Utilizing Self-Publishing to Thank Readers and Booksellers

By Beth Revis

I never thought I’d self-publish…but I’ve never been happier with the idea of doing it now. And the biggest reason for that is because I have been able to turn my words into a full novel of thanks to my readers.

"Because I am in control of THE BODY ELECTRIC, I’m able to make sure the book is special for the people I most want to thank—the readers and the bookstores that got me where I am today." -Beth Revis

“Because I am in control of THE BODY ELECTRIC, I’m able to make sure the book is special for the people I most want to thank—the readers and the bookstores that got me where I am today.” -Beth Revis

After years of going the traditional route, I had my dream come true: A great agent that got me a great book deal that landed me on bookshelves, the NYT Bestseller List, and more than twenty foreign language translations. But the next book I wrote didn’t quite fit my publisher’s list, and it was something that I feel needs to be on the market sooner rather than later, so after some careful thought, I decided to go hybrid.

It was an easy decision, honestly, and in the end the only logical one for me. This new book, THE BODY ELECTRIC, is loosely linked to my original series, ACROSS THE UNIVERSE, so time was a big factor in my decision. Also, curiosity—I’ve wanted to play in the indie waters for awhile now, and no time like the present to try. But my biggest motivating factor was a desire to show appreciation for my readers.

I decided to use THE BODY ELECTRIC in two specific ways to thank my biggest supporters. For my readers, I developed a special, limited edition of the book. For the local bookstore owners who championed my books, I made sure that the special features were easily available to readers through them—not the big box counterparts.

Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe in Asheville, NC.

Malaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe in Asheville, NC.

I’m working closely with my local independent bookstore, Malaprop’s, to make a limited edition available. Each copy of the book will be signed and numbered in a limited print run and include special content inside and full-color art—and will only be available through Malaprop’s, which will be shipping the book internationally.

Of course, I wanted to make sure my eBook readers had access to the book, too, and not just through the elephant-in-the-room-online-bookseller. So in order to continue to help out local indie bookstores, who often use Kobo to sell eBooks directly, I’m selling the eBook version of the special edition of the book only through Kobo and iBooks. There are more than 30 pages of extra content, including a short story, a history of the world, an author interview, and more.

Because I am in control of THE BODY ELECTRIC, I’m able to make sure the book is special for the people I most want to thank—the readers and the bookstores that got me where I am today.

ADDITIONAL LINKS

Formal-LandscapeBeth Revis is the NYT bestselling author of the ACROSS THE UNIVERSE series. The complete trilogy is now available in more than 20 languages. A native of North Carolina, Beth is currently working on a new science fiction novel for teens, THE BODY ELECTRIC, which is coming out October 6. Connect with Beth on her WebsiteFacebookTumblr, and Twitter.

 

Writing From Life: Jessica Scott On Being a Writer and a Soldier

Jessica Scott is a bestselling author, career army officer, mother of two daughters, and wife to a career NCO. She deployed to Iraq in 2009 as part of OIF/New Dawn and has had the honor of serving as a company commander at Fort Hood, Texas twice. We sat down with Jessica to learn more about her writing process and what it’s like to be a writer and a soldier (and a soldier’s wife).

When did you decide to begin writing army romance novels? What made you want to write in this genre?

I started writing my Coming Home series waaay back in 2007 when my husband was on his second deployment and I was at Fort Benning for Officer Candidate jessica dawsonSchool. I spent a lot of time at the Borders and Barnes and Noble because I’ve always been a book girl. Everything I’d read that had a military hero (and there were very few women) were all either romantic suspense or about former soldiers. I wanted to write stories about soldiers who were still in the army, still dealing with the war and trying to balance everything out. I wanted to write in this format because I hoped that people would pick up my books who wouldn’t necessarily pick up The Long Way Home or any nonfiction about the war. I wanted to tell soldiers’ stories in a way that I felt like I was uniquely positioned to do, if that makes sense.

Do you write more from the point of view of an army wife, or a soldier?

I’d say I write more from the soldier’s point of view. I mean, I am an army wife, too (my husband retired last year) but my soldier identity is much more salient. The couple of stories I wrote with civilian spouses, though, I definitely channeled in my fears and anxieties and everything that goes along with waiting for your spouse to come home from war.

