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Indie Authors: Love What You Do and How You Do It [Guest Post]

The following is a guest post from author Evelyn Lafont. For more on Evelyn, visit her website or tweet @KeyboardHussy!

I’ve noticed a disturbing trend lately among some self-published, indie authors. Many of them seem to be unhappy about their decision to self-publish.

It’s true. There are self-published authors out there who are disparaging the process of self-publishing, while still—begrudgingly—trying to sell their own self-published book.

As someone who is embracing the indie author movement the same way she embraces dessert, I don’t get it. It seems like some of these folks are jumping on what they see as a self-publishing band wagon because they don’t want to miss out on what it might bring even though they don’t seem to even want what it brings. And like any self-fulfilling prophecy, many of these authors are posting sales stats that seem to prove their resistance right. After a few weeks or months of half-hearted marketing combined with negative comments about self-publishing, they show their low sales as if to say, “See? See how bad this is?”

Self-publishing is not like a one-size-fits-all Halloween costume. It’s not going to fit everyone. For some authors, the dream of being a writer includes having an agent and a publishing contract, and they won’t be happy unless that is what they have—even if they are selling books on an indie platform. And when they self-publish instead of following their dream and querying agents, they are doing themselves a huge disservice.

I remember when I was a kid and I lost a tooth, I’d put it under my pillow and go to sleep. The next day, I’d wake to find a fresh dollar bill, which went right into my Incredible Hulk piggy bank.

As a kid, I had no concept of the value of money. I understood that I could exchange it later for some kind of material object, but in the now—which is what mattered most to me—it didn’t bring any satisfaction. Now my neighbors, well, I thought the tooth fairy liked them better because she left each of them a piece of gum under their pillow instead of a stupid dollar.

A. Piece. Of. Gum.Continue Reading

A Map to Self-Publishing [Guest Post]

The following is a guest post by Kimberly Kinrade, a Young Adult Fantasy author. For more on Kimberley, visit her website or tweet @KimberlyKinrade!

Photo: thejourney1972 | Flickr

They say the more detailed your map, the better your chances of reaching your destination. OK, I don’t actually know anyone who says this, but it sounds like something someone would say, right?

And if it’s true, then I’m kinda sunk when it comes to self-publishing. My map for publishing my first book, “Bits of You & Pieces of Me” loosely resembled a map my 5 year old daughter might draw to get herself from our house to China. It was about as effective as well.

I recently wrote a guest post for social media guru Marian Schembari called “How NOT to Self-Publish.” I’ve made some big mistakes along the way and am now like an old world adventurer, pillaging across what was once thought to be flat in order to flesh out my map and make it true.Continue Reading

Don’t Bypass The Copy Editor [Guest Post]

The following is a guest post written by Diana DeSpain Schramer. For more information about Diana, read her bio at the end of the post and visit her website. Thanks for a great post, Diana! Are you interested in writing a guest post for us? Just give us a shout!

Self-publishing came to the forefront last month with Nathan Bransford’s blog post “Amanda Hocking and the 99-Cent Kindle Millionaires.” Ms. Hocking’s unprecedented success has the writing world reeling and is prompting as-yet-unpublished authors to seriously consider mining for self-published gold themselves. However, after packing up your treasured manuscript, I beseech all you future self-publishers to make one stop en route to the nearest press: the copy editor.

The copy editor helps you to present yourself as an intelligent, professional writer by providing two key services:

1: Cleans Up Messy Writing

Messy writing distracts the reader from your message. By messy writing, I mean poor, improper, or nonexistent punctuation; improper grammar, syntax, and tense usage; misspelled words; run-on or fragmented sentences; and material that makes little or no logical sense. The writer’s job is to clearly communicate to the reader through the artful choice and use of language, which is accomplished through the intricate mechanics of writing. The writer’s failure to master either of these vital tasks forces the reader to try to figure out what the writer is trying to say, and that is not the reader’s job. Bored, frustrated, or both, the reader eventually tosses the book aside, never to return.

Clean writing, on the other hand, leaves no unanswered questions in the reader’s mind. A copy editor will ferret out every errant comma, semi-colon, and misspelled word; will insert a missing word and delete an extraneous one; will point out any gap in logic or redundant information; will correct errors in grammar, syntax, and tense; and will offer suggestions for revisions, rewrites, or restructuring of the manuscript so that it flows. When the writing is clean, the reader is free to curl up and lose him or herself in the story.

2: Provides Objective, Professional Feedback

As writers, we know what we are trying to say, but are we accomplishing that through our writing? We know what we intend to convey, but is that intention evident on the page? Writers’ groups are invaluable sources of support and feedback, but they are not always objective nor are they always made up of writing professionals. A good copy editor is both objective and professional, and approaches each manuscript with the intention and meticulous eye to help make it as polished and publish-ready as possible.

If publishing your book is your goal, bypassing the copy editor is not an option. With the slew of books on today’s market, competition is fierce. As more and more people opt for self-publishing, the number of books hitting the market will increase exponentially. In order for your book to rise above the competition, it’s more important than ever to produce the most concise, clean, clear, polished-to-perfection manuscript as possible.

Whether self- or traditionally published, the reader wants an engaging, well-written read. If that is your dream for your book, do not bypass the copy editor on your way to the press.

Diana DeSpain Schramer is a freelance copy editor who would love the opportunity to work with you and your book. For more on Diana and her services, visit her at www.writewaycopyediting.com or at www.DianaDeSpainSchramer.naiwe.com.

How to Get Past Writer’s Block: Productivity Tips [Guest Post]

The following is a guest post by Maria Rainier. For more on Maria, check out her bio at the end of the post or visit her at First in Education.

