Old Writing Stuff · Self-Publishing

Phoenix Fire Publishing Owner Publishes Fake Customer Testimonials

For the record, people who publicly lie to me or my readers are going to get called on it.

phoenix fire publishingLast, night the comment thread on my post about Mystic Press turned into a veritable circus. This is partly my fault, because sometimes I like to give my site’s trolls a little rope.

It would appear that the owner of the former Mystic Press and the newly established Phoenix Fire Publishing, Tabetha Jones, came by to defend herself against complaints of fraud and failure to deliver services. And she brought all her little friends to help clear her name.

Actually, she brought her alter egos. That would be the more accurate term. But they didn’t exactly help her cause.

When I noticed that Tabetha Jones, Skylinn Wicker, and Rai Willis were posting comments and submitting contact forms from the same IP address (why do people always create fake personalities to defend themselves?), I threw my hands up and stopped engaging Tabetha. In light of this, comments from Anna Lovelace, Louise Charleston, Eris Kelli and Cindy Franks are suspect.

I’m Going On Record Now: Stay Away from Phoenix Fire Publishing

If you’re an author researching Phoenix Fire Publishing before signing a contract, I want you to consider something:

Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that all of these people defending Mystic and Phoenix Fire aren’t really Tabetha, they’re actually legitimate customers. And let’s say that all the customers complaining are making everything up. A person would still have to be a fool to recommend Tabetha’s company.

Why? Well, take a second look at the original comment thread (which is now closed) and notice what kinds of details her defenders, supposedly just other authors publishing with her, know about the complainants’ business dealings. The best thing you can say about Tabetha—even giving her the benefit of the doubt—is that she is completely unprofessional and will tell her other customers your business.

But it’s ridiculous to give the woman even that much credit. So I’m settling the score, at least as far as Suess’s Pieces is involved in this mess.

Tabetha’s alter ego, Skylynn Wicker, questions my commitment to the truth by pointing out that her contact form submission wasn’t published on the blog like I’d promised earlier. She says:

I used the contact form and MINE isnt posted?

I’m going to say this with all the respect I can muster, and it ain’t much: Whatever your real name is, you’re a fucking liar, and you’re done shitting on my playground. On this blog, we deal in verifiable truth and honest testimonials. Take your fraudulent-ass comments and misrepresentations somewhere else.

sky lynn phoenix fire publishing

 

tabetha jones phoenix fire publishing

 

UPDATE: Comment thread closed as of 11:00 a.m. EST. It should be pretty clear why.

Old Writing Stuff · Self-Publishing

Author Warns Mystic Press Reopening Under New Name

The Ferryman's WifeA little while ago, I was contacted by an author who had worked with a publishing company called Mystic Press. She wrote to me about some problems she’d had with the company and the company’s CEO.  And as I learned more about her story, I decided it was worthy of sharing. It’s reminiscent of the stuff I routinely hear about Author Solutions, only the problems start with a much, much smaller company. And, seeing how my goal is to inform and support writers no matter the publisher, I decided it would be worthwhile to share my interview with Georgina Merry, author of The Ferryman’s Wife.

When we first got in touch, she described her issues with Mystic Press:

“In March I approached a small publishing company called Mystic Press regarding my story The Ferryman’s Wife. Tabetha Jones, who described herself as the CEO, accepted my manuscript. It was published through Createspace in August. There have been a catalog of issues …[ranging] from having the wrong manuscript published to price changes after orders/payments were made to books being bought for promo events but not arriving for 3 months.

Last month the company Mystic Press “folded”…. Tabetha Jones is claiming our royalties are “frozen” and that either way, after thier cut, I will only receive $10. (I was quoted in September as having $30.) The sums don’t add up, but I have also been informed that all royalties should have reverted to me after the company folded. Now Tabetha has started up another company, Phoenix Fire Publishing  just one month after claiming all the money had “gone” for Mystic. I fear she is about to scam a whole load of new authors. I was told that this isn’t the first time this company has done this. Several other ex-Mystic authors have filed reports and claims against her, as she is witholding their money. She refuses to back up her claims with any physical evidence, i.e. emails/sales sheets.”

If you’re a publisher, you’re not going to get a whole lot of love from me by refusing to put the details in writing. I emailed Georgina a few Q&A style interview questions to learn more.

