Publish Your Poems During National Poetry Month

Did you know that the month of April is, among other things, National Poetry Month? This makes April the perfect month to publish that book of poems you’ve been thinking about for a while, and not just because this month provides some great marketing opportunities; it’s also the perfect month to think about the reasons why we write, and the ways in which we put words together on the page. It’s a month to re-envision our craft as wordsmiths!

First, I might point you to the experience of Mirtha Michelle Castro Marmol, whose first book of poems, Letters, to the Men I Have Loved, did more than moderately well … it did so exceptionally well as to remain on Amazon’s bestseller lists for months! Mirtha Michelle Castro Marmol published through Outskirts Press, and in our interview with her on our blog, she said that the most rewarding part of being published “is and will always be” the ability her book had “to touch people.” Said Ms. Castro Marmol, “It’s crazy because I didn’t think people really read books anymore. But for me, having these girls go and buy my book, and spend their twenty dollars or so on Letters … it’s amazing, that someone believes in things still.” Readers have been snapping up copies of her books, both in physical and digital forms, at such a rate as to firmly prove that people still “really read books” … including poetry!

So how do successful poets do it?

Success as a self-publishing poet is all about consistency, commitment, and personal development. To help you become the best poet you can be, here are three ways to improve your writing as well as self-publishing your work.

  1. Read, Read, Read! Any time you want to improve your skills and become more successful, reading can help. Read poetry! Read books and articles about writing and publishing poetry! Read information about self-publishing! Read anything that inspires you to write and become the best poet you can be, but don’t limit yourself to poetry and industry-related books. Read fiction, non-fiction, magazines, newspapers, blogs, and advertisements. Read everything and anything you can get a hold of. You never know what will inspire you!
  2. Stay Committed: If you want to be successful, you need to commit yourself to your craft. Make time to write every day. Look for ways to continue to learn and grow. Figure out what motivates you and include those motivations in your daily life. Share your goals with others so they can help you accountable. Never give up on dreams.
  3. Be Consistent: Whether you are writing, editing, or marketing, be consistent. Work on your poetry every day. Set a schedule for when you will write, edit, or market your work. Set goals for yourself, and make a plan to achieve them. Successful writers don’t write sporadically; they work on their craft in some way every single day.

Supposing that these three suggestions have provided you with the motivation you need, what next? Well, turn this list on its head and consider it a starting point … and a list of tips for starting your next book! The path to publication may not always be smooth, but there are ways to make sure it is well-lit and passable. And that’s why we’re here to provide you with the services and resources you need to move from a grand idea for your next book to a finished, published book of poems for the next generation.

Not sure what you need to get started publishing your poetry? Visit us online at 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. To see our staff picks of amazing poetry books from many of our authors, visit our Pinterest page by clicking here.

Self-Publishing & Book Pricing. Like Oil & Water?

If you’re a self-publishing author, or thinking about becoming one, you may already know that “book pricing” or “royalties” can be confusing concepts. When each self-publishing company uses a different calculation and even different terminology, comparing them can be exhausting.

Imagine learning everything you ever wanted or needed to know about book pricing and royalties in the self-publishing industry in just six minutes!

Now you can! Brent Sampson, the founder and president of Outskirts Press, the A+ rated and #1-rated self-publishing company according to the Better Business Bureau and Top Consumer Reviews, respectively, recently recorded the following video to try to answer many of the questions he has heard over the past eighteen years of helping writers become published authors. Enjoy!

Are you ready to publish your masterpiece in 2020? If so, connect with Outskirts Press right now in whatever manner is easiest for you:


The Outskirts Press Self-Publishing Kit

Nearly all self-publishing companies offer writers an “incentive” to join their newsletter or mailing list. In most cases, this is the company’s own “Publishing Guide.”  These guides vary from sleek sales brochures to informative books covering the process of self-publishing (typically with that particular self-publishing company).

Other self-publishers offer “white papers” or “tip sheets” or “advice columns” focusing on specific topics or obstacles an author may face when self-publishing a book. While often more informative (at least about said topic or obstacle), these white papers are usually much shorter, and therefore of less perceived value.

