Why you should Write your Characters with Continuity

Something I always strive for in my books is the integrity of a character’s personality and their decisions. Not necessarily that the characters have integrity, but that the things they do line up with who they are.

Their choices and history, their thoughts and their opinions and the things they do and say.
I want these things to mesh, to make sense.

The way that I write makes it a little easier since the characters drive. I don’t force their hands or push them into neat little boxes. They become fully formed people with something akin to a level of autonomy. (Yes, I know that logically isn’t the case, but that’s what it feels like.)

As such, their decisions are aligned with their personalities, the way they fit into the world (or don’t), and the traumas they’ve dealt with/ran from (because let’s be honest here, all my characters are dealing with at least one traumatic event).

But for people who don’t let their characters take the reins from the get go, or anyone who’s ever suffered writer’s block (so all writers), it may not always be that simple.

Sometimes, you write yourself into a corner. Sometimes the characters make so many bad choices that they get stuck, which really just means that you, the writer, are stuck.

Some people consult their highly detailed character bibles or rehash their outlines at that point.

If I get stuck, if I don’t know what a character would do, I may just listen to the playlist that I’ve crafted for them, composed of every song I’ve heard that made me think of them. Or I may look at them through the lense of my psych degree.

Or maybe I’ll do something repetitive but active enough to get my blood pumping, then let my mind drift. Add the playlist to that, and it really helps.

Why am I telling you this?

Why do I strive to maintain integrity across their personalities and actions?

Because it matters.

Because reading a book packed with characters that act in ways that don’t make sense for their personality or their past is infuriating.

If a character that gets into trouble all the time for speaking out of turn and telling everyone exactly what they think suddenly has trouble expressing themselves the one time it’s convenient for the plot to have a misunderstanding… it’s going to piss off a lot of readers.

A character that’s never drank or even had the desire to do so suddenly gets plastered the one night you need them to not remember anything?

Probably going to piss off readers.

These things need to have a logical progression leading to them. The characters shouldn’t do things that don’t make sense for them to do.

Their actions may be stupid or the wrong choice to make, but if it’s a choice that’s consistent with their previous decision making processes or the evolution that you’ve already showcased, then it works.


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IngramSpark vs. KDP: Which Publishing Company is Best for You?

Last week, we talked about the dangers of vanity presses. This week, I want to discuss a couple of legitimate self-publishing companies.

There are many options, and I’m sure more crop up by the day. But KDP and Ingramspark seem to be the front runners. As they’re the two I have experience with, those are the two I’ll be going over.

That doesn’t mean they’re the only options, and it doesn’t mean they’re who you have to choose. There is no one size fits all option here. Everyone has different needs, different desires for their books. What’s best for one author may not be right for another.

All I can do is put my experiences out there for you so you have a little more information to make your choice.

Formats

Both offer ebook and paperback options.

Ingramspark also offers hardback. They even have a few different cover types: cloth with a dust jacket, case laminate, or case laminate with a dust jacket.

If you’ve never heard of it, case laminate means that an image is printed directly onto the binding of the book. You can have that with or without the dust jacket. If you get the dust jacket, it means that you can have a second piece of art on the case of the book (hidden beneath the dust jacket) or have the same cover so that readers can remove the dust jacket, leave it at home for safe keeping, and still show off that pretty cover art while reading on the go. Either way, this requires an additional file, in a different size, something that may incur extra charges with your cover designer.

Print quality

The books that Ingramspark produces are beautiful. They feel good in your hands, and they look stunning.

This isn’t to say that KDP doesn’t print good books, they do. Just not as good as Ingramspark.

Print speed

I can’t be sure, and of course time of year affects this (the time leading up to the holidays is always a longer print time), but it seems as though KDP is quicker.

Shipping of Author Copies

KDP charges normal Amazon shipping rates to send copies of your book to you. Ingramspark… *sigh* They have a basic, uninsured, no guarantee, “it’s not our responsibility” shipping option that starts at around $5. But if you want any kind of insurance or tracking at all, shipping (even for a single proof copy) is going to cost you about $20 or more.

Wholesale Distribution

Ingram is one of the biggest wholesale distributors in the world. They’re trusted by bookstores across the globe. Publishing with them does not guarantee that your book will end up in stores (you still have to approach them about carrying your book), but it gives you a chance.