ES: What kind of package or services did you purchase, and what promises were you made?

GM: I paid for my cover art ($20). I paid for my ISBN and createspace fees ($35)  and Lightening source ($87.50). I was told that Tabetha would handle my promotions, make over my website, plan a blog tour, hold an online launch party, and she’d supply the swag. In the contract it stated that I’d be supplied copies of my book for promotional events. I was told in the contract that I would receive 60% of royalties for paperback and 50% on all ebooks sold. I was assured that I would receive three free proofs in time for my launch party, and I was also told that I could order copies of my book any time at a discounted rate of $2.75 per copy.

ES: Did you receive all off the things promised?

GM: No. I had my cover art, but that was by a freelance graphic artist. I was refunded my lightening Source fee ($87) as apparently the option for hardback was no more.

I was asked to supply some swag prizes for my launch, which I did. Tabetha Jones claimed she was scammed for the prizes she was meant to be organising [so] anyone that won something from her didn’t receive anything. She also didn’t post out the copies of my book, she waited to send them to me and charged me postage.

My “launch party” was a Facebook event, and my “blog tour” was basically 3three interviews on other authors’ blogs, Tabetha Jones’ being one of them. My blog page was made-over, but not by anyone connected to Mystic Press. I basically had to handle my own promotion. I made arrangements to visit my old school — teens: my target audience — and give a presentation and hopefully sell some books, but you’ll soon see that I ran into problems.

I did not have the proofs for my launch party, so I didn’t see that the wrong manuscript was sent to print. On page 123 the writing appeared as an edited page, with the one correction in the whole manuscript being highlighted. I was mortified, as this had not been my final manuscript. I was sent three of the faulty proofs. Then, I was assured that the correct manuscript was to go ahead, and new proofs were ordered. I discovered yet again that it was the wrong manuscript when the proof arrived, but by this time they were on sale. There was a mad rush to get the correct document uploaded, but I was then sent no proofs at all. I ordered 13 copies of my books at the discounted rate to replace the faulty ones my friends had bought. I had to pay for the postage & packaging from the US, and these books didn’t arrive for two months.

I then ordered another 20 books for the promotional event at my old high school, only to be told after I had paid for them plus postage, that I would only be receiving half the amount I’d ordered as the price had gone up. I did not have them in time for the event in September. In fact, they arrived late October after an unpleasant series of communications. I was told I was being unreasonable for wanting my books. I was disapointed not to have any copies of my book to sell at what turned out to be a successful promotional event. I’d have sold more, had I copies there and then.

I was informed in October — my book launched in August and I signed in March 2012 — that I would only make $1.56 on my UK sales…and that I had sold 22 paperbacks 8 ebooks. I was then quoted as having made $30.50 in royalties. I’ve since been told, since the company folded, that I will only be receiving $10. However, as all accounts have been “frozen” I haven’t received a penny. I wouldn’t know as I have never seen any sales sheets and Tabetha Jones refuses to provide me with any evidence, i.e. sales figures, notification emails etc.

ES: How did you attempt to resolve the issue with Mystic?

GM: I kept regular contact via Facebook, email and Skype and always looked to resolve issues quickly and fairly. I would be replied to quickly, but with a string of [what turned out to be] lies. I was told things would be fixed, I was told issues would be resolved, but their efforts were less than satisfactory. After nearly 3 months with my double-the-price books not arriving, I became quite irate. By this point there had been too many issues for me to set aside as new business hiccoughs. Private messages went back and forth until I requested a Skype call. Tabetha Jones called me unreasonable and although she made me offers as a means of helping the situation, they were all offers to do with the publicaion of my 2nd book. As you can imagine, after everything that happened I wasn’t willing to sign another contract. Things soon rose to an argument and Tabetha’s fiance and business partner stepped in to resolve the issue and promised my books would be with me soon. Communication after this was stilted; one sentence responses. My books did arrive 10 days after, but whether by accident or not, Tabetha Jones revealed that the issue had been an avoidable, repeated mistake that had occured when she’d sent out my first package.

ES: Any other thoughts or comments to share with other writers?

GM: This company have now folded and started up a new company, ready to do the same thing all over again, no doubt. I’ve heard rumours that this isn’t even the first time they’ve folded and restarted.