A few self-publishing companies combine their publishing guide with a robust collection of white papers and tip sheets to create a treasure trove of helpful resources for writers. The guide typically markets the company and its offerings, perhaps sheds light on the self-publishing and book marketing processes, and shines a spotlight on a successful authors.  The white papers, advice columns, and tip sheets, on the other hand, identify core questions or issues facing many writers and offers suggestions or solutions to pave an author’s path toward publication and success.

Outskirts Press offers just such a Publishing Kit to new clients for free at the following link:

Watch the video about the Publishing Kit below:

Your complimentary Publishing Kit contains:

  • 7 Tips to Self-Publish Like a Pro
  • The most recent book by Outskirts Press President Brent Sampson: Self-Publishing Questions Asked & Answered
  • Our definitive publishing guide: Publish Your Passion
  • Book shepherd one-sheet: Meet Your Publishing Consultant
  • Author success white paper: 7 Highly Effective Rules for the Perfect Book Title
  • Author guide: Author Photo & Biography Guide
  • Author tip sheet: The Top 7 Marketing Elements to Include in Your Book
  • Author guide: Which Book Format Should I Choose?
  • Author white paper: How to Price Your Book
  • Publishing white paper: Diving into Self-Publishing
  • About Outskirts Press: Publishing brochure
  • One stop shop: Custom illustration samples in color and black & white

It’s Always Q&A Time at Outskirts Press!

Success in self-publishing requires a powerful, carefully-crafted platform — and at Outskirts Press, we recognize the value in knowing all of your options before getting started. This is why, we make it easy to connect with a publishing consultant!

For the third year in a row, we were rated as the #1 Publisher by Top Consumer Reviews, an award which boils down to two simple words: personal service. No matter what life throws your way, we are here to ensure that you receive the best possible return on your investment by providing top-notch personal service in the form of a Publishing Consultant.

What exactly is a Publishing Consultant? They’re the ones who among other things can help you navigate:

  • Selecting the best publishing package for your book
  • Determining the best options for your book
  • Manuscript submission
  • Designing both the cover and interior of your book
  • Copyediting
  • Creating ebooks and digital trailers
  • Writing and distributing press releases
  • Filing for LCCN and Library of Congress listings
  • Registering for an official copyright, and more!

Other self-publishing companies might offer personal consultation as a part of their services, but Outskirts Press is one of the few that does so before full payment! Even before you pay the $35 down payment which will start you on your publishing journey, you can reach out to a Publishing Consultant via chat on our website or speak with one by phone at 1-888-672-6657.

You can even schedule a meeting directly with a Publishing Consultant via the following link — Schedule a Consultation.

It’s time! You can start getting answers to even the most pressing of questions by speaking with one of our expert staff today!


Quality Matters in Self-Publishing — and Outskirts Press Delivers

Readers are a discerning bunch. They take cues on mood, tone and content from a book cover alone, gauge the appropriateness by the cover text, and measure the value of the contents in the sample pages. They complete this assessment with surprising accuracy — and in a matter of seconds!

When you have but a moment to impress, quality matters. It matters in all things related to your book — not just your meticulously chosen words. As the saying goes, “You’re only as strong as your weakest link.” If the quality of your book cover, formatting, cover scribing, editing, book selling pages and marketing materials are less than stellar, your whole presence as an author falls short.

Your reputation as a polished, professional author will be carefully crafted by Outskirts Press. We are in the business of delivering to authors high-quality published books that are indistinguishable from anything produced by a traditional publishing house. We provide self-publishing authors a variety of professional services they need to create a professional book:

  • custom cover art
  • interior formatting design
  • editing and ghostwriting options
  • book marketing services and materials
  • comprehensive publishing packages with everything you need to get published at a discounted bundle price

Book buyers will skip over an amateurish cover in a nanosecond and just as quickly zero in on one with professionally designed art and composition. Typos and formatting irregularities will leap from the page, and poor color rendering, binding and cover material will sour them on what could have been a supremely enjoyable reading experience. Don’t let this happen to you.

Protect your precious investment! Choose the quality you deserve … choose Outskirts Press.

