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The Productive Writer


Advantages to Traditional Publishing

bookshelf

When I first thought about writing a book, I thought the same way that so many other would be authors thought. I imagined getting huge advance and being given the royal treatment when I went into New York City to meet my publisher. I imagined a limousine picking me up at the airport and driving me to an amazing suite where I would stay a week while I hit the circuit of going from television station to radio stations, to other interviews, having my own makeup artist and hairstylist, going shopping in the Fashion District and even seeing a Broadway show while I was there.
After my visit, the publishing company would distribute my book and put it in the front of the store in every major book seller in the country. I would be given a number of copies of my books that I could share with my family and friends, and I would “live the dream”.
Nice dream. Reality was far different. I learned later that advances were seldom given to new authors (although I have met one).

Disadvantages to Traditional Publishing

The first thing that I learned was that when an author signs a contract with a traditional publisher, the contract always benefits the publisher at the expense of the author. The contracts are written in legalese so if the author doesn’t have a lawyer to look over the contract, the author might have to do things that they didn’t realize was not to their benefit. I heard of one author’s contract where she had to pay the expenses for attending book signings in distant cities. She was paid a set amount per book, but the number of books that she was able to sell was not enough to pay for her expenses. I had another friend had to buy copies of his own books so that he could sell them at live events. He made more money selling at the live events than anything that the publisher did for him. In addition, the publisher wouldn’t allow him to sell his books in digital format at all. Both had sold their rights to their publisher so they had no recourse. I have heard of other authors who had sold all their rights to publishers. The author has to make changes in manuscripts, might have to use a title and cover design of the publisher’s choosing. The author might not have any say at all.
I also learned was that the traditional publishing process takes about two years before you ever get your book on the shelves. Afterwards, if you were one of the lucky few who were able to get an advance, you won’t get paid until you sell enough books to pay your advance.

Self-Publishing

While I was learning all about traditional publishing, I started looking into self-publishing. The differences were enlightening. There was no promise of any advance. Before I was ever able to sell a book, I would have to put out money for editing, formatting, and cover design.
Of course, there are other problems with self-publishing. There’s a huge learning curve and expense to self-publishing that doesn’t exist with traditional publishing. I would have to take charge of marketing and book distribution. Getting into major bookstores would be difficult and advertising would be on my own dime as well.
I found however that self-publishing has its advantages. As a self-publisher, I own my own work. I have complete control over the content of my book, editing, formatting and cover design. I have complete control over the creative process. I can decide how I market my books, both on-line and off-line. I can handle my own distribution by working directly with independent book stores. I can determine whether I want to go on a book signing or attend a specific event. I can decide what public relations I want to be a part.
As a self-publisher, I can set my prices and can earn 70 percent or more of the cost of the books that I wrote and designed. As a self-publisher, I am a creative and an entrepreneur.


I would like to introduce you to my first Guest Blogger, Pam Young. I hope you enjoy this post as well as I have. Take it away Pam. . .

My indie project is “weird” because I broke a six hundred page memoir about an awakening experience into three separate stories and published it as a trilogy in just over a year. In blogging about it, I publicly explored my spiritual journey.

 

Writing and publishing the first three Burnout to Bliss books in such a limited time was exhausting. I also learned more about indie publishing and shared it on my blog, Skating Thru 2012. But the most important thing I learned was not about publishing. It was about why I had written the series.

 

Indie authors understand the “why” of writing books is as either “write to market” (to make money) or as a “passion piece” (something you want or need to do). Non-fiction authors are also advised to determine their “why” before they even start writing because it shapes your story.

 

In the beginning, mine was “passion piece” because I viewed it as a legacy for my nieces, who were now the same age I was when I had that remarkable two-year experience almost thirty years ago. It began with pervasive discomfort in my once-loved job as a professor and disappointment with my inability to find someone who could “see me.” My nieces could be having a similar experience!

 

But the “why” changed while writing the books.

