Bide Your Time (realistic advice for budding writers)

When it comes to being a famous writer I love the whole Harper Lee/talent show scenario as much as the next person. Unfortunately I always find that everything comes back to the same practicality- you have to bide your time.

Now, don’t get me wrong, you should dream, try for the one shot. I heartily encourage that! Just don’t make that your only focus. The only way to get there for sure is to work from the bottom.

Even then there’s no guarantee you’ll be the next Rowling, but you will earn your place. If that’s not enough, then chances are you’re more in love with fame than writing. There are a thousand better ways to become famous.

So if you’re really interested in pursuing your writing dream, here are some tips that bear re-iteration.

  1. Learn self-discipline: Writers (and artists) are renown for being walking black holes of entropy, and maybe that’s just a part of what makes us writers. Whatever the case, if you want to become a real writer, you’re most likely going to need to give yourself a good kick in the ass (metaphorically). These things don’t just happen, they take a lot of planning and hard work. If this idea scares you, let me give you some encouragement. Anyone can learn self-discipline. The first step is always to believe you can. Then start small. Define your goals, figure out what’s standing in the way. For example things like Twitter and Facebook are common time wasters, even though they’re valuable platforms. Put your writing first. It’s ok to leave time for Twitter and Facebook if those are part of your platform, but remember- If you don’t write something you can sell, then what’s the point of having a platform? This leads me to my second point:
  2. Start your platform now: There’s only one way to earn your readers trust, and that’s to be around. The more you see a person, the more you tend to like/trust them. Use this to your advantage. This doesn’t mean you have to spend endless hours on your platform. You may have to spend a significant amount of time setting up, but after that it’s ok to show up when you can (esp. on websites like Twitter and Facebook). If you have a blog try to be consistent, readers dig that. Set your goals here fairly low though, so they don’t sap your writing time too much. You’ll notice I personally always post a poem every week. This is something I know I can be consistent with, and when I have time and inspiration I do more!
  3. Make your writing on par: You should always be looking for ways to improve your writing. Find a good writing group, devote some time there. Find betas, write short stories, read how to articles, put short stories out and look for feedback. It doesn’t matter if you plan on traditional or self-publishing, if you don’t improve your writing and become better than you were yesterday you probably won’t get very far.
  4. Plan on writing more than one book: What??? I have to write more than one book!! Is your soul curling up in despair right now? I hope not, because as a writer you’re going to have to write. : D This is one of the reasons it’s good to finish shorter works first. Not only do they plump your sales ‘library’, but they also give you practical experience and allow you to call yourself a ‘published author’, which sets you apart from the thousands of writers that are still working on it.
  5. Learn what goes into making a book: Learning everything you can is always in your best interest. You may plan on becoming traditionally published, but that doesn’t mean it won’t do you good service to learn how to put a book together. This all looks good on your record. The best way to learn is to do. Of course I’ll mark this as optional, but the most successful people don’t wait around for things to happen, they go and do them. They hit the ground running.

 

I hope these tips have been helpful and inspiring! If you have tips of your own please feel free to share below in the comments.

Many blessings,

Meno<3

Five Tips For Boosting Your Self-Publishing Career

So I’ve learned a lot in the last couple of years about self-publishing, and writing in a self-publishing world. I love to share with you guys, in hopes that it will help you along the way. With that in mind, here are five things I’ve either learned personally, or observed about other self-published writers who are quite successful (remember, you can’t make it to the top without climbing the ladder).

1. Take Time to Be Kind: This is important, especially in the ocean of the social internet. You’re forgettable, both as a writer , and as a person, unless you make yourself stand out. You spend all your time striving to make your writing unforgettable, but take extra time to make yourself as a person unforgettable. The best way to do this is to be genuinely kind. This doesn’t mean some saccharine sweet charade. No, reach down into that heart and find some empathy, give some encouragement. Do the small things, retweet a tweet, read a blog, leave a comment, show interest in other beings, try to make them smile. We all need to smile. Do the big things when you can, read a book, leave a review, beta other peoples work. Writing is a (online) community activity. Sure sometimes we get busy as heck with writing/editing/depression, but we should always come back and participate in the community at some point. And remember, if you’re memorable as an ass, no amount of amazing writing is going to make people forget that (unless you’re aiming to be infamous).

