Writing Tips from Lessons Learned

This entry is part of 3 in the series Lessons Learned

writing tipsIn this last post for the series, Lessons Learned, I wanted to give you some writing tips from going through the process of concept to publishing. It’s been a journey.

Writing Tips for Marketing

My book, 101 Things to Do on Lake Minnetonka, is unique for me in that I’m taking an active role in marketing it. I want the book to be a success. In many ways, it’s not unlike our experience with the Wisconsin Great River Road.

When my husband and I first saw it, we had to share it with everyone. It was too beautiful not to encourage people to visit this scenic byway. We felt the same about Lake Minnetonka.

So, here are a few writing tips I’ve learned:

  • Double, triple check all of your copy, your links, and anything going out to the public.
  • Make sure your Amazon copy is engaging. Sell your book to someone who needs to be convinced of its value.
  • You need to invest money to make money. Buy books to give out to create the buzz.
  • Get mini Moo cards guerilla marketing and just to hand out. Be sure to include an Amazon Associate referral link to capitalize on your profit. I can’t recommend these cards enough. They look fantastic!
  • Don’t be shy about engaging family and friends.

Staying the Course

It’s a tough venture to write a book. It’s your baby at this point. It’s hard not to feel a bit fragile after going through the process. Here are some writing tips to help you keep your sanity.

  • Keep a journal about the process. It’ll help you identify areas to fix next time around as well as help you remember what worked.
  • Be realistic. Your book is the center of your world, but word has to get out before it takes off. Be patient.
  • Spend the time marketing, but also start planning your next project. You’ve built some great momentum. Use it.
  • Always remember what you’ve accomplished. Think about it. You’ve taken an idea and made it come to life. Not many people can say the same thing. It’s a bucket list kind-of-thing. Be proud of yourself.

I hope these writing tips have helped. We are a unique group of people, us writers. Never forget that.

photo credit: because I was there. Yesterday at late night I went to a movie theater. The film was … via photopin (license)

Editing Made Easy

editing solutionPerhaps the title of this post made you chuckle. Editing made easy? Yeah, right. But, hang on. There is an easier way to edit your book. It’s called Pro Writing Aid.

Editing with Pro Writing Aid

If you’ve read anything online lately, you’ve probably noticed what everyone has too—people make mistakes. Even major newspapers and editors let a few slip by. And the reason might be simpler than you think.

Microsoft, or any word processor for that matter, cannot catch everything. Even your browser misses a few. The reason is that it looks for spelling and grammar errors, not contextual errors. That’s where Pro Writing Aid comes in.

It looks for the obvious stuff like typos. But it goes one step further. Their editing tool looks for clichés, overused words, repeated phrases, and much more.

It also includes things like plagiarism check and consistency screens. The latter was helpful as I wrote 101 Things to Do on Lake Minnetonka. It flagged inconsistencies in capitalization where I referred to the lake by name and other times as simply, the lake. It’s a good way to check some errors that would pass a spell check but not a readability scan.

Streamlining the Process

As I wrote my book, I followed the golden rule of not editing along the way. I just wrote. Then, I put each item in the Pro Writing Aid tool. I cleaned up my writing. And I’ve got to say that I was shocked by how much I missed.

When my reader looked over the book, he found very few errors. And yes, the editing process was easier than it’s ever been for me.

You can try it out to see if it’s for you. If you like it, the Pro Writing Aid tool is a subscription-based service at $40 a year or $45 for the additional plagiarism checks. I would definitely encourage you to check it out.

The last thing you want as an indie author is to come across as an amateur. The Pro Writing Aid tool makes your work appear more professional.

Publishing with CreateSpace

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series Lessons Learned

publishing epic bookPublishing with CreateSpace is an ideal solution for a new writer. And there are several reasons for this claim. For this second in this series, Lessons Learned, I’m going to discuss the advantages of using it.

Publishing on Amazon

Publishing on Amazon is where it’s at for quick online sales. The process with CreateSpace couldn’t be easier. For the new writer, there are templates for each formatted size. However, as I posted yesterday, I found Pressbooks a lot easier to use–even over Scrivner.

You can get a free ISBN number with CreateSpace. And that’s not a bad thing. Buying a block of ISBN numbers isn’t cheap. Last I looked, it runs $249 for 10.

With the cover generator, you can produce a decent cover. Tip: use Chrome not Firefox to create your title. For some reason, Firefox wouldn’t allow me to upload a cover image. Speaking of images, CreateSpace has a gallery of images to use. They’re fine, but the selection is limited.

Other Advantages

I can’t comment on Smashwords because I haven’t used it. I also published my title on Ingram Spark. However, because I had titles with Amazon already, I couldn’t make 101 Things to Do on Lake Minnetonka available on Amazon. That’s why I opted for CreateSpace and Ingram Spark.