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When I completed BURNOUT – How a Desert Lizard Restored My Faith, I believed it worth sharing because it highlighted the madness (psychotic episodes) of professional burnout. I knew I wasn’t the only one who had felt such despair.  And sharing personal experience, at least according to National Association of Memoir Writers, is why people write memoirs — to shed light on the way. I also hoped to instill respect for other spiritual paths because my return to faith happened in a strange way while camping with Mexican Indian Shamans.

 

 

 Small (4)

Cycling in the City – How I Got My Confidence Back told a different story. As the first break-away from the job, it relates discovering the depth of damage from burnout and what I did to get better. I know I’m not alone in the experience of realizing that life no longer works. I saw sharing my story as a helping others. Part Two of that book is a model I created for making severe changes, like breaking addictions. But that was not the only reason for writing it. Having just learned about Amazon “Shorts,” I wanted to experience writing one. This story seemed perfect for the exercise.

 

 

Small (5)

My understanding of “why am I writing this?” changed as I wrote 2 years, 1 Paycheck, 0 Plans – a story of healing because I realized the healing was continuing as I wrote. And it was not about forgiving the jealous friend who launched my journey. That was completed in my journals (1985-89). Instead, it was about Mom and the underlying reason for my being intensely depressed so long ago. I was making revisions when all the hidden, unexpressed rage suddenly had a voice. I felt as if Mom was there with me, encouraging me in spirit to do whatever it took.

 

 

My “why” for writing the series was no longer just a “passion piece” for my nieces. It wasn’t even about helping others. Instead, I now believe it was about healing old wounds so I could let go, surrender, and move on with my life. Some part of me must have known this would happen because in Book 1 the Preface identified the title for the next book as Surrender.

 

Finally understanding the true “why” for writing that trilogy, I am convinced that I was guided to do this project, not for others, but for myself — to complete the healing of events and my weird relationship with Mom that happened so very long ago.

 

[And it’s not finished yet. Book 4, BLISS, will be a book of lessons learned for having more joy in life. If you want to be among the first to know when it’s published, please visit Burnout to Bliss and click the red link below.]

____

Pam Young has been many things: inner city English teacher, professor, Holistic Health Practitioner, yoga and DansKinetics instructor, psychotherapist, masseuse, and self-empowerment workshop leader. Now she writes with the same intentions while living in the mountains with critters.

 

You can find her books on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and other venues.

 

You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, or her blog:

 

Facebook       https://www.facebook.com/drpamyoung


 

success sign post

Up to this point, we have determined our goals, and decluttered time and space, as well as recognizing the need to decrease stress through mindfulness. All this is important, but we also must realize that our time and resources are finite. We could live from moment to moment, spending our time and resources on whatever we fancy in the moment only to discover at the end of our lives that we accomplished little or nothing, or we can create a strategic way to utilize time and resources.

 

By having our goals right in front of us, we can look at what it is that we want to accomplish and determine what it is that we will need to do to make this year the year that we make amazing strides towards accomplishing those goals.

 

Write Down Every Task

 

In order to achieve our goals, it helps to write down all the tasks that we want to accomplish in a day and then go through the list and determine what we can do later, we can delegate, or that we can eliminate from our list all together. Discover what that one thing, and your work will be half done.

 

Decide What’s Most Important to Do Today

 

Once we decide what still needs to be done, we determine what one thing would make the biggest difference in accomplishing our biggest scariest goals. For instance, for me, today, I decided that the best use of my time that would get me closer to my biggest goal (starting my own publishing company) was to draft several of my blog posts for several months. I know what I want to put in these posts, so by getting the drafts out of my head and into a document, I have more space in my head to work on other projects. I wouldn’t finish any of them today, but I would make a major push toward getting them ready for publication. Therefore, that one big thing I want done today is to have the first drafts of thirteen different blog posts written.

Other things that I want to do such as starting to create YouTube videos or finish organizing my files, I am putting off until I get several weeks of post drafts written.

