Write, Finish, Edit: A Writer’s Guide to Moving Forward and Finishing

We’ve all pictured the cloistered writer hunched in solitude over a notepad or laptop, furiously scratching out word after glorious word well into the wee hours. The brilliance flows faster than he can capture it on paper until the day he triumphantly types “The End” …

Well, that’s how we imagine it, but it rarely goes so smoothly! Writing a book is a big project and a long process, and the direction is not always obvious or easy. It’s common — even normal — for an author to hit roadblocks. Call it writer’s block, brain cramps or something else, but it gets us all at one time or another.

Let’s face it: We need more than an imagination and determination to get to the finish line. Sometimes we need outside intervention, and it comes in many forms. Here are some writer’s block-breakers you can seek out next time the creative juice stop flowing:

  • Inspiration. It can be as simple as a walk or a favorite song, or as stimulating as a brainstorming session with another writer. Enlist someone you trust to motivate you to think about your story in a different light.
  • Advice. Sometimes the inspiration is there but you just need specific, practical guidance to iron out the wrinkles in your plot, character development or story arc.
  • Unbiased feedback. Enthusiastic cheerleading feels good, but it’s not always what you need. If you’re relying on friends and family for feedback, you’re better off with brutal honesty … but how many people you know are willing to provide it?
  • Editing. Leave this one to a professional. While it’s fine to lean on friends, family and fans for the final proofread for typos, hire or trade services with a professional editor to do the heavy lifting. They’ll not only whip your grammar, syntax, punctuation and spelling into shape, but will also make sure your story is organized optimally for clarity and enjoyment.
  • Help finishing. There’s no shame in handing off your “baby” to another writer. Ghostwriters are a poorly kept secret in the literary world and extremely common. Odds are some of your favorite bestsellers were penned — either wholly or in part — by a ghostwriter. A talented ghostwriter is adept at adapting to your voice and creating a finished work that is everything you envisioned, or even better than you pictured!

When writer’s get stuck, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Writing consultants, editors, Publishing Consultants, proofreaders and ghostwriters all fulfill different needs, so figure out how extensive your manuscript issues are before deciding on a path to getting it back on track.

Not sure what you need to get over that writing hump? Visit us online at www.outskirtspress.com to chat with a Publishing Consultant or call us at 1-888-672-6657 to find out how to finish your manuscript and get it ready for publication.

 

Capture the Magic in Your Next Children’s Book!

You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who might claim that writing children’s books is easy; in fact, most people in the know will tell you exactly the opposite. Publishing professionals, editors, and authors alike must face up to the peculiar challenges of the genre, which include writing a captivating story, generating eye-popping illustrations, and creating a marketing strategy which will appeal to both the children who make up your primary audience—and the adults who must pay for its purchase. And here’s a fun fact: sometimes children and adults like different things!

There is no other book genre out there which has such a division between its readers and its purchasers … but don’t let that get you down! There are ways to write and publish children’s books which will sell well to folks of all ages, and here we have put together a top six tips list to help you create your own.

  1. Mind your length. As any preschool teacher or children’s librarian can confirm, reading with children is most enjoyable for both parties when the book in question contains just enough text to carry the story along without exhausting their attention. The amount of text you can get away with per page will lengthen as your target audience grows older, but a general rule of thumb is to start with two lines of text per page for toddlers and to go from there.
  2. Pick a timely subject. Picture books are more likely to be picked up by parents, teachers, and librarians on the prowl if they tackle subjects which these adults want to prepare their children to face. In 2014, for instance, one of the most popular subjects was bullying. In 2015, diversity and Civil Rights spiked in popularity. In 2016, picture books featuring public service and leadership frequently hit the bestseller lists. One of the strengths of self-publishing is the fact that books can respond to current events, go to press, and hit bookshelves much more quickly than their traditional counterparts. Take advantage!
  3. Don’t dumb it down. You heard right—baby talk doesn’t carry as compelling of a story as a book which treats its younger audiences with a rich vocabulary and sophisticated sentence structure. Embed what some writers call “gift words” throughout your book, and elevate the beauty of your lines the same way you would for adults. After all, it’s very likely adults will be reading your book aloud to or alongside their kids, and this will transform your book from pure entertainment to a learning opportunity.
  4. Voice morals carefully, and cleverly. Young children will often miss the meat of your agenda, and adults may be turned off from purchasing your book for their kids because it strikes them as “too preachy” or because they disagree with your point. Many of the most successful picture books are indeed rich with moral material, and few will argue otherwise than that picture books are prime tools for teaching sound decision-making skills, but most of these success stories find clever, quiet ways to do so without alienating readers.
  5. Think about those end materials! Many of today’s best picture books include a few pages at the end which include notes for adults on how to make best use of the book in teaching a skill or an idea to young readers. These thoughtful additions often help parents and educators to recognize the care which went into writing and publishing the book, and to put it to work in a more intentional way.
  6. Humor me. Or rather, humor them! Children have a keen sense of humor, and are particularly sensitive to farce and comedy. Adults are more attuned to situational and other forms of irony. A good picture book will entertain everyone by tapping into intersectional forms of humor, just as a good children’s movie usually has some sort of mature subtext embedded within it to keep parents awake in the theater. You can also use humor as a teaching tool, so everyone wins!

