Ending #NaNoWriMo: I Wrote a Novel. Now What?

November 30th. The last day of NaNoWriMo. You may have a complete book in your hands, or a good start on one. What's next? Check out this post from last year.

So, you accomplished one of your major goals this year. You wrote a novel. 

What do you do next?

Do you send it off to an agent or editor and sit back to wait for a contract? Do you start the sequel? Set up  a fan page on Facebook?

Typing "the end" is really just the beginning. When I began writing several years ago, I mistakenly thought that finishing my novel gave me the right to look for an agent immediately. These days, agents want to see work that is polished, not a first draft. And seasoned writers will tell you that the real writing happens in revision. It's when words are finally out of your head and on the page, that you can actually do something with them.

There are many things you can do once you finish your novel. But I've boiled them down to two essentials.

Revise. Set your manuscript aside for a month before you begin. You need a little distance from it. Writing teacher and author James Scott Bell suggests printing it out and reading it like you would someone else's book. It's surprising how much I miss when I edit on the computer. For more tips on revisions, check this Nanowrimo page.

Books like Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Manuscript Makeover, and Revision and Self-Editing can help you know what to look for in your manuscript. Once you've combed your manuscript several times, and have improved it to the best of your ability, it's time for the next step.

Other Eyes. This is where you step out (perhaps with fear and trembling) and let other people read your novel. Family and friends do not count. It's important to get honest feedback from people who already know how to write. Your friends will only be impressed that you actually wrote a novel, and most will think it's great, no matter how many problems there are with your plot.

No, what you need are people who are strangers. People who will give you the brutal truth about what works and what needs changing. People who aren't worried about hurting their relationship with you. You'll win in two ways: your manuscript will become stronger, and you'll develop the thick skin you need for the road ahead. If you're looking for a critique group, here are several to choose from.

Where are you at with your novel?

How a Blog Establishes a Fiction Writer's Platform

Let's face it. Non-fiction writers have it easy. They can slap up a blog on the topic they write about, they can solicit speaking gigs and radio interviews, and suddenly they're an expert. Publishers love this stuff. So many opportunities to sell books.

But what about the poor fiction writer? How can a novelist spin a blog into something readers will want to check out? Here are a few ideas:

1. Decide where you're different. Do you have a theme that runs through your novels? Maybe your main character is always a single parent. Or there's recurring story threads that have to do with human trafficking. Maybe all your novels take place on the coast of New England. If you can find something your novels have in common, you've found a great blog topic.

2. Generate genre ideas. If you write mysteries, pull together posts that would interest your readers. Like interviews with law enforcement, or medical personnel. An analysis of blood spatters or fingerprints. Whatever genre you write, both writers and readers want to know more. And you've probably already done most of the research. This is also a great way to do a group blog. Find a few writers in your genre and take turns posting what you've learned.

3. Rein in the resources. In your travels through the world wide web, you've come across websites that others probably won't bump into in their lifetime. Set your blog up to share those, and the nice byproduct is you'll have all your favorites collected in one place. This is one of my ulterior motives!

Try to title or subtitle your blog with the focus you've decided on. That way, when a reader is scanning Google results, they'll know what your blog is about.

If you're still having trouble coming up with a direction for your blog, check out these great posts:

Author Jody Hedlund on The Purpose of Blogging for Fiction Writers

Michael Hyatt on 13 Blog Post Ideas for Novelists

Does your blog have a focus? What inspires your posts?

Make Your Own Book Cover

With NaNoWriMo ending in just a few days, some of you might be starting to think about a book cover. Even if your manuscript is far from done, a book cover--even a temporary one--might give you the motivation you need to make it to the finish line.

I've scoured the NaNoWriMo forums for resources that can help. First off, you'll want to browse other covers to see what appeals to you. I wrote about a site called the Book Cover Archive where you can do just that, and I listed four tips for creating your cover.

During NaNoWriMo, different designers choose participants at random and create book covers. To see the results of their creations (and maybe find a designer you'd like to hire), check out 30 Covers in 30 Days. For those that didn't get picked for a free cover, the NaNo Artisans thread has posts by many designers offering their services.

One participant recommended the free Cover Creator software over at CreateSpace. You do have to sign up for a free account, but once that's done, they walk you through the process of making your own cover, using photos that you import. There are all kinds of templates to choose from to make your cover as professional as possible.

Another NaNo thread lists all kinds of tips and tricks to remember when creating a cover. The advice covers color, design, and fonts.

Have you given any thought to what your cover will look like? Are you the do-it-yourself type, or would you hire a designer?

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm up to my elbows in turkey and stuffing, and I couldn't think of anything better to say than what I wrote last Thanksgiving. Hope you and yours have a wonderful day!

