Launch Event for The Frost Eater

If you live in the Austin, Texas are, I’d love for you to join me on February 8 from 1-4 p.m. for a book launch & signing for The Frost Eater, my new post-apocalyptic YA fantasy novel.

Come any time between 1-4 for the book signing. Beth will read an excerpt from the book at 3.

Buy your book at the event or pre-order a signed copy & pick it up there! Click here to purchase.

Reviewers are calling this new novel “a great read” that “sizzles along to an unexpected end” with “heavy-hitting action,” “magic and dragons,” and “a touch of romance.” Read more about it here.

See you on February 8! And feel free to check out the Facebook event here.

Review quotes are from Goodreads reviewers Mike, Clarissa Gosling, and K. Law, and Booksprout reviewer Beth H.

Using Both IngramSpark and KDP for Paperback Printing

This post explains the ins and outs of how I use both KDP and IngramSpark and why other authors might want to.

I first posted this information on the Facebook Group 20Booksto50K. There are lots of helpful comments on the thread. I’ve incorporated some of the information into this blog post, but check out the original Facebook post for even more information.

Please note that some of this information is specific to U.S. authors.

WHY USE INGRAMSPARK?

PRE-ORDERS & AUTHOR COPIES

IngramSpark allows pre-orders and allows you to purchase author copies before the book is released. KDP Print doesn’t allow either of these. (Yes, KDP lets you get proof copies, but they’re marked as such. You can’t pre-purchase copies to sell in person or on your website.)

I like having both my e-book and my paperback on pre-order on Amazon, and I like pre-ordering author copies that I can have on hand before the book is “live.”

ROYALTY RATE

KDP Print will allow you to set up Expanded Distribution so other sellers can sell your book. But the royalty cut if your book is sold by non-Amazon sellers is very low.

When someone buys your KDP Print book through Amazon, your cut is 60% minus the print cost. With Expanded Distribution, if the book is sold by non-Amazon sellers, your cut goes down to 40% minus the print cost.

IngramSpark allows you to set a Wholesale Discount rate between 30-55%. The Wholesale Discount is the amount IngramSpark discounts your book when they sell wholesale copies—basically it’s the retail profit if the retailer sells at full price. With a 30% wholesale discount, your royalty is 70% minus print cost. With 55% wholesale discount, royalty is 45% minus print cost.

Why would you set a 55% Wholesale Discount? Because a lot of bookstores require it in order to stock your book. Plus they require you to enable returns (where they can return your book if the copies don’t sell). It’s really hard to make a profit at those royalty rates, especially if they end up returning books.

Having my book on bookstore shelves is not a big priority of mine. So I set my wholesale discount at 30%. (35% is the lowest allowed in some international markets.) Online retailers (Amazon, B&N website, etc.) allow this low discount. When someone buys my IngramSpark book online, I make a really nice profit…rather than making pennies with KDP Expanded Distribution.

Note: A commenter on my Facebook post pointed out that Barnes & Noble has allowed him to do book signings with just a 40% Wholesale Discount on his books through Ingram. You’ll need to check with your local Barnes & Noble if you’re interested in going this route.

WHY USE KDP PRINT?

STOCKING ISSUES AT AMAZON

Once Amazon sells all the copies of my book that they ordered from IngramSpark, they won’t order more unless I have good sales coming in. And I just don’t sell that many paperbacks.

When that last book gets sold, the status of my paperback on Amazon changes. They might say it will take a couple of weeks to ship, or even a couple of months. They may even say it’s out of stock. By publishing with KDP Print, the book is ALWAYS “in stock” without a print delay.

My royalty is slightly less than with IngramSpark, but it’s worth it to never be out of stock or have long shipping delays.

BE PREPARED FOR EXTRA COSTS

COVERS

KDP and IngramSpark use different paper. For my books, which I print on cream paper, the IngramSpark copies are thinner. So the paperback covers for the two printers are slightly different dimensions. The thicker the book, the bigger the difference. IngramSpark and KDP also have different formats for submitting files. Your cover designer may charge extra for the additional version of the paperback cover.

ISBNs

One other thing to consider is that you’ll need an ISBN if you use both IngramSpark and KDP. (Either service will provide one for free if you want them to…but you can only use that free ISBN with that particular service, as they own it and will be listed as your publisher.)

I spent over $500 on a pack of 100 ISBNs before I published my first book. It was a painful purchase, but I figure I’ll probably never need to buy ISBNs again. One ISBN individually is over $100, so buying in bulk helps.

Please don’t go to a reseller to purchase a discount ISBN. They own it, not you, and they can pull your book from publication if they want to.

UPLOAD & REVISION CHARGES

IngramSpark charges $49 to upload a book, plus $25 for each revision. There are usually coupon codes floating around to cover uploads and, less often, codes to cover revisions.

I’m a member of ALLi (Alliance of Independent Authors), and they have a code for members that makes initial upload AND all revisions free. I pay $99 a year for that membership.

HOW IT WORKS USING BOTH SERVICES

ISBN

First, purchase an ISBN. You’ll the same ISBN for both KDP Print and IngramSpark. In the U.S., you’ll purchase your ISBN through Bowker.

UPLOAD TO INGRAMSPARK FIRST, IF DOING A PRE-ORDER

I always upload to IngramSpark first, because I do pre-orders, which KDP Print doesn’t offer.

I upload to IngramSpark & use the future publication date as both the Publication AND On-Sale date. Within a few days, the book automatically shows up on Amazon as a pre-order paperback. I ask Amazon to link the paperback and e-book, and when that’s done, I start marketing the pre-order.

Shortly before publication, Amazon purchases some copies from IngramSpark. In my experience, they purchase enough books to fulfill the pre-orders…plus some extras.

If you aren’t doing a pre-order, you may choose to upload to KDP first. Do not select Expanded Distribution, as that will make it very difficult to use the same ISBN on IngramSpark.

UPLOAD TO KDP ON PUBLICATION DAY

On publication day, I publish the paperback on KDP. The transition is seamless, because the ISBN is the same. The listing remains right where it was, linked to my e-book.

A NOTE ABOUT GETTING PAID

After you hit “Publish” on KDP Print, people who order your paperback may still get IngramSpark copies, if Amazon still has some on their warehouse shelves.

With my first series, people told me they’d ordered my books…but I didn’t see any KDP Print sales. I thought Amazon was failing to pay me. It took months to track down the reason—those were sales through Ingram that I’d already been credited for, extra books Amazon had ordered during the pre-order period. Once Amazon sold out of those books, they started printing new orders through KDP.

Hope this was helpful! Leave any questions in the comments.

Want to be notified every time I post an Author Resource?


Author Resources on my website are 100% free. But if you’d like to buy me a coffee to thank me, click the “Tip Me” button at the bottom of the page!

Author Resources on my website are 100% free. But if you’d like to buy me a coffee to thank me, click the “Tip Me” button at the bottom of the page!

The Frost Eater: Sneak Peek

The Frost Eater, my new post-apocalyptic YA fantasy novel, releases on January 28! Below, catch a sneak peek of the first chapter.


The Frost Eater

Chapter 1

Two years after the world ended, I was born.

The First Generation: A Memoir by Liri Abrios

***

“Darling, your crown is crooked.”

Nora turned to her father. “You’re always telling me it’s not a crown, it’s a headdress.”

“When it’s just the two of us, it’s a crown.” His brown eyes twinkled as he pointed to the band of gold around his head. “One day, you’ll wear the real thing.”

Nora was only seventeen; she wasn’t ready to think about the day when she’d become an orphan and a queen all at once. “That won’t happen for a long time. Straighten the headdress for me?”

