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.

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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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Love is in the Air! Tips on Writing a Successful Romance Novel

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If you’ve ever considered writing a romance novel…what are you waiting for? Romance is one of the best-selling genres and has a built-in audience addicted to the drama, intrigue, and complex characters created specifically for them. Danielle Steel is one of the highest paid authors in the world with Nicolas Sparks as a close second.

Maybe it’s time to add your name to that list.

But romance writing, unlike many other genres, usually follows a pretty specific set of rules; there are methods that make some authors more successful than others. Here are some tips to consider as you embark on your career as a novelist:

READ

As with any genre, it’s important that you read anything you can get your hands on, but with romance it’s even more crucial. As you examine more and more books by different authors, you might see patterns that work for you and some that don’t. By reading the works of others, you’ll get a better idea of your own voice and, because romance is so personal, the result will be a book that will engage your reader and leave them begging you for more. And if you truly don’t love what you’re reading, then romance might not be the genre for you. Romance readers can tell when an author is not completely invested.

WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?

As with most fiction, there needs to be a conflict or problem that your characters must overcome, but with romance you really need to think about what the issue is going to be because this will be the central theme of your book. It needs to be believable to the reader and something that falls somewhere in the middle of complex and simple: it can’t be a simple misunderstanding that could be solved in a short conversation, but on the other hand, it can’t be so complicated that it will get in the way of the couple’s happy ending (which is an important facet of romance writing).

FOCUS

Of course your book will have secondary characters, but be careful how much you develop them. With romance writing, the focus should really remain with the hero or, in most cases, heroine. Generally speaking, most romance novels are told in first-person so that the reader will be truly invested in their story. Developing this point-of-view allows the reader to feel the emotional response you’re looking for when it comes to romance.

FIND YOUR VOICE

Yes, romance novels are all similar in some ways (for example, they generally all end with a happy couple). And while you should follow the general guidelines, make sure that your book is…well…YOU. While there might be comparable conflicts throughout many romance novels, you need to include your own twists and turns along the way that the reader doesn’t see coming. Be daring. This will keep the reader engaged and your novel moving at the perfect pace.

CONSCIOUSLY COUPLE

While romance always includes a physical relationship, pay attention to how this plays out in your book. Yes, you can include knee-weakening physical scenes, but an emotional connection between your characters is a must. This should be carefully developed which will only add to the reader’s emotional experience and response to your book.

So, off you go! It’s time for you to face that blinking cursor on your screen and start writing the romance novel you know you have inside of you. And if you’re not quite ready to start, maybe it’s time to just settle on the couch with a novel that just might spark your own ideas.

If you would like to talk to an Outskirts Press Publishing Consultant about publishing your romance novel or other book, call us at 1-888-672-6657 or visit our website at www.outskirtspress.com to chat with a Publishing Consultant.

We can’t wait to publish your work!

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