2. Write Short Stories: I cannot emphasize this enough, practice makes your writing better! No duh, right? But there are so many writers out there just ‘trying to finish that novel’. Don’t let yourself become overly fixated on longer works. Don’t stop working on that novel by all means, but take a break, write something short and sweet, then beta it. I’m pretty sure I’ve said this before. By doing this you’re discovering some of your writer weaknesses in almost real-time. Also you’re finishing something. Can you imagine that? Finishing something. I write as many short stories as I can on the side (yes I’m working on a novel, four actually), and I find they also make great promotion tools as well. Nice sample of your writing for the readers, great for sending to open submissions, awesome for putting together in a themed book to boost your library. Which brings me to my third point-

3. Write Books: See, now you’re laughing, or rolling your eyes, or both at the same time. If you want to be a writer that makes any sort of (here’s my excuse to keep writing) income at all, you’re going to have to treat it like a (second) job. Write as many damn books and stories as you can. When people look at your for-sale library, they’ll be impressed to find more than three well put together works (remember, well put together, not sloppy). This might take a few years, but if you seriously want to be a writer for the rest of your life (that’s the dream), you need to put in the hours. One book is not going to do it. Sound hard? What good things were gotten easily? Not many. As long as you actually enjoy writing though (this should be a prerequisite), then you shouldn’t have too much trouble with this. That brings me to point four-

4. Write What You are Passionate About: Ok, so market research is awesome, but that’s all wasted time if you’re trying to make yourself write a story you either a: hate the guts of or B: couldn’t care less about. People will notice. Or worse, nobody will notice you at all. Passion is important. So find a market, doesn’t matter if it’s a smaller market, and write the best damn book in that market. Dominate that market, make it your servant! Get the whips out! Ok, Ok, let’s not get too carried away… You get the point. ; )

5. Don’t Be Exclusive: Being successful isn’t all about good writing, good writing is only part of the equation (an important part). It’s also about being accessible, findable (not a word), known by people. So don’t stick to one site. This goes for publishing, as well as marketing. Don’t just publish with Smashwords, and don’t just publish with Amazon. Get your book to as many retailers as you can possibly manage. As marketing goes, don’t just hang out on Facebook, or just Twitter. Find a few hangouts. Sure you don’t have to go nuts and spend all your time on all sorts of sites, but go where the people are, and find somewhere you enjoy being. Look for things that have low time impact too. I love twitter, because I don’t have to post everyday, I don’t have to log in everyday, but yet I’m getting a steady climb in followers. I use Deviantart for the same reason, and because it facilitates my passion for art. I don’t have a Facebook, because I don’t like Facebook, they’re nosy creepy twats as far as I’m concerned. If you can tag me in a photo that shows just the back of my head, then you’re just aiding the coming robot invasion. Bottom line, find what works for you, but try new things. Worst that can happen is it doesn’t work. That’s what ‘delete account’ settings are for.

Tips for making your own book cover (updated version)

So dear readers, as promised I’m going to talk to you about the dreaded book cover!

I know that most of my followers are writers, and often self-published as well, or considering that route. When you’re in that situation, the more information you can find, the better. So to that aim, here’s a short tutorial, chalk full of links and helpful hints. I’ll keep this short (it’s around 1200 words) because I know how little you want to wade through a word heavy slog of a tutorial : D

We can start with the question: Pay for it, or make it? There’s nothing wrong with paying someone else to make your book cover, if you can afford it. There’s also nothing wrong with accruing a hardcore useful-as-all-fuck skill. Pre-made book covers are expensive (if you don’t have extra money). Unless you’re some triple-bestseller writer, you don’t have money coming out of your ears. Your expenses will quickly overtake your income.