 

Make Prioritizing Part of Your Daily Routine

 

I know I cannot finish all thirteen posts that I have ideas for today, so I know that I will have to do put it off until another day. Tomorrow, I will do the same thing. I will find what it is that I need to work on and try to finish. If I don’t finish the blog posts today, I will continue working on that project If finish it, I will move onto the next project I need to do and continue from there.

 

Begin Prioritizing Today

 

What is the one thing that you can do today to push you toward your big goals? Do you need to outline a plan to complete your goals? Do you need to do research? Do you need to determine the projects needed to reach your big goals? Perhaps you just need to break down a specific project into tasks and begin working on it today. Make this year your best year yet by doing the most important things first.

Living Today, The Power of Now

I share other tips like these in my book, Living Today, the Power of Now. Pick up your copy today.

Available on Kindle (free on Kindle Unlimited)

Link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B072WFW3HZ

Also available in print:

Link: http://www.lulu.com/shop/cygnet-brown/living-today-the-power-of-now/paperback/product-23261831.html

Living Today cover 2

Living Today, The Power of Now Get Your Copy Today!

 

 


December 23, 2017

My Christmas Gift to You

I did this last year and I decided to make this an annual event. Here it is, Cygnet’s Annual Christmas gifts to all of my readers. Pick up your copy now and book you choose OR You can pick ALL of the titles below for free from midnight December 22, 2017 until midnight Christmas Day 2017! You don’t have to wait until Christmas Day to open your gifts either. Start reading today! Enjoy!

 

Book IV of the Locket Saga: Sailing Under the Black Flag

Jonathan Mayford wants to join the Patriot Cause because he wants to prove that he’s a man. Despite his parents’ misgivings, they allow him to join his father’s privateer, the American Elizabeth.

Jonathan befriends an old sea cook, Finis Henderson who teaches him about the sea. Later, he also becomes friend with a young African American boy.

Jonathan’s young friend, James Forten, though born a freedman, does not realize what freedom means until he experiences it as a privateer. He, also, did not realize the treachery of slavery until sees individuals of his own color in chains on the auction block.

The relationship that takes Jonathan from boyhood to manhood began when he met the red-headed Lowri Howell, a daughter of Welsh nobleman. Jonathan dreams of the day that he will become worthy of her affections. He hoped that in winning this war, he might have a chance at capturing her heart, his greatest prize of all.

Both Jonathan and James discover fighting in the war is not what makes a man. They learn that becoming a real man requires integrity and character.

https://www.amazon.com/Sailing-Under-Black-Flag-Locket-ebook/dp/B01IIXO6CI/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1513088769&sr=1-1&keywords=Book+IV+of+The+Locket+Saga%3A+Sailing+Under+the+Black+Flag

 

Book V of the Locket Saga: In the Shadow of the Mill Pond

B) In the Shadow of the Millpond

Fifteen-year-old Lacey Mayford has been infatuated with Matthew since she was a little girl. Matthew, a half-breed Indian, doesn’t see her as anything more than a little girl cousin. How can she convince him that she is growing into a beautiful young woman he should consider?

In the frontier town near the turn of the century, Matthew Thorton is blamed for Luther Hannibal’s murder after an altercation with Luther over stolen furs. Lacey defends Matthew with the help of a teacher, Felix Grackle. They look into other suspects who could have killed Luther Hannibal. Matthew’s father Luke and his best friend Jacque Pierre are looking for the person responsible for stealing the furs. They believe the thief might have something to do with Luther Hannibal’s murder.

Will Lacey be able to clear Matthew’s name? Will Luke and Jacque Pierre find the man who stole the furs? Will the vigilantes stop the Whiskey Rebellion without bloodshed? The truth is far more sinister than anyone could imagine.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B06XKFCPQK/ref=series_dp_rw_ca_5

 

Book VI of the Locket Saga: The Anvil

Robert McCray dreamed of the day when he would marry Lillian O’Hare. He went north with his father, Uncle Luke, and Cousin Isaac to Northwestern Pennsylvania. He built a shed behind the cabin to set up his blacksmith shop. The only tool that he needed was the anvil. Little did he know that in a matter of hours, all his dreams would come crashing down.

