Does your writing get away from you? As writers, we have lots of ideas and projects in our heads, but sometimes life gets in the way. You know what I mean, the family activities, grocery shopping, laundry, work, binging on Netflix or Hulu and the list goes on and on. We desire to write, but sometimes it gets neglected.
Sometimes it has nothing to do with others or responsibilities. So, what do you do? This guide will help you get back on track and give you ideas about where to publish your work. You will also find resources for book covers, formatting, illustrations, and books that will help you learn more about the writing process.
Tips and Habits for Writers
1. Have a Pre-Writing Routine
Have the same routine every day before you sit down to write. This prepares your body and mind for the ritual of writing. I get up every morning at around seven and take a shower.
Then I eat breakfast and have some devotional time, and then I check my email. Once I’m done, I’m ready to dive into my writing for the day, whether it’s a blog post for myself, an article or blog post for a client, or working on one of my books.
For you, it may be different. You may thrive in the evenings or late at night. I know lots of writers who are night owls. Something about being up in the dead of night when everyone else is asleep works perfect for them. They have more peace and fewer distractions than during the day. Not to mention, their bodies just adapt to this shift.
2. Eliminate Distractions
This is one of the biggest issues when working around others. Sometimes family members can be a big distraction. They want to ask a question or chat about their day and you’re still working.
To combat this, I bought a pair of headphones. If my family sees me at my desk with headphones on, they know that I’m working. This is my signal that I’m not ready to interact with them yet. That, and I listen to music when I write, anyway. This allows them to watch TV or whatever they want to do and not distract me a bit.
3. Do Your Research
Take some time and do any research you need to before you write. Mind map and take notes. This will make your writing process go much faster.
4. Have a Word Count for the Day
I will soon embark on writing my first full-length book and I’m super excited. Since all of my books previous have been shorter, I haven’t thought about word counts in the past.
However, I use word counts for my blog posts and break them down as follows. For my post on Friday, I write 500 words on Monday and Tuesday to equal my 1000 word count, and then I edit on Wednesday or Thursday.
5. Eat, Drink, and Exercise
Okay, I know this sounds like an easy decision, but when you are in “the zone” it’s easy to forget these things. I have been starving at 2:00 p.m. because I haven’t stopped to eat lunch.
Make sure you eat, have a glass of your favorite beverage at your desk, and get up during the day. Take a 15-minute walk around the neighborhood. This will not only benefit your health, but it will also help unlock your creativity if you’re struggling.
Water is another great way to unleash your creativity so jump in the shower or go for a swim in the pool. I get a lot of my creative ideas around water.
6. Reach Out to Your Fellow Writers
If you are in a writer’s group online, reach out and ask questions. Let people know what you are struggling with and more than likely they will help you. If you are not involved in any writing groups online, find one that suits you and join. There are plenty of people who will be glad to help you.
7. Write Even if You’re Scared
Every writer at either get paralyzed by fear and other insecurities. We all have impostor syndrome from time to time. You can’t always banish fears but there are many ways to combat this. Write some affirmations and put them on your desk, fridge, and bathroom mirror so you will see them every day.
Come up with a mantra you say to yourself when you are having a hard time. Remember, you are unique and have a viewpoint like no one else. The world needs your words. Other ideas include picking up a copy of Chicken Soup for the Writer’s Soul and reading a chapter every day.
Also check out Chicken Soup for the Soul: Inspiring Writers. You could even partner with a writer friend and agree to send an encouraging word to each other once a day. It can be anything from a heartfelt message to a simple quote.
8. Take a Break Between Writing and Editing
If you do your own editing, take a break after you have finished your manuscript. Take from a few weeks to a month before you go back and start editing. This will give time for your ideas to “settle” and for you to forget what you wrote. That way, when you go back you can edit from the start rather than worrying about a certain chapter or scene.