Having written so many romance novels involving soldiers, what made you decide to write a memoir about your time in Iraq?

I wanted to put my story out there not only for readers who might want to see what I had gone through but also for other soldiers – especially other women and moms – who were deploying. I wanted them to know that hey, this is going to be rough but you can get through it. Here’s all the good and the bad and everything in between, no filters.

Was it difficult to write about your time as a soldier? Were there certain memories you didn’t want to revisit?

It’s still hard to go back and read some of those passages. There was a lot of rawness to both the deployment and the homecoming that I didn’t really edit out when I was putting the books together. There’s some things that will never go on the page. And yeah, there’s stuff that’s still tender, if that makes sense. It surprises me when sometimes the barriers drop and something hits me hard. It’s like I never really expect it.

In your books is it always the male character who is the soldier, or have you written some female soldiers as well?

I have several books where the female character is a soldier.  Until There Was You, All for You & It’s Always Been You all have female soldiers. My upcoming novella All I Want For Christmas Is You, published in a bundle with a story by the fabulous JoAnn Ross, also features a female soldier. So yeah, the active duty ladies get plenty of page time in my books.

What do you love about writing?

I think the best part is getting lost in the story. I absolutely love it when the words are just coming and you lose track of time and the next thing you know a whole day is gone. The second best part is revisions. I know, I know, that may be a sickness but I really love taking those raw words and making them into something so much richer, you know?

Is there a particular book or author who inspires you?

You know there are so many. Laura Kinsale has been an inspiration for as long as I can remember reading. I got to meet her at RWA this year and it was so amazing. Anne McCaffrey has also been a long time favorite. When I get stuck, though, I go back and reread Nalini Singh’s Archangel’s Blade or Archangel’s Storm. She’s got such an amazing, rich worlds and characters.

Taking The Leap: Zoe York on Series Plotting, Marketing Plans and Writing Full-Time

By Zoe York

In May, I made the exciting and scary decision to transition to writing full-time. I’ve always thought of myself as a professional writer, but for the first time I actually started to look at writing as my business. The first thing I did was a quick analysis of my book list and compare it to the book lists of authors with similar reader bases. One common element is that most authors I’d like to sit next to on the digital shelves have multiple series on the go. (And if you aren’t convinced that you should be writing series, we need to chat.)

That so many were writing two or more separate worlds surprised me, because I’ve often heard the advice, focus on one series. And I get it: sales really take off with the fifth title. But when I thought about it, multiple series written in the same or similar worlds allow readers multiple entry points to that author’s book list.

So that changed my plan in a big way.

What Once Was PerfectStarting with my first book, What Once Was Perfect, I’d crafted my Wardham books to be exactly the type of romance series I wanted to read: sexy, Canadian, and with characters that are a bit unexpected. They’re quiet books, tightly focused on the developing relationship, and I love reading them. Mission accomplished!

But after the success of our bestselling military romance superbundle, SEALs of Summer, I was reminded of the broad appeal of a high-concept hook. And I like to read those books too! Give me a billionaire who stumbles when he falls in love and I’m a goner.

It’s hard to look at books you love, books you are proud of writing, and realizing that they lack a certain accessibility. That’s what high-concept means: that readers will get what the book is about in the two seconds they give your book page. It starts with a succinct description: some call this an elevator pitch, a tagline, a log line. And many try to figure it out after the book is written.

That’s what I did with my Wardham books. I wrote them, then I tried to figure out how to market them.

Crafting a book from the beginning to be high-concept means starting with that tag line. “Six years. Two break-ups. One divorce. They should be over each other.” That in a nutshell is Love in a Small Town, and it was one of the first lines I wrote down when brainstorming my new series.

A successful high-concept book is going to deliver on that promise to the reader from the inside out. A well-branded cover can tell the reader everything they need to know about the story, hook them in an instant. My friend Cora Seton does this so well with her Cowboys of Chance Creek series.

Two self-publishing rules butt up against each other here: how can I stay committed to the Wardham series if I’ve taken a hard, business-minded look at it and found it lacking? (Hint: I haven’t … not all readers want high-concept books, and I’m happy to write different series for different audiences.)