Judith Campbell was the eldest of Duncan Campbell’s three daughters. After her father lost his farm in a rigged land grab, he decided to take up the US government’s offer to Revolutionary War veterans to settle on lands at no cost in unsettled parts of the country. Duncan and his family become neighbors to the Thorton and McCray families. There the three families bind together to survive the hardships of the wilderness. What does the future hold for Robert and Judith?

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B076RTBP45/ref=series_dp_rw_ca_6

 

Living Today, The Power of Now

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What if you only had one day to live? How would you live your life differently?

You really do only have one day at any given time, and that day is today. You cannot live in the past. You cannot live in the future. Today is your day to shine.

Today, and only today, you have the power of now, and it is strongest when you know that you are on the right path.

From Living Today, the Power of Now, discover:

  • Awareness and Focus on the present moment.
  • Tips for obtaining fire starting focus
  • Change bad habits to good habits
  • Creating a Time and a Place to dream
  • What “Don’t Worry” really Means
  • Learn How to Build on Past Experiences
  • Overcome Fear and Find Faith
  • Letting Go of the Past
  • The value of forgiving yourself and others
  • And much more

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B072WFW3HZ

 

Write a Book and Ignite Your Business

Are you a business owner looking for surefire way to get the edge over your competition? Thanks to social media, the advertising world is changing. People can connect with you and your products like never before. They want to see the face behind the product. In addition, people want to know what is in it for them. They don’t care about the features so much as they want to know how what you do will benefit them. Writing a Book related to your business opens doors like nothing else can.

 

Writing a book can help you:

  • Offer more than just your business card to your high end clients
  • Demonstrate to your clients that you are an expert in your industry
  • Go places you would never have dreamed of going
  • Provide numerous chances for free publicity and even publicity that pays you!
  • Find the ultimate marketing tool!

No longer is it necessary to send your book out to a traditional publisher to publish your books. You don’t have to depend on vanity presses either. Today, it is possible to publish using a system called self-publishing where you do the work of writing your book then prepare it for publication, have copies printed using print on demand technology, then market the book yourself. This book not only tells you why you should write a book to ignite your business, but it gives you a step-by-step guide that shows you how to go through the self-publishing process from an author who has been through the process numerous times.

https://www.amazon.com/Write-Book-Ignite-Your-Business-ebook/dp/B076NWLTSP/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1513089312&sr=1-1&keywords=Write+a++Book+and+Ignite+Your+Business

 

What Would I Like in Return?

What do I want in return? I am not asking for anything. I am not asking for your email address or anything like that. As I said, this was a Christmas gift to you.

Share this post If you would like to give me something in return, you don’t have to, but I would love if you would Share this post on your Twitter or Facebook page.

A Review on Kindle Also, after you have finished reading, I would really appreciate  if you took the time to  return to the page where you picked up the book(s) and offer me a good review of the books you read and enjoyed. That would be better than any other Christmas gift or card you could give me.

I wish you a Very Merry Christmas

And a Happy, Happy New Year!


Never Let a Blank Page intimidate you again!

I was listening to a commercial for an interview the other day, and a woman said that a her writer friend “never had a blank page”, in other words he always had something to write about. It is another way of saying that he never has writer’s block.

Nora Roberts once said that a poorly written page is better than a blank page. I totally agree.

I Never Sit In Front of a Blank Page

I am like that myself. I never have writer’s block. I always have plenty to write. Sometimes I have too much. For instance, I just finished a month long project of writing a first draft of a fiction book in   30 days. This program is called NaNoWriMo.