So, are you ready to publish your masterpiece with the A+ rated and #1-rated self-publishing company according to the Better Business Bureau and Top Consumer Reviews, respectively? If so, connect with Outskirts Press right now in whatever manner is easiest for you:


Feed Your Soul by Writing a Cookbook This Fall!

Cookbooks are special, aren’t they? They contain so many disparate elements that it’s almost difficult to conceive of them all making a perfectly unified whole … but they do! Consider the cookbooks you have in your house. It’s likely that you have several, especially if you’re already of the mindset to write one of your own. People who are drawn to write cookbooks often enjoy using them, don’t they? In any case: pick one up and turn it over in your hands, and flip through the pages. What catches your eye?

Very likely, you’ll immediately be able to name several key features. Beautiful pictures or illustrations, easy-to-read text, interesting recipes, and an easy-to-navigate index. There are, of course, exceptions to this rule, including the world-famous More With Less cookbook–a cookbook so famous that it even has its own Wikipedia page. Why would people be so fanatical about a forty-year-old cookbook with no pictures and very little flair to its recipes? Here’s a hint: it has to do with the story behind the cookbook. While images and all those other features we’ve named above are indeed critical elements of a modern cookbook, they must necessarily be accompanied by something more. And that something is the story which you are sitting down to write!

Maybe you’ve already gotten started. Maybe you even have a finished draft, and a manuscript you’re wrangling into shape. Whether you’re just setting out to write the first few recipes or touching up the final backmatter, there are two things to keep in mind about writing a successful cookbook.

It’s all part of a whole. Everything in a cookbook must work to complement the other elements, or else you end up with a confusing cookbook which will frustrate your readers and culinary collaborators. There are a lot of ways to “do it right” when it comes to cookbooks, but one surefire way not to succeed is to provide something messy and difficult to parse. So take the time to trim things down, to simplify and streamline, and to make your cookbook a beautiful, unified whole wherein every element works to support the others.

It’s not ultimately about the food. Well, sure it is also a little bit about the food. In fact, a great deal may be about your food. But it’s also mostly about you and your story and what you bring to the kitchen. Later on, when your book is published and you start to sell it, you’ll be selling yourself and your story as much as you will be selling a beautiful book full of recipes. Knowing this at the outset is vital to writing a cookbook which celebrates your story and makes room for it as a living, breathing part of the aforementioned whole.

And there you have it: two important ideas to keep in mind as you whip up your next cookbook. For more information, visit us online at 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.

To see our staff picks of amazing cookbooks from many of our published authors, visit our Pinterest page by clicking here.


Building Your Author Platform, Part Three: The Press Release & Finding Your Footing on Amazon

You’re in the process of writing your book. Is it too soon to start thinking about the possibility of writing a press release? Perhaps a better question would be: Are you ready to amplify your voice? Of course you are! And a press release may just be your next step in crafting a healthy and rigorous personal brand and web presence. In this, the third and final installment of our series about building your platform, we know what you’re thinking: Once you’ve written your book, you’ll be on track to building a marketing campaign to do it justice. But only once the hard part’s over … right?

Ah, but it’s never easy getting word out to new readers about a brilliant new book they should be reading. And while there are few events you might think worth publicizing with a press release, publishing your book should definitely be one of them. In order to really do it justice, you need to spend some time before your book is published … and perhaps even before the manuscript is finished … thinking about what makes your book special and formulating a written testament to those exact things.

Writing the Press Release:

Your book’s press release is a mission and vision statement for what goes on within its pages, a kind of written form of your elevator pitch. Just as it’s never too soon to start refining your elevator pitch, so too writing your press release can and maybe even should be a parallel activity to finishing your manuscript.

A press release is typically sent to the staffs of newspapers, magazines, bloggers, radio or television stations, and the administrators of various popular websites. If this sounds like a lot of work for one person to organize and distribute, that’s because … it certainly can be. But the benefits of a press release are extraordinary: the resulting national and even international exposure cultivates the interest of new readers who otherwise would never hear about your book. And publishing your press release before you publish your book is critical to drumming up interest and driving pre-orders as well as engagement on your author website and social media platforms, as we’ve discussed in previous installments of this series.