In anticipation of this week of Thanksgiving, I've given some thought to why I'm thankful that I'm writing. Way back in 2006, a story started to percolate inside me, and life has never been the same since. Here are a few things that generate gratefulness.

I'm thankful to have a passion. I'm passionate about my faith and family, but my writing is something different. It's something I do for myself. It doesn't save money, or pay the bills, or do the laundry. I used to feel unsettled that every one of my interests were connected to providing for my family (cooking, scrapbooking, sewing, etc.), but writing is in a league of its own.

I'm thankful for the power of words. Writing has given me a greater appreciation for the ways in which authors combine words in powerful ways. I've realized how difficult that is to accomplish. And I'm thankful that I'm learning to wield a little of that power myself.

I'm thankful for the writing community. I'd be hard-pressed to find a more generous and welcoming group of people. Those who take the time to help along others who are just beginning their journey. Each one makes me more determined to give back myself.

I can't forget to mention how thankful I am for my family. My long-suffering husband, and my four teenagers patiently put up with my passion. They endure "leftover leftovers", a dusty house, and a distracted mama--all the while cheering me on. I love you guys.

My list could go on, but I'll stop here. Now it's your turn.

How has writing made you thankful?

Finish Your Novel With this Free Course

Only one week left of NaNoWriMo! If you're running low on motivation, here's a classic post that might help you rev your engines.

Thousands upon thousands of people begin novels. Only a tiny fraction of those actually finish, and from these, publishers choose the ones we see in bookstores. Why do so few complete their novels? Because it's hard work. Really, really hard work.

I know. I'm trying to finish my second novel, and it's just as difficult as the first. I'm over the excitement of a new idea. I've lived with my characters so long that I'm no longer infatuated with them. And frankly, reading the same story over and over gets old. As a writer, I begin to wonder if anyone out there would even like this story.

Fortunately for me (and you, too), I discovered author Timothy Hallinan's website. I couldn't wait to write this post. I even sent his link via Facebook to my writing friends so they wouldn't have to wait until this post came out.

Why? Because Timothy Hallinan is another one of those authors who gives back. He has posted a free course called Finish Your Novel, which is not only entertaining and practical, but humorous, too.

Hallinan's belief is that finishing a book is what made him a writer, not just working on something. Once he figured out how to successfully finish novel after novel, he came up with 30 steps, separated into five categories. Each of the short sections takes only a few minutes to read. You might even want to bookmark his page so you'll remember to read once step each day of the month.

Most of us have at least one manuscript that we've begun and then set aside for one reason or another. Listen to Hallinan's take on this:

"The sad fact is that much of the time, the book they abandon is better than the one they set out to write. It's like a prospector who goes out looking for iron pyrites, finds gold, and throws it away."

Hallinan also blogs about writing at The Blog Cabin. On Wednesdays he has an interesting series where he interviews published authors about whether they write with an outline or not, in Plotting vs. Pantsing.

So, I've begun working through Hallinan's course. It's not hard. It's like getting a little pep talk every morning before I start typing. And who couldn't use one of those?

Where are you in your NaNoWriMo novel? Will it be 'finished' next Wednesday?
I'm planning to reread through this course during the month of December. How about you?

Who Are the Big Six Publishers?

Now that my contest entry is finished and sent, it's time to catch up on my NaNoWriMo word count. So today's post will be brief.

When you're trying to wrap your mind around publishing as a business, it's really hard to visualize all the imprints and the parent companies they're connected to. I searched online to see if anyone had done a kind of "family tree" of publishers and imprints, but I had no luck.

Fortunately, a couple of bloggers have compiled the information:

Steve Laube is a literary agent with an excellent blog. In Who Owns Whom in Publishing, he lists the Big Six along with their imprints. And being a Christian agent, he also includes a list of privately-owned Christian publishers.

And author Scott Marlowe has a similar list: Publishing's Big Six: Who are they? His list includes clickable links to each of the imprints. Marlowe's list was compiled in early 2010, so there are likely some changes.

With all the imprints out there, it's surprising that only six companies rule the publishing world. Of course there are many indie imprints. You can find out more about them at All Indie Publishing, and Indie Publishing on the Cheap.

Have you researched which imprints or indie publishers would be a good fit for your manuscript?

Top #NaNoWriMo Resources

The NaNoWriMo Forums are a wonderful place to hang out--if you're not writing your novel. If you are hard at work, you don't have time to browse and socialize with other novelists. So I decided to check out the resources being posted in the forums and give you one place to check them out.

Today I'm highlighting some resources for plotting your novel. Here are three you might want to bookmark for future novels:

 Peter Halasz has created a huge resource in a small space. The Writers Cheatsheet (.pdf download) is a two-page sheet crammed with all kinds of information writers need to know. The first sheet is covered with every type of plot resource you can imagine. The second sheet is devoted to characters, with lists of personality types and archetypes. If you print this back to back and slide it into a page protector, you've got a handy reference.