KDP has an expanded distribution option, but what’s the point in taking the hit to royalties? They’re an Amazon subsidiary. Bookstores aren’t exactly likely to buy from their competitor.

Direct to Consumer Distribution

KDP (as part of Amazon) obviously has this. And with Prime shipping, readers could get your book quickly.

Ingramspark does not ship directly to consumers or handle sales directly. They print the books and ship them when a retailer like Amazon or Barnes and Noble places an order.

Tech support

KDP wins this, hands down. Ingramspark used to have passable tech support, but since last year (something I’ll cover more under the next category), they’ve taken a nose dive.

When I uploaded A Heart of Salt & Silver last November, I had nothing but problems, and getting anyone to actually address them was like pulling teeth.

KDP, however, is timely with their responses and makes uploading, fixing problems, or adjusting book listings very simple.

Ease of use

KDP wins this one, as well.

Early last year, it would have been a tie. But last summer, while the whole world was shut down and everyone that could work from home was doing so, Ingramspark did a major overhaul to their entire system in an attempt to make it more “user friendly.” But all it accomplished was breaking their system.

There were bugs.

A lot of them.

And since most people (especially tech people) were working from home on limited hours, the whole “fixing them” process dragged on and on. Meanwhile, tech support for authors was minimal and… rough. Long wait times to receive an email (7-10 days), long queue times for the online chat support (hour+), long wait times on hold (hours).

That is, until they did away with the phone option for support, making everyone use the email or chat, making wait times even longer. And the hours for the chat are highly inconsistent, not always lining up with the hours posted online.

I’ve had several issues with them since their “user friendly” update, several of which dragged out for weeks.

I’ll be uploading Allmother Rising to their site soon for that magnificent hardcover option, so we’ll see how much has been fixed.

Sales dashboard

KDP reports sales quickly and in an easy to read bar graph that shows how many copies sold each day.

Ingramspark can take up to 90 days to “gather” sales data, then reports it in a rather lackluster format. On the dashboard, it says how many of each book you’ve sold, but with no dates (which complicates the process of honing ads since you can’t get an accurate picture of their performance).

Even their monthly statements for royalties lack dates, showing only which book and which format sold. And you’ll get multiple statements. One for Apple ebooks, one for Amazon US, one for Amazon UK, one for the print distribution in the US and one for print in the UK. So the data is a bit… all over the place.

Royalties

This one really depends, honestly.

KDP offers a 70% royalty option (less print cost), but if you go with their expanded distribution (why?) you’re only eligible for 35% after the cost to print the book.

Ingramspark does 60% (I think) of the profit. But since bookstores demand a discount (a hefty 55% is preferred, but you can lower it to 30 or 35% depending on the market), you’re getting 60% of what’s left after that massive discount and the print cost.

Start-up Cost

KDP is completely free. There are no up-front costs or fees. They make their money off their portion of the profit when a book sells.

Ingramspark charges $49 for a thing they call “Title Setup,” which is basically the fee they charge to list your book in their massive wholesale distribution channels. It irritates me that it’s a thing. But as discussed above, their distribution channels are very widely used, so they can get away with it.

You have to pay that for each print format, but you can pair your ebook with one of them for no additional charge. If you’re only releasing an ebook, you still have to pay the $49.

You can revise and resubmit your files as many times as you need until you’re happy with them and hit approve. However, if you wish to do any additional revisions after approving all the files, there’s a $25 fee. Per revision.

So if you want to change the cover and have an ebook, paperback, and hardback version of the book, that means $75 to fix all three covers, even if the ebook is linked to one of the print formats.

The good thing is that they frequently release discount codes to waive these fees in their Facebook group, release some for Nanowrimo, and often provide these codes at writing conventions. (20booksto50k on Facebook has a convention coming up with a code associated)

Advertising

Ingramspark has an option to promote your book by listing it in their catalog. I think it’s under $100, but I’m not sure. I’ve never done it, so I have no idea how effective it might be.

KDP is part of Amazon, and we’ve all seen the sponsored product ads when looking for books on Amazon. They have their own marketing thing, linked to- but separate from- KDP. Many authors have found success with Amazon ads. I’m not one of them. I’ve tried a few, but since I’m still learning about ads, I haven’t gotten an Amazon ad to actually be profitable yet.