There are a number of ways to go about writing and posting a press release. You can write and distribute your press release yourself, or you can work with a self-publishing company that will partner with you to produce the press release for a small fee. Every company is different in what it bundles together, but Outskirts Press offers its authors the opportunity to have a professional writer draft a press release as a part of its Book Launch Bundle.

Generally speaking, no matter which company you opt to run with, you ought to be able to make moderate changes and corrections before the final draft of your press release is published and distributed. You should then receive a copy to use in your own marketing campaign, while the company makes use of its existing connections to distribute your professional custom press release.

Whether you write your own press release or opt to seek out assistance, the finished press release will help drive sales by piquing the interest of reviewers, journalists, bloggers, and members of the media by encouraging them to pick up copies of your book. It will also produce a wealth of polished written material for you to mine as you set up your Goodreads and Amazon author pages!

What’s the deal with Goodreads?

No list of author-friendly social media websites would be complete without mention of Goodreads. All users can create profiles, log the books they’ve read or are reading or want to read, rating them out of five stars and posting book reviews as they go. You can find your friends by interlinking your Goodreads account with Facebook or Twitter or Amazon, or by using their email addresses. Goodreads was purchased after its stratospheric rise by Amazon, so a lot of its features, like reviews and “buy from these retailers” links, are already well-integrated into that other behemoth of the book industry. Authors get even a little more love, in that you can create a specialized “Author Page” that lists your books (including pictures of their book covers), link to blog posts, and create and manage book giveaways.

The Goodreads Author Page is critical. Much like your Amazon Author Page, which we’ll get to a minute, your Goodreads Author Page drives a great deal of web traffic and will automatically be indexed by search engines like Google and Bing, making it a veritable treasure-trove for potential future readers. Once you have your Goodreads Author Page set up, you can announce the impending publication of your next book and create book listings which make note of the exact date.

Your Amazon Presence as Platform

There are two elements to your digital footprint on Amazon: the Author Page, and the book listing, and both of these elements can be crucial components of your marketing strategy once your book is published. But you don’t have to wait for your book to be published to set up your Amazon pages!

Your book listing page is what readers see when they conduct a search for your book by title, and it includes the cover image, summary description, publisher information, and reviews. The author page is what readers see when they conduct a search for you by name, and click the search option to display all books you’ve published. Your author page includes a headshot, brief biography, and a visually pleasing display of all of your book cover images, each of which is clickable. Book listings tend to be a more popular point of access, but the author page ought not to be overlooked, as it provides crucial cross-referencing information. You can mine the biographical information from your press release and include that information on your author page, and you can mine it for content specific to your book’s plot and genre and include that information on your book listing.

Amazon also allows for pre-orders, if you yourself decide to make pre-orders an option for your future readers. Whether or not you do, your Amazon pages are, like your author website, blog, and social media presence, critical components of driving interest in and web traffic to your upcoming book. The sooner you set these pages up, the sooner you can start generating “buzz” about your book’s upcoming release!

There are many ways to effectively build your personal brand and web presence on Amazon, some of which we’ve covered in detail on the Self Publishing News blog, and all of which boil down to intentionality. If you put in a dedicated effort to flesh out the information presented on your book listing page and your author page, and if you make an intentional effort to utilize the other tools Amazon has made available (hosting an Amazon giveaway and offering a limited-time discount are two fantastic examples), Amazon will almost certainly become the bedrock of your future sales and distribution systems.

Bringing It All Together Now.

When we first started this series, we posed the question: What is your platform and why is it important, even before you publish your first book? We hope that, over the course of this series, you have become convinced of the importance of crafting a healthy and rigorous personal brand and web presence, far in advance of actually publishing your next book. Self-publishing authors are most often building their platform from scratch, a daunting prospect for even the most silicon-savvy, and we likewise hope that you have found in this series a number of ways forward toward doing so. And in the meantime, we’re here to help you get started and to answer your pressing questions about the process. Please don’t hesitate to visit us online at 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 … and you … ready for publication!

Click here for Part One and click here for Part Two if you missed it!


Building Your Platform, Part Two: Making Room On Social Media

These days, it’s entirely reasonable for consumers to expect their favorite companies as well as their favorite celebrities to have an active and responsive presence on social media networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. And while your favorite won’t be able to respond to each and every tweet or Facebook post lobbed their way over the course of a day, the fact that they respond to any tweets renders any person or company a more accessible figure to the average American.