Adventures in YA and Childrens Publishing has a plotting Complications Worksheet that asks questions for every point in a book's plot. Working through this list will expose the holes in your plot. I pasted the questions into a document and answered each one. They really made me think!

And Carolyn at Iconoclastic Writers has several really helpful downloads. I've checked out all of them, and plan to use them. There's a novel storyboard worksheet, a traditonal plot storyboard worksheet, a screenwriting worksheet, and a chapter storyboard worksheet. You'll also find links and suggestions for character development.

I hope these resources are useful. I'm heading back into my NaNo novel. How about you?

For more in this series, check out Idea Generators, Part 1 and Idea Generators, Part 2.

Fortune Cookie Inspiration

When I cleaned up my desk the other day I came across three fortunes I saved from wonderful Chinese food dinners. Here on this mid-way point in National Novel Writing Month, I thought the messages might inspire you along with me.

Writing is thinking on paper. 
I was surprised to get a fortune cookie that actually mentioned writing. While it's not incredibly profound, it reminds me that to be a writer, I have to write. Even if my plot and characters aren't perfect yet, the process of getting my ideas down will help to refine them. The first draft will always be imperfect. Once it's on paper, it's easier to envision what could change to make it better.

Failure is feedback. And feedback is the breakfast of champions.

For me, this makes me think of critique groups. No, it's not fun to hear what's wrong with my writing, but without feedback, I'll never reach my goals. So I keep working on developing my rhino skin so the comments will feel constructive instead of critical. In order to be a champion writer, I have to accept the feedback that will strengthen my writing muscles.

It's kind of fun to do the impossible.

 For most people in the world, the idea of writing a book sounds impossible. Writing one in a month sounds fantastical. Even if you don't 'finish' this month, you're tackling a project that not many will endeavor to take on. So keep at it. Today I'm taking some time away from NaNoWriMo to enter a contest. It has challenged me to plot and plan out an entire new novel. The bonus is that when my current novel is finally finished, I'll have a new one ready to jump into.

What has encouraged you to keep going this month?

Guest Post: The Future of Publishing Revisited

Once a month I publish an article from Randy Ingermanson's worthwhile free newsletter. He has some fascinating comments on the future of publishing. Whether you're angling for traditional or self-publishing, or (like me) still trying to decide, you need to read this column.

The Future of Publishing Revisited, by Randy Ingermanson

In July of 2010, I made a set of nine predictions in this e-zine about the future of publishing in light of the current e-book revolution. If you want to go back and read that issue, you can. All issues of this e-zine are archived on my web site here.

Today, I want to update that set of predictions in light of what I've learned since then. Let's look at them in turn and see how clairvoyant (or obtuse) I was:
Prediction #1: Sales of e-books will surpass sales of paper books within five years.

When I made this prediction, it seemed aggressive. However, I now think it'll happen quicker than that.
The most recent estimates I've heard are that e-books are currently about 20% of the total book market (up from about 4% a couple of years ago).

I'm going to guess that e-books will hit a 50% market share within the next two years.

Prediction #2: E-books will become the "minor leagues".

I think this is already happening. The numbers I'm hearing are that about a million e-books are being
published each year in the US. That compares to a couple of hundred thousand paper books.

In March, Amanda Hocking signed a deal with St. Martin's Press. Hocking made her name late last year with her self-published paranormal YA e-books.

In August, John Locke signed a distribution deal with Simon & Schuster to handle sales of the paper editions of his massively popular self-published e-books.

Expect to see more of this in the next couple of years. Five years from now, I expect this will be commonplace.

Prediction #3: Beginning authors will e-publish first.

This is already happening quite a lot, and I expect it to become the norm within a few years. One of the
writers in my local critique group, Traci Hilton, has done extremely well with her e-book series of

What has surprised me is that some traditional publishers are now offering first-time authors e-book-only contracts for their first book. This past July, one of my former mentees, Mike Berrier, published his first novel, CASH BURN, in an e-only edition with Tyndale House, a mid-sized traditional publisher that has been very successful in paper for many years.

Prediction #4: Midlist authors will do better.

This is hard to measure because numbers are very difficult to get. Most authors don't even get their
sales numbers from their publishers until months later, and they rarely share those numbers, even with their closest friends. So it's hard to know for sure what the status quo is.

However, I do know for sure that most of my midlist author friends have been hard at work in the past year putting their backlist novels into print as e-books. And they're much more able and willing to tell their numbers for those.

The numbers I hear from them vary, but it's fair to say that a midlist author can reasonably expect to earn anywhere from a few tens of dollars per month up to more than a thousand dollars per month on each backlist book they put into print as an e-book. This is free money.

It's unclear to me how things will shake out long-term, but I think this prediction is still a good one.

Prediction #5: Bestselling authors will profit most.