Unsigned authors — take care to do your research first. Don’t sign with anyone until you know everything about them. Ensure that if you live in a different country, you wont be discriminated against financiallly. I should have realised Tabetha Jones’ eagerness to sign me was a warning. I’m left feeling stressed and depressed, all because of what this woman and her “company” have done to me and my reputation as an author. Thankfully what has come out of this is feedback. Enough people have read my book and enjoyed it so I know it’s worth carrying on with. Otherwise my faith in my ability as an author would have been shaken to the core by what’s happened.
Old Writing Stuff · Self-Publishing

Sure You Don’t Want to Name it Simon & Schyster?

Simon and Schuster Logo MashupOkay, so here’s what happened in Publishing Land today:  Simon & Schuster announced that they jumped into bed with Author Solutions, forming yet another imprint run by Kevin Weiss et al. They’re calling it Archway Publishing.

So, to clarify: Pearson who owns Penguin who merged with Random House and owns Author Solutions Inc. is now working with their competitor, Simon & Schuster. Yes, for real. The New York Times adds:

“One odd twist of the deal is that Author Solutions was purchased by the British publishing giant Pearson in July. Pearson has made Author Solutions part of Penguin, a Simon & Schuster competitor. But since Simon & Schuster was already far along in the planning with Author Solutions for the new brand, they decided to go forward anyway, [Adam] Rothberg said.”

The Times also reports that Simon & Schuster wants to “distinguish Archway as a premium service, at a premium cost to the authors.”

Distinguish it from what, I wonder? Perhaps from all of Author Solutions’ other already overpriced brands and partnerships—names like Author House, iUniverse, Xlibris, Trafford, Palibrio, Publish in the USA, Abbott Press, Balboa, WestBow, Inspiring Voices, Legacy Keepers, FuseFrame, Pitchfest, Author Learning Center, WordClay, BookTango and AuthorHive?

By charging $1,599 to $24,999 for packages, Simon & Schuster’s Archway may well succeed in distinguishing themselves as the most laughably overpriced self-publishing option available. But I can’t imagine the words “premium service” becoming the hallmark of this hookup. You see, S&S is taking a hands-off approach to the whole thing. Again, quoting from the Times:

“While the venture promises to access the expertise of a major publishing house, it will be completely operated and staffed by Author Solutions. With no Simon & Schuster personnel involved, and without the Simon & Schuster name attached in any way to the final product, Archway’s prices – significantly higher than even the most expensive competition – could be a hard sell.” [emphasis mine]

And we all know about Author Solutions’ reputation for great customer service and quality, right? I mean, are these people for real? Let’s run down the litany of complaints against ASI one more time to make sure we’re all on the same page. From an earlier post:

“The short list of recurring issues includes: making formerly out-of-print works available for sale without the author’s consent, improperly reporting royalty information, non-payment of royalties, breech of contract, predatory and harassing sales calls, excessive markups on review and advertising services, failure to deliver marketing services as promised, telling customers their add-ons will only cost hundreds of dollars and then charging their credit cards thousands of dollars, ignoring customer complaints, shaming and banning customers who go public with their stories, and calling at least one customer a ‘fucking asshole.’

Anywho…

I admit I scratched my head over the Pearson/Penguin buyout of Author Solutions this summer. But with this S&S deal, I think I’ve carved an inch-long notch out of my skull with my fingernail. They’re effectively letting their competition run their self-publishing show. And all they have to say about it is that they were so far along in the branding process they didn’t want to turn back?

Add that to the list of things I won’t be buying from Archway Publishing.

Old Writing Stuff · Self-Publishing · Writing & Freelance

Real-Life Horror: Author Solutions’ Book-to-Screen Prices

author solutions book to screenOn Monday, I noticed Author Solutions started touting its 2007 Trafford title, The Foreign Pawn written by Lee Yagel. Seems the book was optioned by Anarchy Management (what? seems legit to me), so Author Solutions, never wasting an opportunity to push an overpriced yet mostly useless marketing service, wrote a press release about it bragging that:

“The Cold-War period novel, written by Lee Yagel and published by Trafford, resulted from adding Author Solutions’ Book-to-Screen coverage services to his publishing package.”