He grasped it with both hands, shifting it to the left. It scratched Nora’s forehead, eliciting a wince.

“Sorry. Does it feel secure?”

“As secure as it gets.” The headdress was crafted of fine silver, with delicate filigree extending high above Nora’s head. She usually loved wearing it. But after weeks on the road, she had pimples from the molded metal that rested on her forehead. She couldn’t be happier that they were approaching the last stop on their tour.

Unseen people began chanting, “Cell-er-in! Cell-er-in!” The open-topped steamcar was having a tough time making it up a steep slope. Beyond the hill lay the town of Tirra, where crowds awaited their king and princess. Nora wished they’d harness a couple of orsas to the car and let the beasts pull it up the hill, but that would ruin the effect of them rolling into town in the most modern vehicle available. Most rural residents had never seen a steamcar.

“Almost there!” the driver called over his shoulder.

“Thank you.” Nora’s father returned his gaze to her. “Chin up.”

Before he could finish his admonishment, Nora did it for him. “Smile big.”

Her father winked. A gust of chilly wind blew Nora’s straight, dark-brown, chin-length hair into her face. She peeled a few strands off her glossed lips and curved her mouth into a smile she hoped was sufficiently regal.

Windmills rose up on either side of the road as the steamcar puttered to the top of the rise. Chanting people came into view, hundreds of them, lining the road all the way down the hill and into town.

Nora and her father waved, and the chants turned into cheers. The rush of support filled Nora’s chest and tugged her mouth into a wider grin.

Eight guards riding orsas surrounded the steamcar. Between them, Nora glimpsed a little girl perched on a man’s shoulders, wearing a headdress made of—what was that, corn husks? Whatever the material, it was molded to look like Nora’s. She blew a kiss to the cheering girl.

It didn’t take long to arrive at the bottom of the hill. They drove a few blocks and pulled to a stop in a quaint town square. A wooden stage awaited them, decorated with large, fabric bows in blue and black, Cellerin’s royal colors. A woman who introduced herself as Mayor Ashler showed Nora, her father, and several guards onto the stage. When the crowd calmed, the show began.

Nora awarded the town with a Cellerinian flag that had flown at the palace. Then King Ulmin began speaking, and Nora instantly grew bored. It was the same talk her father had given in every town they’d visited, except that somehow it got longer each time. He spoke of The Day, two hundred years earlier, when billions of humans on their planet, Anyari, had died. Then he looked up to the sky and said, “But we thank God that four hundred thousand people, one in ten thousand, survived. They were your ancestors and mine. And they rebuilt civilization.”

Nora had to admit, her dad cut an impressive figure. He was tall, with a broad chest and slim waist. His beard, more silver than brown these days, was perfectly trimmed. Autumn sunlight reflected off the gold of his crown and the silver streaks in his hair as he continued his speech, extolling the nation of Cellerin that had risen from destruction. He praised his grandmother Onna, Cellerin’s first monarch, who’d ended a terrible war. 

At first, Nora’s father’s speeches had inspired her. Now, three weeks into their tour, she was sick of the stories. She tried to keep her face pleasant. At least her clothing was thick and warm, protecting her from the late-fall chill. Her blue-and-purple outfit—more of a costume, really—had belonged to her mother. The shirt and pants were crafted of high-tech, preday fabric that had been made to last for centuries. It was layered and molded into a structural wonder that hugged Nora’s long legs, curvy hips, and slender torso. A massive collar of sorts, shaped like flower petals, extended up from her shoulders in front and back. The fabric was a visual reminder of the old days, and the collar represented Anyari’s people, who had bloomed from devastating tragedy.

“Princess Nora.”

Nora jolted but quickly recovered. Her father was facing her.

“The people of Tirra have a gift for you.” He beckoned her forward, and Nora saw that Mayor Ashler had joined him onstage.

Nora raised an eyebrow. Going off script, Dad? That’s not like you. The crowd cheered as she stepped to the front of the stage and waved.

 “Princess Ulminora.” The mayor had a closed wooden box in her hands. She was beaming. “We heard you ran out of ice on your journey. I’m an ice lyster too, and I just returned from the mountain last week to retrieve fuel for myself.”

Nora’s eyebrows shot up, and her gaze found Cellerin Mountain, which loomed in the distance. The mayor had climbed its icy heights herself, rather than sending someone else?

Mayor Ashler answered Nora’s unspoken question. “I grew up climbing Cellerin’s slopes, and I can’t seem to break the habit.” The people cheered, and the mayor continued, “Your Highness, we grow both grapes and bollaberries in our town greenhouse. I’d like to introduce you to one of my favorite things: shaved ice with bollagrape juice.”

She opened the hinged lid. The box was thick, clearly insulated. Inside was a mound of shaved ice, colored with pale-purple juice.

The mayor handed Nora a silver spoon. “Care to try it?”

Nora grinned. “Thank you, Mayor.” Year-round access to ice was one of the perks of being a princess. However, a few days into the trip, Nora had eaten the last of the ice from her personal ice chest. She’d then discovered that they’d left behind the large chest they’d meant to bring. It was the first time she’d ever gone two weeks without doing magic.

She dipped the spoon in the snowy concoction and brought it to her mouth. Instantly, she knew she’d have to beg the chef back home to find a source of bollaberries. The combination of the berries, which originated on Anyari, and grapes, which originated on Earth, was perfect. Like so many mixtures of Anyarian and Original produce, the flavor was complex and surprising, both sweet and tart.

Without thinking, Nora dipped the spoon in the ice again. She halted and flicked her eyes up to the mayor’s. “I’m sorry—do you mind me going back for seconds?”

Laughter and cheers filled the square. The mayor’s eyes crinkled. “Have as much as you’d like.”

Nora ate several more bites, then turned to her father. She lifted her hands and wiggled her fingers. “May I?”

He nodded.

She took a step toward the edge of the stage, held her arms out wide, and turned her hands toward the sky. The crowd’s murmuring stopped, the hush only broken by a baby’s cry. Nora’s arms, fingers, and throat started to tingle, the sensation delightfully chilly. She brought her arms in front of her and held her palms toward the crowd. With a bright smile, she pushed magic through her hands, shooting two puffs of snow over the front rows. The crowd cheered.

Nora took a deep breath, lifted her chin, and blew snow from her cold mouth. It arced into the air, then fell on a dozen grinning townspeople. She laughed, basking in the crackling energy of the masses. In a thousand ways, she dreaded becoming queen. But she savored moments like these, when she forgot the stifling responsibilities ahead of her and simply enjoyed the people of Cellerin.

Then, all at once, the crowd’s gazes shifted. Fingers pointed high and to the right. Excited murmurs grew louder.

Nora lifted her eyes to the sky. When she saw what was distracting everyone, her focus broke, drying up the flow of snow. She dropped her arms to her side.

A man was soaring through the pale-orange sky, swooping up and down like a drunk bird. This little town has a feather lyster? And he chooses this moment to put on a show? She shouldn’t be surprised; the feather lysters she knew were the vainest people in all of Cellerin.

Two royal guards were standing in front of the stage. One drew a pistol. The other lifted his bow and nocked an arrow. Both aimed at the flying man.

At the same time, the six guards who’d been standing at the rear of the stage rushed to surround Nora and her father. They faced outward, weapons pointed at the flying man. “Let’s get you two off the stage,” one of them said.

From outside the circle of guards, Mayor Ashler said, “I assure you, he’s harmless. He’s a show-off, but he won’t hurt anyone.”