While writing Beyond Love and Hate in May, I fell in love with the brother of the hero. Unlike Finn, Ryan Howard doesn’t live in Wardham.Beyond Love and Hate I sat in Starbucks for days, writing Finn’s story, the whole time growing more and more interested in Ryan’s story. So I pulled out my idea notebook and sketched out a bit of his story, and a new series was born.

Connected, but different. Higher-concept hooks. Wardham, but with choppier waves and craggier bluffs, I told a fan, and the description has stuck in my head ever since.

Pine Harbour is a fictitious town halfway up the Bruce Peninsula. It was named by my Facebook reader group, the Wardham Ambassadors.

It turned out that Ryan’s story wasn’t the first romance that needed to be told in Pine Harbour. As I plotted and wrote, two books popped up before Love on a Spring Morning, which will be Ryan’s story, coming next March. The first book, which I wrote in five weeks and I absolutely love, is called Love in a Small Town.

I love this book so much that I’ve done nothing but talk my writer friends’ ears off about it all summer. Rafe and Olivia Minelli are divorced, but they never fell out of love with each other. Now Olivia’s thinking hard about leaving her adopted town, and Rafe’s finally realizing that something—many things—will need to change if he’s going to convince his wife to give him another shot.

One writer I spoke to, Lexi Ryan, is a self-published author I greatly admire. She started in contemporary romance, and now writes very popular crossover New Adult/contemporary romances. With her latest series, Here and Now, Lexi used a marketing plan to show online book retailers how serious she was about launching her books with a bang. The term marketing plan sounds dense and daunting, but Lexi really helped me see that it’s not much more than we already know. “Writing a marketing plan isn’t as scary as it sounds. It shows vendors that you approach your book releases and promotion strategically,” Ryan explained. “That little bit of effort can go a long way, and most of us already have our strategy in mind. The official plan simply puts it in a form that can be shared with others.”

I was sold.

I put together a Love in a Small Town Marketing Plan and shared it with a few friends who pointed out obvious things that I had missed (see my complete list MarketingPlanKobo (2)below). Looking at the final document, I understood Lexi’s point: it was everything that I hoped for my series, objectively laid out. And it gave me confidence that I was approaching the launch of this new series in a logical and strategic manner.

Even for a brand new author, documenting a release plan like this can be a useful way to milestone your career. Compare marketing plans release to release to see growth in your social media platform and advertising reach—and if you’re not seeing any growth, figure out why.

Marketing Plan Must Haves:

  • book and series information; I broke this into two sections
  • promotional plan for pre-order and release week (blog tours, ad buys, social media plan)
  • author platform numbers, including newsletter and social media reach
  • author bio
  • upcoming release schedule for future books in the same series, and all upcoming author titles, including collaborative projects

Zoe YorkZoe York is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, a busy working mom of two young boys, wife to a very understanding soldier, and creator of modern, sexy, small town contemporary romances. She lives in London, Ontario and is currently chugging Americanos, wiping sticky fingers, and dreaming of heroes in and out of uniform. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and on her website.

 

 

Kobo Writing Life Podcast – Episode 020 with Pamela Fagan Hutchins

In our latest podcast, KWL US Manager Christine Munroe interviews bestselling author and self-publishing expert Pamela Fagan Hutchins. Pamela has written the book on self-publishing, WHAT KIND OF LOSER INDIE PUBLISHES, AND HOW CAN I BE ONE, TOO? In the summer of 2013, she embarked on a 60-cities-in-60-days book tour, which she organized herself (with the help of her supportive family), so she has plenty of insights and advice for working successfully with bookstores.

Pamela and fans at a bookstore event.

Pamela and fans at a bookstore event.

