Tuesday, October 27, 2015

5 Tips to Fight Writer's Block

The work of the world does not wait to be done by perfect people.”
—Source Unknown

Have you ever had writer’s block?  That paralyzing anxiety that convinces you that any word you put down on paper would be meaningless so you refuse to even try?  I used to get it ALL the time.  It is hard to beat, but not impossible.

First, get over the fear of being wrong, doing wrong, saying something wrong.  

The world will not come to a halt if you split an infinitive.  Mrs. Allen, the toughest English teacher the sixth grade has ever seen, does not stand behind you, her red pen in hand ready to slice and dice your manuscript.  Just write your words and save them to your hard drive.

Second, embrace the delete key.

Hitting that delete key is one of the greatest joys a writer can have.  In a flash, your mistake, your inane sentence is gone, finished, forever.  You can’t dwell on it, can’t go back and reread it, can’t see it.  So how do you know you even wrote it?  You can’t prove it, can you?  It’s gone. 

Third, you can’t fix something that isn’t there. 

You need to write without editing.  Just write.  Write anything and everything you can think of.  Don’t worry about too many adverbs or “to be” verbs.  Those can all be taken care of later.  Just get the words on paper because words are like rabbits and tend to multiply placed in close proximity to each other.

Fourth, get off the computer.  

Print out everything you have written.  The good stuff, the bad stuff, the scrap file, everything.  If you still haven’t shaken your writer’s block, you need to get physical with your manuscript. Grab a legal pad, a pair of scissors and a roll of tape or a glue stick.  Legal pads run 8.5x14 and give you more length but not too much for physically cutting and pasting your manuscript together.  You can also handwrite transitions between the cut outs.

Why does this work better than cutting and pasting on the computer?  I don’t know exactly.  Maybe it makes the manuscript more tangible rather than lines on a screen.  Maybe the change in situation refocuses the brain.  All I know is that it works when nothing else will to jump-start my writing and creativity.

Fifth,  don’t give in to it.  

No one’s perfect.  No best seller was ever written in one draft.  Don’t even call it writer’s block.  Don’t give it that acknowledgment.  Make yourself write anything—new words to your favorite song, new dialogue for the inane sitcom your kids watched last night, great comebacks for the next time your sister makes you crazy.  Do anything to get the words to flow.  The next thing you know is you’re ready to work on that manuscript.

Amy Munnell is has been a freelance writer and editor for over 25 years with her work appearing in various publications including the Chocolate for a Woman's Soul series, Saying Goodbye, From the Heart, Points North, ByLine, Athens Magazine and Georgia Magazine. Find Amy on Twitter: @amunnell

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

ReBlogs: How to Get Book Reviews: 50+ Resources to Generate Book Reviews

Stephanie Chandler, founder and CEO of the Nonfiction Authors Association, is the author of several books including Own Your Niche and The Nonfiction Book Marketing Plan. She recently discussed the benefits of book reviews and how to solicit them.

50 Ways to Generate Book Reviews

Book reviews are essential because they help potential readers make a purchase decision. Sending out review copies for potential review is something every author should include in their marketing plans. The more people who know about your book, the better the chance of building word of mouth buzz. Plan to send out 50 to 500 review copies of your book in both print and digital formats.

If you've been wondering how to get more book reviews, below you will find a comprehensive list of book review sources, including both free and paid options.

A note on paid options: We do NOT advocate paid services that promise to churn out X number of manufactured book reviews based on how much money you spend with them. However, we have included a listing of reputable services that offer quality reviews.

Read the remainder of Stephanie's article

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

What to Try and What Avoid When Self-Marketing Your Book

Unless you’re a brand-name author (e.g., John Grisham, James Patterson, Janet Evanovich, etc.) marketing your books likely feels somewhat akin to preparing for a colonoscopy.  I know.  I’ve done both--marketed my books and swilled 55-gallon drums of go-juice so a doctor can push a little camera (with attached snippers) up my posterior plumbing.  I look forward to neither.  But in the new world of publishing, unless you’re in the aforementioned group of elite writers, you’re going to have to get out there and gulp your 55 gallons.

As a minor leaguer, you aren’t going to have vast amounts of marketing dollars backing you up.  In fact, if you’re with a small or even medium-sized publisher, you probably aren’t going to have any.  Except if they’re yours.  I know I’ve spent more than a few of my own bucks trying to get bottle rockets attached to my sales.  I have a pretty good idea of what works and what doesn’t.  Mostly what doesn’t.

Admittedly, it’s hard to measure success.  The only way I have of doing that is to track my ebook sales rankings on Amazon.  (That works fine for me, since the vast majority of my sales are in digital format.)  The biggest problem is that the rankings bob up and down due to a lot of other factors besides deliberate marketing efforts.