As with any type of advertising, there are a lot of metrics and a lot of things to experiment with, a lot of demographic research and keyword research to be done. Ads need honed in, and of course, it’s easier to turn a profit advertising a series than it is advertising a standalone.

(You can afford to lose a bit of money advertising book one with a higher cost per click, so long as your series hooks readers and pulls them to book two and three and ten. Standalones… you can’t afford to lose on book one because it’s only one book. This is another problem for me, as I usually write standalones.)

Kindle Unlimited

Obviously, this is a strictly Amazon thing, thus only KDP has it. If you upload your ebook ONLY to KDP and enroll in KDP select or kindle select (I forget the name, it’s a little check box during the upload process), that puts your book into the Kindle Unlimited program. People who pay monthly can read as many KU books as they want, and the authors get paid per page read.

If you don’t have many books in the program or don’t get a lot of reads, it might not add up to anything. But there are several full-time authors in the 20booksto50k group on Facebook who attribute half their earnings to KU.

That doesn’t guarantee that you’ll go full-time or be a best-seller, but the vast majority of ebooks are read on Kindles or in the Kindle app. And KU is a massive market.


Now, as I said above, there is no one size fits all publishing solution. Authors have different skill sets, resources, and needs. So, it’s natural that not every author will choose the same publishing path.

You can use either of these publishers. You can use neither.

If you purchase your own ISBN, you can use both.

I do. My ebooks are slowly being moved to KDP to take advantage of the higher royalty and the Kindle Unlimited program. My paperbacks are split between the two, and of course, I will always have hardbacks. Which is only available through Ingramspark.

The blessing (and curse) of being an indie author is that you can pick and choose whatever methodology you want. Don’t be afraid to play around with this to see which one you like best.

This is a process, not an instant, get it right the first time, always be satisfied with the first thing you try type of dream/hobby/career.

Mistakes happen. Things don’t always work.

But as long as you keep trying, you’ll find what works for you.


Check out my gritty, literary sci-fi and fantasy books here.

Want to fund this blog and my writing efforts? You can support me directly here.

Subscribe for sneak peeks and updates on my upcoming books (and get a free short story).

Cruel and Unusual Punishment: Asking Authors How Many Books They Sold

There’s this tendency for non-writers to ask how many books you sold. And as an author, that question always causes a spike in anxiety.

Why?

Most authors wish more copies of their book sold. Plain and simple.

We’re happy to have sold the copies we’ve sold, of course we are, because that means people are reading our work.

But many of us want to do this full time, and selling 50 or 100 copies of a book does not a full time wage make.

So, as happy as we are to sell any copies, there’s always the weight of not selling enough to be a full time author hanging about our shoulders.

Many non-writers are unaware of what it takes to manage to sell even just a handful of books (or how many $2-$5 royalties it takes to make a living wage). Even without considering the writing, editing, formatting, metadata and publishing (if indie), querying (if traditional), there’s an absolute shit ton of work that goes into selling books.

Months, or years, of social media posts. Newsletters, networking with other authors, blog tours, and Instagram tours.

Then, there’s advertising, which is a hellscape, in and of itself. So many authors (myself included) hate advertising because it feels as if there’s just too much to learn, and if you do it wrong, you’re literally just dumping money down the drain.

It’s intimidating.

And then, of course, there’s the vicious cycle of being afraid to check your sales and your ads (even though it’s necessary to tweak ads to get them to actually work), thus leading to ads running and doing nothing, then finally getting up the nerve to check them (or giving in to the shame/self-blame of knowing we’re not doing what we should, thus finally checking the ads) and seeing that they’ve done nothing, because they haven’t been adjusted. Which just hurts and confirms the self-doubt we all harbor.

Writing is a very vulnerable process.

We’re basically putting ourselves on the market, because a lot of ourselves go into our books, not to mention the time and effort to get them written and ready.

So, to all the non-writers reading this, if a book is selling well, the author will let you know. They’ll be ecstatic.

And even if they aren’t chomping at the bit to tell you, it’ll likely appear on material promoting the book. Because selling a lot of copies is actually a good tool to sell more books.

That’s why you see awards on book covers or the title “USA Today Bestselling Author” or “New York Times Bestselling Author” above author names. It’s a tool to sell more books, to let you know that you can trust that book and that author because so many other people already have.

So, please, if you know an author, don’t stress them with talk of sales. If you’re curious about the fact that they write, ask about the main character of the book they’re working on/just released.