(Dare you to diagram that sentence in your free time, by the way. It doesn’t say what I think Author Solutions intended it to say.)

Anyway, I imagine having a book optioned is pretty exciting for an author. Even though it’s no guarantee your novel will ever make it to the big screen, it does mean that someone wants the right to purchase the screenplay at some point down the road. And that’s cool.

The full truth about book options—something you won’t likely get from an Author Solutions employee—would probably temper the average writer’s enthusiasm, though.

Someone out there correct me if I’m wrong, but I think most options last between 1 and 3 years and option payments are nothing close to a windfall. Nope, odds are you won’t be paying off that 30-year mortgage. Also, plenty of book options just die. Nothing ever comes of them, and the rights just anticlimatically revert back to the author when the term of the option expires.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing and no one really gets hurt, unless you’re delusional enough to pay Author Solutions $859 to $16,299 for the privilege of such disappointment.

The Price of Trafford’s Book-to-Screen Marketing Services

Just in case you think I’m making up those ridonkulous numbers, here are the prices for all Book-to-Screen services taken directly from the Trafford website today. (iUniverse, AuthorHouse and other Author Solutions imprints have similar services.)

Hollywood Gatekeeper: [typography font=”Ubuntu” size=”14″ size_format=”px” color=”#c72222″]$859[/typography]

Hollywood Audition: [typography font=”Ubuntu” size=”14″ size_format=”px” color=”#c72222″]$2,149[/typography]

Hollywood Storyteller: [typography font=”Ubuntu” size=”14″ size_format=”px” color=”#c72222″]$3,749[/typography]

Hollywood Topliner: [typography font=”Ubuntu” size=”14″ size_format=”px” color=”#c72222″]$16,299[/typography]

Book-to-Screen PitchFest New York 2012 and Book-to-Screen PitchFest New York 2012 with Video through Trafford cost $1,999 and $3,499 respectively.

The Screenplay Treatments

One of the the things the Hollywood Storyteller package will get you is a treatment. According to Trafford, a treatment:

“is a thoroughly developed guide that outlines how a screenwriter would adapt your book into a fully-developed screenplay.”

Coincidentally, someone claiming to be a former freelancer with ASI, left a comment on the post, “Author Solutions & Jared Silverstone: Now With 99% More Bullshit”, explaining that these treatments are used to sell overpriced adaptations for screen. Well, here, just read for yourself:

Gawd — these guys. I had a pretty surreal experience freelancing for their ‘book-to-screen’ program. They had me adapting self-published manuscripts into treatments, which they apparently would then use to try and upsell their clients on exorbitantly overpriced screenplay adaptations. The whole thing reeked of selling snake-oil to people who didn’t realize that spec screenplays, regardless of quality, almost never get past the dreaded ‘intern readers,’ much less optioned, much less produced — whereas ASI assured that these adaptations would ‘most likely’ get produced, and with A-list Hollywood stars to boot.

Also keep in mind, the majority of these authors would insist upon one-to-one adaptations of their manuscripts (most of which had clearly never been edited), which typically yielded sprawling, 3-hour scripts that would be line-budgeted for 100+ million bucks.

What nonsense. Even better, ASI’s in-house ‘editors’ would inevitably return my treatments with a list of corrections that, at best, were arbitrary and, at worst, would themselves be rife with grammatical and syntactical errors. A few were riddled with spelling errors. Corresponding with editors who can’t spell does not exactly inspire professional confidence.

But I had to quit because I was continually corresponding with poor folks who seemed honestly to believe that this was their ‘big break’ into Hollywood. It seems ASI even set up their own production company so they could claim that ‘other companies’ have a ‘first look’ deal with their screenplays. Shady.

Now might be a good time to plug that self-publishing services directory I launched during Writers’ Week, you know, in case you’re looking for some alternatives to Author Solutions.

Old Writing Stuff · Writing & Freelance

The Cover’s the Thing

By Claire Ryan

…the play’s the thing
Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the King.
—Hamlet

Shakespeare was talking about theater, but the principle is the same: just like a play is a reflection of real life, a book cover is a reflection of what’s in the book.

At least, it should be.