Alright, let’s begin. ❤

1. What program do I use?: I used Microsoft Word, something that most writers have on their computer. I will have to experiment with open office sometime, just to see. Don’t feel like you have to stick to one program either, do what works. Aside from MW the one program I see most recommended by self-published writers is GIMP https://www.gimp.org/ It’s useful, but also very, very complex. As a free download though, I highly suggest getting it and playing around.

2: So how do I start?: Let’s get the size right first! I’ve used a width of 11″ and a height of 16″, and that’s worked very well for me. Need to change this is Microsoft word? Go to ‘layout’, then ‘page setup’, then ‘paper’ (may vary in different versions). Alright, pretty blank little canvas, let’s tear it up.

3. Where do I get pictures?: Every book cover has a picture, and believe it or not, you have tons of resources when it comes to pictures. Let’s list the top options.

  1. My camera. Don’t be afraid to try to produce your own photos. Of course most people want models, so this option is not for most. However, if you have an idea in mind, pursue it, see if it works.
  2. Create your own artwork. I did this with my first book of poetry and don’t regret it. This requires art skills of course.
  3. Stock photos. These are free to use, sometimes with caveats, so read all documentation carefully. I’m only going to list the sites I’ve used personally, but there are a ton out there.

pexels is great, no attribution required. The downside is the spare selection, and most likely over-used photos. Just remember you can crop photos, or otherwise alter them to make them look new.

morguefile has a huge selection! All photos must be altered if used though (no sweat, that’s easy to do).

deviantart has a lot of user generated stock photos. Always, always check the posters rules though, since they vary widely. Most of these have a caveat about use in pornographic material or such (I’m not sure if this extends to erotica, which is of course not porn, but people get touchy).

scarlettcox.com has this awesome little blog post just for erotica writers (but also has a lot of other stock photo links). It goes into detail about things you need to be careful about as an erotica writer.

4. How do I make my font look all cool?: So the oft given advice is to not use Microsoft word fonts for your cover. What’s a writer to do? Here’s the site I used https://www.dafont.com/, which is user-generated. PRO-TIP: on the very right of the font it will say things like ‘free for personal use’, ‘donationware’, ‘demo’, or ‘100% free’. You want a font that’s marked 100% free. Unless you find something you like and want to support the maker (kudos to you). Free for personal use means you can’t use it on things like book covers (or you may have to contact the maker of the font for permission) FYI.

5. How will I know what a successful layout looks like?: Hit the bestseller list frequently, take notes. Ask yourself what appeals to you, what makes you want to hit that link like it’s hot. PRO-TIP: Borders are out. They look tacky (unless done well). Most smooth looking book covers have a background picture that seems to expand past the frame and out of sight, and if it merges with blocks of color it merges softly and unobtrusively.

6. Ok. I have all the parts, now how do I put them together?: Since this is a basic tutorial, I’m not going to go into lush detail (but this super useful blog does https://www.thecreativepenn.com/2013/10/20/book-cover-design-ms-word/). Instead I’ll list the top tools in Microsoft word.

1. Insert. VERY important. Try it first. Insert a picture, then make sure to go to ‘format picture’ and find the ‘wrap text’ button. Choose ‘behind text’. Other wise you won’t be able to move the picture around the way you want. The other type of insert you’ll be doing frequently is ‘insert shape’. This is awesome for placing text on the page. Go ahead and insert a rectangle, right click and add text. Once you’ve done that, just go to ‘format’ and find your ‘shape fill’ and ‘shape outline’, and select ‘no fill’ and ‘no outline’. That way it will just be text in front of your photo, or other colored blocks. PRO-TIP: If you want to tweak the opacity (how see through the photo is) you simply insert a shape, then go to ‘shape fill’ and select ‘picture’. In my version of word you have to open ‘more options’ so you get a side bar, go to the fill section (under the little paint bucket) and you should find the ‘transparency’ bar there.

