Chapter 7: 5 Myths about Keeping a Deadline

There’s something strangely intimidating about the word “deadline.”  I mean, after all, the first four letters spell out “dead.”  Then, there’s the fact that most indie authors are such (rather than choosing the traditional publishing route) because of the independence that comes along with the choice.

This is all well and good, except for the fact that it can lead to laziness.  With no agent/editor/publisher demanding you finish so much by a certain day, it’s easy to decide writing a certain amount each day isn’t that important.  The inspiration will hit when it hits, so to speak.  Here are ten myths about keeping a deadline as an indie author:

 

Myth #1: There’s no consequence to missing a self-imposed deadline.  To put this into perspective, simply because your parents can no longer ground you for a poor report card in college doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have adverse effects.  Companies still look at your GPA and base you on such; you just see this fact much later.  In writing terms, I’d like to bring up a fact I did in an earlier post: certain websites have algorithms set to do free marketing on your eBooks based on the dates published.  You waiting too long to publish a sequel in a series could hurt what I like to call the Mountain Effect (your first book sales will increase again upon the publication of a second book and so on).

Myth #2: Editors will drop what they’re doing to work on your novel upon demand.  Believe it or not, editors are just as busy as authors.  They have a client list, and your book will be put into a waiting list upon contact.  You should be prepared for the wait.  Email them early on, requesting a spot in November (for example).  This will give you your own timeline to meet, and will force you to write more accordingly.

Myth #3: Sales aren’t affected by publication date, so you can simply publish the book whenever it’s complete.  As said in my last Tuesday’s post, the best time to publish is very dependent on the genre.  Why would people want to read your romance book in August, as opposed to the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day?  What about your adventure book in February, as opposed to the summer months when they’re most likely on vacation in their own sort of adventure?  Timing is everything.

Myth #4: It’s better to write no words at all than write when you’re not feeling inspired.  In truth, an author spends more time re-writing than writing.  With that being said, the initial draft is obviously the hardest, as it requires the most creative juices.  What’s easier?  Piecing together an already complete puzzle, or designing the puzzle itself?  It’s true that you might rework the plot later based on a burst of inspiration, but at the end of the day it’s easier to do so when there’s more of the story already written down.

Myth #5: Schedules are always changing, so it’s pointless to set a deadline when you know you won’t be able to keep it.  This is best explained to be false with a common cliché:  Shoot for the moon; even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.  It’s important to note here that your deadline should be reasonable.  That’s actually one of the pros to it being self-imposed.  With that said, even if life gets in the way and you honestly can’t complete it in time, still work like you’re trying to.  Don’t just give up simply because you’re a few weeks off schedule.  No matter what, you’ll be in a better position if you work to keep up with the deadline.

 

These myths seem obvious, and we often believe them when we’re going through a spout of depression (ironically usually about missing a deadline).  People often forget that being an author is really like being an entrepreneur.  That means treating your work like a business.  Enjoy the creativity of the job, and don’t rush the art.  (Again, deadlines aren’t meant to be stressful.  Set it to be reasonable.)  In short: eat, sleep, write, repeat.

Change of Scenery

Today my family is off to visit the Smokey Mountains for a few days.  Even if I wasn’t a nature-lover, I would be happy.  For three weeks, I’ve been stuck in my house.  Don’t get me wrong; I’ve enjoyed using the time to both write and catch up on my reading.  Still, I’m going a little crazy here.  Hopefully the change of scenery will be inspiring and spark my imagination!

Chapter 6: Marketing Strategies

This chapter is dedicated to the part of my character that you’ve yet to read about: my inner businesswoman.  I foreshadowed this event in an earlier post when I mentioned my major in Finance.  The degree required marketing classes, and as such I’ve come up with a list of suggestions for authors who choose the self-publishing route.  I should note these items are in no way guaranteed to work.

~ If a multi-book series, publish books about three months apart. This is when big websites greatly lower their advertisements of your book unless sales have done remarkably well.  Although it may take you longer to finish a novel, simply wait to publish the first until you feel comfortable that you’d complete the second in time and so on.

~ Once Book #2 sales decline past your personal desired level, donate only the first book to libraries. This will force them to buy your other books once they’ve fallen in love with your series.
* Choose cities you donate to based on the population demographic (look for your books’ target group)
* You can add more books to the library once

~ Optimal dates to sell eBook by genre:
* January-April: Romance, Self-help, Business books, Cookery
* May-August: Adventure, Fantasy, Travel
* September-November: Academic, Horror, Paranormal
* December-January: Children, Cookery, Illustrated, Quiz, Dictionaries and quirky fun books [1]

~ Every three books, offer a deal for set.
* Example: You’re selling each book for $2.99. Sales are starting to steadily
decline for Book #3.  Offer Books #1-#3 for $4.99.
* Example: You’re selling each book for $2.99.  Sales are starting to steadily
decline for Book #6.  Offer Books #4-#6 for $4.99.