I honestly believe that every book needs a good cover. Some indie authors like to publish with a serviceable cover and upgrade it to a better cover later, after they’ve made some sales. I think this is horrible advice. The cover is the first point of contact for most readers – going with a merely adequate one is just going to make it that much harder to get those initial sales. Authors should strive to publish with a cover that gives their book the best chance it can get from the very start, depending on their budget. Sometimes this does mean creating their own, but it’s not a job that can be done in a few minutes. A couple of days is not an unreasonable amount of time to spend on a cover for a book that took a couple of years to write.

Covers are tricky as well as important. They have to communicate a lot of information, consciously and unconsciously. If you’re going to create your own, you probably already know the basics – readable title and author name, looks good at scale, etc. Unfortunately, a truly effective design takes more than just the basics.

Visual Cues

It’s very interesting to examine what kind of visual information people pick up on when they see a cover. Little things make a lot of difference in how the book is perceived, and perception is everything. The cover should entice the reader to look at the blurb. The blurb should interest them enough to read a sample. The sample should convince them that the book is worth buying.

It’s obvious that the blurb and the sample can’t do their part if the cover doesn’t pop.

The visual cues of a cover are things like the fonts, the placement of text, the colors, the focal point. They can be simple, but they should never look unprofessional. Here’s an example:

writers week cover design

This is by far one of my favorite examples of good cover design. You can see that it’s quite simple at first glance, but there’s a lot going on there that you may not even realize you’ve processed.

The illustration is the focal point. That’s the first thing you see when you look at it, as it’s a large, centered block of color, and it tells you exactly what the book is about. It’s about struggling with questions. (The book is a literary work in which every sentence is a question.) Now, look at the position of the figure and the way his arms curve in the same rounded shape as the upper part of the question mark. He is effectively a bigger question mark that surrounds and emphasizes the smaller one.

Look at the choice of font, and how the question mark itself is a different, probably serif font to the sans-serif of the title and author name. Using a serif font there is less harsh, and more elegant, and this communicates that the question he is wrestling with isn’t entirely serious.

Now, look at the placement of the text. Why would the artist offset the first and third words in the title instead of centering them all? To leave more room for the illustration? No, that would be too easy. Instead, look at the sight lines of the cover – this is examining where and how the viewer looks at it as a whole.

writers week cover sightline

The eye starts at the focal point, then is pulled up to the title, which is the biggest text and the next most obvious thing. The offset of first and third words pulls the eye to the side and down, where it crosses the little description – “A Novel?” – and ends at the author’s name, which is centered.

Notice how the sight line also makes a curved shape like the top of the question mark?

All this and I haven’t even mentioned the obvious information, like who the author is and what the title is. Visual cues are just as important in describing a book as that. A viewer can follow the sight lines of a cover in a single glance without realizing it, and it’s up to you to make the most of that glance and make sure your book is reflected in it.

This is why nothing about a good book cover is accidental or done for convenience.

What Information?

Okay, knowing all that, the next question is what information should you convey about your book. The title and author’s name is obvious, but the choice of visual information isn’t.

It comes down to what your book is about in a couple of words. It’s about the big ideas, and there are always big ideas. I don’t mean what actually happens in the book, although you can use a scene as the illustration, because the plot is just a means of delivering the big ideas.

Think about this example: the sci-fi classic, Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke.

Rendezvous with Rama

Rendezvous with Rama is about encountering something far beyond what we have ever known. It’s about the wonder of a technological marvel, and the fear of what it might do to us. This is reflected in the cover. The strange, cylindrical Rama dwarfs the human spaceship, beautiful, threatening and fascinating at the same time. This is what I mean by the big ideas of a book.

Fantasy and sci-fi books sometimes fall into the trap of putting a scene on the cover without any kind of context and without really saying anything about the big ideas of the book. (The original covers for Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series are guilty of this. The most interesting one is The Dragon Reborn. The rest are generic and mainly consist of people standing around or on horseback. They don’t do any kind of justice to the rich world Jordan created or the major themes of sacrifice and epic destiny he incorporated into his writing.) Now, it’s certainly important to follow the trends of your genre and develop a cover that will play to your target readers, but there’s a difference between having a good cover for a particular genre and having a cover that could be put on ANY book in the same genre if you changed the text. If your cover is too generic, you’re not making the best use of it.