2:Remove background. If you want to get all fancy and ‘photo shop’ go to the ‘format’ section of your picture and look for ‘remove background’. Once you click that it will show you the picture with a bunch of blocks of pink color (that’s what will be removed), with a little tweaking you may be able to pare the picture down to what you like.

3.Send backward and bring forward. This is handy if you put a picture in on top of an existing design. You can also find this in ‘format’

4. selection pane. This will save you a shitload of time. Go to ‘home’ and then ‘select’ (just like when you plan on copying all the text) ‘selection pane’ should be there. Once it pops up as a side board it will show you all the different objects on your page, which allows you to easily select the one you want to work on even if you can no longer see it.

7.How do I turn this damn thing into a JPG?: Go to ‘save as’ save the file as a PDF. Then go to https://pdf2jpg.net/ or a similar site.

8. Anything else?: Take your time and play around, get comfortable. Once you’ve got something you like, find a critique group, or get feedback from a reliable (and honest) friend. Whatever you do, make sure you start making your book cover long before you plan on publishing.

A few other useful links:

http://www.creativindie.com/resources/ (tons of useful stuff here)

https://blog.snappa.com/free-stock-photos/ (a huge list of stock photo sites to check out)

 

Have questions, comments? Other useful advice? Did I screw something up? Tell me below! : D

Meno<3

 

 

 

 

 

Top Five Tips For Novice Authors

Does this sound familiar? You’ve toiled, and toiled away at your beautiful novel, your masterpiece. Yet every second there is a dark hole ahead of you, just waiting to be fallen into. This hole is uncertainty. You ask yourself questions like ‘what the heck do I do with this thing when I’m finished?’ and ‘How do I even find someone to read it and tell me it’s worth anything?’.

I know that feeling very well! With that in mind, here are my top five tips for novice writers, or rather, five things novice writers should be doing now. Hope it helps!

 

1: Make a Brand: If you plan on eventually publishing, or self-publishing this will go a long way. Now there are two types of brands you can ‘use’ so to speak.

A: Your own name, your own face, your own life. Basically you are selling you, no filter. This is good if you want to be famous personally, because if you do make it big (there are no guarantees), say goodbye to your peace and quiet.

B: Create an online ‘persona’ that represents you (it’s best to still be you). Take my blog for example. I’m the herdless witch, I’m Meno Silencio, but I’m not, these are just my monikers, my pen names, how I present myself without truly exposing me. This is a very common thing for female erotica writers, simply because of the nature of our work. : )

Once you’ve picked A or B, settled all the little things like what picture you want to use, what theme do you want to stick to ect. It’s time to build that brand, be active online, which brings me to point 2…

 

2: Blog: Now I’m not saying you have to blog specifically, but you need an active online presence. This can be Twitter, Facebook or whatever floats your boat. This falls under marketing. See what a lot of writers don’t realize today is that book marketing is largely an online affair. Even if you get snagged by a top publisher who wants you to do signings and readings (may you be so blessed), there will still be a website (some publishers will require you to in fact have an online presence). People are going to be looking for you online, make it so they can find you! If they like your book, they’ll want to know what’s next. Maybe they heard your name, now they’re curious. Maybe it’s late at night and they’re drunk and looking for something to read…

Point is, people spend more time online nowadays than they do at the bookstore, so if you want people to see your book, you need to go where the people are.

 

3: Make writer friends: This ties directly into point two. The best way to make writer friends is to have an online presence. Hey I know we just want to be left alone as writers (most of us at least), we’d rather drink coffee and pet our cats while dreaming up amazing plot ideas, but trust me on this one. Having writer friends is indispensable!

Not only do you get to celebrate (and commiserate) with them, you also have someone to give you feedback. These sort of contacts can help you find beta-readers, or become a beta-reader yourself (something I highly suggest). They can also keep you in the loop, and trade tips with you. Best part is, no need to meet them face to face, because the socially anxious rule the web!

