When I was twelve years old, there was only one street, or “block,” as we called it, which separated our town, Lakewood, NJ, from our rival town, Jackson, NJ.
An insipid hatred existed between the neighborhoods. When you entered a backyard not part of your terrain, a nasty comment evolved into several fistfights. And we were all, equally, boys and girls, ready to pounce on one another.
One day, on May 11, 1975, before a dentist appointment, I witnessed my middle brother—we’ll call him Q—pummelled by a girl from Jackson. This was unprecedented. How could this ignoramus, I felt, from this “redneck” part of the planet, dare to touch my brother?
Read the rest at Words in Place._
To celebrate the one-year release, we would like to offer the first edition of If & When We Wake Kindle edition free from 4/28-5/2: Get it here!
You can also get a deal on the 2nd edition via Kindle. From 4/29-5/2 it will be .99 cents and from 5/2 at 4PM until the end of 5/6 it will be 1.99 before returning back to 2.99. Buy it here!
Starting a writing project is the easy part, but finishing it can be frustrating and time consuming. It is easy to begin typing a new idea, but the real task is in sitting down and finishing them. I personally have several projects in some unfinished purgatory state on my laptop’s hard drive. New ideas keep on popping up and take priority over the older stories that are at a standstill. It is so easy to collect unfinished drafts, but here are some tips to help you power through and finish your writing projects.
Create a Schedule and Set a Goal
To finish a project, you need to set aside time to write. If you don’t, then it doesn’t become a priority and gets put on the backburner. Decide what time works best for you: morning, afternoon, or night, and set aside a few hours. Devote this time to writing without any distractions. Maybe find a writing location that helps keep you focused. Set a goal for how many words you want to type in a day or how many you need to type in a month. These ideas should help you make progress easily.
Create an Outline
Teachers teach this concept to everyone from an early age, so this shouldn’t be a surprising tip. Outlining helps keep your story going in your head and gives you an idea of what needs to happen in what order. This helps you write without a break because you know exactly what needs to happen next and keeps the writer’s block at bay.
How you write an outline depends on the writer and the project. For a short story, you obviously don’t need a long outline. A novel, will need some extra details. Here are some useful formats that can be used:
The goal should be to write a first draft, not a finished draft. Write what you can, you can always edit later. Your goal should just be to keep the plot moving forward and finish your work of progress.
The journey to getting a book published is a long one. It culminates with the editor saying that the final draft is complete and sets up the timeline for the book to move to the printer. But as soon as this moment comes, a whole new challenge awaits: promoting the finished product to a wide-ranging audience.
One great way to get the ball rolling with interested people is to hold a Skype Q+A with various groups. Depending on who the intended audience is, it could be a local library group, a college English class, or even a small book club. The key to holding a Skype Q+A is being willing to talk about your book and being a little selfish. The people who are talking with you want to know why you have the authority to write this book; what gives you the knowledge and experience to string words together into a wonderful novel, poetry collection, or short story collection. You need to be able to speak clearly on your experiences and provide a quick, but captivating summary. Doing this will lead to the questions.
It is essential to have questions prepared by the leader of the group whom you are speaking to. If none of the listeners can think of any immediately, the leader can smartly pop in and ask a question that may engage the others to ask their own questions. These can include how you got into writing, how the writing process happens for you, and how you handled sending out your work to publishers to read. I recommend discussing these questions with the leader prior to the Skype session so that you can have responses in mind and know how to switch gears or extend the answer into an important part you want to emphasize about your book. Obviously, you want to include pieces about your book to intrigue potential readers, but not to give too much away. Describe the main characters, some of the plot, and hint at a little bit of action. You can explain why you chose the narrative point of view that you did, and why that point of view makes the most sense. As the author, you have all the ability in the world to tell everything that is included in your book or feel the need to justify choices made in writing the book. But this is not about justifying your choices to potential readers. It is about intriguing these potential readers and connecting with them. Readers usually choose a book by only reading the back cover summary. This is the chance to connect with readers, allowing them to put a face to the name on the front of your beautiful new book. When readers know who wrote the book and feel connected to you, they are more likely to buy your book. They begin with their experience speaking with you, and then continue that into the words on the page.