9. Correct Mistakes
Run your work through Grammarly or ProWritingAid to “pre-edit” on your own. At least you will catch basic spelling, punctuation, and grammar mistakes.
10. Stick to Your Goals
Whatever your goals are, stick to them. Hit those word counts, write those pages, dive into that research. This will make you a more efficient writer, and you will prove to yourself that you can reach your goals.
Now that you have learned some tips and habits to help you become a better writer, it’s time to look at places to publish your writing.
10 Places to Publish Your Writing
Are you puzzled about publishing? Do you want to get published but do not understand where to start? Looking to self-publish your book but don’t know what options you have? Every writer has been in your shoes at one time.
There are many ways to publish your work. You don’t have to have a significant portfolio of pieces. You need not wait forever to get your first clip.
If you are an article and blog post writer, there are several ways to help get eyes on your work. Landing guest posts and paid posts on websites is a great thing. However, you can put together some profile samples in a snap using these platforms.
I have heard fantastic things about the platform Medium. You sign up for an account and post what you write. People can read your work and give feedback. When you post your writings on Medium, you are adding pieces to your portfolio.
WriteSpike is another new site that you can publish your writing. I have been writing for them for about three months. I love the website and how everyone is very active as far as giving feedback. The pieces I have published here are in niches where I don’t have any clips on other sites. Therefore, I will have samples to show potential clients.
3. Your Website
Starting a blog is another excellent way to generate published clips to show potential clients.
4. National Websites
Cold pitching to different publications on the web takes a lot of work. However, it can lead to some awesome things. The third pitch I sent out was for a piece I wrote about how to evaluate a daycare from an insider’s point of view.
I wound up landing a post on The Huffington Post and received a response from Arianna Huffington herself. Exciting for a new writer. However, it doesn’t always work this way. You need to prepare yourself for a lot of rejection, but, you may land something. You don’t know if you don’t try. Go for it.
5. Smaller Sites
If going after the big dogs right away is intimidating to you, or you write in a specific niche, research smaller publications in that niche. Do a search with your niche +write for us; you will find more modest places to pitch.
Keep in mind that they may have tiny budgets to pay you or none. Small or non-existent budgets can happen with big sites too. For example, Scary Mommy used to pay $100 for a post and then quit.
Self-Publishing Your First Book
Publishing your first book is a big deal. Still, it can be very confusing because there are so many platforms that you can print through. One thing I will warn you about is vanity presses.
These sharks in suits charge you thousands and thousands of dollars to publish your book and make promises to the moon. If someone like this contacts you, run for the hills.
There are plenty of other places that you can publish your book through that won’t cost an arm and a leg.
1. Amazon KDP
I’ve used Amazon KDP to publish my e-books, and it is straightforward. If you don’t have an Amazon account, you will need to sign up for one. If you already have one, you can log in using your credentials.
Once you’re logged in, hit “publish new title” and the dashboard will walk you through the rest of the process. I have not used them for a print book yet, so I don’t have any feedback on that. If you publish a print book through them, I would love to hear about your experience.
Another popular platform to publish is IngramSpark. If you are looking to get into bookstores, this is the place you want to be. Here is a little more about my experience with them.
For the longest time, I didn’t understand that to get your book into bookstores you had to have distribution. What is distribution? Distribution means that if your book does not sell, the store can return it to the company they ordered it through.
This is very important because stores don’t want to wind up with books that do not sell. Once I understood this, I had to figure out what company I could publish through and have distribution.
I knew friends who had published through IngramSpark and could get into our local Barnes & Noble, so I thought I would check it out.
After doing a little reading, I signed up for an account. After getting a few things in order, I started publishing my book Don’t Eat Your Boogers (You’ll Turn Green). One thing I liked was the step-by-step process they walk you through.
I had also come across an awesome video tutorial about how to upload your book to IngramSpark which I found very, very helpful. After going through the five-step process and paying the setup fee ($50.00), they will check your files for any errors.