~ Use every avenue to promote Publishing Date. Examples:
* Twitter
^ use trending hashtags and relate to your story
^ create unique hashtag and try to get it trending
* Facebook
^groups
* Instagram

~ Reach out to freelance book reviewers. The standard is that you give them a free copy for an unbiased review.
* Continue going back to the same reviewers each book. Build a
professional relationship with them.  They might eventually let your books
“cut lines” when you reach out to them.

~ Listen to feedback.  If your readers tweet or ask a lot about a certain character or pairing, take note. Use that popularity and see if you can create a standalone about them.
* Do not sacrifice quality to try to force a sale. This will only anger your
readers, especially since it was one of their favorite characters you just
ruined, and you may lose loyal regular buyers.

~ Create and/or utilize website. Your author persona should already have one of these, so now use it.  Post about the books.  Ask your followers questions.  Give them something to interact with where possible.
* Subscribers List. Once they sign up, you’ve got them trapped for any news that you feel is relevant about the series!

~ Hold fan art contest about book’s characters. Offer appropriate monetary rewards for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd
     * Utilize social media to promote

~ Post a serial/short stories on your website in the same world/universe as your series. Again, do not sacrifice quality.

 

[1] Rooney, Mich. “Reaching Readers: Best Timing for Book Launches.”  SelfPublishing Advice Center.  N.p., 22 Nov. 2014. Web. 31 May 2017.

Wonder Woman!

This would be the part where my inner geek kicks in and suggests you go to see Wonder Woman this weekend!  She’s always been my sister’s favorite super hero, and I’ve got to admit she’s pretty damn awesome.  So basically, if they ruin her, I will cry.

Chapter 5: Clutter and Craziness

Today I took a look at my “writing” folder.  In that folder, is another set of folders, each labelled as a different book title (or if I didn’t get that far, maybe “genie book” or “empire one”).  Each one of those folders has a number of different scenes or drafts of unfinished novels.  To call it clutter would be an understatement.

I have eleven folders dedicated to individual story plots, and have completed one novel.  What does that tell you?

Here’s the thing, though: I’ve lost inspiration for most of them.  It makes me sad, to say the least.  I have characters stuck in a waiting room that they’ll never be called out of.  Each is so beautiful and dear to me in his/her own way, but I just can’t find it in me to make their stories go anywhere.  Nothing comes to me past a scene or two.

So, what am I going to do?  First things first, if it’s the character that came to me crystal clear, I might try to put them in another story.  They’re not dependent on the original plot, so why not?  But, what if it’s just a scene?  One single scene that I can see clear as day, but nothing more.  It’s quite simple, really.

Write a short story.  They’re actually quite underrated.  I originally grew into the habit of short stories while waiting to hear back from agents last year – to pass the time without yet being ready to delve into another novel.  In short (haha), it was a past time.  However, they quickly became worth more to me.

My abilities when it comes to descriptions have greatly strengthened thanks to them.  I’ve also learned the beauty in simplicity – don’t put words on the page for the sake of count.  I don’t mean during the original draft where you’re jotting down your ideas.  I mean in the editing stages.  It becomes tempting to try to make your story sound eloquent by using too-large words and over-description.  The story becomes lost in it.

A lot of magazines that I submit to have a word count just under my story’s draft once I’m done with it.  That means I have to re-look at it, and decide what the story absolutely can’t live without.  Honestly, that should always be our point of view.  If it’s not relative to the story, and doesn’t propel the plot forward, why waste your readers’ time with it?  If I’m attached to a scene, the question becomes “how can I make this scene more relevant to the plot?” and then bam, my plot becomes just as complicated as I like it, but in a well compacted box.  Once carefully unwrapped, you have a beautifully woven story.

Here’s the off-putting fact about magazines, though: not only does your story have to be right for the brand of the magazine, but it has to fit in with the particular issue, as well.  It means you have to kill two birds with one stone, or none at all.

The rejection bites, but it helps your outlook on what that means.  Rejection doesn’t mean your book should be thrown out; it means there’s still room for improvement.  Take your book, mold it.  Listen to what people are saying, but stand by what you’re set on.  Sometimes stubbornness can be a good thing, but just know where to draw the line.

This post is going to end here, so I know it’s rather shorter than the others.  My final thought I want to leave you with is to take the time to get to know your characters as thoroughly as you would someone you care about in this tricked-up world we like to call reality.  It can make the difference between a forgotten story, and one that widens your reader’s scope for life.