It may be nerve-wracking to speak with people through a computer, possibly from one side of the country or the world to the other, but it is about building a platform and connection to people. Reading a book is all about the ability to move into the book and feel a part of the world that was created. Speaking with readers can help bring them closer to the page and provide a chance to make new friends. These friends have the greatest gift to help you as the author.
Word of mouth. Conversation and personal recommendation from people I trust are the easiest ways to convince me to read a book. Yes, some people look at the best-seller list and only read books from that list, but through word of mouth, many more people will pick up your book and give it a chance. So don’t be nervous speaking to these potential readers. You have the power to intrigue them and they will reward you by reading your book and convincing others to pick it up as well. Promoting your book may feel out of your comfort zone, but in the end it will all be worth it when people pick it up and enjoy reading it from cover to cover.
Perhaps you’re in school, and between all your classes and activities, you can barely find time to do the assigned reading, let alone read all the books on your TBR shelf. Or maybe you’re out of school, and you’re discovering that adult life is a lot more time consuming than you thought it would be. All those books you assumed you’d finally have time to read are only on your mind when you look at them with regret at the end of a long day of struggling. If you have a few free moments at the end of the day, your brain is likely so friend you cannot even fathom comprehending anything more complex than Parks and Rec. I totally get it. You’re not alone. So I’ve compiled a list of methods that have worked for me when trying to fit reading into my crazy schedule.
1. Go to sleep early.
If you’re like me, your brain is dead by the end of the day. You cannot take in more words. You just want to watch funny YouTube videos and scroll through Pinterest. But I recommend you try to get to sleep as early as possible. Check the websites you care about checking, and then go to sleep. This will allow you to wake up earlier. A great time to read is in the hour between when you wake up and when you have to get out of bed. You just had a great night’s sleep, and your brain is ready to wake up with words.
2. Carry your book around with you
Keep it in your bag, or wherever you can easily store it. Whenever you find yourself with a short break, whether it’s ten minutes or an hour, open your book and read. You’ll be amazed how much reading you can get done in these short spaces of time.
3. Schedule it into your day
Actually plan your days, and schedule time to read in there. Even if you can’t fit more than a half hour, make sure you know how you’re spending that half hour. If you’ve already figured out how to work it into your day, you’re much more likely to stick to that schedule.
If you commute to work or school (and you have to drive… If you’re a passenger on public transport or something, just read then, come on), listen to an audiobook on the way. It’s not the same as reading the words yourself, and different people have different preferences about how they like to experience stories, but it will definitely help make a dent in your TBR list.
Do you struggle to find time to read during the day? Or do you have a favorite method for working it into your schedule? Let me know in the comments!
Promoting a book may seem like the most self-centered, assholish experience ever. All you are doing is talking about you, your book, and why people should buy it. You are spamming everyone on every social media platform with your announcement. You also expect/want to see instantaneous results from the project that you poured your soul into--so why not spam every single person that you have access to? Because it’s annoying and makes you an asshole. Marketing a new book takes time. You can’t spam your Twitter, FaceBook, and Tumblr for 24 hours and expect your book to become a bestseller. It is a gradual process that you have to keep at for months after your book is published. So here are a few tips on how not be an asshole while marketing your book.
Be yourself. You don’t have to be a certain person to be successful. Social media helps connect the readers to the writer. And writers who let their personalities show on social media are more likely to have more followers.
Don’t Overdo It and Don’t Be Pushy--
It may be hard not to use every social media platform to spam every single one of your followers, but you need to keep it at a low percentage. Provide other content to engage your followers. The marketing process is a slow and steady progression, but it will be worth it in the end.
Use Your Creative Brain--
Come up with creative ways to market your book. You know your audience and you should know what will catch their attention. If you are a blogger with a strong audience, maybe collaborate with other bloggers to prepare a blog tour. Or maybe start a giveaway that requires your audience to share a post on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook in order to be put in the drawing for the giveaway. This will help expand the reach of your posts and make one lucky fan really happy.
Join the Writer Community and Promote Others--
Karma works in mysterious ways, along with gratitude. If you have a writer friend, help them promote their new book, and they are more likely to scratch your back in the future. It does not even have to be anything extravagant, just a retweet on Twitter or a share on Facebook. The writing community is huge and can be very helpful.
Overall, instead of spamming your followers come up with creative content on social media or your blog that will engage your audience and lets you be you. These tricks will keep you from being considered an asshole while marketing your book.