Category Archives for "Writing and Publishing Process"

Creating Down-Time to Feed Your Creative Spirit Increases Your Creativity and Productivity

One of my favourite things to do over the holiday season is to turn everything off.  No emails, phones, social media – nothing for a few days.   It’s THE easiest time of the year to ‘detox’ from all work related things.  And then… after a few days of lolling about in the sun (I live down under so Xmas in the summer) and I’m totally ready to plug into my creative brain.   And then … the MAGIC happens.

I always remind my self of just how powerful down-time can be when my creative juices are seriously inspired by taking a break from everything.   In fact, last week I ‘ran away’ for a few personal reasons, to the tranquility of the beaches in the extraordinary Cook Islands.  For those of you not familiar with the place, it’s a little north of Fiji, and south of Hawaii…    the middle of the South Pacific and OMG – so beautiful… anyway I digress.   The point is, that the calm waters, absence of friends and distractions, not to mention the delicious sunsets I was able to meditate on every day for a week was enough that now I’m fully firing all of my creative sparks and ready to start my next novel.

The magic happens when we unplug for a while.  Last week I also started reading Ariana Huffington’s book ‘Thrive’.   An excellent reminder of just what happens when we do things like rest, pay attention to our sleep habits, take naps, meditate, and focus on nurturing our selves properly.   My highest recommendation for something incredibly good to sink into over the New Year by the way…

While slowing down to speed up may seem counter-intuitive, it really does work.   Magic really does happen for us creative types when we take our eye off the deadlines, necessary work commitments and turn our phones and computers off for a few days.   Even a few hours is worth doing – and just sitting and focusing on … NOTHING!

Whether you meditate or not – and this is not a blog about doing that – finding thinking time clear from distractions is the single most important gift you can give to yourself.  As  a writer, I know that clearing the decks is the only way to ensure I get to tap into the best way to move forward on anything I’m writing.   So I do usually try to do this, but making a regular habit of it, is never easy.

There are some important steps to take to do this:

  1. Commit to a time or day and/or day per week when you just turn everything off and focus on … nothing.
  2. Consider when you are at your best in terms of the time of day when you can write, create, do and honor those times.  But just before then, try to get some thinking or meditation time happening.  You will be more productive – I promise!
  3. Schedule non-breakable ‘me’ time. Whether this is weekly, monthly, annually, daily – just create what works for you – the combination of options – and COMMIT to that.
  4. Keep an ‘inspiration’ journal or folder, so that if you ever do get stuck on your ‘focus on nothing’ time, you can gather some extra inspiration from there. Fill it with ideas, dreams, quotes, ideas… don’t just stick it in your bottom drawer – refer to it often as needed.
  5. Consider what rituals might support you in your quest for time out.   Lighting a candle, taking a bath, mieditaing at sunset or sunrise, walking on a beach, spring cleaning… what ever it takes, work that out and work with that!

When you feed your creative spirit with stress free time, your creativity goes up, your productivity goes up, and your income and satisfaction, not to mention your happiness levels all go up too.

So  – what do you have to lose?

Absolutely nothing! 

 

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Cola or Champagne – service levels and what they mean

I work in an industry where a lot of people put their hands up and say ‘Oh I can do that for you’, or ‘me too’.  I’m talking about coaching – in any format, and regardless of speciality, there seems to always be someone waiting to offer their card, promote their services, and be ‘that guy/gal’ at the networking event.

For a long time Coaches have been compared with real estate agents and car sales people for their sheer enthusiasm when it comes to ‘I can do that for you’ style of pitching for business.  I asked my own coaching tutor who was a master practitioner at the time back in 2003: ‘If everyone wants to call themselves a coach, and there’s no legal or educational requirement that they be properly trained, then why are we (on the 2 year program I was on) working so hard to want to ‘be coaches’. She responded with a well considered answer:

“What you will do is bring coaching skills to the table when you do what ever  else you will do, and you will be significantly better at THAT because of it.”