I was having issues with my cover and had to go back and forth with my illustrator, but we got it all worked out.
I approved my files and then ordered a copy just to make sure everything looked okay. I wanted to make sure my cover looked perfect. It did and after that; I approved my book for distribution to bookstores.
There is a learning curve here. I have published my two children’s books in both paperback and hardcover with them. Still, once you get the process down, it’s not so bad.
Also, they have outstanding customer service if you need help.
From what I’ve heard in my writing groups, authors love Draft 2 Digital. Not only do they distribute to various retailers, but they will also format your e-book for you. To me, that is worth publishing with them alone. If you want to know more, go to their site and see what all they offer.
I have also heard good things about this company. They print hardcover, print, and e-books.
There are many ways to get your work published and out there in the public eye. If you are a new writer, this is good news for you. Take some time to figure out the best way to present your work to the world.
If things don’t go as planned at first, don’t get discouraged. Writing and publishing is a constant journey.
Print or Ebook
There are many companies and small publishers that deal in print and e-book publishing. I use Amazon KDP for my e-books and plan on using them for my next print book. I use IngramSpark for my hardcover books.
Amazon KDP– I chose Amazon for my e-books after reading about another indie author who used them. Once again, all you have to do to get started is to create an account. The process for uploading your book is easy, and the tutorial will guide you step by step. I plan on using them for my next print book, and I will write a review about my experience.
IngramSpark-As mentioned above, the publishing process has a learning curve, but the quality of books they produce is great.
For Book Covers
SelfPubBookCovers– I have used this site for my book covers. I think their artists are talented and prices are easy on the wallet. The lowest price I have seen is $69 and the highest at over $100. When you buy your cover you get two files, one for your e-book and one for the print version.
It’s been a while since I used them but some new features they have included custom covers and audiobook covers. I recommend ordering a custom cover that “models” other covers in your genre. Doing your research and choosing a cover that matches the genre you’re writing in is crucial. If you are looking to get an audiobook cover, they cost $75.
The best part is that once you buy your cover, they remove from the site and never sell it again. They also have awesome customer service, I called once and talked to Rob and he was very helpful and nice. This is one of my favorite resources for indie authors.
100 Covers-This is another book cover platform that I recently found and fell in love with. I plan on using them for my next book as well. The thing I love most about this company is that they have a professional package that includes a paperback cover for KDP, paperback/hardcover for IngramSpark, audiobook cover, 3D image of your book and so much more for only $300. To me, this is a steal. The second thing I love about 100 Covers is that if you’re writing a series, you get each package half off for every book in your series after paying full price for your first book in the series. You can’t beat that.
When I first started looking for a person to format my book, the first place I looked was on Mark’s List on Smashwords. Mark Coker is the founder of Smashwords and he put together a very helpful list of people that format books and design cover art.
After contacting several people, I used Maureen Cutajar of GoPublished– I am so glad I used Maureen. She does an amazing job, is professional and courteous, and has a very good turnaround on her work. She is a pleasure to work with.
When I use her services, I get the bundle offer, which is for fiction projects only. The bundle includes your ebook in Kindle and epub formats, a Smashwords ready version and a print-ready PDF. This also includes custom-designed chapter headings, drop caps and fleurons. This package starts at $200.
Fiverr-When I published my third book of poetry, Shadow Of Soul, I decided I would be a little more budget-conscious so I looked on Fiverr. I had left Smashwords where I had started my publishing journey and was using CreateSpace and Amazon KDP Select.
There are many opinions of platforms like Fiverr. However, I had a very pleasant experience. I used Fiverr seller tlmason to format the e-book version, which cost me $10. I used Fiverr seller businessmagic to format the print version which cost around $40. Both sellers were positive, friendly, and had excellent communication. I recommend both of them if you are looking to have your book formatted on a budget. Keep in mind the prices I’m quoting were from my experiences two years ago and may be different now.