The same principle applies to self-publishing authors and social media, even before they publish their first books. This is because your social media presence is a conglomerate, or a compendium, or sum total of your engagement online. If you haven’t engaged with potential readers before your book is published, you won’t be able to take advantage of those critical preceding months to announce your book’s release and build interest. And once your book is released, potential readers like to do their homework on you and your web presence before committing to buying your book. After all, if you wouldn’t want to spend time with a person in real life, why would you pay money to spend time with their voice, perspective, and favorite characters? Your web presence and your personal brand help readers get to know you and make an informed choice.

It is vital that authors know the ins and outs of Facebook updates and feeds and public profiles and so on and so forth, as the vast majority of any author’s potential readers will have Facebook accounts; however, it’s just as vital for a self-published author to establish a certain degree of comfort with at least a couple of the lesser-used platforms, because they will be both more “discoverable” and more visible without the throng of other authors competing for attention. Thus, the list of quote-on-quote “major” social networking sites we’ll address in this second installment of our “Building Your Platform” three-part series includes Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest. It also, however, includes reference to some of the “up and coming” social media websites, including Tumblr, Snapchat, and Goodreads, because ultimately, it’s the tools we’ve neglected that end up most surprising us with their unexplored possibilities.


Facebook isn’t just a big deal for authors, of course. Some days, it seems as though everyone is using Facebook for twenty different things, and this social media website regularly makes headlines with both its successes and failures. While Facebook’s developers are constantly tweaking the algorithms and codes and format of things (it’s true, we must admit), the website itself remains fairly stable in a number of ways. First of all, the fact remains true that Facebook is where the people are — the people, the relationships, the possible connections, and the real market for your books. The people are staying put, and sticking by Facebook, despite the not-uncommon doomsday forecasts to the contrary. But that’s not the only aspect of Facebook that is stable: the features may alter a bit in form and function, but the concept of what you’re using those features for remains the same. It capitalizes on the four fundamental pillars of the online experience: findability, adaptability, usability, and authenticity. If any of these four aspects is missing from an author’s social media presence, they’re bound to suffer. If, however, you are conscientious in maximizing your Facebook presence, then you’re practically guaranteed to grow your reading audience.

Of course, you have to separate your personal usage from your professional usage, and this is the greatest hurdle of all. If you need a private place to vent among friends, make sure to keep that on your personal account, and to keep your personal account settings zeroed on “private”! Set up an author page dedicated to your upcoming book, however, and make sure to post to it regularly. Scheduling your posts to specific days of the calendar week is one of the most successful tips we can give, and it’s one of the least utilized. And of course, utilize Facebook’s event, photo gallery, and community features rigorously.


What is YouTube? It’s a video storage and hosting service which allows pretty much anyone who signs up for a free account to upload video files for public consumption (or private; like every other good social media platform, YouTube allows its users to toggle a number of privacy settings for each individual video as well as for their profile pages). Once a video is posted to YouTube, fans and followers can distribute the link themselves, which makes it a great platform for viral campaigns. And because videos are visceral in a way text sometimes isn’t, they make a fantastic impact on viewers’ — and readers’ — imaginations. Chances are, nine out of every ten video links you’re ever going to click (in this decade, at least) will link to something on YouTube. And self-published authors quickly found a myriad of ways to put this video hosting social media service to work in creating buzz about their upcoming books! It’s never been easier to put together curated video playlists of material relating to your book, or put together a book trailer (we even have a service to help with that!), upload behind the scenes footage of you working on your latest manuscript or delivering an impassioned excerpt reading before a rapt audience, or conduct a tour of book video blogs, giving interviews as you go. Details matter, but authenticity counts for more than pixel quality when it comes to using YouTube.