For all the authors out there wishing you’d sold more copies and comparing your numbers to the whole “most books sell less than 250 copies” thing, don’t forget that this average includes all the bestsellers, who skew that number quite a bit.

Look at your audience (excluding follow loop numbers), and 5% of that number is where you should aim for preorders. If you get that (or exceed that) then not only are you doing just fine, you should celebrate.

Like… a lot.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

Check out my gritty, literary sci-fi and fantasy books hereSubscribe for sneak peeks and updates on my upcoming books (and get a free short story). Or if you’d rather pitch in for editing and other writing-related expenses, you can support me directly here.

Why I Don’t Fill My Books with Big Words

If you use a lot of big words, that means you’re smart, right? And clearly, it means your writing is better, right?

Not necessarily.

Some people prefer five dollar words, but personally, I like to keep my words small. Or at least, common.

There are many reasons, and today, I’ll be going over a few of them.

Big words aren’t necessary.

It is completely possible to get a point across without replacing a ton of words with synonyms that add syllables or seeking out obscure words that no one uses. Common language is more than capable of conveying meaning and depth.

Flow and Immersion

If a reader has to stop over and again to Google a word, that means they’re setting the book down and breaking immersion. And who wants that?

Readers want to be sucked in, and writers want their readers to be sucked in.

So what’s the point in using a bunch of obscure words that will break the illusion we’re trying so hard to build?

What are we trying to prove?

I don’t need to prove my intelligence, and you don’t either. Intelligence stands on its own. People are intuitive and can usually tell whether someone is smart. Throwing in a bunch of massive synonyms doesn’t make you look smarter.

Synonyms aren’t always the same.

Sometimes, a big fancy synonym means something slightly different than the word you actually mean. Sometimes, a synonym has a secondary meaning that is completely different than what you actually mean.

Changing that one word could change the whole sentence.

Why not just say what you mean?

Gatekeeping

I don’t want readers to come away from my book wondering why other people liked it. I don’t want readers to think my work is too convoluted or self-important for anyone with less than a master’s degree to read.

I could throw in a bunch of psychological jargon, but what good would that do? It wouldn’t improve my fantasy novel.

I want people to understand the meaning of my books without getting a bachelor’s degree.

And shouldn’t you?

I’m not fancy.

As a whole, I am not a fancy person. I barely bother with makeup (eye liner, and that’s about it). I wear jeans and a t-shirt most days, especially on days that I work. On days off, it’s because it’s comfortable. On work days, it’s because I don’t want to have any nice clothes torn up at the factory.

Basically, I’m not fancy. So why paint some false picture of myself with a bunch of fancy words in my books?

I write emotion first, themes second.

Emotions are best described in bodily terms, in my opinion. Clenched fists or eyes sparkling with a smile. Hammering hearts or gritted teeth.

Getting too cerebral with the description can actually take away from the scene.

And since I write emotion first and themes second, getting that emotion across in a way that makes the reader feel it is important to me.

So, unless it’s the best word for the situation or the character, I leave the big words out of it.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

Check out my emotional, gritty books hereSubscribe for sneak peeks and updates on my upcoming books (and get a free short story). Or if you’d rather pitch in for editing and other writing-related expenses, you can support me directly here.

Five Tropes that I Hate: A Book Rant

It’s time for a rant, and man, have I been building up to this. This trope series has been rather positive so far, but now, it’s time to spill some tea. Today, I’m talking about my least favorite tropes in books.

First and foremost, we’ll start with on that is unbelievably popular, much to my confusion.

Harems and Reverse Harems

Just… why?

These always feel unnecessary to me, not to mention ridiculously unlikely. Unless you’re dealing with an actual celebrity, the odds of seven people being into the same person are just… too high for me to really accept within a book.

Not to mention… juggling that many people just seems exhausting.

I’m good on all that.

The Bookworm (Or the writer)

I know, another controversial one. Reading about a bookworm or a librarian who goes on adventures seems like something that should appeal to me.

But for some reason, it’s actually a pet peeve of mine.

Maybe it’s because I want to read about characters that I don’t have quite so much in common with, and since books are kinda my lifeline, a character with the same lifeline really isn’t breaking the mold for me.

Plus, from a writing standpoint, it just feels too easy for a writer to give the character the exact same passion that the writer possesses means that writing the hobbies of their characters requires absolutely zero effort or research.