Listen in to Episode 20 as Pamela shares her thoughts on:

  • Her mission to serve as an exemplary self-published author, in particular when working with bookstores, so they will open the door to fellow writers.
  • Stories from the road during her 60-cities-in-60-days book tour, including the day when a book club showed up to her Boston reading… despite tornado warnings!
  • Keeping it in the family – her husband, the five children between them, and her mom all joined her on the road to help support her work.
  • Looking at self-promotion with a long-term perspective. “I’m hoping for a 10-year return,” she says. Pamela recommends focusing on how to build your email list of people who welcome hearing what is next. Also, don’t abuse that list – send a maximum of 2-3 updates per year.
  • Promotion is 1/3 of the game in terms of your success. The other elements? Writing, of course, and giving back to the author community.What+Kind+of+Loser+Indie+Publishes,+and+How+Can+I+Be+One,+Too?
  • Pamela’s free strategy: giving away books is an amazing way to get those crucial reviews. Pricing the first book in your series for free is a great way to get started. Read her blog post on this topic here.
  • What she wishes she would have known when she started, including thoughts on exclusive programs, and why moving books in and out of various platforms hurt her more than the benefits of exclusive helped her.
  • Pseudonyms. Pamela believes, “I don’t want to make it hard for someone who discovers me, to discover other things about my writing that they might like.” However, that might not apply for writers who work in vastly different and contradictory genres, like erotica vs children’s picture books.
  • Hints about what’s to come in Pamela’s forthcoming novels.

PamelaPamela Fagan Hutchins writes award-winning and bestselling romantic mysteries and hilarious nonfiction, and moonlights as a workplace investigator and employment attorney. She is passionate about great writing, smart authorpreneurship, and her two household hunks, husband Eric and one-eyed Boston terrier Petey. She also leaps medium-tall buildings in a single bound, if she gets a good running start. 

OTHER LINKS/RESOURCES:

Pamela’s website, and her blog

Grab the first book in the KATIE & ANNELISE series for free on KOBO!

Don’t miss Pamela’s guide to indie publishing: WHAT KIND OF LOSER INDIE PUBLISHES, AND HOW CAN I BE ONE, TOO?

Twitter: @PamelotH

Facebook: http://facebook.com/pamela.fagan.hutchins.author

 

If you enjoy this podcast and would like to automatically capture episodes as they go live (and even before the show notes are posted to the Kobo Writing Life blog), feel free to subscribe to the RSS feed via your favourite pod-capturing platform such as iTunes, etc using the RSS feed link: RSS feed for Kobo Writing Life Podcast

So, About That Cover: An Interview With an Author and His Cover Artist

We sat down with author Kyle West and cover artist Luke Atkinson to learn more about the adventure of getting a book cover designed. Here’s how it went:

Why do you think having a great book cover is so important when it comes to eBooks?

KW – After your story, your cover is probably the most important part of your book. It’s the first thing readers see, so it has to be downright amazing.

LA –You know the saying: “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” Unfortunately we live in a digital age that doesn’t allow that luxury. A great cover can give the visual edge your book needs to stand out in a sea of thumbnails.

How can I find a book cover artist? How can I tell if the artist is right for my books?

KW – Finding a decent cover artist is fairly easy with the Internet. Most (if not all) have sitesApocalypse (The Wasteland Chronicles, #1) displaying their portfolios that you can peruse, which you should definitely check out. If you browse the cover artist’s catalogue, you’ll know what kind of work to expect. Quite a few hang out in places like Kboards Writer’s Café. Usually, they’ll have lots of excellent pre-made covers to choose from, some of which can cost as little as $50 (or even less).

LA – Make sure you pick a graphic designer who can work with what you want. Designers have strengths and weaknesses, too. Try to pick one with a taste for art you are comfortable with displaying on your cover.

How did you find your cover artist?

KW – I was incredibly lucky to already know a cover artist. I met Luke Atkinson my freshman year of college, and we’ve kept in touch. When I was writing Apocalypse, the first book in my series, I remembered that Luke was pretty good at the whole graphic design thing. I asked if he was interesting in doing a cover for Apocalypse. We settled on a price and he got to work.

LA – Kyle and I had a unique situation since we’d known each other for so long which helped us be more open with our design direction.

What’s it like to work with a cover artist? What if I don’t like what the artist comes up with?

Evolution (The Wasteland Chronicles, #3)KW – The first cover he made completely blew me away. It was hard to imagine that he’d made that cover from the stock images he’d shown me. The cover captured the dark mood of the series perfectly, and we continued to incorporate quite a few of the ideas from that cover to establish a brand. For all the following books, we used a similar typeface, silhouettes, along with images that convey the genre in an eerily beautiful way (the desert in Apocalypse, the contaminated tower in Origins, or the dragons and the sunset in Evolution).