This social media platform is often described as a “microblogging” website, a descriptor which implies that Twitter users manage their feed and profile content the way they would a blogging website — only in smaller chunks. This is only partially true, in that some Twitter users who also have blogs may use the same parameters to manage both platforms, or in that some Twitter users treat the site as a tool for unspooling narrative. The keys to a successful presence on Twitter include setting up every detail of your account, from your picture to your avatar to your biography to your Twitter name or “handle,” in full … as well as setting yourself a daily and weekly Twitter task to drive traffic, using a third party website to schedule your tweets and keep them consistent, listening to your followers and engaging with others using hashtags and replies, and incentivizing interactions on Twitter by publishing “behind the scenes” information on your next book.


Instagram may just turn out to be one of the most useful social media websites out there for up-and-coming self-publishing authors. And a lot of established authors have created authentic and dynamic relationships with their fans on this website. All social media platforms present opportunities to connect in this way, but Instagram in particular has found a dedicated and loyal user base, and industry professionals are beginning to recognize that Instagram’s model of encouraging its users to post images of day-to-day activities is something we can rely on to stick around, unlike some other quote-on-quote “faddish” platforms. It’s also incredibly easy: snap a picture on your smartphone, then upload it with some filters for added visual effect, and maybe some text … and voila! It’s easy to build your Insta-presence early, even before you start self-publishing.


Tumblr is kind of a big deal. Such a big deal, in fact, that even the White House has one, and the President of the United States has done a Q&A on one. This microblogging platform quite literally causes and feeds a frenzy of conversations, many of them controversial. And with over 81 million new posts going up every day, spread across more than 243 million individual blogs, the potential heft of any given piece of content is massive, particularly since Tumblr’s graphic-driven interface makes “reblogging” the posts of others so incredibly easy. Tumblr counts as an “up and comer” when it comes to the best programs to build your personal brand and web presence, but it has incredible potential to reach readers if your ideal audience includes teens and young adults.


Pinterest is another heavyweight in the self-publishing world. Why? Because books are first and foremost a tangible object with incredible visual appeal, and Pinterest is a social media platform designed and built to showcase beautiful things. Emphasis on “things.” Pinterest is often described as a kind of digital bulletin board, and whether or not you actually use bulletin boards in real life, it is a powerful tool for collecting objects, most of them real and actual physical objects, together into one easy-to-access-and-modify place. It may not have been specifically designed for books, but Pinterest is definitely a book-lover’s dream … and a haven, too, for self-published authors. We love mood boards and “fan cast” boards as tools both to assist in the writing process and to engage with potential future readers.

Here’s the trick to being a self-published author on social media: You must always remember that you are, first and foremost, a writer. If social media helps you write your next book and spread the word, then it deserves a couple minutes of your time. It is our hope that by putting together this series, as well as our rich tapestry of social media services, we may take some of the guesswork and fear out of launching yourself into the world of platform-building, and find a new home, a new community, and an engaged readership in some unexplored corner of our digital universe.

Coming Soon … What Comes Next?

That’s all the room we have for this second installment of our three-part series! We’ll be back in our next and final post to discuss just how critical a fully-fleshed-out presence on Amazon can be for you, a self-publishing author, both as an independent part of your web presence and as an offshoot of a well-crafted biography and press release.

Interested in more helpful information about writing and self-publishing? Call Outskirts Press at 1-888-OP-BOOKS, chat with us via the online chat on our website or make an appointment with a Publishing Consultant.

5 Paths to Finishing Your Science Fiction or Fantasy Book

Writing science fiction and fantasy is not, said the late Ursula K. Le Guin, like writing any other kind of fiction. Le Guin, a titan whose legacy still looms large over both genres, became famous for taking the time to nurture and advise young and new authors, even as she approached the end of her long life. She was famous, too, for eschewing the trappings of mainstream authorial success (“I didn’t want to be a writer and lead the writer’s life and be glamorous and go to New York. I just wanted to do my job writing, and to do it really well,” she told Paris Review in an interview). And in the wake of Le Guin’s death earlier this year, many readers and writers of science fiction and fantasy have been taking a page out of her book and finding ways to pass on their advice to up-and-comers interested in these two genres, so often paired together but also so uniquely distinct from each other.

If we have to give you any advice as an author of science fiction or fantasy, what would that advice be? Much of it can be summed up in five suggestions.