“Let the mayor in,” Nora’s father said. Two guards moved apart, and the mayor joined the cramped circle. King Ulmin’s authoritative voice boomed in the tight space. “I’m staying here. I want a guard on either side of me. The rest of you, take Nora off the stage.”

“My office is next to the stage,” Mayor Ashler said. “I’ll take her there, and we’ll lock the doors.”

“Dad,” Nora said, “the mayor said that man is harmless. He doesn’t even have a weapon. Should we really run from him?”

“I’m not running. I’m keeping you safe.”

Nora rolled her eyes as everyone followed the king’s instructions. Two guards held her elbows. Another stood behind her, hand on her back, and the fourth positioned himself in front of her. Nora was tall, but the guard in front of her was practically a giant, his shoulders even with her eyes. His name was Ovrun, and he was the youngest guard, only nineteen. His muscular shoulders, clad in black livery with blue epaulets, distracted Nora as the guards rushed her across the stage, down a set of steps, and into a dark building.

Mayor Ashler locked the door. “My deepest apologies, Princess Ulminora.”

“It’s Nora.”

“Pardon me?”

“No one calls me Ulminora.”

The mayor flipped a switch. A light bulb came on, illuminating a small lobby with a large, curtained window.

Enough wind power for lights in public buildings. This town’s doing pretty well. Nora took off her heavy headdress and set it down. She approached the window, but Ovrun and another guard were standing in front of it, their arms folded. A third guard stationed himself at the far edge of the window and pulled back the drapes just enough to look outside.

Nora gave Ovrun her most dazzling smile, and the corner of his lips quirked up. “I appreciate you trying to keep me safe,” she said. “All I want to do is peek between the curtains. Please?”

The guards exchanged glances, and then Ovrun parted the curtains just enough for Nora to peer out with one eye. The lyster was still flying. Nora watched for any signs of his magic waning, but he was soaring in confident arcs. Must’ve eaten plenty of feathers. The crowd cheered as he flew in ridiculous figure eights, nearly hitting the tops of buildings every time he reached the bottom of the shape. Nora rolled her eyes. Show-off.

Finally, the flyer ended his flamboyant display. He stayed in the air, however, hovering over a three-story building that faced the square. Nora was close enough to discern a rough outline of his face. He looked like a teenager, but he couldn’t possibly be that young. It took feather lysters decades to perfect their magical faculty.

His dark hair was long enough to cover his forehead, but the wind was lifting it into a messy mop. Despite how ridiculous this made him look, he beamed as he waved at the crowd. Then he alighted on the edge of the roof and dropped to his hands and knees.

Nora squinted, then gasped. A thick ribbon of smooth, white ice flowed from the man’s hands, extending off the roof. He’s an ice lyster, too?

The ice grew at an unbelievable pace. Within a minute, a gorgeous, curving ramp with banked edges extended from the roof to the ground. Nora’s jaw dropped. Despite years of training (focused on one faculty, not two), she’d never made that much ice at once.

The young man sat on the ramp and grinned once more at the crowd. He pushed himself forward until the ramp grew steep enough for gravity to take over, sending him sliding at a dizzying speed.

Nora had just enough time to think, I’ve got to learn how to make one of those ramps! when the lyster reached the slide’s halfway point, and everything literally fell apart. The entire slide broke into at least a dozen pieces. The young man’s hands flailed in the air as he tumbled down, his fall cushioned only by massive, jagged shards of ice.

Nora’s hand came up to her mouth. “Oh!”

The guards on either side of her tensed. Ovrun grasped her arm and tugged her away from the window. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing. The lyster just fell.” Nora pulled away and stepped back to the window. It was clear what had happened. The man had lost focus, turning his ice brittle. She’d done it a thousand times, just never when she was depending on her creation to support her full weight. 

“Come on, get up!” Nora urged under her breath. All the lyster’s would-be rescuers blocked her line of sight. Her heart pounded and her cheeks grew warm as she tried to determine his fate. Sure, he was arrogant and lacked common sense, but he didn’t deserve to die in a pile of his own ice. 

The clock on the wall seemed to tick louder than it had before. Suddenly, the young man pushed himself up to stand atop his bed of ice. Nora couldn’t see his expression, but his wave to the crowd was hesitant, his hubris gone. He dropped into a squat, then jumped into the air and flew again, soaring over the buildings of the square and dropping out of sight.

Nora laughed at the sight, then stepped back from the window and nodded at the guards. “Thanks for letting me watch.”

“Is the feather eater gone?” Ovrun asked.

“Yeah. What a fool. He’s lucky you didn’t shoot him down.” Despite her words, all Nora could think about was how fun it would be to make and use a slide like that.

Across the room, Mayor Ashler cleared her throat. “I’m very sorry about all this.”

Nora grinned and crossed to the woman. “It’s okay; this is the most fun I’ve had in weeks. Tell me, Mayor, what’s that lyster’s name?”


Dying to read more right now? As a thanks for becoming one of my Email Insiders, you can download the first four chapters of The Frost Eater and read them on your e-reader, phone, or computer. Click here!

Ready to get your own copy? It releases on January 28, 2020. Pre-order it today!

When you pre-order any version of the book, you can get 2 free signed bookmarks & a chance to win a free paperback copy of The Frost Eater! After ordering, click here to claim your Pre-Order Perks. (U.S. only.)

Pre-Order The Frost Eater…and Get Free Bookmarks!

The Frost Eater, Book 1 in The Magic Eaters Trilogy, is available for pre-order!

What’s it about? Glad you asked.

200 years ago, an apocalypse ushered in a magical era.

Krey, a royalty-hating, flying teen, is searching for his girlfriend Zeisha. Nora, a princess, insists on helping.

But Zeisha’s captors are memory stealers. She must escape soon—or she’ll lose herself forever.

I love this story. I think you will too!

Get it Today!

Pre-Order Perks

When you pre-order any version of the book, you can get 2 free signed bookmarks & a chance to win a free paperback copy of The Frost Eater! After ordering, click here to claim your Pre-Order Perks. (U.S. only.)

Add The Frost Eater to Goodreads!

How to Make an Animated Cover Reveal Video

Today on social media, I revealed the cover for my next book by using this 20-second animated video:

I used two main programs to make this video:

  • Photoshop (but you can use any photo editing program that has these features: layers, a transparent background, and export-to-PNG).
  • iMovie

Want to make your own cover reveal video (or another, similar animated video)? Check out this tutorial!

Note: I mentioned a few different websites; here are links to them:

Want to be notified every time I post an Author Resource?


Author Resources on my website are 100% free. But if you’d like to buy me a coffee to thank me, click the “Tip Me” button at the bottom of the page!

Author Resources on my website are 100% free. But if you’d like to buy me a coffee to thank me, click the “Tip Me” button at the bottom of the page!

Cover & Title Reveal: My Next YA Fantasy Novel!

I’ve been working hard on my new YA fantasy series, and it’s time to reveal the cover (designed by Mariah Sinclair), title, and release date!

What’s it about? I’m glad you asked.

200 years ago, an apocalypse ushered in a magical era.

Krey, a royalty-hating, flying teen, is searching for his girlfriend Zeisha. Nora, a princess, insists on helping.

But Zeisha’s captors are memory stealers. She must escape soon—or she’ll lose herself forever.

It’s a fantastic new series for fans of Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard, the Harbinger series by Jeff Wheeler, and The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken.

Coming January 28, 2020!

So, You Want to Write a Book? Your Questions Answered!