LA – Kyle was willing to let me show my strengths while depicting a world he created. We branded the series to look alike, yet be different and interesting on their own.

KW – As we’ve worked from book to book, our process has evolved. It starts off with me hunting down a lot of cool stock images, always keeping in mind the plot of my story. Then, I paste the links of whatever grabs my attention in an email, shooting off a few potential ideas to get him running. Depending on the book, I’ll send anywhere from 10-20 stock images. I’m not sure whether other cover artists work in a similar fashion, but I think that’s helpful, in that it gives Luke an idea of what I’m looking for right off the bat – and of course, he’s free to do his own hunt for stock photos.

Luke then looks at the images, telling me what can and can’t work while adding his own ideas. Depending on the book, the cover gets sent back and forth a few times Origins (The Wasteland Chronicles, #2)– sometimes I have exactly what I’m looking for on the first go, but usually it takes three or four amendments, mostly minor details. I can be very picky, and a good cover artist will patiently make the changes you request.

Good covers have to strike the balance of being simple, yet conveying exactly what the story is about. If you try to do too much, the cover will appear busy and unprofessional. Luke had to remind me of that a few times when my ideas became too grandiose. Of course, the title should always be big and it must be clear what the genre is from the images used. And, as I said before, it’s important that the cover is beautiful.

LA – Don’t be afraid to tell a designer they are way off. Just remember: Be willing to accept a designer’s direction, too. They are the professional at this, after all.

Isn’t hiring a cover artist really expensive? Should I go with a pre-made cover, since they’re cheaper?

KW – The best artists are often quite expensive, but you should never skimp on a good cover. It’s the most visible part of your book, and without a good cover, your chances of selling well are extremely low. I feel like all too often indie authors try to cut corners on costs, which is one of the biggest mistakes that they can make when you’re talking about building a career.

Pre-made covers are excellent, and some can be as cheap as $25 or $35. Don’t limit yourself to that price tag, though. If you’re working on a series, pre-mades are not the way to go, since pre-mades mostly cater to standalone titles.

I don’t know anything about designing book covers. How can I give the artist the feedback he/she needs when I don’t even know what I want?

KW – Go look at the top twenty books in your main genre and subgenre onRevelation (The Wasteland Chronicles, #4) Amazon, and that should give you a benchmark. Most cover artists, assuming you hire an experienced one, already know the ins and outs. But even with a professional cover artist, sometimes you might not get what you’re looking for. In that case, don’t be shy about graciously asking them to fix the aspects you don’t like.

LA – There is always a sort of “meta-game” associated with graphic design. Sometimes simplicity says it all. Other times big and flashy wins. Find a style that works for you and your designer. Together you’ll create something great.

Can’t I just design my own book cover?

KWDon’t design your own covers unless your work is indistinguishable from a professional’s.

Any last tips?

KW – The key to a great partnership with a cover artist is lots of communication, professionalism, and knowing ahead of time what kind of covers the artist specializes in. And if the process goes well and you get a rocking cover, you’ll have an artist to turn to whenever you write your next book.

LA – Word.

kyle westKyle West is the author of The Wasteland Chronicles. From a young age he has always been a voracious reader of sci-fi and fantasy. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a degree in Professional Writing. He writes full-time and resides in the bustling metropolis of Oklahoma City. He blogs at kylewestwriter.wordpress.com

photoLuke Atkinson is a graphic designer from Oklahoma City. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2010. He has been designing in print and web media for 7 years. His work can be found at lukeatkinson.me

 

My Writing Life: Kevin McLeod

kevinmcleodWhen did you first discover a love of writing? Is there a particular book that made you want to become a writer?

I loved writing short stories at school when I was growing up. I used to look forward to writing time every day. My stories were always about myself and my friends in some amazing adventure. The book that really made me want to write was The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King. It was a story that he wrote for his children who wanted his dad to write something other than horror stories for a change. I fell in love with the story and I’ve read it many times since. The classic good vs. evil battle and the devious ‘baddie’ make it an excellent book for children.