My ‘that’ has turned into publishing, which for more than a dozen years now has meant that my business is all about helping others to write, produce, publish and market their non-fiction books – to a very high level of content and overall production quality.   And for me, it does not end with the finished product arriving on my authors’ doorsteps;  we keep working together to ensure the marketing and the fine tuning of the distribution and leverage opportunities is maximised for the long term.

I know that a lot of people are populating the publishing industry – expecially in terms of self publishing or Indie trade, with promises to help people write a book.   Others are then saying they can help print, design, format, edit, produce, or even get the book onto Amazon.

Yay!  And please excuse my cynicism – but there are a lot of these helpful people out there.   Sigh!  The terrible tragedy is, that as a result of many people doing a ‘good enough’ job, there is a glut of ‘barely average’ quality books all vying for attention in an overcrowed market.   In non-fiction books alone, under the category of Leadership, there are 100s of thousands of titles.   And it grows every year… as do all categories.

The Book Business is BOOMING!

While this seems to be the age of ‘fast and furious’ in many ways, from the demands for instant gratification for Gen-y’ers, faster internet speeds, faster travel, fast-track education options and even speedy restaurant services, when it comes to some things, you just can’t rush them.  In order to do the whole job, well, and achieve outstanding outcomes so that you really are standing out from the crowd in any busy market place, you must slow down and Get.It.RIGHT!

With books, you have to expect it’s going to take time to do a great job of writing, then publishing your work.  While I have also managed (once) to start and publish a book in under two months (with multiple authors contributing which in some ways helped and others hindered the progress) this is certainly not ideal, due to the increased chances of mistakes being made – errors than can ultimately damage the reputation of the writer(s).

There are a number of new companies out there all promoting what they can do for authors to fast trak their publishing journey – I think of them as the Cola beverage options; yes they’ll quench a good thirst, but ultimately put a lot of dirty sugars and chemicals into your system which can slow you down.    By comparison, a glass of fine wine or Champagne is to be enjoyed,  with others helping to drink it,  and if it’s of excellent quality it won’t give you a headache the next day.

I don’t like being the cause of other people’s headaches.    And while a quick ‘thirst quenching’ option might be a good one in some instances, a slow and steady team effort that is remarkable for outstanding results is surely a better option for professionals who are sincerely focused on having excellent books to support their marketing efforts.

If you are serious about writing, producing an excellent non-fiction book to position you as an authority in your field, and you really do know how to own that position, then please don’t undersell yourself by doing an average job of sharing your wisdom.  Your book deserves better and so do you.

Invest a little more, extra time too,  and enjoy a Champagne journey towards becoming an Author-ity.

 

 

 

 

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NaNoWriMo and a busy November

If you’re into various author and writing forums you’ll be aware of this looming thing tht happens every year now called NaNoWriMo…  which basically stands for National Novel Writing Month. Its a global call to action for writers to pen a novel of  50,000 words within the month of November.

It’s a great idea and particularly helpful for anyone in need of  a jolt to their writing habits.  I for one am  very tempted as ameans of testing myself to see if I can do it – but then I am the competitive type.   And I know my habits lately have fallen a little flat in terms of dedicated daily or even weekly work on manuscripts.

And – while this is a site for Non-Fiction authors, the real hook here is that the better we craft our abilities to write stories, the better our non-fiction writing becomes.

But – I’m very torn by the idea of focusing what amounts to mayby 50-80 hours within November  – a busy time anyway for me – with a new project when I perhaps really should be focusing on projects I’m already committed to.

But what would I give up to do this? Facebook in the mornings?  Watching the news at 6 for a month?     How can I fit in an extra hour every day – maybe somedays two whole hours – to undertake drafting another novel.  Maybe I can give up reading for a month?

On the persuasion side of this conundrum, I have two stories that I really do need to write a sequel to and I know if I got going, I could bang the first draft out quite quickly.   I’m bothered mostly by the idea that if I really want to be a writer, I must write – and I know in my guts that I’m not doing enough of that.