Last month, I sent an email to my Email Insiders (sign up here!) with the subject line, “So, you want to write a book?” I encouraged people to ask questions about writing and publishing, and I got a lot of responses! I’ll answer many of them in this post, and I’ll also share some other information I think may help you.

Photo by Kaboompics .com from Pexels. Text added by Beth.

This is a monster post! You may want to use these links to jump to sections that are most important to you.

Navigate This Post

  1. Getting Ideas
  2. Starting and Organizing Your Book
  3. Finishing Your Book
  4. Software
  5. After You’ve Written Your Book
  6. Choosing a Publishing Method
  7. Miscellaneous Questions

1


Getting Ideas

I have no idea how to cement an idea. 

-David

I would love to write a book, or more, but have no idea where to start.

-Tiffiny

I’m sure David and Tiffiny (two of my newsletter readers) aren’t the only ones who don’t know what to write about!

First, here are some suggestions on coming up with ideas:

  • Good, old-fashioned brainstorming
    • On April 22, 2017, I started drafting a document with the ultra-creative title, “Brainstorm 4-22-17.” The first thing I wrote was this: “Magical system ideas: Based on something about a baby’s birth…” Out of that idea came three novels and a novella.
    • In my case, I combined a genre I love (fantasy) with something I’m passionate about (childbirth).
    • Think about what genre you love and something you know a lot about or are passionate about, and start brainstorming!
  • Microfiction
    • Every day, I write a very short story (or occasionally a poem), usually around 50 words long. These tiny stories are considered microfiction.
    • Microfiction is a great way to generate ideas! The prequel for my upcoming series started as a very short story.
    • One of the best places to get ideas for very short stories–and to share those stories with others–is on Twitter. Join Twitter if you haven’t, and run a search for “#vss365 #prompt”. VSS stands for very short story, and every day, someone puts up a one-word prompt that you can use in writing your own microfiction. And be sure to find me on Twitter! I’m @CBethAnderson.
  • Nonfiction ideas
    • I haven’t written any nonfiction books, but I know the old adage, Write what you know, is especially important in nonfiction.
    • Here’s a good blog post I found about generating ideas for nonfiction books: How to Come up with Good Nonfiction Ideas.

Sometimes the issue isn’t generating ideas. It’s, as David put it, “cementing” an idea, or choosing which idea to go with.

My best advice on cementing an idea is this:

  • Find something you’re passionate about.
  • Start writing.
  • Don’t stop until you’re done!

It’s natural for emotions to wax and wane throughout the writing process. You learn a lot by actually finishing a book, so give yourself the gift of persevering, even if your idea loses some of its initial luster.

Remember, your first book doesn’t need to be perfect. Neither does your tenth or twentieth! Write the first, and go from there.

We’ll talk more about finishing soon, but first, let’s talk about starting.

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2


Starting and Organizing Your Book

I have no idea how to organize my information to even start to write.

-Vannetta

I’m excited to write about organizing your book, because I didn’t know anything about this when I started writing! Learning about it has helped me immensely.

If you have a scene in your head and you need to get it on paper, go for it. It’s always good to just start writing.

However, I suggest that very early in the process, you take time to outline your book. (Yes, some people write without outlining. Some even do it well! However, I’m an outliner, and I think outlining is worth trying.)

Let’s talk about both fiction and nonfiction structure.

Structuring Your FICTION Book

Learning about story structure has made my books so much better! Most readers don’t know anything about story structure, but subconsciously, they expect certain things to happen at certain times. Story structure can help you meet and exceed reader expectations. It helps you write page turners!

Story structure is a huge topic, too much to cover in this one post. Instead of going in-depth, I’ll share some resources with you.

Structuring Your NON-FICTION Book

Because there are various types of non-fiction books, there’s not a one-size-fits-all structure for them. However, there are some great guidelines for various types of non-fiction.

As I’m not an expert on non-fiction books, I found a blog post detailing four structures that can be used for non-fiction. Check it out here: Four ways to structure your non-fiction book.

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3


Finishing Your Book

I’d love to one day write a full novel. Unfortunately I never make it past 3 or so chapters. I seem to run out of time and when I pick it up again it’s like starting all over…so I do. Hence slews of unfleshed ideas, partially started books, some progress here and there, but no real substance. Time seems to be the killer. I have a full time job, run a farm when I’m not at my “real job”, and have 5 kids and a beautiful wife (my most important and favorite role).

-Tom

Tom’s question is excellent. Writing a book takes a lot of hours, and many of us don’t have a lot of hours! Starting is hard enough. For many people, finishing is even harder.

Some time ago, I read a book called Finish by Jon Acuff. If you struggle to finish anything, I highly recommend it! (I listened to the audiobook, which was fantastic.) It’s not just a feel-good, inspirational book. It’s based on real research.

One of the pieces of advice that I found most helpful in Finish is this:

Cut your goal in half.

For time-based goals, this means cutting your writing pace in half. In other words, figure out how long you think it’ll take, and double it. If you think you can finish your first draft in a year, give yourself two years instead. People often don’t finish things because they get behind and feel like they failed. By giving yourself more time, it’s possible to actually meet your goal, even when life inevitably happens.

One more piece of advice from Finish:

If you get distracted by new ideas, tell yourself you can pursue that next project as a reward for finishing your current project.

Many writers have “shiny new idea syndrome.” Write a bit in one project, move to a more exciting idea, repeat. Nothing gets finished! By making Project 2 a reward for finishing Project 1, you can actually get stuff done.

Again, check out Finish by Jon Acuff. It’s excellent!

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4


Software

Jenny asked some fantastic questions about software.

What software do you use: for writing? for formatting? for storing your work? other software, shortcuts or recommendations?

-Jenny

Writing Software

Formatting Software

If you work with a publisher, they will likely do all your formatting for you. If you’re like me and you choose indie publishing, you’ll need to format your own books or pay someone to do it.

Indies, I suggest you learn to do your own formatting. When you format your own books, you can easily make changes. If a reader finds a tiny typo, you can change it without going back to a third party who formatted for you. Formatting your own books also makes it easier to distribute digital copies for your early readers. (More on that below.)

These days, there are plenty of good options for formatting e-books and paperbacks. I’ll highlight five.

  • Vellum: Vellum is a Mac-only program that lets you easily format truly gorgeous, professional e-books and paperbacks. I use Vellum and absolutely love it. It’s a bit pricey ($250), but you only pay it once; they have excellent customer service; and all updates are free. (If you don’t have a Mac, you can get a Macincloud subscription to use this Mac program on your PC.) Check out Vellum.
  • Draft2Digital: Don’t want to spent $250? Draft2Digital provides e-book distribution to various retailers (Apple, Kobo, etc.). They also offer free, online, e-book and paperback formatting software. You don’t have to use their distribution services to format on their site. If this service had been available when I purchased Vellum, I would’ve tried it first. I don’t know if they have as many formatting options as Vellum, but hey…free is free! Check it out here.
  • Microsoft Word: You can use Microsoft Word Styles to format both e-books and paperbacks. I’ve never done this, and I know there’s quite a learning curve…but if you do learn it, you have far more flexibility than with Vellum and Draft2Digital. You’ll have to Google this to learn more!
  • InDesign: You can use this Adobe software to make gorgeous paperbacks. Many professional formatters use InDesign. Again, I don’t know much about this; you’ll have to Google it.
  • Calibre: This is a free program that allows you to do various types of formatting. From what I hear, it’s flexible but has quite a learning curve. Once again, Google it.

Backup Software

I have three things to say about backups:

  1. Backup your work.
  2. Backup your work.
  3. Please, please, please backup your work!

I’ve heard too many horror stories about people losing large portions of work, even huge chunks of novels.