Anyhow, here are a few approaches I probably will avoid in the future: 

Virtual book tours

These are electronic tours through the blogosphere where you pay someone to set up book reviews, guest blogs, and interviews.  I’ve done a couple of such tours and can’t say they’ve ever moved the sales needle much.

Public Relations (PR) firms

I’ve been warned off hiring a PR firm by a number of authors.  Such firms might work well for a nonfiction writer with a platform, but for a novelist, such an investment is likely a waste of money.

Book signings/speaking engagements

Except if it’s a book launch, I’ve learned sales at book signings are close to zero.  I’ll do local signings since they don’t cost much (and they keep my name out there), but I always do so with low expectations.  I have to remember, except for friends and family, nobody knows who I am.  For a speaking engagements, a handful of sales are possible.

Facebook advertising 

I’ve tried FB advertising several times.  Often it’s been in conjunction with promotions on Amazon set up by my publisher.  (More on that later.)  I tried advertising on FB once without the benefit of anything else going on and I can’t say the results were stellar.  I tried to filter out the noise (typical ups and downs) inherent in sales rankings, and determined--best guess, anyhow--that I spent $180 to make about $25 in royalties over what I would have otherwise.

✦  ✦  ✦

Okay, there are some things I think are important to do, and that don’t cost much.  They are efforts that keep your name visible and (hopefully) make you look professional.

You MUST have a Website

I splurged to get one professionally built and maintained, but you don’t have to.  You do, however, need a site where you can promote your books, blog, list up-coming appearances, and crow about your awards and recognitions. 

Facebook Author page

By the same token, you should have an author site on Facebook.  It’s where you can keep your name and books in front of the public.  And it’s free!  (So far.)


I don’t have a Twitter account, but I’ve been advised it’s a good idea--for all the same reasons cited above.  I just haven’t gotten around to it yet.  Again, it’s free.

Let me end on a positive note.  Here’s what really works, at least for me:

Promotions on Amazon

I don’t set them up, my publisher, BelleBooks, does.  And they are the only efforts I’m aware of that truly rocket my sales rankings. As I understand it, these days books have to be nominated for Amazon promotions, such as Kindle Daily Deals or Monthly Deals.  But once selected, a book will take off like an Air Force F-22 in afterburner.

H.W. “Buzz” Bernard is a best-selling, award-winning novelist. His novels include Blizzard (the most recent), Eyewall, Plague and Supercell.  Buzz is a native Oregonian and attended the University of Washington in Seattle where he earned a bachelor’s degree in atmospheric science; he also studied creative writing.  He’s currently vice president of the Southeastern Writers Association.  He and his wife Christina live in Roswell, Georgia.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Reblogs: The Writer's Circle: 5 Famous Authors and Their Strange Writing Rituals

(This article by Stephanie Ostroff originally appeared on The Writer's Circle.)

Routines keep us focused when we start drifting off course. They snap us back to reality and remind us that yes, we can do this. The words will come to us. Turning to a familiar writing ritual can help us find balance. Most authors have that one thing they do, even subconsciously, that sets the tone for a solid writing session.

Sometimes it’s as simple as creating the right lighting in a room or hearing songs from a favorite album. It’s the difference between churning out pages of your best work and wasting an afternoon staring at a blinking cursor.

At times, these rituals are taken to an extreme. Some of history’s most celebrated authors swore by unusual and bizarre rituals. It’s possible we owe many great pieces of literature to the fact that they were so meticulous in maintaining these strange habits.

In honor of the writers who embrace their quirky routines, the Writer’s Circle is highlighting a few of the oddest rituals practiced by famous authors:


Crayons, a white coat, and a comfy horizontal surface. These were Joyce’s essentials. The author of Ulysses found his words flowed better while lying flat on his stomach in bed. Since he was severely myopic, crayons enabled Joyce to see his own handwriting more clearly, and the white coat served as a reflector for light onto the pages.


Most writers can’t afford to check into a hotel when the urge to scribble hits, but for Angelou, it’s the key to great writing. In the wee hours of the morning she’ll book herself a room with a special request: all distracting wall d├ęcor must vanish. Armed with a bottle of sherry, a deck of cards, some legal pads, a thesaurus and the Bible, she’s spent hours crafting prose in this carefully constructed environment stripped of almost all inspiration.


The creative genius behind In Cold Blood, Capote was a superstitious man. His writing rituals often involved avoiding particular things. Namely, hotel rooms with phone numbers including “13,” starting or ending a piece of work on a Friday, and tossing more than three cigarette butts in one ashtray.