CreateSpace has a lot going for it in the self-publishing biz. Copies are printed same day and shipped for a helluva lot less than Ingram Spark. The quality is excellent.

With CreateSpace, you can easily publish on Kindle too. From an author’s perspective, getting your book available online as quick as they do is a huge advantage. With CreateSpace, it’s a 24-hour turnaround. Nice.

Summary of the Process

For publishing on Amazon, I used CreateSpace and did not opt in for the Expanded Distribution. For publishing for retailers, I used Ingram Spark. It’s a name that retailer and booksellers trust. In a world where us indie authors are still trying to make a go of it, we have to play all of our cards.

Next time, let’s look at the editing process. Besides writing, editing is likely to take the biggest chunk of your time.

Imagining Better Writing

thinkingIt’s always interesting when real life confirms science. A meta-analysis by the University of Toronto does just that. Researchers found that images, primarily paintings, activate specific neurons associated with learning and inner thoughts and emotions.

It also sets up a system that activates the brain’s reward circuit. In a way, it’s like your own classical conditioning experiment. The positive reinforcement from visualizing and creating feeds into this system.

Using Images

Novel writing software often uses images with character and location sketches. Along with the detailed notes of profession, looks, and quirks, you can also select images to represent the main features of your work. I’ve followed this practice with my previous mystery and now with my new work-in-progress.

All of my characters have faces—and homes! A quick search online led me to the perfect houses and furnishings for all of the major scenes in my book. Having this material handy makes writing so much easier.

They don’t have to be online images, though it does keep things tidy. A gardening book from my bookshelf gave me the ideal setting for one of my character’s backyard. It added a new dimension to my writing experience to have a visual. And it’s certainly something you can bring to your own work.

The Science Behind It

With advances in neuroscience, we’re able to peak behind the Oz curtain and see what’s going on. Susan Reynold’s book, Fire Up Your Writing Brain, delves more deeply into the science of writing. Our brains continue to develop and change all through our lives, a concept known as neuroplasticity.

Building habits and routines adds this process, as does a healthy dose of mindfulness and gratitude. Images for elements of your book are one way to start cultivating those good practices.

Here’s my challenge to you: if you are writing a book, visualize it. Collect images to represent the elements of your project. Think on them before you write, and use them as you write. See if your writing doesn’t take on a greater sense of place and vibrancy.

By Chris DR/http://mystery.weborglodge.com

photo credit: The Thinker via photopin (license)

Writing Practice to the Rescue!

backhoe interupts writing practiceI have fashioned a new writing practice for myself. Routine are important elements in a writer’s life. I wanted the security and familiarity it could offer. It became especially important when my life turned upside down.

Making Peace Out of Chaos

It began the week after Christmas. I was startled awake by the sound of chainsaws. Then, there was the crashing sounds of limbs breaking and the shaking of the floor and house. Construction of the rain garden and drainage fix on our land had begun.

Through a lack of foresight and bad planning, our lot became the trough for the surface runoff from the main drag, the schools, and the subdivision across the street. The runoff dug an ever larger trench into the land, with flooding and nasty sediment filling the yard every spring. The city had come to fix its wrong.

The first two weeks meant backhoes, semis of boulders, and diggers on the property. The large picture windows of our house, cabin really, meant no privacy as workers walked the length of the trench, laying out guidelines for the trench. It was hell. It was also driving me nuts.

I didn’t want to leave as the workers took down trees close to the house. I didn’t want to come home to a tree trunk through my roof. So, I stayed. But I needed an escape.

Welcoming a New Writing Practice

Usually, I sit at my desk and listen to Focus @Will. This time, I used headphones to take me away. I plugged into the Ambient channel. It was like magic. I am so grateful for noise-cancelling headphones!

Midst the chaos, I found peace. The music negated any sounds of backhoes and back-up lights. I was in my own world. And it was a world occupied by the characters of my working novel, another in my Jack Hunter series of mysteries. This one is titled, Lying at the Door.

I must confess to feeling a bit naughty. I made myself totally inaccessible. I couldn’t hear my phone ring, nor did I want to. I didn’t hear the chiming of my Ship’s Bell app (which I love, BTW). It was just me, the music, and the world of my mystery. I couldn’t have asked for more.

It seemed like such a simple thing, but it empowered me. I faced a problem and found a solution that restored calm in my life. If I could tackle that annoyance, I could handle anything, even outrageous interruptions to my writing practice. My dad’s words, “There’s no such word as can’t,” sounded in my mind.

Yes, Dad, you were right.

By Chris DR/http://mystery.weborglodge.com

photo credit: Moved 18 feet west via photopin (license)