I use Dropbox for all my backups. It’s easily accessible from various devices, and it backs up in the background. If my computer suddenly blows up, I’ll lose very little work, since I save my work frequently, and Dropbox backs it up within seconds or minutes. There’s a free Dropbox plan that provides plenty of storage for text-based files like books. I pay for the Pro plan that allows me to backup all my photos, videos, etc.

There are plenty of other backup options. I advise choosing something cloud-based that automatically backs up. External hard drives are great…until your computer goes kaput, and you realize it’s been a month since you backed up! (Feel free to use an external hard drive as a secondary backup method. Some people also email their book file to themselves on a daily basis as a secondary backup.)

Other Software

Here are a few other services I use:

  • BookFunnel: I use BookFunnel to distribute digital copies of my books to early readers. (More on early readers below). I also use it to grow my newsletter by distributing a free novella to readers who sign up for my email list. BookFunnel has free and paid plans; I pay $10 a month.
    • Other options that have many of the same features and are free: StoryOrigin and BookCave. I use these services too, but for now, I still pay for BookFunnel because their newsletter builders attract so many readers.
    • One other option very similar to BookFunnel is ProlificWorks. I haven’t used them.
  • MailerLite: I’ve chosen MailerLite as my email newsletter provider, since they have a great combination of affordability and features.
  • WordPress: I use WordPress.org. (not WordPress.com) for my website. It includes a ton of free website building features (far more than WordPress.com).
  • BlueHost: I host my website through BlueHost (and also register my domain through them).
  • E-Commerce: To sell my books on my website, I use the WordPress WooCommerce plug-in (free). I process credit cards through Stripe.
  • Free Website Options: Wix, Weebly, and WordPress.com. I chose not to go with a free site, as I wanted my own domain name (carolbethanderson.com).

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5


After You’ve Written Your Book

Writing a first draft is amazing. You should celebrate!

Then you should buckle up, because this is the first step toward publishing, and there are plenty more steps to come.

My Publishing Process

Please understand this is my process. Yours will probably be different.

  1. Story Structure/Outlining (see above)
  2. First draft
    • Alpha Readers while drafting (see below)
  3. Revisions based on alpha feedback
    • Add another round of alpha reading/revisions if necessary
  4. Beta Readers (see below)
  5. Revisions based on beta feedback
    • Add another round of beta reading/revisions if necessary
  6. Copy editing (if I’m hiring an editor, see below)
  7. Revisions based on copy editing (if applicable)
  8. Record audiobook and make a few more minor revisions
  9. ARC readers (see below)
  10. Proofreading (Professional would be great, but due to my budget, I use an eagle-eyed friend.)
  11. Pre-Publishing Tasks & Marketing
  12. Publish
  13. Continual Marketing

(To see details on how I accomplish numbers 11, 12, and 13, check out this blog post.)

A Note on Editing:

There are different types of editing. For my first series, I only used a copy editor who also gave some limited developmental feedback. For my next series, I’m using a large group of betas instead of hiring an editor, but I wouldn’t suggest such a plan unless you know you have a very good eye for grammar and also have some super-sharp-eyed betas! Know your strengths, and be willing to get help in the areas where you have weaknesses.

Also, note that if you work with a publisher, they may provide editing. (Large publishers will probably provide multiple rounds of editing. Small publishers vary in the editing services they offer.)

A few types of editing you can consider:

  • Content/Developmental Editing: A content or developmental editor gives you big-picture feedback on plot, characters, etc. If you don’t have a great handle on story structure and characterization, developmental editing can be an excellent investment. This type of editing is usually done pretty early in the writing process, perhaps after you’ve written an early draft.
  • Copy/Line Editing: A copy editor will provide detailed feedback on grammar, sentence structure, etc. A line editor goes even further, making more suggestions on wording. You can hire this type of editor when you have a polished manuscript. (I suggest hiring them after using beta readers, but some people do it differently).
  • Proofreading: A proofreader reads your book shortly before publication to catch the leftover errors.

Alpha, Beta, and ARC Readers…Huh?

Alpha and beta readers read early versions of a manuscript and provide feedback. ARC readers read Advance Review Copies before publication so they can review the book. I have an entire blog series on my systems for working with these early readers. Check it out here: Working With Early Readers.

Finding Your Editor and Cover Designer

How do you approach the editing process?  How did you go about finding an professional editor?  Also do you create you own covers and if not how do you find the professionals who do?    

-Jenny

Editors:

I suggest joining a fantastic Facebook group called Ask a Book Editor. There, you can get free advice on grammar and other writing issues. It’s also a great place to get to know some editors. Find a few that you like, look them up, and ask them for sample edits. Most editors will do a short sample edit for free so you can find someone who fits you.

Cover Designers:

I generally don’t do my own covers. It’s usually worthwhile to hire a cover designer if you can at all afford it. Effective covers are hard to make. And effective covers are a major factor in selling books!

Again, Facebook is an excellent place to find cover designers. Join groups like The Cover Clinic and Indie Cover Project. Read others’ posts to start learning about what makes an effective cover. Scope out other authors’ covers to find potential designers for your work.

Many cover designers make premade covers that are more affordable than custom covers. A lot of these designers have Facebook groups where they sell their premades. Find a designer you like, and see if they have a Facebook group.

Copyrighting Your Work

How do one go about to make the work copyright?

-Pete

Copyright laws vary from country to country. Please look up the laws for your nation.

In the U.S., your work is automatically copyrighted. You don’t have to register your copyright for it to be valid. However, it’s easier to defend your work against plagiarists if your copyright is registered.

Here’s a blog post on how to register your copyright: How to Copyright a Book Quickly Step-by-Step [With Examples].

Only you can decide if registering your copyright is worth the time and expense. (At the time the above blog post was written, it cost $85.)

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6


Choosing a Publishing Method

When your book is done and polished, you have a big decision to make.

I’ve written my first novel… I was wondering if I should query some indie publishers or publish it myself when it’s finished. Have you been in this position? If so, what do you feel are the pros and cons of each?

-Terri

Will you take the indie/self publishing route, as I’ve done? Will you query agents in the hopes that one will love your book and try to sell it to a publishing company? Will you work directly with a smaller publisher?

This topic is huge, and rather than trying to cover it myself, I’ll defer to an expert. Check out this post by Jane Friedman: The Key Book Publishing Paths: 2019-2020. It discusses all the major forms of publishing, and it’s an incredible resource.

Why I’m Indie:

Quite simply, I chose the indie/self publishing path because it fits me. I like doing things myself. Marketing my books comes naturally to me. I wanted to retain control over every step of the process. I also wanted to cut out the agent and publisher middlemen and keep a higher percentage of my earnings.

I haven’t tried any other form of publishing. I’m open to other avenues, but at this point, I enjoy being an indie.

That being said, indie publishing is a lot of work! Everything is up to me. I either do it or outsource it. Indie/self publishing is not for everyone. Choose the route that’s right for you.

Note there are also very small publishers who call themselves “indie publishers.” These are usually publishers that work with a small group of authors. They vary widely in terms of the quality of their books and the types of services they give their authors.

A good indie publisher can be a great partner to have if you don’t want to do everything yourself. However, they’ll keep a portion of your proceeds. A bad indie publisher will also keep a portion of your proceeds, while providing very little in return. Do your research!

I’ll answer a couple of reader questions about the costs of publishing.

I’m working on my first book, but would like to know if now days you have to pay to get it published with the ebooks.What it the cheapest way to get it published?