Whether you’re writing your first paper or you’re an acclaimed novelist, you’ve almost certainly encountered the frustrating phenomenon of writer’s block. And you’ll encounter it again in the future. Depending on your circumstances, writer’s block can ruin an entire session of potential productivity – it’s easy to let procrastination take control. When you’re not feeling inspired, nothing seems right and it’s almost impossible to put words on the page.

The good news is that there are many ways to get around the dreaded writer’s block. You probably have some of your own strategies that work for you when your creative juices seem to run dry. These are a few of my favorite ways to court the muse and start writing again, so I hope they enhance your repertoire and offer you more approaches to solving the problem of writer’s block.

Surround Yourself with Writers

I know I feel more capable of writing for an extended period of time when I’m surrounded by like-minded people with the determination to keep writing, no matter what. Join a MeetUp group of writers, get some creative friends together, or search for writing groups on Craigslist. You might be surprised at what you can do when you’re in good (and productive) company.

Find an Inspiring Location & Set Up Shop

Think about the inspiring places you’ve been and see if you can figure out a way to start writing in some of those locations. Bringing a notebook and pen with you is permissible just about anywhere you go, and many places will allow you to bring a laptop if you prefer to type. Just stay aware of your laptop’s battery life if you’re working outdoors, unless you have a solar charger.

I like to write in the following places: art museums, botanical gardens, parks, theaters, local coffee shops, and my artist friend’s studio. Each of these locations inspires me to write even when I’m struggling to come up with a simple string of coherent thoughts. Try writing in the places you turn to for rejuvenation, relaxation, and creative inspiration.

Read Your Journal or Other Old Writing Pieces

I keep a journal that occasionally offers inspiring ideas or phrases, which can then be turned into “real” writing. You can often find something in your archives that’s worth expanding, so don’t hesitate to take a few minutes and read back over your past writings. If you find a striking idea that can be developed, you’ll gain self-confidence because the idea was yours all along – and that’s a great way to tap into your creativity.

Listen to Music

Listening to classical music helps me to stay relaxed and focused, which are two conditions that help me write well. Depending on my mood, I’ll choose something slow and soft to get myself into a creative state, or I’ll select a fast-paced instrumental number like Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro overture to wake up and start writing. Music has the power to affect your energy, creativity, and mood, so take advantage of it to improve the conditions that surround your writing process.

Relax with Breathing Exercises

Running into writer’s block often stresses me out, triggering anxiety and negative feelings. That state of mind is never conducive to any creative pursuit, so writing after hitting a wall tends to be unproductive unless I change my attitude and decrease the level of stress I’m feeling.

I usually relax with a few minutes of circular breathing, which is a simple exercise that you can try with almost no effort. Just close your eyes, exhale all of the air in your lungs, and use the thumb and fourth finger of your dominant hand to pinch your nostrils closed.  Wait a few seconds, then remove your thumb and inhale through the open nostril. Replace your thumb, closing the nostril, and hold your breath. Now, move your fourth finger away and exhale through the other nostril. Repeat this exercise as many times as you need to in order to feel refreshed and stress-free.

About Maria

Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education where she writes about education, online degrees, and what it takes for adult students to succeed studying for an online post-grad degree from home. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.

My Decision to Become an Indie Author [Guest Post]

The following is a guest post by author Jeff Emmerson. For more on Jeff, visit his website or follow him on Twitter @Jeff__Emmerson. If you’d like to be a guest poster, we’d love to have you! Just shoot us an e-mail or give a shout to @duolit. Now, on to Jeff’s post:

As far as I’m concerned, the decision to go the indie route with my up-coming memoir was an easy one to make. It took me a while to realize that there was such an option, since I was under the impression that I’d have to go through a “self-publishing” company such as AuthorHouse or Dog’s Ear Publishing to bring my book to the world.

While there’s a lot of debate over the difference between self-publishing and independent publishing, I’ve chosen to see it this way: With the self-publishing route, you pay a company up to several thousand dollars (or more) to create your book for you, market it (however they see fit), and distribute it in one of several ways. As part of the “package” you purchase, they may also other cosmetic aspects, such as size, page color, and whether to make your book a hardcover or soft cover. They may also offer an editing service, but I’ve found many of them to be way too costly for my liking. After all, I’m a person on a budget, so the indie route appeals to me even more for the investment needed. If money is no issue, then perhaps you will want to go the self-publishing route (vanity publisher). I’ve recruited my own editor, a graphic designer to create my book cover the way I want it, and even a marketing team to help me figure out a plan of action for

When it comes to the true independent (indie) route, I don’t see a ton of difference, but you can save thousands if you do your homework. The main thing is that you do everything yourself. I’ve chosen to go with Lightning Source as my printer/distributor, so in a sense, that isn’t done independently, I know. But everything else is, so if you still think of my way as self-publishing, then I’m cool with that. Hey – I’m not trying to create a divide! I simply stand for writers going their own way, which means that a) They keep total creative control, b) Keep way more of the profits, and c) Never go out of print! To my knowledge, none of those can be said for the traditional publishing route.

Whichever route you choose, just be sure to keep an open mind. Self-published works have been “picked up” by traditional publishers, so if you have a fabulous book, the word will get out there, but only if you do one thing very well: MARKET the heck out of it. There are thousands of resources and articles online and off that explain some best practices when it comes to marketing your book. In fact, my editor recently told me about how dissatisfied she was with her traditional publisher, since they were brutal at marketing. Guess what: She’s decided to buy back her rights and self/indie publish all over again on her terms!

We’re all learning, and there are truly no “experts” except for you. Only you know what will ultimately be the best plan for your story. Get started, or even if you are already, keep moving forward!

‘See you out there!

With gratitude,
Jeff Emmerson – Author of “The Road to Myself” – A Gritty, Reflective and Inspiring Memoir to be Published in 2011!