Formatted Books-This is a new to me service I found that I plan on using for my next book. Their interior formatting blows me away because it looks so professional, just like the book came from a one of the top five big publishers.
JH Illustrations- For my third book, Don’t Eat Your Boogers (You’ll Turn Green), I used Jeanine Henning for my book cover and illustrations. Jeanine is very talented and is a lot of fun to work with. She designs book covers for all genres and illustrations for children’s books.
She is also very professional and gets work done in a timely manner. These are the resources I have used during my authoring journey. I hope my list of resources for indie authors is a help to you.
Novel Factory– I am absolutely in love with this writing software and highly recommend it to anyone writing their first full length book. The best part about it is that it has a roadmap to follow thus banishing writing overwhelm. This roadmap guides you through initial idea, short synopsis, long synopsis, character introductions, etc. I have been using this software for about two months and am currently working on my first draft of my current book and hitting my word count goals every day if not exceeding it.
Scrivener-I have Scrivener and I have used it but it does have kind of a steep learning curve. I found the tutorial that came with it to be extremely overwhelming. Then I found Scrivener Classes by Gwen Hernandez and this course was very helpful and made learning how to use the program much clearer. For me personally right now, I’m going to stick with Novel Factory for my first two to three full length books and then when I have a process down that works for me, go back to Scrivener.
Overall, I think both programs are excellent but it comes down to personal preference.
Grammarly Premium-Grammarly Premium, it is very easy to use and versatile across many platforms. I can use it on social media, when sending proposals, and when writing blog posts. However, I switched to ProWritingAid because I got a free year with a writing bundle I purchased.
ProWritingAid-Granted, I have only been using the premium version for a few days; I like it so far. I’m mentioning it because it’s another option and also because it costs less than Grammarly premium. They also have lifetime memberships. I have heard other writers swear by ProWriting Aid, but I will post a review in a few months to let you know what I think.
Storyteller by Fictionary-This is another gem I recently discovered and plan on using after writing the first draft of my new novel. This editing software analyzes your manuscript via 37 different aspects like pacing, point of view, characer point of view, story arc, etc.
My Favorite Books On Writing
- Stephen King-On Writing-This classic book is full of great stories and tips from the master of horror. Regardless of what you want to write, there is a treasure trove of information to gain from this book.
- Breaking Orbit by Jonathan Green-This amazing book will teach you how to write, publish, and sell your book even if you have no social media following. I have been following Jonathan Green for around two years and his advice is the real deal.
- How To Make Money Ghostwriting by Cruz Santana and Sally Miller-Are you interested in learning more about ghostwriting? Do you already have a freelance writing business and want to level up your skills? This book will teach you how. Cruz Santana and Sally Miller will show you the steps you need to take to land clients you will love.
- Writer For Hire by Kelly James Enger-This book is broken down into 101 tips for being a successful freelance writer, making it easy to implement one tip at a time
- You Write, They Pay by Susan Anderson-This is another great book about how to start a freelance writing business.
- The Elements of Style by Strunk & White-This book has been a standard in writing since over a century ago. If you’re looking to have a better understanding of grammar, you need this book.
- The Writer’s Market-This book is another standard in writing and publishing your work. It is available in various genres like Novel& Short Stories, Christian and Poet’s Markets, to name a few.
- Yahoo! Style Guide-If you are just starting to write for the web; this is a precious resource. It covers topics including constructing clear and compelling copy, writing eye-catching and effective headlines, creating better blogs and newsletters, etc.
- 20K a Day by Jonathan Green-If you are looking to learn how to write faster, this book will help you do just that.
- How to Write an Amazing Romance Novel by Pinar Tarhan-If you want to write a romance novel, you need this book. Pinar will walk you through everything from writing for the market, finding a viable idea, choosing a title, characters and so much more.
I hope this list of resources helps you. Do you have a tip, platform, resource, or book to share? I would love to know about it.