And it means that while reading, I’m less likely to pick up some ridiculous little bit of know-how or some little quirk that’s unique to that character’s hobby. Because I already know how to turn pages in books and I clearly know what it feels like to sit at a computer typing for hours on end.

The Ditz

I don’t typically like ditzy people in real life, so it isn’t terribly surprising that I don’t like them in books.

I want strong, capable characters who can think about what they’re doing and the consequences it’ll have. I want characters I can relate to, and that means they should probably use their brain, sometimes using it so much that they actually hold themselves back.

I don’t want to groan in frustration the whole time that I’m reading because the character is walking into asinine situations and endangering their life and the lives of others simply because they have too much hot air in their head to think anything through.

The Meat-Head

I know that these people exist in real life, but much like the ditz, I avoid them.

Muscles are cool, don’t get me wrong. But they’re not the most important thing in the world. That view seems rather short-sighted. Though considering the average intellect of the meat-head characters, that short-sightedness isn’t altogether surprising.

Again, I want intelligent characters. I want them to think about their situation and their choices. Brute force works in some situations, but not all.

And these characters fall short when any amount of brains are necessary.

Mr./Ms. Indecisive

What exactly is the point of a character that never makes a choice? If they hang back and let the world dictate their entire life, why are they playing a role in the plot?

I like character-driven stories, and these characters refuse to decide anything, thus ruining their ability to drive the plot forward.

What’s your least favorite trope? Let me know in the comments below. Really let loose. I certainly did.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

Check out my books here and fill your heart with all the aforementioned tropes. Subscribe for sneak peeks and updates on my upcoming books. Or if you’d rather pitch in for editing and other writing-related expenses, you can support me directly here.

My Three Favorite Tropes and How to Write Them

Of all the tropes out there, I love strong female leads (with trauma), underdogs, and slow burn romance above all others. I write one or all of them into nearly every one of my own books and love when I find them in books that I’m reading.

And in the interest of seeing them done well, today I’m offering up tips on how to write them well.

Shall we start with one that’s become increasingly popular of late?

Strong female leads who have a history of trauma

Plot-relevant trauma
If your MC has a tragic backstory, it needs to make sense. Trauma for the sake of trauma (or for the sake of clamoring to be relatable) probably won’t come across well. If her struggles are relevant to the plot or a sub-plot, the story will feel more natural.

There are many kinds of strength
Remember that bold, reckless, and in your face is not the only kind of strength. As human beings, women have the ability to possess many different types of strength. They don’t have to be rude or bitchy. There are much quieter types of strength.
Yes, fire is hot and fierce, but stone is sturdy and unyielding. Yes, resolve and a go-getter attitude is strong, but so is the ability to be compassionate under duress.

Underdogs

Give us a reason to root for them
Don’t just throw a two-dimensional character up against insurmountable odds. Give them emotion. Give them heart. Give them something compelling to fight for so that we want to see them succeed.

Give them at least some chance
The key to a good underdog is them coming out on top, besting their foe. But if the means by which they accomplish this are completely unbelievable, the story will fall apart. Give them difficult odds, not 100% impossible.

Slow Burn

Chemistry
Build these characters into people who would actually fall for each other. Give them inside jokes. Fill their time together with fleeting glances and the excitement of wondering if the other person meant to brush their arm. Give them butterflies and heat.

A compelling reason for them not to tear into each other immediately
Give them all that chemistry… and then give them a compelling reason for staying apart at first. Maybe one of them is healing from betrayal and isn’t sure they can trust what they *think* the other person is feeling. Maybe one of them has a history of being a player, and the other doubts them. Maybe one is about to move across the country, and they weren’t looking for anything serious.
Just make sure it’s a good reason, that way it frustrates them and gets your reader really hoping they can overcome it.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

Check out my books here and fill your heart with all the aforementioned tropes. Subscribe for sneak peeks and updates on my upcoming books. Or if you’d rather pitch in for editing and other writing-related expenses, you can support me directly here.

My Three Favorite Tropes (and why I love them)

It’s time to talk tropes. I have a whole series lined up for you, but let’s start simple.

What are tropes? They’re elements that crop up in a lot of books, be they themes, types of characters, or types of plots. Strong female lead, hero’s journey, vigilante, insta-love, harem, coming of age, orphan discovers they have magic, etc.