-Yvonne

If you self publish, it doesn’t cost anything to put your e-book up on Amazon and other retailers. You may, however, choose to hire a cover designer, editors, etc.

Traditional publishers will not charge you a cent to publish your book. Vanity presses and hybrid publishers charge authors for publishing services. Some of these companies are valid, offering services to authors. Others promise the world and in reality provide very little.

If you’re considering paying a publisher, please do your research! Many, but not all, of these companies are predatory. If a publisher contacts you, out of the blue, they probably want your money. Please be very wary before giving it to them.

As an indie, I decide where I want to spend money. If I want to pay for covers or editing or ads, I choose my service providers. I prefer this over going with a vanity press or hybrid publisher and risking that they could, for instance, provide a non-quality cover or subpar editing. Also, I can generally publish my book for less by choosing “a la carte” services. I like retaining control and saving money, so I choose to be an indie!

Is there ever a good time to hire a hybrid publisher? Yes. If you’re short on time, have some extra money, and find a hybrid publisher that will give you high-quality services for a reasonable price, it may be the best option for you. A hybrid publisher can save you the hassle of finding service providers and learning to format and upload manuscripts. Please, please, please research the heck out of them first and make sure the books they’re helping authors produce are high quality.

I’m also trying to decide if I can afford paperback printing. 

-Kristiia

You can publish print-on-demand paperbacks for free through KDP Print (Amazon). You will need a cover, or you can use their Cover Creator. (Cover Creator doesn’t tend to have the best results, so if you can provide a quality, PDF cover, you’ll be in better shape.)

I use both KDP and IngramSpark for my paperbacks. IngramSpark makes it easier to sell paperbacks places besides Amazon, such as the Barnes & Noble website. They charge $49 per book plus $25 if you make any changes to your files. I get these charges waived by maintaining a membership with ALLi, an organization for indie authors.

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7


Miscellaneous Questions

One of my readers, Jenny, gave me an excellent list of questions. I’ll answer many of them here.

Do you still homeschool and if so how do you (or did you) fit writing into your day? 

-Jenny

I met Jenny when I homeschooled my kids for two years. They’ve been in public school for several years now, and I mostly write while they’re in school.

When I started writing, I was working part time, mostly while the kids were in school. I wrote in the afternoons/evenings and on weekends. Sometimes I even wrote at lunchtime. I was very busy. It was not sustainable, and these days, I’ve made a conscious choice to be less busy so I can prioritize my family.

Right now, I have a lot of time to write. You may not have that luxury! I suggest setting very manageable goals. Then follow Jon Acuff’s advice and cut those goals in half.

Think you can write 500 words a day? Set a goal of 250 a day instead. That’s about half a page of single-spaced writing. By writing 1,250 words a week (250 for five days a week), you can hammer out a 70,000-word rough draft in 56 weeks…just over a year! When you’re done, set a goal for revisions, maybe two chapters a week. And remember, it’s okay to adjust your goals when life happens.

What are your favorite online resources for information or writing groups for encouragement?  

-Jenny

The absolute best source of publishing information for indie authors is the 20Booksto50K group on Facebook. I can’t say enough about how much that group has helped me.

The best community of writers I’ve found is on Twitter. Recently, a bunch of us came together to write a super-helpful blog post on how to connect on Twitter as a writer. Check it out: So, You’re New to the #WritingCommunity on Twitter…

If you felt comfortable, I’d so appreciate hearing about any areas you struggled with either personally (i.e. pushing past doubt) or with writing structure, and how you’ve worked past it.  Also your best advice for dealing with rejection. 

-Jenny

Doubt and rejection are part of writing! Even as an indie, I’ve dealt with the rejection of bad reviews or harsh critiques.

I’m a big fan of counseling, so I’ve worked on my self-doubt with a counselor. The biggest thing I’ve learned is to find people I can truly trust and tell them how I actually feel when I’m dealing with doubt and rejection. It’s hard to be vulnerable, but it really does help take away the power of those negative feelings. By dealing with them head-on and sharing them with others, I’m able to move on and keep writing.

What are you’re thoughts or experiences with short stories in general?  Any advice in that area is much appreciated as well!

-Jenny

Short stories are great for developing ideas and for writing practice. They’re also useful if you’re trying to publish traditionally with a major publisher. If you get short stories published in journals or anthologies, it can make you look more attractive to agents.

That being said, I don’t write a lot of short stories! However, I think anything that keeps you writing consistently is a good thing!

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Wrapping it Up

Thank you so much to those of you who submitted questions! I have an entire section of my blog focused only on Author Resources. Check it out for more, in-depth tips and tutorials: Author Resources.

Want to be notified every time I post an Author Resource?


Author Resources on my website are 100% free. But if you’d like to buy me a coffee to thank me, click the “Tip Me” button at the bottom of the page!

Author Resources on my website are 100% free. But if you’d like to buy me a coffee to thank me, click the “Tip Me” button at the bottom of the page!

So, You’re New to the #WritingCommunity on Twitter…

The other day, I looked at my Twitter notifications. Here we go again, I thought.

First, a little background: I’m very involved in Twitter’s Writing Community (or #WritingCommunity). Every day, I post microfiction: stories that are 280 characters or less, short enough to fit in one Tweet.

I’d Tweeted out my daily story, and someone commented on it, telling me I had a typo. It wasn’t actually a typo, but that’s beside the point.

I was annoyed, because generally when a member of the #WritingCommunity posts a super-short story, we aren’t looking for critiques. I looked at the profile of the person who’d posted and saw that they were new to Twitter. They didn’t know they were breaking an unwritten rule by critiquing my piece.

I decided to write a blog post for those who are new to the community, or for those who’ve been around for some time but still aren’t sure how it all works. I Tweeted this:

And wow—the writers on Twitter came through!

This post will be full of embedded Tweets from other members of the #WritingCommunity, fantastic tidbits of advice to help you get the most out of your Twitter experience.

I couldn’t include all the awesome advice, so click on the original Tweet above if you want to read even more!

Don’t need all these tips? Below are links to every section.

Menu of #WritingCommunity Tips


Tip 1


Time to Get Dressed

Your Twitter profile, cover photo, and pinned Tweets

When you get dressed in the morning, you base your clothing on your plans, and others can usually tell something about you by what you’re wearing.

On your way to do yoga? You’re not gonna wear a wetsuit. Headed to work at an office? Time for a business suit or, if you’re lucky, jeans and a non-stained shirt.

Your Twitter profile is how you “get dressed” so others on Twitter know what you’re doing there. Here’s some great advice from Stephen:

When I’m looking through my recent followers and deciding who to follow back, I usually just glance quickly at profiles. If a follower is a writer or if I have something else in common with them, I follow back. Be sure your profile tells people you’re a writer!

Then, as Stephen said, go a step beyond and include something in your cover photo that reflects who you are as an author. If you have at least one book cover, you can include it in your image. Brand-new fantasy author? Go to a free stock photo site and download a cool fantasy image. You get the idea.

What should you use as your profile picture? It’s up to you. I don’t mind people seeing my face, so I use the same profile photo for all my social media. Other people prefer to stay anonymous, so they use an image that represents their interests. I’d suggest not changing your profile picture very often; it can confuse your followers.

Cathleen has another great tip for setting up your account:

A pinned Tweet is a Tweet that stays at the top of your Twitter page. I agree with Cathleen that, in most cases, your pinned Tweet should reflect your writing. This is a totally acceptable time to promote yourself! Here are some ideas:

  • If you’ve published books, link to them.
  • Link to your blog.
  • Link to an online journal where your writing is published.
  • If none of those fit you, you can pin an introductory Tweet or one of your favorite microfiction Tweets. (Don’t worry, we’ll get to the topic of microfiction soon!)

