Highly recommended for indie authors from beginners to veterans.
I’d heard positive things about this book, and I confess the opening chapters left me wondering what the fuss was about. As I kept reading, I found a wealth of helpful information.
Reedsy co-founder Ricardo Fayet has built on many of the site’s blog posts to assemble a comprehensive overview of what indie authors need to know to market their books. I appreciate his balanced approach and his advice to pick one thing to implement at a time instead of blindly striking out in all directions. He also stresses that marketing is not a one-size-fits-all activity.
This isn’t a smarmy, trickster type of marketing book, but one that emphasizes marketing as a way to help the readers who’ll want your book to find it. That’s helpful, not pushy.
Because many of the topics covered in this book can be books (and courses) in their own right, chapters include referrals to more in-depth material from experts in the field. If you’ve been around indie publishing awhile, you’ll recognize most of the names.
Although it’s packed with information, the book’s friendly, encouraging tone makes it an easy read. Instead of feeling overwhelmed, I felt equipped to choose among my possible next steps.
Bonus about this book? The digital version is free (on all platforms) and I believe it’s intended to remain that way. Here’s the link at the Reedsy site, or you can find it on your favourite ebook store site. Warning: you may find you’ve highlighted the digital version enough that you’ll want to buy a print copy for easier reference.
Summer Series 2021: Writing in Multiple Genres Part 1
by Steph Beth Nickel
Let’s talk about the pros and cons of writing in multiple fiction genres. Later in the blog series, we’ll talk about nonfiction.
Not everyone agrees that it’s a good idea, but there are a number of authors who successfully write in two or more genres.
Before you decide whether you’re going to focus only on one genre or on several, you’ll want to ask yourself a series of questions.
The first …
What does success mean to me?
Will you consider yourself a successful author only if you’re picked up by a traditional publisher?
If so, your publisher will want you to write exclusively in one genre—at least in the beginning. You’ll have more latitude if you go the indie route.
Are you looking forward to developing a devoted fan base?
If your readers love your speculative fiction and then pick up your next book, a cozy mystery or sweet romance, they’ll not only be confused but also disappointed. They’ll be expecting more of the same if your name is on the cover of both books. Writing under different pseudonyms can solve this issue.
Is keeping your fans happy an element of success in your mind?
With so many new books appearing on the market every day, if you don’t release your next book in what readers consider “a timely fashion,” they’re likely to move on to another author and may not pick up your next book if it takes too long to come out. This is especially true if you’re writing a series. Once readers are invested in your characters and storylines, they’ll want more ASAP.
Do you define success as being your readers’ favourite speculative fiction author? Mystery writer? Sweet romance writer?
To develop your storytelling skills to this level requires hours of reading, writing, and research. If you want to become your readers’ go-to author, it’s important to focus on one genre at a time. It’s best to choose a genre you love to read and can see yourself writing in, potentially, for years. Once you become someone’s favourite author, they’re going to want to get their hands on as many books as you can write.
What’s most important to you? How do you define success? Which route makes the most sense to becoming your version of a successful author? Regardless of whether you write in multiple genres or only one, your first responsibility as an author is to write the best book you can.
[Come back next month for part 2 of this series on writing in multiple genres.]
Guest Marguerite Croft shares so much wisdom on Episode 127 of the Write Now podcast (link here: WNP 127). One of the things that stood out most to me was her advice to “have a hobby.” She believes if we write only to monetize our ideas that we’ll have lost some of what it means just to write for the sake of writing.
Disclaimer: I complete several copywriting assignments each months to help pay the bills, some I find incredibly interesting; others, not so much. I also have numerous ideas for books 1) I’d like to write or 2) I’ve begun. One day I hope those books will earn an income as well. Writing for money is not a bad thing—not at all. But sometimes, it’s great just to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard (or speech to text) just because we want to.
So, today, let’s explore some ways we can write simply for the joy of it. (Warning: Not all the following suggestions will give you “the warm fuzzies.”)
Have a “horrible” idea you want to explore?
Give yourself permission to see where the idea takes you. No one else ever has to read it. But who knows? Maybe it will turn into something you can’t wait to share.