In an ideal world, you would be able to focus on the act of writing your picture book, and not have to worry about the complicated minutiae of publishing and marketing your book which you may or may not feel prepared enough to tackle. Luckily, we already live in that world! At Outskirts Press, you can turn to us at any stage of the publishing process, whether you’re reading this newsletter and finding tips on how to move forward with your writing, or using our One-Click Publishing suite to publish your next children’s book, or exploring your options for illustrations and interior formatting. We offer a comprehensive list of services which we hope you’ll take advantage of as you work to translate your vision to the page!

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Best of Luck to the Official 2017 Outskirts Press EVVY Award Nominees!

This year, we have a brand-new batch of quality EVVY Award nominees to brag about! The EVVYs are an acclaimed annual award program sponsored by the Colorado Independent Publishers’ Association, or CIPA, which recognize and raise the profile of excellent independently published books. The EVVYs are judged by a panel of professionals on a qualitative scale of merit in a set of categories which broadens each year. As of 2017, there are fifty-one of these categories!

Each year, Outskirts Press officially nominates a small percentage of the books published during the year for submission to the EVVY Awards. Since a nomination is the first step toward receiving the Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year Award, the standards are exceedingly high; we nominate, on average, just 2% of the books we publish each year-and these nominations represent the very best of our publications as determined by our executives and members of our production teams.

Outskirts Press official nominees and winners receive additional exposure of their books in featured Outskirts Press marketing channels, including our blog, social media networks, and in our email newsletters. The winners are announced during an awards ceremony hosted by the Colorado Independent Publishers Association in May.

Congratulations to this year’s Official Outskirts Press EVVY Award nominees, presented alphabetically below:

There’s more!

As a result of being nominated for the EVVY Awards, these Outskirts Press authors have taken the first step toward winning the coveted Outskirts Press Best Book of the Year Award. Three of the nominees above who subsequently win an EVVY Award during the CIPA banquet this coming May will be selected as Semi-Finalists for our annual Best Book of the Year Award and its $1,500 Grand Prize. Stay tuned.

All of these books, along with other Outskirts Press titles, are available from the major online book retailers like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powell’s, Books-A-Million and others, plus conveniently from the Outskirts Press bookstore. To learn more about our products and services, as well as upcoming and current promotions, visit us online at www.outskirtspress.com or call us at 1-888-672-6657 to speak with a Publishing Consultant.

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Prepare for a Summer of Book Sales with FREE Shipping In May!

Spring is an exciting time for those of us involved in self-publishing, with many authors taking advantage of phenomenal promotional opportunities such as spring book fairs as well as laying the groundwork for a summer of book sales and promotions of their own.

Stocking up for the big book-selling push can get pricey, however, and we at Outskirts Press want to lift some of the burden so that you make the most of the spring and summer seasons. To this end, we will be offering all currently published authors FREE SHIPPING on orders of 50 or more copies of their books within the continental U.S during the month of May.

It’s a good idea to have extra copies of your book on hand for those upcoming promotional events, including readings, giveaways, book fairs, and tours! By combining this free shipping offer with our bulk order discounts, you’ll be thoroughly prepared for whatever the summer throws your way— all without unduly depleting your bank account!

Here’s how to get that free shipping:

  1. Log in to your author account at www.OutskirtsPress.com, select “order books” and place an order for 50 or more copies of your book(s) in a single format before May 31.
  2. Select normal ground shipping with a delivery address within the continental United States and proceed with checkout.
  3. That’s it!

No promotion code is necessary. You will see the free shipping offer reflected in your total once you place your order.

If you’re not sure how to approach marketing your self-published book and haven’t yet taken advantage of Outskirts Press’ many promotional services, consider contacting a Personal Marketing Assistant to come up with a solid action plan for this summer!

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Get Thee to BookExpo, Post-Haste!

If you’ve spent much time investigating the best ways to market and sell your self-published book, then you’ll already know that the value of a tactile face-to-face encounter is simply unmatched! What if you could get your book in front of agents, scouts, movie or TV production and development professionals, as well as scads and scads of potential new readers? This is what BookExpo can do for you!

Every year, the BookExpo (formerly Book Expo America, BEA) attracts over 100,000 attendees from all over the world and is the largest gathering of authors, booksellers, publishers, and industry professionals in North America! This year, the three-day expo will take place in New York City and conclude with BookCon, a signature two-day event for fans “where storytelling and pop culture collide.”

