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4 Ways NOT to Find Your Writing Motivation

Photo: DSmous | Flickr

The ultimate remedy for writing motivation is a topic many have blogged about before. We all know the things that we are supposed to do like make time in our schedules for writing, use prompts and other exercises to jumpstart your creative juices, yada, yada, yada. Instead of re-iterating the standard prose on writing motivation, I thought I’d do something a little different to spur us writer folk into action.

I’m going to tell you what NOT to do to find your writing motivation.

DO NOT turn on the TV. You start out telling yourself you’ll watch the first five minutes of the news—after all, they’re doing a story about the germs lurking in the corners of your kitchen, you can’t miss that, right? But after the national news goes off, it’s time for Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy—who can miss those? Game shows keep your mind sharp! After game shows there are sitcoms and dramas and Wipeout and basketball games and Mythbusters and 400 other channels full of distractions. Next thing you know it’s after midnight and you’re passed out on the couch in the middle of a Pawn Stars marathon. The TV is a gateway drug and at least a few nights a week, you have to avoid turning it on because the moment you press the power button, it’s over.Continue Reading

No Excuses: 15-Minute Goal Setting for Authors


Photo: tibchris | Flickr

I’m a sucker for time savers.

One of my favorite parts of the magazine Real Simple is the monthly feature “15 Minutes and You’re Done.” It features various household/personal tasks (cleaning a bathroom, organizing an office, upper body workout, etc) and breaks down how to complete the task in 15 minutes. It’s a simple concept, but a trick that goes a long way toward making burdensome or overwhelming tasks manageable (and more difficult to shirk).

All of the great responses to last week’s discussion on goal-setting got me thinking that the 15-minute concept might just be the best way to present the goal-setting process to our time-strapped writer friends, regardless of whether your goal is writing, publishing or marketing-related.

No matter if your goal is long-term or short-term, if it’s to write a novel or design an eBook, give me 15 minutes of your time and I’ll get you on track. No excuses allowed here: grab a timer, a writing utensil and your thinking cap. Let’s get started!

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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!

Self-Publishing Success – What it is and How to Achieve It [Guest Post]

The following is a guest post from author Carol Buchanan. 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 Carol’s post — enjoy!

Good writing. Hard work.

In four words you have what I’ve learned about successful self-publishing since my first self-published novel came out in July 2008. There’s no secret, no magic. Success as a self-publisher comes from good writing and hard work. You make a pact with your readers to write the best you can, tell the story as best you can, and work as hard as you can to get the word out to as many potential readers as you can.

Notice the repetition in that last sentence? You can.

Given good writing and hard work, you can succeed.

When you self-publish, you define success. Do you want to write a huge bestseller like The Shack and have your book picked up by everyone in the world, with amazing royalties and publishing contracts? That is a dream; it’s not a definition of success. If that’s your idea of success, you’ll be sorely disappointed if it doesn’t happen. Anything less you might consider failure.

So decide on something reasonable as a goal, that stretches you and makes you work. A good goal lets you consider yourself a success when you’ve met that goal. I wanted to write a good, truthful story about the Vigilantes of Montana (1863-1864). The readership I knew would be a small niche comprising Montanans and those interested in Montana’s colorful history. What happened was a pleasant surprise. God’s Thunderbolt: The Vigilantes of Montana won the 2009 Spur award for Best First Novel, and readers have loved it. The novel has sold around a thousand copies and is still selling.

Goals differ with every writer. For example, you might want to leave your descendants the story of  your life and times in a format you can be proud of, that can be handed down the generations.

So, then. To succeed as a self-published writer, measure success against the goal you’ve set, coupled with the date you expect to reach that goal.

Suppose your goal is to sell 10,000 copies. That’s an enormous number for a self-publisher. Although we hear of writers who reach that number quickly, they are very few and far between. If you have special expertise in a hot topic, like the study of food chemistry in combating cancer, and you can write that in a way people enjoy reading it, you might have a big winner. Or, perhaps your target market is large and easy to find. You have a new wrinkle on zombie or sci/fi  stories. It’s perfectly okay to revise the goal or the time span as you go. After all, life happens. Perhaps a baby comes, and what is more important than that?

Whatever your goal, decide what you have to do to reach it. For example, to sell more copies, you have to inform more people that it exists. You can do that on the ground, by visiting appropriate outlets – bookstores, hospital gift shops, or feed stores, depending on your book. Plan to make perhaps 3 – 5 calls each day. In a 5-day week, that’s 15 – 25 calls. Introduce yourself and have a sell sheet ready that will tell owners or managers everything they need to know to make a purchase decision. Your friends and family and other connections will help you, too.

To promote the book online, take advantage of the free social network marketing sites. Not all of them will be a comfortable fit for you, and you won’t have time to get into all the possibilities. Try them out and then concentrate on the ones that work for you. In 2+ years, I’ve found Twitter to suit me best, with Facebook second and LinkedIn third. I’m still learning to use them all to the best advantage, though.

Limit your efforts to the most you can handle, and pace yourself, because self-publishing is a marathon, not a sprint.

You can do it. Yes, you can.

Award-winning novelist Carol Buchanan is a native Montanan fascinated with Montana history.  Her debut novel, God’s Thunderbolt: The Vigilantes of Montana, won the 2009 Spur for Best First Novel from the Western Writers of America, and a short story, “Fear of Horses,” won the 2008 LAURA award from Women Writing the West. Married 34 years, she turned to fiction when she and her husband, Richard, returned to live in NW Montana. Her second novel, Gold Under Ice, came out this summer from Missouri Breaks Press. She teaches “Successful Self-Publishing” at Flathead Valley Community College in Kalispell, MT.

Living the Dream: Carolyn McCray on Self-Publishing [Guest Post]

This is a guest post from @ZeroToSold (thanks Carolyn!). It originally appeared in this month’s Duolit Newsletter. Speaking of which, you really should sign up! It’s a great way to keep abreast of the latest self-publishing news, notes and tips. It’s super-easy to subscribe and we’ll never spam you — ever!

Photo: Navicore | Flickr

I look at people funny when they tell me “I’ve always dreamed of publishing a novel.”

I mean, they do know it is 2010, right?

Publishing a novel is a straight-forward, attainable and as simple as driving a car.

Is there work involved?  Yes.  Do you need to know a few rules and abide by them?  Um, of course.

Did that stop you when you were sixteen from getting your license and begging for your parent’s keys?  No.

The case is the same with your novel.

I shocks me how many people have a book (or two… or three) sitting in a drawer (or an abandoned ‘archived’ computer folder).

Yes, I totally get it that getting an agent or publisher was a one in a million occurrence and that self-publishing was looked down upon.  That basically if you dared self-pub, you ruined any shot of every getting that novel released.

Um, ya, then actual business people took over the publishing industry (which is not ALL a good thing, but for us unpublished authors, it was awesome).  They wanted to well, sell books.  It started on the non-fiction side.  They embraced people that put their own books out and established a sales base.

Then indie film hit.  Reinvigorating the movie industry.

And good old MySpace, Facebook, and Twitter brought wide range, yet personal reference marketing to every author’s fingertips.

Game on!

Traditionally published authors such as JA Konrath embraced this new media and realized they could actually make MORE money by self-publishing than traditional.

So yes, I do look at people funny when they talk about dreaming of a day when their book could be out.

#Um #Thisisawkward #Itcouldbetoday

Great sentiment, Carolyn, and so true! Connect with Carolyn via Twitter as a woman dating after 40 (@craftycmc), a book marketing guru (@ZeroToSold) or thriller author (@CristynWest).