Been thinking about trying your hand at a form of writing or genre you’ve never delved into before?
Go for it! Despite the fact that it’s difficult to discover who first came up with the idea that there are three distinct facets of a creative’s personality, when I heard Marguerite Croft mention the Dreamer, the Writer (or Maker), and the Editor, it resonated with me. We have to give the Dreamer permission to make even the craziest suggestions. Some of them we may want to pursue—even if it means exploring a form of writing we’ve never tried before.
Go with the flow!
Julia Cameron encourages everyone to take up pen and paper (NOT keyboard and computer) every morning and let three pages of whatever comes to mind flow from their pen. She calls these Morning Pages. It’s like clearing the dam. No judgments allowed! The Editor is definitely not permitted in the room at this point.
Similarly, you may freewrite based on a writing prompt—or anything else that inspires you and gets the creative juices flowing. You simply follow your stream of consciousness. (See what I mean about going with the flow?)
Pour Out Your Heart
Although similar quotes have been attributed to a number of different sources, back in 1949, journalist Red Smith was quoted as saying writing wasn’t hard because “you simply sit down at the typewriter, open your veins, and bleed.”
The page is an amazing place to work through your thoughts and feelings. You can be 100 percent honest—and sometimes surprise yourself by digging down and discovering those deep waters (to keep the analogy going).
Talk to Yourself. Talk to God.
I refer to my journaling as “rambling until I stumble across truth,” but that’s just one form of journaling. There are countless ways to journal. Free form. Gratitude journaling. Prayer journaling. And on and on and on. For the most part, this is a very private form of expressing ourselves. Some people even leave instructions that their journals be either buried with them or burned after they pass away. Now, that’s private!
What writing have you done recently “just because”?
I signed up with a newsletter provider … but now I actually have to write a newsletter (and get subscribers).
A website? I need a website?
“Build a social media following,” they said. “It’ll be fun,” they said. Okay. But how?
This whole writing thing can be overwhelming.
So, the first step? Take a breath—a really deep one. Count to five. And exhale. Repeat as needed.
Numbers can be scary, really scary. Thousands. Tens of thousands. Millions even.
But no one—NO ONE—began by having 50 books under their belt or even 100 followers. (Not long ago, “followers” weren’t even a thing.)
So, you’ve published your first book? That’s worth celebrating BIG TIME. You’ve done something so many people only dream of doing. Kudos!
And an author platform? Just take it step by step. Word of advice: don’t get overwhelmed by all the “expert advice” on the Internet. Do your research and find someone who has experienced the same kind of success you’d like to have, someone whose advice you can trust and emulate without too much stress.
Like Facebook and blog posts, it’s a great idea to create several newsletters before firing off that first one. If you have four prepared and send out your newsletter once a week, you’ll be all set for a month. If you write even one newsletter per week after that, you’ll never get behind. At least, you’ll have a little wiggle room.
And that newsletter email list? Again, it’s good to do your research and learn from someone who has built a sizeable list, someone who can break it down into a doable step by step process.
Don’t have an author website or a blog yet? One-page websites can be a great place to start. You can always grow from there.
Building a social media following can seem overwhelming. Maybe you don’t like social media. If that’s the case, don’t feel pressured to do “all the things.” Even if you do enjoy social media, it’s best to focus on one program at a time. If you’re building a Facebook group, you don’t have to create stories on Instagram and figure out Clubhouse at the same time. Maybe never. It’s up to you. And if you really don’t know where to begin, there’s great training out there—much of it free.
Of course, there are costs along the way, but remember that there is SO MUCH free information online created by GENEROUS EXPERTS.
Be patient. And as much as possible, enjoy each step forward—no matter how small the step. Learn to celebrate each step and you will experience joy in “the little things.”
Even before you know exactly what you want to write, you have to get the words on paper. Just write!
I have four manuscripts partially completed: a devotional on the gospel of John, a contemporary women’s fiction novel, a YA fantasy, and a memoir I’m coauthoring.
While niching down has its place and is well worth the effort, waiting until you’re 100 percent sure what you want to create for the long haul pretty much guarantees you won’t hit PUBLISH (or pitch an agent) on any project.