If I joined one of the many groups who all focus on helping move the project forward and holding us all accountable I could get a lot out of that.  the NaNoWriMo official site has a great process and members all over the world.   Hundreds of thousands of authors all  writing together does sound like a brilliant project to be part of…

So what’s a girl to do?

Stay tuned…  I’m still deciding!

If anyone else is thinking about it and stillon the fence with the idea at this last end of October, maybe we should compare notes on what’s holding us back and what really is pushing us forward.      

 

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A Perfectionist’s Nightmare

“There are two kinds of people in this world… ” Well actually I think it’s more than that.  Let’s go deeper – there are two kinds of AUTHORs in this world – perfectionists, and every one else!

Authors who are perfectionists by nature, are always going to struggle with the concept of their books not being 110% perfect.   The more relaxed author (see I’m trying to be polite here) is quickly going to get the idea that their book is ready to pubish when it’s 95-99% perfect. In fact, they are likely to throw the word perfect out long before even starting their books, let alone at that critical final sign off time.

But seriously, if it wasn’t for the more relaxed authors among the population, then Amazon would have a lot more storage space.  Art galleries would have more bare walls.   Songs would never be performed live.  Because perfection and the desire to attain it are the killers of creativity.  And while it’s possible to have editors, proofers, and in some cases many of them and countless (literally – we can lose count sometimes) runs back past the final book before that green light is given to proceed to print, there is still likely to be an error (or three, four, five… you get the idea) in a book.

The reason for that is that editors, and proofers are not perfect.  Add to that Continue reading

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Publishing a Book is Like Having a Baby

For all parents who have been through that final stage of pregnancy, then the birth of a child, you know that sometimes it’s a matter of things not always going to plan right at the end.

Then finally, jubilation at the arrival of that new life, and the pain and anguish of the delivery are soon forgotten – well somewhat forgotten! 😉

It’s the same with books.   You can get right up to the wire, have everything ready to upload your book into Amazon, or send off to the printer, and then BAM!   A curve ball comes smashing through your plans and everything gets delayed.  For a few hours, days, or even a week or two.

This past week I’ve been busy with THREE books in various stages of release.  One was derailed  while uploading to Amazon Create Space because:

  • First the there were some unidentified errors that needed fixing.  And no, the editing and proofing stage is not always 100% – in face I’ve read books by some of the highest selling authors in the world that still have the odd error in them.
  • Then the page numbers for some reason kept ‘irritating the margins’ so they had to be fixed.
  • Then there were a few minor other wee things that needed attention, but were easily fixed, but still delayed the process.
  • The files were fixed but showing as still needing to be looked at, and we couldn’t figure out why.  But they seemed to come right once we just reloaded the (same) file.

And of course on CreateSpace, you have to allow for their own process of checking files before you can go further into the completion stages of uploading.

Another book – one of my own – was giving me grief at the final stage of uploading because:

  • First there was an issue with the inside cover page,
  • Then something wrong with the contents list, and finally the cover was not loading properly.   This was addressed by my asking the designer to check and resize, and he laughed and advised that it was definitely already the correct size. So back to the helpful people at Createspace, who advised that the cover was ready, which it wasn’t, and some flapping about with that debate, until suddenly it all came right.   We’re blaming technology and lack of caffiene on that one. 
  • Finally the ordering of the proof copy got stuck in the system.

Finally, one more book is so far seamlessly uploading, everything is going exactly according to plan – textbook perfect!

So you just never know exactly how the final delivery is going to end up.  

All you can do is trust the process, the helpful souls at Amazon – who by the way are brilliant when there is an issue – and that you will get there.

 

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The Role of Your Pre-Launch Team

One of the things I keep going on about, and am often asked to explain further is the concept of having a great pre-launch team, or Beta Readers.

Who are they?