What’s your favourite book? What was your favourite book as a child?

Now my favourite is Shutter Island by Dennis Lehane and as a child it was The Eyes of the Dragon by Stephen King.

Where do you get your story ideas?

I take inspiration from places I’ve been. Once I have the setting the story grows from there. For example the Viking’s Apprentice is set in a town called Campbell’s Cove which is based on a real village in Scotland called Furnace. This is where my wife grew up so I have been there many times and the location is perfect for my story.

I have a strong imagination so a dark wood, or cave on the water’s edge become places of fantastic possibilities and adventures for my characters.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received as a writer?

You have to believe in yourself, if you don’t truly believe in your writing no one else will either. Also don’t write for money, write for enjoyment. When you enjoy what you do you produce better work and others will enjoy it too.

Do you believe in Writer’s Block?

Yes I do, and I have suffered from it on several occasions. It is the single most frustrating thing that can happen to a writer. You know the characters, you know your own story so why won’t the words flow on to the page!?

If there was one writer (alive or deceased) that you would love to meet, who would it be?

It has to be Stephen King for me as I want to ask him about The Eyes of the Dragon and whether the story about his children asking him to write it is correct.

What’s your favourite literary genre? Any guilty pleasures?

Everyone always assumes I will say children or YA fiction for this, but actually I love thrillers. Dennis Lehane and R.J. Ellory are my favourite writers. My guilty pleasure is still The Eyes of the Dragon.

Also I love reading to my kids, I love reading the Gruffalo series to them and enjoy doing all the voices. That might be my guilty pleasure!

What made you decide to self-publish?

Several things in the end made me choose self-publishing. I was so naive at first that I didn’t know anything about self-publishing other than ‘Vanity publishing’. I tried to get an agent on board but after enough rejection letters to fashion a paper mache model of myself I decided that I would try self-publishing.

I read up on it, and after realizing how much the self-published world has changed. With sites like Kobo making it easy to get your work in front of readers I decided to believe in myself one more time and take the leap.

I believed in my story and had had good feedback from the people that had read it. This was enough to make me decide to self-publish. I’m so glad I did. My books have both been number 1 in their genre on Amazon.com UK and in Canada. They have been taken on by schools in Scotland as reading books for kids 8 – 11.

Are there any self-publishing tricks of the trade you’d like to share? What rules of craft or promotion do you live by?

A good cover is crucial, readers can be put off just by a glance if they don’t like what they see. Remember your cover has to stand out in thumbnail size on a website against all the other work on that search page.

Formatting is also crucial, once your work is complete, edited and ready to go remember that different e-readers take different formatting. Make sure you take the time to make your book look it’s best on all platforms.

Tell people about your book and about yourself, but don’t just sell sell sell. People don’t respond to that. Write a blog with useful content, interact on twitter and facebook. Have discussions with your readers, get to know them.

Speak to other authors who are further down the journey. Most will help you. We are a supporting community!

One promotion that helps me more than any other is getting out to schools and speaking to the children. Taking the time to answer their questions and listen to their ideas about your work. Children have amazing imaginations and we can learn a lot from them. I love my school visits and it’s very rewarding hearing how much your target readers love your work.

What has been the biggest ‘wow’ moment of your journey as a writer?

The+Viking's+Apprentice

Check out Kevin’s Viking’s Apprentice Series

There have been two so far that have blown me away. The first was being told by a teacher that my first book turned a boy who hated to read into someone who loved reading hour and always wanted to be chosen to read my book to the rest of his class.

As recently as yesterday this was topped. I got a message to my Facebook page from a mother in Singapore who told me her son was dressing up as Peter from The Viking’s Apprentice for literacy week at his school. Why did he choose Peter? He choose him as Peter is his favourite character in literature. WOW! What a compliment. To have a child choose to do this for that reason is amazing. I’ve never felt so honoured or proud of my work. It made my day and I’m still smiling about it!