They can crop up in just about any genre or subgenre. They can be done well, or they can be ludicrously awful. Where they fall on that spectrum is a bit subjective. Some people hate certain tropes but adore others. Some authors staunchly avoid writing them.

But with so many out there, the odds of using one, even accidentally, are pretty high.

I want to kick off this series on tropes on a positive note. So, we’re starting with my favorites.

Underdogs

I fucking love a good underdog story.

Seeing someone who’s deep in it, someone who has nothing going for them, who’s been through hell, rise up and make it out alive?

I’m in.

What’s better for a little hope?

Strong female lead
(Likely with a traumatic past)

I love seeing a strong woman in books. And no, that doesn’t mean the bold, brash heroines that just do what they want regardless of anyone else’s feelings. There are a lot of types of strength.

I like the women who’ve been pushed, women who broke and rebuilt themselves, and in the process, learned that they can do what they need to do because they’ve withstood worse.

Yeah, there might be some who hate the levels of trauma that some strong female leads face in books, but I’ll be honest, it makes them more relatable for me. (And probably for a lot of other people, because life can be relentless.)

Slow Burn

I love a good slow burn romance subplot. The tension, the build-up, the back and forth… It just sucks me into the book.

I like seeing the characters get to know each other. It makes it more realistic and believable.

What are your favorite tropes? I’d love to hear about them.

Come back next week for tips to write these tropes well, and then the week after, I’ll be listing my least favorite tropes.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

Subscribe to stay up to date on all my upcoming books. Check out my published books (featuring the tropes above) here. Or if you’d like to help fund some editing and marketing efforts, you can support me directly here.

3 Simple Ways to Cut Words from your Manuscript

No one wants their book to be a slow read, and one of the easiest ways to pick up the pace is to to cut unnecessary words.

But how do you know which ones are unnecessary?

After all, you put them there, so obviously they should be there, right?

Not always.

Today, I’m sharing some tips to help you de-clutter your manuscript and produce a gripping, fast-paced book.

1. There was/were or There is/are

If you run a search in word and find a lot of instances of these phrases in your novel, this is a huge way to cut extra words and improve flow.

Ex.: If it says:
There was a wooden table in the corner. There was a glowing book on top of it. (17 words spread out over 2 sentences)

Instead, try something like:
A glowing book rested upon the wooden table in the corner. (11 words, 1 sentence)

See? That reads so much smoother and faster. All because we cut 6 words and combined choppy sentences into a single sentence.

It works for showing emotion, too.

Ex. If it says:
There are tears shining in his eyes.

Try saying:
Tears shine in his eyes.

From 7 words to 5, with better flow.

2. Honestly, a lot of instances of “is/are/were/was” can be cut.

Rearranging the sentences you find them in can really be helpful.

Ex.: “A sick feeling is creeping into my stomach.” This can be shortened to, “A sick feeling creeps into my stomach.”

Sure, that only cuts a single words, but the sentence also becomes very active. And if you have a lot of sentences with is/are/was/were, this can save you a lot of words and really improve the readability of your book.

3. Right vs Left

I know it feels important to mention which hand is doing what or which foot someone puts forward first, but it really isn’t. In most instances, which side of the room something is on also doesn’t affect the plot, and thus, these words can (for the most part) be removed.

Just be careful. Don’t blindly delete them entirely from your Word document, because they have other uses.

And there you have it. Three easy tips to cut unnecessary words from your book.

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

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A Busy Writer’s Guide to Time Management

For the vast majority of writers, day jobs are an unfortunate necessity. Many struggle to find the time to write. I’ve done a post about the necessity of actually making time for our books before (read it here), so today, I’m coming at you with tips to help you fit writing in.

1. Make it a priority.

If you take your writing seriously, those closest to you are more likely to respect your writing time. Of course, that doesn’t always mean boundless support. Sometimes, it just means they don’t put your writing down as a silly hobby.

But if you treat your writing as if it doesn’t matter, so will they.

2. Pay attention to your day-to-day schedule.

By that, I mean that you should look at what your days usually consist of and see where you have a few minutes to yourself. That’s your window.

The middle of the night works best for me. I typically write somewhere between midnight and five in the morning. That isn’t ideal for most, but with the schedule my day job keeps (I work in a factory, so my hours aren’t exactly typical), that’s what works best for me.