The clearest test of this will come when superstar J.K. Rowling gets her new "Pottermore" site rolling. It's currently still in beta testing.

I would not be surprised to see Rowling make this a massive success.

It's an open question whether other A-list authors are going to follow suit with their own e-book initiatives, but my hunch is that they will. A-listers tend to be smart business people and they go with the money.

Prediction #6: Publishers will no longer accept returns.

I've seen no evidence that this prediction is coming true. The reason is clear to me -- the major bookstore chains have been even more financially stressed than the major publishers. Borders, after a long fight, lost its battle with bankruptcy in July.

Returns are a major cost for publishers of paper books. (Not so for e-books, since there is nothing for a
bookstore to return if an e-book doesn't sell.)

If the publishing world were logical, returns would not exist. But they do, and it's possible that this
prediction will turn out to be simply wrong. We'll see.

Prediction #7: Agents will stop reading slush.

Again, I see no evidence that this is happening. Yet. Most of my agent friends still get enormous amounts of slush. They still read some of it and scan a lot of it, but I suspect it's the worst part of their jobs.

Give this prediction time. When self-published e-books becomes the normal way for budding authors to break into the business, agents will quit reading slush and turn to the e-book best-seller lists for their new clients.

Prediction #8: Publishers will become more profitable.

Yes, they will. Because they'll be publishing more winners. Because they'll be choosing which books to publish from the e-book best-seller lists. Because authors will be e-publishing first, before they go to

Note that this means that publishers will be publishing fewer books. But the ones they publish will do better.

Again, give this prediction time. This won't happen until it becomes the norm for authors to e-publish
first and establish the saleability of their books in the Darwinian market.

Prediction #9: Some will do better; some will do worse.

This is a no-brainer. Whenever you have massive change, some will do better and some will do worse.

The ones who do better will be those with an entrepreneurial bent. The ones who do worse will be the
other kind.

The above is my original set of predictions from July, 2010. Now I have two more to add here:

Prediction #10: The race to the bottom will end.

This is not really a prediction. It's an observation of what I already see beginning to happen and which I expect will continue.

A year or two ago, the greatest fear I heard from authors was, "They're going to devalue our work by
pricing it too low. We'll all starve to death."

Authors were shocked when they heard of heretics selling their e-books for $2.99. They were mortified at the success of authors like John Locke, who sold over a million copies at a $.99 price point. And they were absolutely terrified when they learned that some wicked writers were pricing their e-books at $0.00.

What if all e-books became free? Then how would authors earn a living?

That was the fear I heard voiced over and over.

What I have seen happening in the last month or two is a price bounce. Authors have learned that you can move a lot of copies at $.99, but when you do that, you're lumped in with the shlock and you don't earn much.

The trend I'm seeing (and this is very recent) is for the quality authors to price their books higher. I
believe that very soon $2.99 is no longer going to be considered the optimal price for a self-published
e-book by an established author.

I believe that good authors will actually sell MORE copies at a price point above $2.99 because readers have begun to realize that you get what you pay for.

Prediction #11: Prices of e-books will correspond roughly to quality.

We'll always see free e-books. But more and more, a price of $0.00 will be seen as a sign of low quality. The same will be true of the $.99 e-books.

Authors will price their books at a level to maximize their total revenue. (They should do this. It's the
only rational way to price an electronic product.)

This means that the best books will cost more and the worst books will cost less. The market is smart and will swiftly sort things out. If the online retailers provide e-publishers tools to dynamically set prices, this will happen automatically.

If this happens, the worst books will have the lowest prices and the best books will have the highest prices.

This is great news for authors. We need not fear that we'll work like dogs and earn peanuts for our efforts. If this prediction comes true, for the first time in history, authors will earn exactly what they're worth. No more, no less.

Won't that be spectacular if it comes true?

An open question: What about piracy? Will it kill publishing?

I don't know, but I doubt it. I tend to agree with those authors who believe that "piracy is not the
enemy, obscurity is the enemy."

Right now, I think the empirical data is too thin to know for sure, so I'm going to withhold making a
prediction just yet.

Another open question: Will the wheels fall off of traditional publishers?

Again, I don't know. This could happen. It's a very real possibility. Here's why:

Most traditional publishers pay their authors only 25% royalties on the net sales of e-books. (A few pay even less.) Virtually all authors and agents consider this royalty rate to be massively unfair.

A small number of authors have abandoned traditional publishers because they believe they can do better by self-publishing electronically.

The hazard for traditional publishers is that their A-list authors will leave in droves. A-list authors are
the ones who write the books that earn the publishers most of their money. If they all left their publishers at once, then the wheels really would fall off. Rapidly.

That is a horrible, train-wreck scenario. Could it REALLY happen?