So, consider this your invitation to write … just write!
Here are some suggestions to inspire you:
Pick up that book of writing prompts that has been sitting on your shelf gathering dust. Open it to any random page … and write.
Scan photos online until you find one that inspires you and go for it.
Make a list of all the topics you’d like to write about. Obscure? No problem. No market? It doesn’t matter at this point. Plus, you might be surprised. Don’t think you have what it takes? Tell your inner critic you’ll get back to her later—much later!
Create a list of your favourite genres, authors, writing styles …
Choose a topic and a genre … and write! (You don’t have to know everything about the genre. There’ll be plenty of time to polish in subsequent drafts.) Or you may want to …
Create an outline for your project before you begin to write. (Discovery writers [aka pantsers] prefer a simple scaffolding at most. Plotters will want to include more details but can get caught up in “perfecting” the outline before they even start. At some point, both types of individuals must take a deep breath and begin to write.)
Allow the story or nonfiction project to flow—even if it does so in spurts and starts. Bullet points. Notes to self (i.e.: insert character name here). Skipping around in the story. (I’ve written an epilogue for a novel that isn’t finished yet.) If you run into a roadblock, these and other methods are 100 percent acceptable “fillers.”
Try your hand at something you’ve never written before. I wrote 40K of a YA fantasy novel back in November for NaNoWriMo. I wondered if I had what it took to write fantasy, but I figured, Why not? And I’m having lots of fun.
If you’re writing to deadline for a traditional publisher with specific guidelines, you have a responsibility to fulfill your obligations, but that doesn’t mean you can’t explore other genres, other writing forms, that idea you’ve long buried at the back of your mind (or in the bottom of your drawer) …
Writing can be both a job and a creative outlet, but don’t let the business side of things squelch the joy you feel from simply putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard. JUST WRITE!
Thousands of authors all around the globe have participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) this November.
To “win” NaNo, the author must write 50K words of a new novel or nonfiction book … although there are NaNo Rebels who combine projects or choose their own word count goal.
So, just what is success?
For some authors, they must achieve a predetermined goal, such as writing 50K words in November, in order to feel successful.
Others need a deadline to keep them on course. When they complete their writing goal by said deadline, they consider it success.
This year, many of us have come to realize, if we’re disciplined enough to spend any time writing, we’ve been successful and “beaten the odds.”
One writer cannot define success for another. One writer should not criticize another for not accomplishing what the first writer defines as success … nor should the first writer condemn herself for not being able to write every day, never mind 50K in a month.
How can you set yourself up for success, whatever that means to you?
Determine not to compare yourself to others.
Others’ accomplishments can inspire you and give you something to strive for. However, another writer’s productivity and schedule may not work for you. And that doesn’t mean you’ve “failed.”
Honestly evaluate how much time you can set aside each week to write.
Take into account not only your other responsibilities inside and outside your home but also the physical and mental energy you have “left over.”
It’s true that you may have to get up a little earlier or go to bed a little later to make time for your writing, but don’t neglect your need for adequate sleep.
Consider reallocating some of the time you spend watching Netflix or scrolling social media as writing time.
Look for those “found pockets of time” within your daily schedule.
You may have 10 minutes here and 20 minutes there. It may not be ideal, but it’s likely to help you reach the goal you’ve set for yourself more quickly than if you wait for large chunks of solid writing time.
Keep in mind the age-old advice to carry a notebook with you wherever you go.
These days, that may mean writing in the Notes app on your phone or using an App such as Evernote or Google Docs. There are authors who write entire manuscripts on their phone.
Give yourself grace.
Do you wag your finger at other writers and condemn them for not spending more time writing? Do you think they should simply “suck it up” when life (aka 2020) sends them for a loop? Do you determine your favourite author isn’t a success unless they release at least one new book every year?
Your answers to these questions are likely “No. No. And no.”
You see what I’m driving at …
And in the same vein …
If you don’t meet today’s goal, give yourself permission to try again tomorrow.
It can be discouraging if a writer doesn’t meet their daily goal, especially if they feel the goal is achievable.
Even if this describes you, there are days life will happen and you just won’t get around to it, but that doesn’t mean you have to write off tomorrow and the next day and the next.