—–

You can also find Kevin:

On facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheVikingsApprentice

Twitter: https://twitter.com/bannon1975

On Pintrest: http://www.pinterest.com/bannon1975/

On his blog: http://thevikingsapprentice.blogspot.co.uk/

On his website: http://www.kevinmcleodauthor.com/

—–

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One Fictitious Moment: Writing a Series

By Angela Misri­, author of Jewel of the Thames

Writing in a series is very different than writing a stand-alone novel. A stand-alone has its own benefits and issues – like that you have a limited time to tell an entire story and getting people to fall in love with your characters over a mere 80k words. But when you’re writing a series there are definitely things to keep in mind – check out my latest video to find out more!

Watch for more writing videos on this blog, or you can subscribe to my Youtube channel One Fictitious Moment.

Amgela MisriAngela Misri is a Toronto journalist, writer and mom who has spent most of her working life making CBC Radio extraterrestrial through podcasts, live streams and websites. Her first book Jewel of the Thames, was published by Fierce Ink Press in March 2014 and is the first in a series called A Portia Adams Adventure. Check out Angela’s website to learn more about the Portia Adams series.

On Daydreaming: A Writer’s Perspective

By Shayna Krishnasamy

Remember when you used to be scolded for daydreaming? Dreaming rather than paying attention in class was a real no-no in my elementary school. Daydreaming the afternoon away was also frowned upon when there were chores or homework to be done. To this day, being labelled a “daydreamer” is similar to being called “special”—not exactly a compliment. We’re taught to view this activity as lazy and a waste of time, something with little value. “Stop daydreaming and help me bring in these groceries,” your spouse/roommate/parent might say, and you jump up and comply, duly chastened, fully complicit in this vast conspiracy that daydreaming is of no importance.

Well, I’m here to tell you that everything you’ve ever been told about daydreaming is a total LIE.

DaydreaminDaydreaming_(1)g is essential to being a writer. If there weren’t authors the world over walking around bumping into things because their minds were so fully immersed in their stories, there would be no novels. Have you ever been told that plotting is an important aspect of writing a book? Well, guess what plotting is: Daydreaming! Every plot and character, every line of dialogue and setting and description has to be dreamed up by the writer before it can appear on the page. As a writer I spent lots of time staring at a computer screen, but I spend an equal amount of time staring into space figuring out what I’m going to write next.

In this day and age it isn’t easy to get in some good daydreaming time, what with the naysaying masses on all sides and the demands of kids/job/family/friends/life. Here are some tips on how to be the best daydreamer you can be:

Disconnect

Do you have a smartphone within arm’s reach at every moment of the day? Do you bring your iPad into the bathroom? Is there a television set blaring through every meal, and a laptop glowing in every room of your house? Technology may make life a lot easier for us, but it also makes it pretty hard to have some quiet time with your thoughts. If you want to have some time to think up what’s going to happen in your next chapter, I suggest turning your phone off. (Yes, smartphones can be turned off. It’s a real thing.) Take back those quiet moments sitting in your backyard or on your deck just thinking, without a laptop to distract you. Tell your family you’re going out for a walk and don’t take your cell with you. Make the time to be quiet and think about your story, because a well thought out story is far easier to write than one you haven’t thought through at all.

Focus

Even whendaydreaming-300x198 you’re in thinking mode it’s easy to get distracted. I like to think about my book while I’m in the shower but, countless times, when drying off, I’ve realized I just spent twenty minutes re-playing an episode of The Good Wife in my head instead. That argument you just had with your sister might be at the forefront of your mind, but it’s important to learn how to make thinking about your book a priority. I’ve learned to keep reminding myself to re-direct my thoughts toward my characters and my plot when my mind wanders to easier topics. Usually I only have to do this a few times before my imagination gets hooked on one aspect of the plot or another and within a few minutes I’ve come up with new ideas, new sub-plots, a whole conversation full of witty dialogue. Sometimes your brain just needs a little reminding that it really does want to think about your book—and if your imagination isn’t piqued by your own story, maybe you should think about why. It’s possible you’ve taken your plot down the wrong path, or you haven’t made your characters interesting enough. If you can’t get yourself to pay attention to your own story, it might be hard to keep your reader interested.