 

4: Write Short Stories: This is something I wished I would have learned so much sooner. It’s easy to fixate on one big long piece of work, in fact it feels natural. But writing a short story gives you a chance to roleplay what finishing that big work might be like, challenges included. It makes you see the plot through til the end, it makes you edit and subsequently find your most common errors. Basically it gives you the practice you so badly need.

Of course I don’t suggest just writing short stories and filing them away, by no means! Go the extra mile, find a beta-reader, or a beta-reading website. Get your work out there and let people pick it to pieces. This is the only way you can grow, painful as it might be.

 

5: Research: If you’re going to publish traditionally, research traditional publishers that might take your book. This means tons of google searches, and checking writer websites (AW is a good site for scoping out publishers). Make lists, know the business.

If you’re planning on self-publishing, learn all you can about the craft. Learn about how and where you can self-publish, and what you need to do to your book before you can.

 

Conclusion: I know this all seems like a lot, but let’s face it, you’ll probably spend at least a year working on that masterpiece (probably a whole lot more), so it makes more sense to spread all of this out over that time, rather than scramble to get it done once you finally finish your book.

 

Any tips for novice writers, or things you wish someone would have told you when you were just starting out?

Top Five Reasons to Self-Publish

Every writer now days has to carefully decide between two roads, traditional publishing, or self-publishing. Both roads, with the proper amount of elbow grease, will technically get you where you really want to be, but both roads are far from equal.

I must confess that just like every other writer out there I started out wanting to go the traditional publishing route. Once I finished my work I even started querying publishers. That was a whole new level for me, it helped me to see what it was really like to compete for a coveted spot on some publishers roster. That was when I realized I wanted to take a crack at self-publishing. Here are my top five reasons for making that decision.

I wish you the best of luck, whichever route you decide to take!

 

1: Time: I’m sure you’ve heard the old saying, ‘time is money’. So true. What’s also true, is the longer I spend querying (and then waiting for the actual publication date), the closer I get to being old and dead ; ) Simply put, traditional publishers are slooooowwwww.

When you self-publish, the only thing holding you back, is you. If you’re a very prolific writer, self-publishing rocks even more, you can pop out book after book after book. If those books are good, and your marketing skills are solid, you should generate a following.

 

2: Rules: I hate rules, they crush every fiber of my writer soul! The first novel I finished enough to query, broke all kinds of rules.

Every publisher has their list of no-no’s, like, no unhappy endings, no excessive violence, no rape scenes (even in memories).

Self-publishing is like the wild west, publish what you want (unless amazon catches you and puts your story in the ‘dungeon’).

 

3: Money: If I make it big, guess who gets to keep pretty much all the money? That’s right, me. Yes, self-publishing websites like Smashwords and Amazon do deduct a portion of each sale, but much less than a traditional publisher. On the flip side, if you know what you’re doing, you can use your own website to sell your books, which cuts out the middle man.

 

4: Options: Guess what else I get to do? I get to set the price of my book. I can give it away for free, I can charge fifty dollars a pop (yes, I’ve seen this happen). I can have special sales whenever I feel like it. If it isn’t selling as well as I want, I can adjust the price. If it’s selling really well, I can be a dick and raise the price.

 

5: No contracts: When I self-publish I don’t have to worry whether the next stroke of my pen will sell my soul to the devil. Will I retain this right, or that right? Will they secretly be selling my work in Japan and not paying me a cent?

 

Conclusion: There are plenty of good reasons to publish the traditional way, but there’s no reason to consider that to be the ONLY way to go. In fact, I can change my mind at any second, or I can do BOTH. I can start out self-publishing then move into traditional publishing. I can get paid to enter my short stories in anthology’s, while publishing longer works on my own. I can keep querying certain pieces I think will do well in traditional publishing, while self-publishing a bunch of other stuff. The sky is the limit.