1. Don’t be afraid to get into your “lump of concrete.”

Sometimes the going is easy, but often … it’s not. Science fiction and fantasy are deeply rooted in thorny political, philosophical, social, spiritual, and personal conversations. Every author in every genre is likely to run into the occasional roadblock, but authors in these genres are more likely than most to run into a tangle of complications related to one of these conversations. In her Paris Review interview, Le Guin described this kind of struggle as like trying to work with a “lump of concrete,” and it very often feels like that, doesn’t it? But if the lump of concrete is recognized for what it is — the prickly but necessary exterior to a rich and complex interior, worth navigating through and not insurmountable — and not mistaken for something that is rock through-and-through, then you know that there’s an end in sight. And it’s oh-so-much-easier to go forward knowing that it’s worth doing so, and that the dreaded Writer’s Block and all those other thorny problems are not permanent. The first step to finishing your science fiction or fantasy book is knowing that it can be finished, and that it should be finished.

2. Revisit your favorites.

Le Guin is just one of many fantastic authors of science fiction and fantasy, and no doubt you can think of at least a few others whose names simply roll of the tongue. Rowling. Tolkien. Martin. Asimov. Okorafor. Card. Sagan. Who are your favorite authors in the genre? What books became your refuge when you began growing into your voice as a reader and writer of science fiction? If you’re struggling to finish your book in one of these two genres, there’s no better way to remind yourself of what you want to do than to revisit a few of these influential voices in your own canon of best genre writers! Pluck a couple of your most beloved favorites off of the shelf. These are where you started. These are what first made you fall in love with words. You can simply enjoy them, or you can start breaking them down and analyzing them for what made them work on you so powerfully in the first place. Either way, you’ll have a new (old) place to start your next chapter.

3. Beautiful sentences matter.

There’s no substitute for good craft, is there? Whether you’re reading a thrilling work of crime fiction, a glorious romance, an epic fantasy, a compelling work of non-fiction, a masterpiece of literary fiction, or a spectacular work of science fiction, the art of writing is worth cultivating. Readers recognize it on the page when they see it, and their pocketbooks show the difference. If you’re looking for a path forward to finishing your next book of science fiction or fantasy, don’t forget to use craft as one of your constellation of guiding stars. And if you’re looking for inspiration, look to the books and blogs and other creative outlets that your fellow writers of science fiction and fantasy have used to chronicle their own artistic processes. If you’ve hit a brick wall in executing some element of your plot, perhaps it’s time to shift gears away from the scaffolding of your book and time instead to focus on the minutiae: the beauty of each sentence on the page. Doing so may just shake loose a new idea or two.

4. Be an escapist.

Sure, writing is definitely hard work, and no one is more aware of that fact than an author of science fiction or fantasy, the two genres most often described as “escapist” by readers everywhere. This dichotomy is the irony which underpins everything authors of these genres do; how is one to create the ultimate work of escapism while being tethered to the often-humdrum writing process?

Maybe it’s time to have a little fun, and to remind yourself that writing isn’t just work. It’s something more. It’s something which brings you joy, and if you’re having a hard time finding that joy right now, first of all that’s alright, and second of all it’s okay to take a step back or slow down (this isn’t a race, after all), and thirdly, you deserve to have fun. That’s right … fun! And while it’s hard to predict what bit of fun is likely to break through a bad day, it’s worth experimenting with all of the options. Maybe it looks like changing your voice or adding a new character. Maybe it looks like shifting the setting to a new planet or ignoring a few fundamental laws of physics. Maybe it looks like literally picking up your laptop and making a run for it and enjoying a literal as well as a metaphorical escape to the hills, or the beach, or your local coffee shop.

5. Shoot for the top.

We so often get in our own way, don’t we? But it doesn’t have to be that way. Fear doesn’t have to hold us back. When we consider the heroes of our own stories, whether science fictional or fantastical, we are reminded that fear of failure is not the end of a good story. Consider, for a moment, what book you would write if you had absolutely no fear, if you could do exactly what you want with your book. And isn’t that what self-publishing is all about? We really can and must shoot for the top, as Le Guin put it, and only in doing so can we truly appreciate where we started, where we’ll end up, and all of the various points along that path which connect us to these genres we love so much.