Start with an elevator pitch, if you like. Think about how to describe your book in as few words as possible. Think about how you want the reader to feel when they read it. This is what the cover needs to convey.

Useful Resources

Here’s my round up of the best resources to help you dig in to cover design:

Inkscape – I know plenty of authors make their covers with Photoshop, but my preferred program of choice has always been Inkscape. Just watch out for the steep learning curve, and the filters tend to slow it down considerably if you overuse them. Inkscape is a vector program, so you need to have your photo or illustration ready beforehand, but it makes the actual construction of covers very easy once you get used to it.

Google Webfonts – here’s a couple of hundred free fonts. You’ll find something there you can use if you want a particular look for your cover.

Color Scheme Designer – mostly used for websites, but I also like to use it for testing different color combinations and for getting ideas. Just be aware that the color in print (if you’re publishing on something like Createspace or Lulu) will not be exactly what you see on the screen.

The Book Designer’s Ebook Cover Awards – good for looking at a snapshot of different trends from month to month, and you can submit yours if you want.

ConceptArt.org – the pit of sharks itself. If you want to get brutally honest feedback from design professionals, post your cover in the Graphic Design forum here. They may not be able to tell you what’s right for your genre, but their feedback will help you make your cover look as good as it can be.

TutsPlus – this can get you started on the nuts and bolts of design. Scroll down to the very bottom of the screen and you’ll find the Tuts+ Network, which has hundreds of tutorials (free and paid). They concentrate on Photoshop and Illustrator so their usage might be limited, but they’ll definitely give you ideas.

Noupe.com’s Graphic Design Primer – interesting reading if you want to dig into more of the theory behind design, with examples.

[box border=”full”]Claire Ryan is a graphic/web designer, all-round computer expert, programmer, data analyst, and aspiring writer. She currently lives in Vancouver, Canada, having escaped from the untamed wilderness that is the south of Ireland. Claire currently runs the Raynfall Agency, a publishing business that handles technical things for writers. [/box]

Guest Posts · Old Writing Stuff · Self-Publishing · Writers' Week 2012 · Writing & Freelance

Writing a Book? Set Goals and Stay Motivated.

WriterBy Stacy Ennis

Once writers have a book idea that takes hold, the urge to write can be an unstoppable force. Many go into the book-writing process with a high amount of energy, ready to write until their fingers fall off. They envision their stories, ideas, or business concepts flowing gracefully and concisely onto the computer screen. Many make such claims as, “I don’t ever get writer’s block!” or “I don’t have trouble sitting down and writing every day.”

When I hear statements like these, I usually offer a knowing smile. And behind that smile is the knowledge of two things: 1) Most writers will hit a point when they just can’t write another word, and 2) Many aspiring authors never finish their book projects…and if they do, it’ll take them longer than they ever expected.

So, as you set out to write your best-selling cookbook or the next chart-topping young adult vampire novel, do some planning. A proactive approach to writing the first draft of your book will help you maintain focus and motivation as you accomplish a pretty impressive task. The following tips will help you overcome some of the major hurdles authors face:

#1: Choose a consistent time and space.

Figure out where you write best. Is it at a busy coffee shop? At the kitchen table, with a cup of tea and soft music playing? At the office, once your work is finished and colleagues have gone home? Wherever it is, make sure you have consistent access to that space.

Then, sit down with your calendar and determine how much time per week you have to devote to writing your book. Choose specific times each week that will be given exclusively to writing. If you keep a planner, schedule yourself out to write. Treat that time the same you would any other important appointment.

#2: Outline, outline, outline.

Now that you have your designated writing space and time set aside each week, it’s time to outline your book. Even if it’s just a loose outline, and even if you’re a fiction writer who likes to go with the literary flow, an outline can be a make-or-break thing. Proper planning can help save hours of rewriting, since the structure and main concepts (or story elements) are already established. You know all of those brilliant thoughts that strike you from time to time? How about those pages of notes you’ve been saving to eventually use when you write your book? An outline helps you place your notes, ideas, and research into the right places, as well as helps you visualize where you are in the book-writing process. It also helps you see that the end is in sight when you’re halfway through your draft.

#3: Set goals.