I hope my top five reasons help you decide whether you want to dip your toe into self-publishing or not.

Feel free to leave questions or comments below!

 

Blessings!

Meno<3

Where’d You Go?

Dear readers:

I’ve been taking a break from posting, mostly because my brain has been a fuzzy discordant mass of nothing. I will be posting my weekly poem though, whatever the case. Other than that, I’m taking this time to work on a handful of  very exciting projects!

The first is a very sexy, very hot book I’m tentatively calling ‘three threesomes for the price of one’, which is a small collection of short stories. The first of the stories will actually be showcased in the ERWA (erotica readers and writers association) gallery for three months! It should be up next month. I’ll let you guys know. It’ll be a hell of a sample ; ) esp. if you like smut.

I’m also working on ‘The Blackwater Witch’, the first novel in a series of four. I’m very excited about this. If you don’t know already, this is the first novel I’ve ever really completed. Not just first draft completed too, more like twelfth draft and through a beta reader. I hope to publish it by the end of the year. I don’t know that everyone, or anyone will like to read it, exciting as it sounds (witches, vampires, sex, what more do you need?), but I feel like this series is an important step for me. After this I can move on and work on other novels, less dark and disturbing novels, that have been languishing in my idea folder.

I hope the lot of you will accompany me on my journey, successes and failures! It really means a lot to me to have so many wonderful followers with such wonderful blogs!

 

Blessings to all!

Meno<3

5 Things to Know Before Publishing on Smashwords

Ever thought about self-publishing with Smashwords? If you’re a complete noob like me, here’s 5 things that you might want to know. Best of luck with your publishing endeavors, current or future! Feel free to leave additional questions below (or brag about your awesome self-published book)

1: Pay thresholds: So here’s the deal, if you want to actually get paid you have to make a certain amount of sales. This is pretty typical for publishers, but if you’re someone who has never been in the publishing business before it might catch you off guard. The rule of thumb with Smashwords is 10 dollars of sales for paypal users, and 75 dollars of sales for those who would like to receive a check in the mail.

This means of course (as most writers are aware), that even if you make a little money, you won’t make any money.

2:Quarterly Earnings: Smashwords only pays every quarter, so just in case you thought you might quit your day job right away… ; )

3: Taxes: Taxes, death, and the government spying on you, three things you can’t avoid. If you want to actually sell your book (as opposed to putting it up for free), be prepared to give up your SS number, you know, that number that they always tell you not to give to anyone? This is of course for tax purposes, and also pretty standard with publishers.

4: 15 minutes of fame: Finally something pleasant right? When you first publish your book with Smashwords it will show up on their front page (newest books), for up to an hour or so. The time length depends on how many other people are publishing at the time and pushing your book down and off the page.

5:Premium Inclusion: Smashwords allows you to publish your book in two different ways: solely on Smashwords or, if it makes the cut, on all of the retailers that they facilitate sales to (like apple). Making the cut has a lot to do with content as well as formatting. For example, if you have a book with a nude chick on the cover that is all about her making sweet bovine love, probably not going to make the cut, well unless the sweet bovine love is her devouring a hamburger while stark naked ; )

Cover Art For My First Book (Or: Making Your Own Cover Art For Hard knocks)

cover-art

So dear readers, here’s my tentative cover, for better or worse. What do you think? I wanted to start with something simple and easy, since this is my first book, I think this came out very well. I’ll explain how I did it below, but first, let me explain the cover and the book behind it (feel free to skip to the cover design part).

The Sons and Daughters of Perdition: Furthermore referred to as SDP, because I’m too lazy to type it over and over again (hey, I’m sick, give me a break!). SDP is my first book of poetry (which I plan on releasing at the start of 2017). I’m dedicating it to all of you who have had the courage to go your own way religiously, despite resistance from your friends and family (or fear of resistance).