I finished this project on November 29 and spent the next two days distancing myself from that project and didn’t write anything for those two days. The reason I took the break is not because I didn’t have anything to write. Last year during December, Every day I started a new book. So I have numerous projects I could work on. The fact is, I simply needed a break from writing. I took the break because I needed to evaluate where I should go next. Sometimes just helps to stop and think things through. That’s what I did the past two days.

I currently have three NaNoWriMo projects that are still unpublished. One of them is Sunrise on the Mississippi which I just finished its first draft. I have one book ahead of it in The Locket Saga series called Two Rivers which I wrote last year for NaNoWriMo. I plan to publish that this year. Another book that is in the series which is actually much later is On Mercy’s Wings which is set during the American Civil War.

One of the things that I was thinking about was projects that I have in the works. For a couple of years now I have been working on two nonfiction books that address the phenomenon of “writer’s block”. One addresses tips to nonfiction writers writing and the other addresses tips to fiction writers. I may be working on those books and work to get them published this year. Neither book will take long to complete. I just had projects that I thought that I needed to finish first.

However, what I thought about most during the past few days is something that has been bothering me for a while and that is, I have not had the sales on my previous books that I know I could have if I spent less time writing and more time marketing what I have already written.

A Tip for Getting Past the Blank Page

If you have trouble writing anything, the first thing I would suggest is to get away from the blank document and think about what it is that you want to say. Take about fifteen minutes to do this. Write down what comes to mind.

If nothing still comes, sit down in front of the document and whine on paper about how you are unable to write anything and then start writing down all the reasons (or excuses) that you can think of for not being able to write anything. Spill everything that comes to mind out on paper even if it has nothing to do with your current project. Write down things that you need to research before you write. Write down people that you need to see before you can write. Write down ideas about your project. Write down all of those things that you have to do that do not relate to your writing project but are on your mind. Do this for fifteen minutes.

This is called a brain dump. Now look over what you have written and delete your rants. Put those things that don’t relate to this project on a list and promise that you tell yourself that you will get to after you have spent time on this project.

Now you no longer have a blank page. You may not have much, but you will have something left that relates to this project. Organize the information related to your writing project into a logical sequence and start filling in some of the material that you know. Include questions that you need to research. You may find that you are no longer blocked.


Question: How do you eat an elephant?
Answer: One Bite at a time.

How was your Thanksgiving? Mine was great! My husband was home. My son came to visit from Washington, DC and the food was great! However, I find that I have not been doing as much as I had in the past. Lately I be getting fewer and fewer projects finished. I am sure that a lot of it has to do with my second job as an elementary after school tutor. Then came NaNoWriMo, my husband became sick in the hospital, and then my son and his girlfriend came for Thanksgiving. Now Thanksgiving is in the past and I can start thinking about getting back on track.

Using Fifteen Minute Sprints

I haven’t been doing this all the time, but when I know that I have a lot of work to do on various projects from housework to writing to editing to marketing, I like to prioritize the projects that I have to finish. Next I set a timer for fifteen minutes, focus and get to work at whatever I have to do that day.

 

Take Saturday morning a couple of weeks ago, for instance. I had a number of projects to do. I had to clean house for the weekend. I had this blog post to write, and since it is NaNoWriMo month, I had to make a specific word count for Saturday and every day this month.

 

I started first thing in the morning by sorting out a load of clothes and set the alarm for fifteen minutes. During that fifteen minutes I took dishes out of the dish washer, cleaned off counters, took a few things upstairs, cleaned the coffee maker, cleaned the microwave, and took out the trash. I made a serious dent in getting the kitchen clean. During the next fifteen minutes I wrote long hand a scene for my book. The fifteen minute task completions went on for the rest of the day. I got a lot done, including taking my daughter to and from a school activity.