No, it can't happen all at once, because most A-list authors are somewhere in the middle of long-term contracts that may take years to work through. So don't expect any sudden disasters.

But yes, it could happen over time, like a long series of dominos falling in sequence.

Will it happen?

Maybe. I consider this the biggest question in publishing at the moment. A lot depends on how much
publishers are willing to bend on the royalty-rate issue.

My own best hunch is that A-list authors will eventually leave their publishers if they can't get a
royalty rate on e-books above 40%. (The authors I've talked to think that a truly fair rate would be at
least 50%, but I suspect they'd settle for 40%.)

Will the traditional publishers ever raise their royalty rates? I'm guessing they will, but they'll need
to do so before their A-listers leave. And they'll need to raise the rates high enough to make their authors happy.

Award-winning novelist Randy Ingermanson, "the Snowflake Guy," publishes the Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine, with more than 28,000 readers, every month. If you want to learn the craft and marketing of fiction, AND make your writing more valuable to editors, AND have FUN doing it, visit http://www.AdvancedFictionWriting.com.

Download your free Special Report on Tiger Marketing and get a free 5-Day Course in How To Publish a Novel.

What do you think of Ingermanson's predictions? Is he on the right track, or way off base?

When Writing Gets Difficult: 5 Things I Learned from Sue Grafton

 We're getting close to the halfway point of NaNoWriMo, and this is where it gets hard to keep going. To give you a little inspiration for the weekend, here's a repost with some writerly encouragement.

If you love mysteries, you already know about Sue Grafton. A prolific writer, she is currently on book twenty-one of a twenty-six book series, each titled with a letter of the alphabet. Her first novel was A is for Alibi in 1982. With a career that spans almost three decades, an author is bound to develop some sound advice. I ran across a Writer's Digest interview with Grafton, and made a list of what I learned.

Writing is hard work. Aspiring authors often think that if you're a "true writer", the words just pour onto the page. That happens sometimes, but the fact is, writing is hard work. Like any other job, there are days when you can't wait to get to work, and at other times you have to force yourself into it. Combined with the fact that new writers must have a finished product before they have even a shred of hope of getting paid, it can be difficult to spend time and energy on a dream.

Even successful writers fear they've lost their edge. Novice writers wonder all the time if they're any good. They crave feedback. Positive comments keep them writing, while negative ones often shut them down--somtimes for good. We imagine that if we can just get an agent, or get published, or sell so many copies, that we'd have all the assurance we need. Not so. Even bestselling authors, with piles of awards and accolades, wonder if this next book will prove they've come to the end of their talent.

Don't let your ego get in the way. Sue Grafton believes that while her ego thinks it has the ability to write, it's actually the still, small voice inside her that really has the skill. So even if you have received some great feedback--a contest win, an article published in a magazine--don't let the heady scent of success derail you from the work of writing. 

Be ready to learn new things. Your characters will need skills that you don't presently have. Take lessons, ask experts, and keep your eyes open. Whether it's self-defense, spinning wool, or waiting tables, your readers will be able to tell if you're making it up or you've really tried it.

Give yourself time to get better. I was thrilled beyond belief to finish my first novel. Though it might never see the light of day, it proved to me that I was capable of completing something that made sense and was 100,000 words long. Now, several projects later, I am only beginning to see how much I need to learn. Being a writer means being in it for the long haul. There is no instant success.

If you'd like to read the entire interview with Sue Grafton, go here. We've all got a lot to learn.

A free self-publishing webinar, plus Seth Godin

Writer's Digest is offering another free webinar, titled Seven Secrets of Successful Self-Published Authors. This one will air on Tuesday, November 15th at 2:30pm Eastern Time. If the time doesn't work for you, sign up anyway. After the webinar, you'll receive a link to listen to the workshop any time for a full year.

Here's the blurb about the webinar:

Why is it that some writers are able to reach their publishing goal and market their books successfully while others never get it done?  

Keith Ogorek, SVP of marketing for Author Solutions and self published author of two books, shares seven secrets he’s learned from his own experience working with hundreds of authors that will help you understand your publishing options and the key things to know about effective marketing.  Confused or overwhelmed by the changes in publishing today?  This seminar will help you gain clarity about your opportunities.
It only takes a minute to sign up for the webinar. You'll get an email that day to remind you to listen in, or you can wait for the replay email.

You might be interested in Keith Ogorek's blog, The Indie Book Writers Blog. He's been posting videos from Seth Godin on the future of publishing, and traditional and Indie publishing. Here's one of the videos to give you an idea of Godin's views. I had no idea that the New York Times Bestseller list worked this way! Check out Ogorek's blog for more.

Stay tuned for more on the future of publishing, and the impact of self-publishing on Monday.
What's your opinion on 'buying yourself' onto the NYT Bestseller list?