The BookExpo kicks off on Wednesday, May 31st at 9:00 AM and concludes on Friday, June 2nd at 5:00 PM. If you’re in the New York area (or can arrange to be in the New York area) we highly recommend that you stop on by the exhibition space and peruse both our display and the others available! Registration is now open for attendees through the BookExpo website.

But … what about your book?

If you’re looking to get your book into the BookExpo to further launch your career as an author, Outskirts Press can help you get there next year. Every year, we send a cohort of five of our works to the BookExpo, providing them valuable face-out exposure. We also send a representative to answer questions about your book, and feature your title in the trade show catalogue as a “title on display” for the reference of industry professionals. Just keep an eye out for our registration service when it rolls back around in 2018, with a deadline in early April!

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Long Live Beautiful Books and the Independent Bookstores Who Sell Them!

Ever heard of Lev Grossman or The Magicians, lately adapted for television and with its second season airing on the Syfy channel? Not only is this a series steeped in cultural relevance and post-Millennium angst, but Grossman has become something of a leading defender of books and bookstores for our generation.

Last year, Grossman published an article in TIME titled The Death of the Bookstore Was Greatly Exaggerated. “There’s a delicious moribund melancholy about them,” he says about bookstores, but the facts give a very different—and happy!—outlook. Based on recent research published from the American Booksellers Association and other reputable sources, Grossman points out that bookstores—particularly independent bookstores—are thriving. After all, Americans still love and appreciate a beautifully designed book!

The numbers are going up, not down! As Grossman and others have pointed out in months’ past, sales through indie bookstores grew roughly 5% in the first quarter of 2016, and the numbers held steady throughout the year. Indie sales accounted for about 10% of all books sold “in 2015, up from 7% in 2014 according to the article. And while the news isn’t all rosy—Barnes & Noble lost 86 stores between 2009 and 2016, with sales at big box stores dipping in proportion, and booksellers in the United Kingdom are shoring up against small losses&mdash&;but Americans at least are demonstrating a heretofore-unseen loyalty to both physical, print books and the independent bookstores who sell them.

E-books aren’t going anywhere—and neither are print books. Their market shares have steadied, but since Americans are reading more books of all kinds there is steady growth in sales across the board! “The paper book,” writes Grossman, is “a piece of information technology that has, after all, been tested and honed over the past 2,000 years [and] has declined to give way.”

What does this have to do with you, a self-publishing author? Quite a lot, actually. As Grossman says, “Book-industry analysts talk a lot about ‘discovery,’ by which they mean the ways people find and purchase new books. It turns out, according to consumer research by Nielsen, that the best method for book discovery is still standing in a roomful of books” with the option to browse, at length, and stumble across books which a person wouldn’t otherwise encounter. And not every author, much less every self-publishing author, has the requisite skills, time, and energy to produce a book—print or digital—to take advantage of the indie bookstore’s long legacy and healthy prognosis.

At Outskirts Press, we have put together a team of professionals, including stellar graphic designers, who are committed to translating your dream to reality and to producing the best possible version of your book. We hope you’ll consider publishing with us, and if you have any questions you can find out more on our website (www.outskirtspress.com) or contact us by phone (1-888-672-6657)—or even live chat with us online! Our Publishing Consultants are on hand and eager to set you up for success as you brave the process of self-publishing!

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Outskirts Press Lends Support to the Colorado Book Awards in 2017

Outskirts Press is once again sponsoring the annual Colorado Book Awards celebrating the accomplishments of Colorado authors, illustrators, photographers and editors. Denver-based Outskirts Press has been helping authors worldwide successfully publish and market books since 2002 and is proud to be an ongoing part of the Colorado Book Awards.

The Colorado Center for the Book, the program department of the Colorado Humanities, runs the Colorado Book Awards, which is presented annually by Colorado Humanities & Center for the Book. The awards were launched in 1991 with just four categories of awards to recognize authors, illustrators, editors and publishers, and have since expanded to 14 literary categories: Anthology, Biography, Children’s Literature, Creative Nonfiction, General Fiction, General Nonfiction, Genre Fiction, History, Juvenile Literature, Literary Fiction, Mystery, Poetry, Thriller, and Young Adult Literature.

Many of Colorado’s most prominent authors have been recognized with awards, including David Milofsky, John Fielder, Tom Noel, Stephanie Kane and Linda Hogan, among others. Judging generally occurs in April, and the awards are presented at a ceremony in Parker, Colorado, in late spring.

Visit http://www.coloradohumanities.org for more information about the Colorado Book Awards.

Are you a non-Coloradan but interested in other book award opportunities? Visit Outskirts Press to learn more about how book awards can help move your book to new levels of success, or to get your book submitted.

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