Each sunrise marks a new beginning, a new opportunity to achieve SUCCESS.
Two award-winning Canadian Christian
freelance writers, Patricia Paddey and Karen Stiller, have teamed up to share
what they describe as “our conversation with you about what we have learned
through success and failure.” [Kindle location 98]
The book feels very much like a
conversation, candidly sharing experience and advice. Beginning and
intermediate writers will gain the most, but even seasoned pros will likely
pick up a thing or two.
The “craft” section deals mainly with
nonfiction, mostly articles, yet I’ve gleaned inspiration and encouragement I
can apply to my fiction. The “cost” section includes practical business tips
relevant to all, and “call” addresses the spiritual side of writing. What
struck me most in that part was this quote:
View your platform as the place from which you live out your calling to be a writer and to serve your readers. [Kindle location 1865]
Reading this book made me want to go write
Writers are invited to visit CraftCostCall.com for “more writing
exercises, resources, and conversation about building a life as a Christian
writer.” [Kindle location 2129] This virtual watercooler could become a very
good place to hang out.
Patricia Paddey and Karen Stiller have
solid backgrounds in writing and editing, with articles and books and awards to
their names. These two authors illustrate the truth that while writing is often
a solitary activity, it requires community. Having benefited from other writers
along the way, they’ve prepared this book to mentor others. And they’re
donating a portion of proceeds from Craft, Cost & Call to The Word Guild, an association of writers
and editors who are Christian.
At the risk of sounding cliché, the possibilities really are
How should I pursue publication?
Should I look for an agent and try to get a traditional
Should I self-publish my work?
Should I do both and become a hybrid author?
If I choose to self-publish, what will I do myself?
Format my manuscript? Create a book cover? Edit my book?
And if we’re Christian, we likely want to be certain that we’re
fulfilling God’s call on our life—and going about it as He would want us to.
But how can we know that we’re following the path He has set out for us?
Writer or not, there are a number of ways to do so—and
they’re not as mysterious as we may think.
Study God’s Word.
The Scriptures are the Lord’s primary means of communicating
with us. It’s important to become familiar with what they say and what they
mean in context.
In God’s Word we find specific instructions and principles
that apply to every area of life.
Seek to obey His commands and directives.
Are we seeking, in God’s strength, to walk in obedience to
Him? As we do, He sheds light on the path before us and enables us to take the
next step on the journey.
Spend time in prayer.
Sometimes, it’s as we pray for guidance that He gives it. At
other times, it’s as we’re praying for others that the Lord nudges us in the
direction He wants us to take.
Seek godly counsel.
Wise counsellors may be members of our family or fellow
members of our church. They may be friends, neighbours, or even those we’ve
developed relationships with online.
Wise counsel, direction that honours the Lord, points us in
the right direction—even if it’s not what we want to hear.
And we can rest assured that it will never contradict the
clear commands in God’s Word.
Use your talents and abilities as you have opportunity.
While we are responsible to develop them, God gave us our
talents and abilities. They are often a good indicator of the route we should
Pursue that passion that just won’t go away.
We can’t do everything we’d like to do in this life. (Ask me
how I know this. <grin>)
Still, if there is a God-honouring passion that never leaves
us, no matter what our circumstances and season of life, it’s likely something
the Lord wants us to investigate—and possibly, pursue.
I recently heard that there are writers who give up because
the words just aren’t flowing. These individuals figure if God wants them to
write, He will give them the words and it will be easy.
Any of us who have written anything from a Facebook status
to a full-length novel know there are times it’s far from easy. The right words
seem as elusive as the bat my hubby can’t find in our house (but that’s another
Still, the Scriptures have much to say about perseverance.
And if God has put it on your heart to write, I encourage you to persevere.
Develop your skills. And continue to seek Him for guidance and direction.
Wise counsel, direction that honours the Lord, points us in the right direction—even if it’s not what we want to hear. (click to tweet)
If there is a God-honouring passion that never leaves us, it’s likely something the Lord wants us to investigate. (click to tweet)
Any of us who have written anything from a Facebook status to a full-length novel know there are times it’s far from easy. (click to tweet)
Are you looking forward to the journey or only arriving at
How is vacationing like the writing journey?