More Distraction-Free Writing

Last week I blogged about a few ways to keep your focus. With this being National Novel Writing Month, we can all use some advice on how to keep our brains on our manuscript. One of those was Write or Die, and the other was a program called Freedom. If you haven't checked them out, they come highly recommended.

Today, I've got another link for you. This comes from Lifehacker, where there's an article listing the five best distraction free writing tools. There are a couple of things I like about this list:

1. Four out of five of the tools are free.

2. Below the list is a graphic showing which programs got the most votes.

3. There's lots more details in the comments from users explaining the pros and cons.

Spend a few minutes to see if you could save some hours of daydreaming. Do you use a program to keep you on track, or is it your own gritty self discipline?

Do Publishers Bully Authors Through Contracts?

Yesterday's post on the free Writer's Digest ebooks raised some interesting questions. It seems that at least in the case of author Les Edgerton (who wrote Hooked) the publisher did not even let the authors know they planned to offer their work for free.

You might want to hear what Edgerton thought of his treatment. Make sure to read the comments to grasp more of the discussion. While the freebie has raised his book's stats on Amazon, there are some disturbing implications for authors at the mercy of a contract's fine print. Likely, it's only after things like this happen that authors realize the possibilities spawned by difficult-to-understand contract language.

When publishers treat authors with little regard (and word gets out about it in our socially-connected world) it drives more and more writers towards self-publishing. Writers spend huge amounts of time on their books, and it can take years for them to see any profit from their work. It's frustrating for them to have their work given away, especially if they're not part of the decision process.

I faithfully read agent Kristin Nelson's blog, Pub Rants. Many of her posts are connected to the deciphering of contract language, and how even little things can end up being painful elements in an author's life. This post, titled Scarier than Halloween, is a great example of details I would never have thought of. I can't imagine how an author without representation would end up with a fair deal.

I'm not saying that publishers are bad. They're in this business to make money. But so are authors. I believe that authors need a well-informed agent on their side to wade through contract language. And authors need to research all their options--both for traditional publishing and self-publishing--before they make a decision.

Which way are you leaning right now?

Huge Stack of Free Writing Books! Get them for #NaNoWriMo inspiration.

I was bowled over Sunday morning to discover half a dozen writing books free for Kindle and Nook! There's no telling how long they'll be free (just found out they are free only through November 12th), so get them while you can. I'm including the blurb for each one, since I have not read them yet, with the exception of Les Edgerton's excellent Hooked (see my review here). Don't miss your chance to snap up that one, and while you're at it check out his wonderful blog.  

Hooked, by Les Edgerton The road to rejection is paved with bad beginnings. Agents and editors agree: Improper story beginnings are the single biggest barrier to publication. Why? If a novel or short story has a bad beginning, then no one will keep reading. It's just that simple.In Hooked, author Les Edgerton draws on his experience as a successful fiction writer and teacher to help you overcome the weak openings that lead to instant rejection by showing you how to successfully use the ten core components inherent to any great beginning. You'll find:Detailed instruction on how to develop your inciting incident. Keys for creating a cohesive story-worthy problem. Tips on how to avoid common opening gaffes like overusing backstory. A rundown on basics such as opening scene length and transitions. A comprehensive analysis of more than twenty great opening lines from novels and short stories. Plus, you'll discover exclusive insider advice from agents and acquiring editors on what they look for in a strong opening. With Hooked, you'll have all the information you need to craft a compelling beginning that lays the foundation for an irresistible story!
For Kindle click here | For Nook click here 
The Complete Handbook Of Novel Writing: Everything You Need to Know About Creating & Selling Your Work Get advice from the best in the business on every part of the novel writing and publishing process! In The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing, 2nd Edition, you'll learn from the invaluable advice of established writers. Discover new ways to generate ideas, implement intriguing techniques, and find the inspiration you need to finish your work. This fully-revised edition includes a revamped marketing section that covers the unique challenges of today's publishing market and the boundless opportunities of online promotion.Inside you'll find expert advice from dozens of bestselling authors and publishing professionals on how to: Master the elements of fiction, from plot and characters to dialogue and point of view. Develop a unique voice and sensibility in your writing. Manage the practical aspects of writing, from overcoming writer's block to revising your work. Determine what elements your story needs to succeed in a particular genre—science fiction, fantasy, mystery, suspense, inspirational, romance (mainstream and Christian), or historical fiction. Find an agent, market your work, and get published—or self-publish—successfully. You'll also find interviews with some of the world's finest writers, including Margaret Atwood, Tom Clancy, Brock Clarke, Cory Doctorow, Dave Eggers, Elizabeth George, Jerry Jenkins, Stephen King, Megan McCafferty, Audrey Niffenegger, Joyce Carol Oates, Chuck Palahniuk, James Patterson, Richard Russo, Anne Tyler, John Updike, and Kurt Vonnegut. Their words will provide you with the guidance and encouragement of your very own writing mentor.The Complete Handbook of Novel Writing is your one-stop resource for everything you need to know about the craft and business of creating a bestseller. 
For Kindle click here | For Nook click here  