Maybe friends, family, colleagues, or other writers.  Maybe perfect strangers.  But often the best people to have on your team are fans of your books.  People who will give you  straight up advise and feedback about what they do and don’t like about your manuscript – before you publish it.  You can recruit fans in all sorts of ways, but mostly I get mine through my social media accounts.  When I’ve finished a manuscript, I post about it, and ask for beta readers.

These people may offer editing tips, and tell you about the many mistakes you still have in your manuscript, but taht’s ok.  Forewarn them they will be there for finding.  This process is usually part of your pre-edit phase.

Invite them to tell you what they do and don’t like, what they would suggest you add, change, or think about.   Invite them to review your manuscript formally with a letter outlining your expectations for their getting an advance look at your latest work in progress.  (If you sign up for my newsletter, you can obtain a copy of the beta readers template I use, among other resources available FREE on this site – just head to the bottom of the screen.)

Their Responsibility

You must remind them that editing and proofing is not what you’re seeking – but that all errors will be gratefully noted.  And invite them to look out for the finished version which will be published and available etc.   But also ask if they like the book, to please post a review on Amazon please.

And most of all, remember to thank them for their time and response.  You might put this into the acknowledgements, or send them a personal note, and a printed, autographed copy when it’s published.

Most of all, the value of having a good team of beta readers is that the dozen or so key readers – some people invite more, but I find that hard to manage – is that they are fresh eyes on your manuscript.  Even your editor and publishing coach can end up getting too close to your work to be able to step back and see some of the missing bits or overplayed parts easily.

Fnally, a warning.  You have to be thick skinned if you want real objective feedback.  You may not like the critiquing, but it’s worth having.  And then you will have additional writing to do.    But chances are you will also have a much better book as a result.

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It takes a whole village…

Who is on Your Team?

Writing a book is not a ‘one-man’ job, and if anyone tries to tell you differently, they are wrong.  In fact, the ‘writing’ part is only a part of the process  and even that is team effort.  Now for anyone reading this so far and thinking, ‘Hold the Phone… I am the writer of my own words’ this is not a debate about all writers are authors and not all authors are writers*.

Let’s take the writing part of the process of writing a book.

When you are writing a good book, the primary writer is the person who sits at their keyboard and creates the story or commits the information to paper/computer and in that way he or she writes the manuscript.

A good writer will then use readers (often these are friends, family, or colleagues) to give feedback and help them to hone and refine the content.   See my other blog about Beta Readers Here

Then the writer is able to fine tune the manuscript to the point where they can hire the services of a professional manuscript reviewer who will help the writer apply the final polish to their manuscript.

An editor will also be engaged to ensure that the manuscript is very reader-friendly, suited to the audience the book is being written for, and is ready to publish.   In some cases, a very robust system of writing under the care and guidance of a book writing coach may diminish the need for some levels of editing.

When the manuscript is finally ready for publishing, a proofing editor will be required, reviewers who can endorse and recommend the book will be sought out, a cover designer, internal typesetting services, and printing services will be needed to get the book into the finished product.  If you are also preparing the book for online publication, you may need help to ensure the book is eBook ready and uploaded to the appropriate channels.

Finally, you need a good Public Relations plan and the help of professional marketing people to ensure your market knows about your book.

A book shepherd helps the writer work through the whole process from start to finish and engage the right people along the way to do their parts and take the guesswork out of the process.  A book shepherd helps the writer work through the whole process from start to finish and engage the right people along the way to do their parts and take the guesswork out of the process.  Many books make it to market without the help of a book coach or book shepherd, but I highly recommend using one of these as there is so much you won’t know as you start the journey of writing and publishing a book the first time.

It takes a whole village to raise a child and it takes a whole team to get a book written and published.[/pullquote]

Who do you already have on your team and who do you need on your team?

*Some authors are not the writers of their own books and hire ghost writers to put their words together for them, and many writers choose not to be authors.   

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