To make a pinned Tweet, post a regular Tweet, click at the little arrow in the top right corner, and click Pin to your profile.

Now that your profile is set up, it’s time to say hello to the #WritingCommunity!

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Tip 2


“Hello, My Name Is…”

Introducing yourself to the #WritingCommunity

Now it’s time to introduce yourself and start connecting with other writers! Check out some great advice from Cate:

It’s annoying when someone constantly begs for Twitter followers! However, I think you can get away with it in certain, very occasional, instances, if you’re nice about it. One of those times is when you’re new to the #WritingCommunity.

As Cate said, you can post once, telling the #WritingCommunity that you need followers. (Be sure to use the #WritingCommunity hashtag!) As you’re drafting your Tweet, follow Bob’s tip:

Your intro Tweet might look something like this:

“Hi, I’m Beth, and I’m new to the #WritingCommunity! I write YA fantasy, and when I’m not writing, I’m hanging out with my family, making sourdough bread, and trying to stay cool in the Austin, TX area. I’d love to connect with other writers, so I hope you’ll follow and say hi!”

Now that you’ve introduced yourself, and you’re starting to get some followers, how do you continue to connect with people?

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Tip 3


It’s a Numbers Game…or Is It?

How important is your follower count?

Let me begin this section by saying this:

You’re not defined by your follower count.

If you’re competitive and goal-oriented like me, you may need to remind yourself of this truth. Frequently.

Some people would rather not have a lot of Twitter connections. They want to build meaningful relationships with a few people instead of trying to connect with thousands. That’s a totally valid way to use Twitter.

The thing is, Twitter’s algorithms favor popular Tweets. In other words, if your Tweet gets a good number of interactions (likes, RTs, and comments), Twitter will show it to more people. To get those initial interactions, you usually need a decent follower count.

In fact, it wasn’t until I had a few thousand followers that I could count on most of my writing-related discussion topics getting a good number of responses.

If you don’t have a lot of followers, you’ll need to work harder to engage with the people you’re connected with, since Twitter’s algorithms generally won’t favor your Tweets being seen. That’s the case whether you’re actively building your follower count or purposefully keeping your numbers low.

If you want more engagement, you probably need more followers. If you’re using social media as a marketing tool (more on that later), you also need more followers.

That being said, we gotta keep it in perspective. JJ said it well:

His advice is a great intro to our next section. If you want more followers, how do you get them?

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Tip 4


The Pied Piper of Twitter

How to get—and how not to get—more followers

First of all, let’s talk about hashtags. Rich has some great advice:

When you’re posting about writing, use the hashtags Rich suggested. It may help people find you, and some of those people may interact with you and/or follow you.

It’s not enough just to put together a great Tweet with appropriate hashtags, however. Check out Vicky’s tip:

Dawn, R.R., Tom, and Simon all have fantastic advice about how to create genuine connections with other writers:

If you’re newer to the #WritingCommunity, it’s easy to look at people with a lot of followers and wonder if they really want to hear from “a newbie.” But someone with a lot of followers often got those followers by being generous and awesome! There aren’t many snobs in the community. Sean puts it so well:

Hopefully, you’re not just looking for followers; you’re looking for people to follow. There are some “shortcuts” to finding other writers to follow. Here are a couple of examples:

  • #FF or #FollowFriday: People post lists of writers they recommend following.
  • Writer lifts: People start threads encouraging those who want followers to post, so they can all follow each other.

However, Esmari offers a warning that’s worth heeding:

In fact, Twitter has other rules about following. It’s worth reading them at this link. Here’s a brief rundown:

  • You can’t follow more than 400 people a day.
  • Don’t follow a bunch of people, then unfollow them, to improve your follower-to-following ratio. It’s against the rules, and it’s super rude.
  • Don’t follow a lot more accounts than the number of people who are following you. Once you’ve followed 5,000 people, if you don’t have enough followers, Twitter won’t let you follow anyone else.

Regarding that last bullet point: How do you keep that ratio under control? Don’t blindly follow mass numbers of people! Follow people because you want to see what they post. Let people follow you for the same reason.

You’ll sometimes come across “shortcuts” for finding followers, such as accounts or apps dedicated solely to building follower count. Just say no to these. They’re spammy and icky.

I’ve grown my follower numbers organically. In fact, I rarely look at a Follow Friday list and follow everyone on it. Normally, I follow writers who are already following me. Don’t try to get 5,000 or 10,000 followers overnight. Give it time!

Once you reach 1,000 followers, if you’re really active in the #WritingCommunity, you’ll probably find that your follower count starts growing a lot faster. And it’s okay if it takes a long time to reach 1,000!

When it comes to connecting with people (finding people to follow and finding followers), I’ve saved the best advice for last. In fact, it’s so important, it deserves its own section.

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Tip 5


Let’s Play!

How writing games can help you connect with others

Terri (Smarty Marty) has an amazing tip. In fact, this has been the key to me finding “my tribe” within the #WritingCommunity. You ready for this?

Writer games? What are those?

They’re hashtag-based games on Twitter, and they usually fall into one of three categories:

  • Microfiction and poetry games: The game host provides a prompt word or theme, and writers are encouraged to write a one-Tweet story or poem inspired by that prompt. Examples: #vss365, #satsplat
  • Snippet games: The game host provides a prompt word or theme, and writers use that prompt to share a one-Tweet snippet from something they’ve written or are currently writing (such as a book, short story, etc.) Examples: #Thurds, #Btr2sDay
  • Writing-discussion chats/games: The chat/game host provides one or more questions encouraging you to talk about yourself as a writer or about what you’ve been writing. Examples: #AuthorConfession, #7amWritersClub

These games are an absolutely fantastic way to connect with other writers. As Terri (Smarty Marty) said above, don’t just participate in the games by Tweeting. Read what others are writing. Comment on, retweet, and like their posts.

Microfiction games (especially #vss365) have been the biggest factor in me connecting with other people on Twitter. As I said at the start of this post, I post microfiction every day. I do that using the #vss365 prompt word. I’ve connected with thousands of writers this way.

You might find your tribe in the snippet games (which I also participate in) or the chats (which I don’t participate in—but they look super fun). Jump in. You don’t need to be a “member” of any group. Just search for the hashtag. Start commenting on others’ posts, and then join the game with your own post!

To participate in #vss365, a daily microfiction game, search Twitter for #vss365 #prompt. A different person posts the prompt words each month. (If you can’t find today’s prompt, click “Latest” at the top of the search results.) Write your own tiny story or poem using the prompt word and the hashtag #vss365.

How do you hunt down all the other prompts, themes, and topics of discussion? @TheWritePrompt generously provides a daily list hashtag games.

Once you get involved in these games, I bet you’ll find yourself connecting with other writers, just as I did. It’s good to keep in mind this advice from Simon:

He couldn’t be more right!

As I mentioned earlier in the post, there are some unwritten rules in the #WritingCommunity. Our next section addresses one of the biggies.

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Tip 6


It’s Open Mic, Not a Critique Circle

Why you shouldn’t give constructive criticism in hashtag games

There are groups online where writers critique each other’s work. It’s understandable that people enter the #WritingCommunity on Twitter, expecting it to be such a place.

