. Can we change course in time to avoid disaster? Congress seems to have its head in the sand.

On one final note, in the movie TITANIC directed by James Cameron, in the scene where most of the major characters are gathered around a table discussing the building of the huge ship, the heroine makes the comment about Freud’s theory on the male preoccupation with size. (In the context, it was funny.)

But it’s also interesting to note that one of the causes of the Titanic disaster was that the ship’s rudder…was built too small. A little irony.

In this case, maybe smaller would be better. The raft…