Story Structure Architect, by Victoria Lynn Schmidt Build a Timeless, Original Story Using Hundreds of Classic Story Motifs!It's been said that there are no new ideas; but there are proven ideas that have worked again and again for all writers for hundreds of years.Story Structure Architect is your comprehensive reference to the classic recurring story structures used by every great author throughout the ages. You'll find master models for characters, plots, and complication motifs, along with guidelines for combining them to create unique short stories, novels, scripts, or plays. You'll also learn how to:Build compelling stories that don't get bogged down in the middle. Select character journeys and create conflicts. Devise subplots and plan dramatic situations. Develop the supporting characters you need to make your story work. Especially featured are the standard dramatic situations inspire by Georges Polti's well-known 19th century work, The Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations. But author Victoria Schmidt puts a 21st-century spin on these timeless classics and offers fifty-five situations to inspire your creativity and allow you even more writing freedom. Story Structure Architect will give you the mold and then help you break it.This browsable and interactive book offers everything you need to craft a complete, original, and satisfying story sure to keep readers hooked! 
For Kindle click here | For Nook click here

How to Be a Writer: Building Your Creative Skills Through Practice and Play by Barbara Baig Athletes practice. Musicians practice. As a writer you need to do the same. Whether you have dreams of writing a novel or a memoir or a collection of poems, or you simply want to improve your everyday writing, this innovative book will show you how to build your skills by way of practice. Through playful and purposeful exercises, you'll develop your natural aptitude for communication, strengthening your ability to come up with things to say, and your ability to get those things into the minds (and the hearts) of readers. You'll learn to: 1. Train and develop your writer's powers—creativity, memory, observation, imagination, curiosity, and the subconscious. 2. Understand the true nature of the relationship between you and your readers 3. Find your writer's voice. 4. Get required writing projects done so you have more time for the writing you want to do. And much more. Empowering and down-to-earth, How to Be a Writer gives you the tools you need, and tells you what (and how) to practice so that you can become the writer you want to be. 
For Kindle click here | For Nook click here
The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing: Everything You Need to Know to Write, Publish, Promote and Sell Your Own Book by Marilyn Ross "Self-publishing," say authors Tom and Marilyn Ross, "is a perfect example of the American dream." The Complete Guide to Self-Publishing, then, is an aspiring self-publisher's dream. "This isn't a book of fancy theory," as the authors put it; "it's a practical handbook of state-of-the-art specifics." In 521 pages, it lays out everything you need to know to publish your own books, from start-up considerations to the possibility of selling to a big publisher: how to choose a name for your press, how to get an ISBN, what cover designs cost, how to find a reliable printer, how to price your book, where to find lighter-weight shipping envelopes, how to generate working capital. The authors' encyclopedic grasp of the ins and outs of self-publishing is matched by their natural good sense about self-promotion. Turn your signings into events, they recommend; get your books into a variety of venues; use the books as fundraisers for organizations; get online and get reviewed online. The price of this book is negligible considering the cost of proper self-publishing (between $12,000 and $25,000), and, oh, the headaches it will spare you! --Jane Steinberg
For Kindle click here | For Nook click here

Getting the Words Right by Theodore Cheney The Secret to Good Writing. When asked by the Paris Review what compelled him to rewrite the ending of A Farewell to Arms 39 times, Ernest Hemingway replied, "Getting the words right." His answer echoes what every successful writer knows: The secret to all good writing is revision.For more than twenty years, Getting the Words Right has helped writers from all professions rewrite, revise, and refine their writing. In this new edition, author Theodore Cheney offers 39 targeted ways you can improve your writing, including how to: create smooth transitions between paragraphs, correct the invisible faults of inconsistency, incoherence, and imbalance, overcome problems of shifting point of view and style, express your ideas clearly by trimming away weak or extra words. You'll strengthen existing pieces and every future work by applying the three simple principles—reduce, rearrange, and reword. Once the secrets of revision are yours, you'll be able to follow Hemingway's lead—and get the words right! 
For Kindle click here | For Nook click here

Hope you enjoy these books. Let me know what you think. 

And the winner is . . .

Just a quick Sunday post to share the winner of the manuscript critique from Monday's contest. The winner of the 4000 word manuscript critique is Stacy Jensen! Congratulations, Stacy. You can email me through my profile for more details. Thank you so much to those who entered.

And in case you're wondering, the random photo is of my daughter and the team of girls who managed to duct tape her to a wall. Their team won!

#NaNoWriMo Resource: Write Or Die, By Dr. Wicked

Here's another repost idea that can keep you on track with your NaNoWriMo word count. I'm typing steadily, trying to keep ahead of my goal. Don't forget about Jeff Gerke's free webinar today!