3. Remember that even just a few minutes at a time can make a difference.

You don’t have to carve out hours and hours of time. For most, that isn’t always a possibility. Even just five or ten minutes here, twenty minutes there will add up to a whole book as long as you stick with it.

4. Carry a notebook or get a notepad app on your phone.

You never know when inspiration might strike, or when you might find yourself with unexpected down time (waiting room at the dentist, getting an oil change, etc.). That’s a perfect opportunity to write.

5. Cut back on TV, gaming, or scrolling through social media.

Everyone’s least favorite tip, I know. But it helps. Instead of binging a new show for hours on end or getting sucked into TikTok, write. Plain and simple.

If you really want a show on, turn the TV on to a show you’ve seen before but still love. That way, you know you won’t miss anything, but still have background noise and something to clear your head if you get stuck with your writing.

6. When you sit down to write, actually write.

Don’t sit at your computer playing on Facebook or checking emails. Set aside time for that when you aren’t supposed to be writing. If you just can’t resist, put your computer in airplane mode and set your phone in a different room.

Now, shouldn’t you be working on your book?

Keep reading. Keep writing.

Later.

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12 Hard Truths for New Writers

We all have our own idea of what a writer’s life is like. Whether it’s teapots and typewriters or coffee shops and laptops, rich and glamorous or starving artist, there are these images we have built up in our mind.

Regardless of what your preconceived notion of a writer’s life may be, there are a few universal truths.

So, if you want the wool pulled off your eyes, if you want to know the reality (rather than the expectation), here are a few hard truths that are better swallowed sooner rather than later.

Writing the book is often the easy part.
When you’re writing, you don’t have to worry about getting it perfect, and that alleviates some of the pressure that comes with later stages. (Yep, there are a lot of later stages.)

Writing isn’t always easy, though.
It isn’t all rainbows and magical typing sprees where your fingers magically compose thousands and thousands of words in a single session. It takes work, time, and dedication to go the distance.

No one is going to write your book for you.
At least, not unless you pay them. Ghost writers exist, but they do charge for their time and creative abilities. (As they should.)

Editing can be absolutely brutal.
You may end up scrapping scenes, chapters, or even entire characters. Getting feedback can be rather painful. But it’s necessary.

Editing can be immensely rewarding.
Figuring out the exact detail that fixes a plot hole can be a major high. Getting feedback can be unbelievably encouraging.

Traditional vs. indie is a big decision that should not be taken lightly.
Every author has different abilities and goals. As such, every author needs to consider their own strengths and weaknesses honestly when choosing their publishing route.
Just remember, you should never pay a publisher hundreds or thousands of dollars to publish your book. That’s a vanity press, and it’s a legal scam profiting off of authors who don’t know better. I made that mistake six and a half years ago. You don’t want to do it.

There are tons of resources to help you choose the right path for you.
From AuthorTube to the writing community on Instagram to writing groups on Facebook, there are millions of writers out there debating the same thing or actively pursuing one or the other.
Ask around. Most authors are more than willing to share what they know on the subject. Just keep in mind that your skill set is likely different from theirs. You should consider their experience in light of your skills and goals.

There will always be someone who doesn’t like your work.
Every person out there is different. Writing is in fact an artform, and thus, it’s subjective. The odds of everyone absolutely loving your book are… well… low. Really low. That doesn’t mean your book is bad or that you shouldn’t write it because…

There will always be someone who loves your work.
Since writing is such a subjective thing, there is an audience for every book. You just have to find it.

Marketing can be an absolute beast.
Between figuring out the best social media platform for you and your book and putting together compelling ads that convince people that they want to give you money and take a risk on your book by investing hours of their life into something they may or may not like, marketing is a beast that can be hard to tame.

There are a lot of classes tailored specifically for helping writers learn how to market their books.
Skillshare, Inkers Con, and a million writing coaches are out there waiting to show you the ropes. Just be sure to shop around to see what classes work for you and your budget.

There is no feeling quite like holding your book in your hands.
Holding a world that you’ve created, flipping through page after page that you’ve filled with characters and places that didn’t exist before is an absolute dream. It’s exhilarating.
And it makes all the difficult parts of being a writer 100% worth it.

So keep going.

Keep writing. Keep reading.

Later.

Subscribe to stay up to date on all my writing projects. Check out my published books. Or if you’d rather support me directly, you can buy me a coffee.