And there you have it: five fresh ways to hone your craft as you draft your next book! Still not sure what you need to get started publishing your next science fiction or fantasy manuscript? Visit us online at 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. To see our staff picks of amazing science fiction and fantasy books from many of our published authors, visit our Pinterest page by clicking here.

Building Your Platform, Part One: Crafting Your Digital Presence

What is your platform and why is it important, even before you publish your first book?

If you’ve spent much time looking for information on how to market yourself as well as your books online, chances are you’ve run across the expression “author platform” as well as countless exhortations to build a good one. Simply put, your platform is your presence online, your digital footprint so to speak, and your platform is made up of all those places and points from which potential readers can discover you and your work as well as, hopefully, purchase it: your author website, your Amazon book listing, your blog, and your various social media accounts all contribute to your larger platform. In this silicon age, it’s almost impossible to create your personal brand and sell your books successfully without crafting a highly functional digital presence; the age of hand-selling books out of the trunk of your car is, by and large, over, and the most successful authors are the one who start thinking about how they want to be seen by the world before they even finish editing their first manuscript. The age of social media-powered self-publishing stars like Rupi Kaur and Andy Weir is truly here.

This month, we’re launching a three-part series on how to build your platform. We’ll begin today with your author website and your blog presence. In part two, we’ll touch on social media websites, and we will spend some time discussing Amazon in the third installment of this series. These divides are somewhat artificial: there’s no dividing the various components of your digital presence so neatly, as all of today’s components ought to be thoroughly linked and promoted on social media. That said, there’s simply too much information out there to contain in one newsletter!

The Author Website as Platform

In some ways, it can be difficult to describe all of the possible uses for a well-maintained, high-functioning author website simply because an author website is entirely customizable, and the options are endless. But on the other hand, there are some qualities which all good author websites possess, including links to your book’s various sales pages (on Amazon and anywhere else it can be purchased), biographical information, a detailed description of your latest book, links to all your social media accounts, and links to your original content.

Designing and launching your own author website will allow you to own and control all the information about yourself, your brand, and your books so that you can inform readers of crucial information and activate them as true fans who will buy your upcoming book and perhaps even promote it for free. After all, even in our digital age, word-of-mouth recommendations (often voiced on social media) are still one of the most powerful sales tools out there! And yet, few authors build their first author website with that in mind. Your message, and your personal brand or style of presenting yourself, must be perfectly clear from the moment your website launches … and if possible, you should launch your website before you finish publishing so that you can use it as a promotional tool!

Our advice is to look at all the options available to you. Many websites offer free or relatively affordable web hosting as well as the option to purchase your own domain name and URL. WordPress and Squarespace are among the most popular, but there are hundreds of options, and not all of them will fit your needs. Do your due diligence and check out their services and fees as well as reviews from fellow self-publishing authors. A personal recommendation or two will go a long way! Once you know which host you prefer, you can begin to delve into all their excellent tutorials on how to build beautiful, responsive, mobile-friendly websites.

Your Blog as Platform

We also need to talk about your blog–and not just as a function of your author website, although having your author website link to or even host your blog is not a bad idea. (And your blog is one great way to add original content to your author website if you’re otherwise at a loss.) Your blog is critical to a healthy marketing strategy, as your blog is often the first place potential readers will go to find out the latest news about your book. Your blog will also provide handy practice and help you hone your writing techniques, or even, as was the case with Andy Weir’s The Martian, provide the bedrock of your next book! Blogs offer small, manageable chunks of space for you to work with, and are far less daunting than, say, writing an entire book manuscript at once! And given the way search algorithms and indices work, they build traffic for your website and social media presences over time as they note you generating regular and consistently high-value content. As various social media websites come and go, blogging remains a constant presence in our digital lives. Make use of that, and those excellent writing skills you already have, and start a blog!

Coming Soon … Social Media

Stay tuned for part two of our series on building your author platform where we will discuss some of the more popular, as well as some of the up-and-coming, social media websites which you can put to work in marketing your latest book.

Interested in more helpful information about writing and self-publishing? Call Outskirts Press at 1-888-OP-BOOKS, chat with us via the online chat on our website or make an appointment with a Publishing Consultant.