That is in fact what this book is about, daring to go ones own way. I chose the title ‘sons and daughters of perdition’ not because I’m from a Mormon family, but because I thought it wonderfully summed up the feeling of those who have left their birth-faith. I’m actually from one of those rag-tag sprouts of Christianity, a bit of a homeless wanderer. Most of the smaller branches of Christianity, as you may know, are practically interchangeable (and there are so many to interchange), as long as you aren’t a hair-splitting kind of person.

I hope that you, my dear readers, will find this book comforting. When I broke from my birth-religion I was in the dark, not knowing that other people had the same experience as I did, and that they’d come out the other side alright, better than before in fact. If I can help even one person understand that it isn’t the end of the world, and that they’ll find a way out of this perpetual darkness that organized religion had cast them into, then my job is done.

I chose the iris (if you can tell that it is indeed an iris in the picture) because it’s symbolic of a bridge between heaven and earth. I personally believe that we can be our own bridge between heaven and earth and we need not rely on others to achieve balance and a life worth living.

 

How I made the cover:

Being a complete novice when it comes to self-publishing, I did my own cover art, not having read the vociferous and myriad warnings that a writer cannot do their own cover art and should always use stock photos or hire an artist (so feel free to tell me how terrible my cover looks). I knew I could use stock photos, but I couldn’t imagine one that would feel right, stock photos are too smooth and manufactured, they don’t really catch the spirit of my book. The drawing took me about two and a half hours (ouch, my shoulder! Why Can’t I learn to use an easel!). It is done with pencil (for the sketch) and watercolor pencils (hence the slightly less detailed feeling), the symbols were done with a Chinese calligraphy set. The background is also watercolor pencil, although I haven’t added water to it.

Then I loaded it up to my computer and asked myself ‘what in the heck do I do with it now?? How do I get text on it??’. Cue google. Since like most writers just starting out I have little to no money and no software, I had to search for a cheap easy way to design a cover. To my surprise I learned that you can use Microsoft word to make a cover (imagine that!). Me and Microsoft word have always been BF’s but now we’re BFF’s.

This is a pretty good starter tutorial for starters, courtesy of the creative penn. It helped a ton.

I soon realized though that this was something would take quite a while to master, mostly because there are so many useful settings in Microsoft word. So I kept trying and failing, until I discovered ‘templates’ on this neat site http://www.diybookformats.com  which also has a lot of video tutorials and the like. Only catch of course (as near as I can see, let me know if you know of any others) is that he wants you to sign up for the newsletter if you want to download the free templates (not the full package fyi, but quite enough). I’m always a little wary of free downloads, but so far so good.

I played with a few templates, then found the perfect one, switched in my picture and tweaked it. That was when I realized that my biggest flaw had been fonts, which was incidentally the one thing I struggled most with.

So to put it bluntly, making a book cover by yourself is not easy. If you are going to do it I suggest you start waaaayyyy ahead of time and learn everything you can about the program (or programs) you’re planning on using (please don’t be a procrastinator like me).

I wish all indie writers out there the best of luck! May we either be able to design kickass covers, or have enough money to get someone to design them for us!!!!

 

Cheers

Meno<3

 

Have you had any experiences designing your own covers? Have questions? Let me know below in the comments.

Writing a Novel: When the Honeymoon Phase is Over (5 Tips)

The Blackwater Witch was only the second novel I’d even finished the first draft of, that being said, I was pretty damned excited (wohoo, look at me over here, I have an entire first draft!!!). It was easy, I was in love with the story, the characters, the world, they were mine. It was dirty, gritty, scary, twisted, and best of all, it had a beginning, a middle, and an end.

Cue the editing…

Noooooo, why is this so hard!

I’m pretty sure every author who has stuck with it long enough has experienced this feeling. So how did I get through eight or nine (lost track) drafts, and to a semi-polished story? Well, here are my top five tips, maybe they’ll help you, maybe they’ll make you bury your head in your hands and sob in despair, I hope sincerely that it is the first of the two.