Here’s what happens. Someone, let’s call him Bob, finds the Twitter #WritingCommunity. Bob sees bit of microfiction or a snippet of a longer work (often posted as part of one of the hashtag games we just talked about.) It’s a decent piece, but Bob thinks it could be better. He responds to it with a Tweet like this:

“Hey, cool story! When you described the dragon’s fear, I think you could’ve down more showing and less telling. But great stuff, look forward to reading more!”

Or perhaps he points out a grammar error. Either way, Bob walks away, happy that he’s been helpful to another writer.

And then the #WritingCommunity attacks like a mother bear, protecting one of our own. “This isn’t the place for critiques!” we cry.

Bob’s advice to other writers has always been accepted in other groups; after all, he sandwiches a critique in between two really nice compliments! He’s befuddled, not quite understanding where he went wrong. Perhaps Laura can help him:

Exactly. This goes for all microfiction on Twitter. It even goes for snippets of someone’s work in progress (which may be a first draft, still full of grammar errors and telling-not-showing!)

The #WritingCommunity on Twitter is more like an open mic night than a critique circle. It’s a safe place to get together and share.

Some of you are reading this, saying, “Sheesh, what a bunch of pansies. If you can’t take constructive criticism, you shouldn’t be writing.”

I agree that constructive criticism is vital for writers. That’s why I have a group of alpha readers. They read my novels as I write them, providing feedback to make my writing better. It’s why I have a large group of beta readers. They give me feedback (sometimes harsh!) about my revised manuscripts. It’s why I’ve hired an editor in the past.

Many people in the #WritingCommunity are battered by critique all the time, and rightfully so. We all need to know where we can improve if we want to sell stories and books.

However, when you’re dealing with tough feedback from betas and editors and/or rejections from agents and publishers, sometimes you just want to hang with other writers, practicing your craft without worrying about critiques.

Are there exceptions? Of course. For instance, if I have a huge typo in my pinned post (“I hope you’ll by my book!”), you might want to point it out to me. If so, you can do it in a DM (Direct Message) to avoid embarrassing me. But if you just think I used a crappy metaphor in my 280-character microfiction, or if I missed a comma in the book snippet I posted, please let it be.

One more bit of wisdom on this topic, from Lindsey:

Just as some people come to Twitter expecting it to be a critique circle, others come expecting it to be a place to sell books. Let’s talk about what’s wrong with that mindset.

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Tip 7


“Please, PLEASE Buy My Book!”

How not to be a self-promoting nuisance

When I first decided to connect with other writers on Twitter, I was mostly interested in sharing snippets of the books I was writing. And you know what? I didn’t get much interaction.

That’s because I was coming in with marketing as my goal. Oops. Thankfully, I ended up engaging with other cool writers, especially through #vss365.

My focus shifted to connection instead of marketing.

It’s been a whole lot more fun this way. And I’ve sold a surprising number of books to people on Twitter, because that isn’t my main focus.

If most of your Tweets are focused on selling books, you’ll turn people off. It’s fine to try to sell books, but those Tweets should be the tiny minority of what you post.

But don’t take it from me; listen to Ryan, Barlow, Brian, and DK:

As bad as it is to constantly post about selling your books, there’s something even worse. Much worse. It’s another unwritten rule of the #WritingCommunity. Please, please, listen to Leilani:

There are services that will automatically DM (Direct Message) every new follower for you. These services are a fantastic idea if you want to lose a bunch of followers. Don’t do it. Just don’t. Heed this advice from Aspen and The Awkward Bard:

Remember, it’s the #WritingCommunity, not the #WritingFleaMarket. Connection first, selling second.

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Tip 8


This & That

Tips on muting, untagging, acronyms, and more

We’ve covered most of the big things that a newcomer to the #WritingCommunity needs to know, but you still may feel like you’re lost in an unfamiliar country. I hope these final tips help you feel more at home.

As you connect with more people, your notifications might become unmanageable, or, as people often put it, “My notifications blew up!” This is especially the case if you get tagged in some sort of game.

These games are different than hashtag games. A tagging game might go something like this:

“If your book is made into a movie, who should play the main character? Answer and tag five people!”

By the time you get tagged, there may be 48 other people tagged, and suddenly, you’re getting notifications every few seconds as other people comment. This is also the case with #FF or #FollowFriday posts as well as other writer recommendation Tweets.

Here’s some great advice from Alain:

Alain hits on a couple of important tips:

  • Mute conversations if you want to slow down your notifications. Muting a conversation means you no longer get notifications for it. Just click the little arrow at the top right of the Tweet you were tagged in, and click “Mute this conversation.” Don’t feel guilty about doing this! We all have lives outside of Twitter, and it’s okay to want fewer notifications. It’s even okay not to participate in tagging games!
  • Untag people if you don’t want everyone in the conversation to get notified of your response. Sometimes, you just want to thank someone without dozens of other people getting that notification! They’ll appreciate it if you untag them in your reply. When you click the Reply icon, it’ll say “Replying to” with a list of names. Click on those names, and you can choose who to untag. (I need to do this a whole lot more often than I do!)

Jaime hits on something else that might make you feel like a #WritingCommunity outsider:

Thankfully, Darryl has an awesome list of abbreviations! Click on the Tweet; he has even more examples in the rest of the thread.

I’m pretty good with these acronyms, only because I spend too much time on Twitter. Faye has some advice that I should probably print out and post above my writing desk:

However much time you spend on Twitter, there’s one tip that’s perhaps the most important of all. Here it is, in Alain’s words:


Wrapping it up

Whew! I know that was a ton of information. I hope it was helpful! If you have more questions, feel free to leave them in the comments.

And if you haven’t found me on Twitter, please do! I love to connect with fellow writers! I’m @CBethAnderson.

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Author Resources on my website are 100% free. But if you’d like to buy me a coffee to thank me, click the “Tip Me” button at the bottom of the page!

Author Resources on my website are 100% free. But if you’d like to buy me a coffee to thank me, click the “Tip Me” button at the bottom of the page!

Formatting a Novel in Microsoft Word

Authors, don’t you hate when you add or delete a chapter from your novel, and you have to re-number every chapter after that point?

Do you ever need to get a manuscript into a certain format, and you’re not sure how to do it? Or you get it just right, but then you have to start all over for the next book?

This video will show you…

  • How to implement automatic chapter numbering, so the chapters renumber themselves when you slice and dice (or beef up) your manuscript!
  • How to set up styles within Microsoft Word so your current manuscript and future ones look just like you want them to.

Hope it helps!

10-10-20: NOTES TO HELP YOU FURTHER

THOSE ANNOYING TABS:

MS Word will automatically put a Tab after your chapter heading, which can mess up the centering. This link tells you how to fix that on Microsoft Word 365 for Mac, the version I’m using: It’s different in Windows. Google it for your version of Word.

SCENE BREAKS/ORNAMENTAL BREAKS:

If you have ornamental breaks in your book (like *** at scene breaks), you’ll want to select “First Paragraph” style for those so there’s no indentation. Then just click the “Center” button to center your ornamental break. (Alternatively, you can create another Style that’s centered without any indentation, and call it “Scene Break.”)

Author Resources on my website are 100% free. But if you’d like to buy me a coffee to thank me, click the “Tip Me” button at the bottom of the page!

Enchanted Tattoos, Slashed Tires, & First Kisses…

I guess enchanted tattoos, slashed tires, and first kisses don’t have a lot in common on the surface–but they’re all topics of miniature stories in my new book, The Curio Cabinet, which launched today!

It’s a book of tiny stories, each about 50 words long. Here are a couple of samples:

Snag your own copy!

The Curio Cabinet also makes a great gift. I’m excited about this book, and I hope you’ll get your copy today!