Rejecting What Doesn’t Work

I have tried other techniques that didn’t work for me.  It might work for others, but they just weren’t a right fit. For instance, I have tried the Pomodoro technique where I would work for twenty-five minutes on a project and then taking five minutes off to get away from it for a few minutes. As I said, I tried, but I really never was able to get into it. since I’ve tried it and it didn’t work, I am letting go of the idea of using it and going back to what I know does work.

I have decided that  I will go back to the fifteen minute sessions because they are short, and I am amazed at how much I can get done in that length of time.

 

Eating the Elephants

Goals are like elephants that have to be eaten one bite at a time. I have found that goals have to be broken down into projects that have to be broken down into smaller and smaller segments until I have bite size tasks that can be done in fifteen minutes. I have learned that if I have something on my to-do list, it needs to be broken down into something that I can do in fifteen minutes.

I start out the first fifteen minutes deciding how I am going to break the goal down into projects and use subsequent fifteen minute sessions to break the projects down to tasks that can be done in fifteen minutes.

Making Plans for the Future

November is coming to an end this week, and I am almost finished with NaNoWriMo. (Just 3 more days left!) Next month is coming up fast and my goal for December is to make plans for next year especially in the area of book marketing.


The other day I was talking on twitter with a novice novelist about how I am able to write and publish eleven books. (Two of those books coming out the twenty-third of this month.) Since I am working on yet another book this month for NaNoWriMo, writing fast is my own focus this month, so I gave her a couple of tips. I decided that this would also be a good post for this blog. I therefore expanded those couple of tips to a full ten tips for writing a novel quickly.

 

  1. The first tip that I would give a novelist who is new to the genre is to never call him or herself an “aspiring novelist”. Begin to think of yourself as being rather than aspiring. You either write novels or you don’t. You’re either a writer or you’re not. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never made a dime from writing. You write, therefore you are a writer. You write novels, therefore you are a novelist.

 

You may wonder how being called a novelist helps a novice write faster. It all comes down to “it’s not what people call you, but what you answer to”. I believe that fast writing can only be done by those who believe that they can. They don’t make excuses not to write fast. They do it.

 

  1. If you don’t know how, learn to touch type. I was amazed at how much faster I could get information down since I have been able to type directly from my thought process. Until then, you could use google docs’ dictation feature.

 

  1. Start writing promotional material as soon as you have our idea for your book. Begin writing the book description or blurb. Write your short, medium and long length author bios, determine words that have high ranking search engine optimization. Begin researching and pinning down a title for your book. Create a full synopsis for your book.

 

  1. Research local events where you can promote your books. Connect with other authors online and offline both in your genre and out. Start a blog. Review books by other authors within your genre. Interview those same authors.

 

  1. Let your muse play most of the writing session, especially when writing your first draft. If you have to edit, limit your editing time to five minutes immediately after fifteen minutes of writing.

 

  1. Get to know your characters, the better you know your characters, the better the flow of the story. Your characters will dictate the story to you instead of the other way around.

 

  1. Create a main plot outline and then outlines for subplots and put them in proper order. Taking time to create a map of your story through an outline will help keep you from going down too many rabbit holes that steal writing time.

 

  1. Schedule time to write every day. Even fifteen minutes a day adds up over time. Use Parkinson’s second law which says that you will fill up time with the activity that you give to it. In other words, focus your time by limiting your first draft writing to sprints of fifteen minutes or if you’re just starting out, try five minute sprints. Stop for five minutes, edit a little of what you just wrote if you have to and do another sprint. You’ll be amazed at how much you can get done using this method.

 

  1. Know when you do your best writing and optimize that time. Work the rest of your schedule around that rather than your writing around the rest of your schedule. Making writing a priority will make your written pages pile up like nothing else can.

 

  1. Evaluate your progress and look for ways to improve your writing process. If you’re not satisfied with the progress that you are making in your writing, figure out ways that you can increase your writing speed. Go over these tips and see where you can improve your writing speed. Take a speed typing class. Google, “write faster”. Don’t let yourself make excuses for not being able to write better copy, faster.

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