We aren’t planning any big trips this year, but I realized
on our way to Frankenmuth for a couple of days that I had a choice. I could
enjoy the journey or merely endure it.
Writing is a little like planning and executing a vacation.
Decide on a Destination
Unless you’re hopping in the car and seeing where the road
takes you, you likely have a destination in mind.
The same should be true when writing. Are you planning to
write a book? An article for Medium? A blog post?
Set a Timeline for Each Leg of the Journey
Life happens. Something may come up to deter you from your
schedule. However, it’s important to at least have a schedule to keep you on
track. (You don’t want to find out the day before you leave for the airport
that you should have renewed your passport.)
It’s important to be kind to yourself. Set an achievable
pre-journey itinerary, but don’t be so “kind” that you leave everything to the
last minute and consider giving up on the idea altogether.
This year I signed up for Camp NaNoWriMo—and, shock of
shocks, I edited my manuscript well ahead of schedule. There are several more
steps to take before the book is available, but now I know I can actually git
’er done. Now to set a timeline for the next steps.
Gathering what you need for your writing journey can simply
mean grabbing a pen and notepad or your phone with its note-taking app, finding
an inspiring location to write, and getting at it. Or it may need a reliable
internet connection and months of research.
Whichever it is, commit to it and get started.
You won’t get any closer to your destination if you gather
what you need, pack it in the car, and sit in the driveway.
It may be exciting—or a little scary—to start out on a new journey.
But the only way to reach your destination is to set off.
Put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard (thumbs to phone
screen?) and begin.
“Once upon a time …”
Recalculate When Necessary
You may find you made a wrong turn or missed the cut-off.
But just like the old GPS units used to say, “Recalculating.”
You wouldn’t abandon your idea for a vacation because you
had to do some backtracking and recalculating to find your way.
Don’t abandon your idea if the road to publication gets a
little bumpy or if you have to find your way through unfamiliar territory.
Ask for Help
When planning your trip, you may hop online to get
inspiration or check out customer reviews of accommodations and tourist
If you get lost (on the road or in the airport), you may
have to check with someone in the know.
Even after you reach your destination, you will likely count
on dozens of other people to make the trip a success.
Granted, writing is, in many ways, a solitary endeavour, but
“no [writer] is an island.”
Writers rely on countless others on the journey from the
first spark of an idea to published work—and beyond. Those people may include
beta readers, editors, proofreaders, marketing pros, web designers, and many
Celebrate Your Arrival
“We’re here!” to a traveler is as amazing as “The End” is to
Touching down on the tarmac or penning those satisfying
words isn’t really the end of the journey. But it is well worth taking at least
a few minutes to do a happy dance—literal or figurative.
You may have a detailed itinerary in hand, but it’s good to
check on reservations and make sure everything is in order. On most trips,
adjustments have to be made.
When it comes to releasing a book or publishing a blog post,
adjustments may be in order. Or, possibly, if you’re new to the process—or have
just been too busy with other things, you may have to create that website,
research traditional and indie publishing options, find out how to get your
work in front of readers.
Begin Planning for the Next Journey
It took about five minutes before I started planning our
next trip to Newfoundland when we were there last summer. Since our son and
daughter-in-law live in Scotland, I thought it would be a wonderful location
for a family gathering. They wouldn’t feel like they’d left home—except, of
course, for the hours of travel and the money spent.
Even if you’ve arrived at your writing destination, you
likely have plans for several other projects. While you want to relax for a
while and enjoy the moment, you just may want to grab that note-taking device
and outline the next journey.
Wherever you are along the way, take a deep breath, and
marvel at the fact that yes, you are a writer. And it’s one of the most
exciting journeys you’ll ever take!
How is vacationing like the writing journey? [click to tweet]
9 ways travelling is like the writing journey. [click to tweet]
“We’re here!” to a traveler is as amazing as “The End” is to a writer. [click to tweet]
Take a deep breath, and marvel at the fact that yes, you are a writer. And it’s one of the most exciting journeys you’ll ever take! [click to tweet]