Recently, I wrote about a program that will turn off your internet for a while so you can write. If you missed it, check out Freedom to Write. Today, I'll give you the link to another great program that gives you incentive to get more words on the page.

I first heard about Write or Die by Dr. Wicked when I signed up for Nanowrimo last November. This free application goes by the tag, "Putting the 'Prod' in Productivity". If your output is at an all-time low, Dr. Wicked is happy to help.

With Write or Die, you select a word goal and a time goal. Then you choose the level of consequences (from gentle mode, all the way up to kamikaze and electric shock mode) and the grace period (forgiving, strict, or evil). And then you start typing. 

If you don't stop typing until you've met your word or time goal, you have nothing to worry about. It's when you pause (and fritter away your grace period) that you may break into a sweat.

In "gentle" mode, the consequence is a polite pop-up box, while "normal" mode will play an extremely annoying sound to encourage your fingers to get tapping. For the higher levels, the program will actually begin to delete your writing word by word until you get going again.

The author recommends it for writing on lunch breaks. It will make sure you get something done, after all, no writer can stand to see their words disappear unless they've hit the delete button themselves.

There are two forms of Write or Die: the free online version, and the $10 desktop version which enables you to work offline. The offline version includes several features not available in the online edition, like the ability to disable the backspace and save buttons, until you've met your goal. Talk about motivation!

If you've used Write or Die, leave a comment and tell us what you think about it.

Keep Your Mind On Your Manuscript During #NaNoWriMo

 Like many of you, I'm working hard on my NaNoWriMo novel. Here's a repost about a resource that can help keep the distractions of the internet at bay.

Today I'll pass on something new I found on Jennifer Bertram's blog. It's a free program that will disable your internet for the time you specify, so you can use your computer for a novel new activity: writing!

I wrote my first novel on a laptop that had no internet. It was not surprising that I experienced many 3K days on that laptop. I couldn't periodically check email, Facebook, writing blogs or any of the other time-suckers. The only thing I could check was how many words I wrote. And write I did.

Since I've been writing on my main computer (with an internet connection), I've found that my self-discipline is not what I thought it was. Sure, I can unplug my modem, but the minute I get an itch to do a little research, or just get stuck, I plug back in.

Enter Freedom. It's a Mac-based program (entirely free), that allows you to freeze your internet for up to eight hours at a time. If you absolutely have to get back on before your time is up, you'll have to reboot your computer.

I downloaded the program and gave it a try. Right away, my open internet pages froze, though they'll start back up for me in an hour. Freedom gives you the option of connecting to local internet networks, so if you're a journalist doing local research, you can still use it to keep you focused.

I've done a little research to see if there's an equivalent program for PCs, but I haven't found anything yet. If you know of something, leave a comment, and I'll add it to the post.

How do you keep yourself from the distractions of the internet?

Book Review: Write That Book Already!

In the spirit of NaNoWriMo, today's book should give you a kick in the pants. Write That Book Already! may inspire you to keep writing all month.

The best part? It's free on Kindle and Nook.

 I downloaded the book, and read through most of the chapters. They're short and to the point, so you'll be able to glean information quickly. As the cover indicates, there are quotes from famous authors, mainly in the appendix, where these authors mention their favorite books.
Here's a rundown of the chapters:

1-Why we write (and why you write, too)
2-You have a great idea. So what?
3-How to get started with the write stuff
4-Your manuscript: the basic rules of attraction
5-Finding an agent
6-Behind closed doors: will they buy your book?
7-You and your editor
8-Marketing and publicity: getting the word out
9-The pros and cons of self-publishing
10-For sale: bookstores, bookselling, and book groups
11-Long life: paperback and backlist
12-Conclusion: what's next?
Appendix I: Beloved books of famous authors
Appendix II: The life cycle of a book
Appendix III: Glossary of publishing terminology

Head over to download this book while it's free:

Now it's time to get back to my NaNoWriMo novel. Happy writing!

NaNoWriMo Begins!

Today is day one of NaNoWriMo. It's not too late for you to sign up, even if you've been sitting on the fence. Let's face it. November is not the ideal month to do anything. We're approaching the holidays, there are events, and jobs, and chores, and life to deal with. 

But think about it this way: if you can make yourself write in the middle of all that, you can make yourself write in the middle of marketing, interviews, revisions, and book signings.

This post is short today because I'm trying to get a good start on my novel. I hope you are, too.

Don't forget to enter the drawing for a manuscript critique. It's a great way to help a child and maybe win something for yourself! I'll leave the drawing open through Friday, November 4th.

Tomorrow I'll have my regular book review, and this time, the book is free! Make sure to stop by.

Can you make yourself write, even when life is crazy?


Related Posts with Thumbnails