Don’t Save The Best For Last

It can be tempting to leave all your daydreaming to the end of the day, when that comfy bed is just waiting for you to curl up on it and dream. Personally I like to lie in bed, stare out the window and contemplate my story, but I try to avoid doing this at the end of the day. This might seem obvious but it needs to be pointed out: daydreaming is not the same as dreaming. Daydreaming keeps your brain awake, it winds you up 4633972431_4d1e24ec0b_bwhen at the end of the day you should be winding down. You don’t want to keep yourself awake thinking about your plot when you should be getting some much-needed rest. It can also be difficult to shut your brain off when it really gets going, and the next thing you know you’re turning on the lights and getting out your notebook to write down your ideas, or even running to your computer to begin writing your next scene. Do you really want to be doing all this in the middle of the night? If you value your sleep, avoid daydreaming in bed. It’s for your own good.

 

My mother used to call me a scatter-brain because I was always forgetting to do my homework and misplacing things. I used to be ashamed of it. I used to try to force myself to stop being a silly little dreamer. But that was before I saw the value in my dreaming ways. I wouldn’t be the writer I am today if I’d stopped daydreaming. I wouldn’t be a writer at all. So, to all the distracted, zoned-out, lay-about daydreamers out there I say, good for you! Dream away! There’s no knowing where your dreams might take you.

my photoShayna Krishnasamy is a Montreal author of literary and young adult fiction by night and the merchandiser for Kobo Writing Life by day. Shayna’s books are available on Kobo.

Click here to visit Shayna’s website!

Joanna Penn visits Kobo HQ!

Last night, the Kobo Writing Life team was thrilled to welcome Joanna Penn to our Toronto office. Joanna is a bestselling author-entrepreneur and professional speaker, and she shares invaluable information with the self-publishing community on her blog and podcast, The Creative Penn.

Joanna Penn speaks to a crowd of local authors at Kobo's Toronto headquarters.

Joanna Penn speaks to local authors at Kobo’s Toronto headquarters.

A packed house of local authors chatted with Joanna over drinks and snacks, then she took the stage with KWL Director Mark Lefebvre to speak about self-publishing and answer questions from the audience. The advice she shared was incredibly helpful and inspiring, so we wanted to share a few key takeaways with you here.

  • Remember that this industry is global. You can build a platform from anywhere in the world and reach an audience in countries you may have never heard of before!
  • Book publishing and marketing are processes that take time. Set long-term goals—we’re talking years, not days. Don’t give up if you do not see a return on your investment immediately.

    Joanna signs Kobo's Author Wall of Fame.

    Joanna signs Kobo’s Author Wall of Fame.

  • It’s ok to fail. The Creative Penn is Joanna’s third blog effort.
  • Take your work and yourself seriously as a business.
  • Do a little bit every day.
  • Be true to yourself and what you love in terms of your writing and marketing.
  • Think about every opportunity for every book, including print on demand, audio, and translation. You can turn each book into multiple product streams, such that ten books multiply to become 50 potential income sources.
  • Publish directly wherever you can. Every platform—KWL, iBooks, KDP, Nook, etc.—is a potential business partnership and can bring you new opportunities for success.
  • The writing life does not have to be lonely. Get online and engage with other authors on social media, join ALLi, or go to a conference. Even if you’re introverted, don’t be afraid to join the author community.
Joanna with the KWL team, from left: Operations Manager Jodi White, Director Mark Lefebvre, Coordinator Tara Cremin, Content Specialist Christina Potter, and US Manager Christine Munroe.

Joanna with the KWL team, from left: Operations Manager Jodi White, Director Mark Lefebvre, Coordinator Tara Cremin, Content Specialist Christina Potter, and US Manager Christine Munroe.

We are so grateful to Joanna for sharing her time and knowledge with us.

 

ADDITIONAL LINKS

Grab J.F. Penn’s newest release, DELIRIUM!

If you haven’t listened in to our podcast interview with Joanna, you can do so here.

KWL is a proud sponsor of The Creative Penn Podcast, which we can’t recommend highly enough.

 

Joanna PennJoanna Penn is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of thrillers on the edge, as well as non-fiction for authors. She is also a professional speaker and entrepreneur, voted as one of The Guardian UK Top 100 creative professionals 2013.

Twitter: @thecreativepenn

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/JFPennAuthor and  http://www.facebook.com/TheCreativePenn

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