Goal setting isn’t just for losing weight and financial planning; it can be used while writing the first draft of your book, too. Do some research into the word count of typical books in your genre. Then, determine an approximate number of words you can write in the amount of time you have available per week (which you determined in step #1). For example, you might be writing a nonfiction business book and find that your specific niche tends to be in the 30,000-word range. Let’s say you have four hours available per week to write, split between two days, and you can write about 2,000 words in that amount of time, or 1,000 words per session (since you have two two-hour sessions per week). With our example above, it would take 15 weeks, or less than four months, to write a 30,000-word book. Not bad, right?

Next, look at your outline and assign loose word count totals for each chapter. The easiest way to do this is to divide evenly. In our example, let’s say there are eight chapters at 3,750 words each. So, it would take about two weeks to write the first draft of one chapter. Determining per-chapter word counts will help you gauge the approximate amount of time you should be spending on each chapter.

Finally, use these goals as you work on your book. Each writing day, set out to complete 1,000 words, or whatever goal you’ve set. Try to not spend more than the budgeted time on a chapter, unless you really need to. You can always go back later and expand, rework, or revise the chapter. The key is getting the first draft done. You can unleash your perfectionism in later drafts.

Setting small goals helps you accomplish little victories along the way—which can be very important in maintaining motivation to achieve the bigger goal: writing a book.

#4 Tell your friends and family.

Writing is a solo affair, but it’s rarely successful if the author works in absolute isolation. Accountability is one of the best motivators for success. Ask your friends and family to support you as you work on this big goal. Let them know that you need their help to stay motivated and focused, whether it’s verbal encouragement or helping with life tasks. The kids can do some extra chores for a little while, right? And your mom would be happy to help pick Foo Foo up from doggie day care once a week, now wouldn’t she? Just don’t forget to thank them in the acknowledgements section of your book once it’s published.

#5 Take it one bite at a time.

A colleague once told me that writing a book is like eating an elephant—you have to take it one bite at a time. Eat too much, too fast, and you’ll most likely find yourself getting overwhelmed. When you’re working on chapter 1, let it be the only thing in your writing world. Let yourself focus fully on developing that chapter, without getting distracted by the larger project ahead of you. On a smaller scale, focus on the daily writing goal. If you’re aiming for 1,000 words in two hours, then focus on finishing that goal.

#6 Sacrifice: get your butt in the chair.

You weren’t expecting that one, were you? Well, here’s the truth: Writing a book takes sacrifice. It won’t write itself…even if you ask really, really nicely. This sometimes means making personal sacrifices. Dinner with friends or monthly wine tasting may have to be put on hold until you accomplish your goal. But you can do anything for a few months, right? Stick with your goals, get your butt in that chair, and write your book.

#7 Remember: It’s not done.

Many writers make the mistake of believing that their first drafts have to be perfect. This tendency toward perfectionism can be crippling as new authors try to get the first drafts of their books finished. But the truth is that all books go through several drafts—heck, mine took six drafts over seven months! What you are writing now is just the beginning of what your book will eventually become. During later stages, your editor will help you take your book from good to great and transform your first-draft prose into the well-written book you envisioned when you set out on your book-writing endeavor. So don’t get so hung up on writing the perfect book that you never get done writing it.

Thomas Edison must have been talking about book writing when he said, “Genius is one percent inspiration, ninety-nine percent perspiration.” By setting goals and taking steps to stay motivated, you will be able to put in the work required to finish your book—and achieve a pretty awesome lifetime accomplishment.

[box border=”full”]Stacy EnnisStacy Ennis is a book and magazine editor, book coach, and speaker. Her book, The Editor’s Eye: A Practical Guide to Transforming Your Book from Good to Great, will be released in September 2012. Visit http://www.nightowlspress.com/e-book-store/the-editors-eye/ for more information.[/box]

Old Writing Stuff · Self-Publishing · Writers' Week 2012 · Writing & Freelance

Fine Print of Self-Publishing Giveaway – Friday

Writing contest not your thing, but you still want to win? You’re in luck! Hillcrest Media CEO Mark Levine has donated 5 copies of his book The Fine Print of Self-Publishing to give away to a random participant every day of Writers’ Week! Use the widget below to enter to win today’s copy.

Sorry, this one’s open to U.S. residents only. (It’s a shipping thing.)

the fine print of self-publishing

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