 

1. Determination: If you want to be a writer you’re going to have to develop some pure determination, things don’t just happen, and the best writers don’t just become so overnight. If you aren’t a hundred percent determined that you’re going to finish your project, it will chew you up and spit you out.

Don’t despair though, as far as I’m concerned, determination is something you can achieve at any point in time, in another words, it’s never too late (unless you’re literally on death’s doorstep).

So maybe you have days where everything looks like crap and you want to get in a rocket, and take your manuscript to the nearest blackhole (it’s 1,600 light years by the way) and toss it in, but the important thing is that you pull yourself back up, brush off and keep soldiering on.

 

2. A Plan: This is my favorite advice. Why? Because editing a novel is nothing like writing a novel. Look, don’t get me wrong, I’m a pantser, but when it come editing time I do one of two things, A: Make no plan and end up swimming in a swirling abyss of confusion Or B: Make a plan that I can follow, and see my progress.

Progress is the most important word here. Progress helps you see the light at the end of the tunnel. For me this means that once I have all my chapters lined up (in separate text documents) I edit each one once, mostly looking for big stuff like holes that need to be filled and story lines that need to be tweaked, and things that say ‘blurgh gurg’ when the character is really supposed to be saying ‘I love you, dammit!’. In short, the obvious stuff. I go over each chapter four more times after that, tweaking and polishing as much as I can, but keeping in mind that even after that I’ll still be able to go over it again. Each chapter that receives five full edits gets put in a special folder titled 5. It’s kinda like getting little sticker stars for a job well done.

Then I give myself some time away, that way when I come back it will look fresh, I’ll see things I didn’t see before (wow this chapter seemed so awesome when I read it last time, how come it’s so terrible now?). I go over all the chapters two more times, as quickly as I can so that I get a better overview, then, only then, do I go out and hunt a beta reader…

3: A Deadline: I don’t know about you, but for me a deadline really sets a fire under me. Sure I’m the one who made it, so if I break it no one is going to punish me, but nothing stings like disappointment in ones self.

Make your deadlines reasonable though. Make sure you have the tools you need to accomplish them, and don’t be too worried if you go over a day here and there. If deadlines do nothing else for you, they will give you extra structure to work with, a goal to work towards.

 

4: Editing First, Internet Last: I know you’re currently scrolling around, hunting for that unsubscribe button, but that’s only because you know it’s true. Sure, it’s hard. Come on, just one peek, what’s in my email, how’s my blog traffic doing, just a little, then I’ll work.

Nope, the internet is a web, one designed to keep you tangled up until your novel rots into oblivion, so be careful.

 

5: Discover New Things About Your Characters: Even if you did tons of outlines and character bios to start with, there’s always something new and juicy to discover. My favorite exercise is to write pivotal scenes from my characters life, even if they don’t end up in the book. I just write them, loosely, discover them.

Learning more about your characters can open your world back up, make it exciting again, and that excitement goes a long ways. This also helps you fill in details that you couldn’t before, make the story more life like.

 

 

What are your favorite ways to get to editing? Have you even started? Do you even have a first draft? Let me know down below!

Writers Block

I am staring at my screen, taking in the jumble of chapters, parts of a novel that I want dearly to finish, but have consistently failed to even surmount a first draft of. It just feels so complex, I can’t wrap my head around it, and my thoughts, like the chapters cluttering my drive, are jumbled.

I have decided quite fastidiously that I will finish the first leg of editing this novel by the end of the year. Am I crazy?

My mind refuses to even skim the characters, I am tired, I want desperately for all of the pieces to fall into place, but I haven’t even got a board to put them on. It’s impossible.

As writers we set out everyday to make the impossible happen. Everyone tells us that we can’t this, and can’t that.

You can’t write a good book, it’s too hard.

You can’t sell a good book, there are too many out there already.

You can’t make enough money writing to exist.

Through all of these negations, there is something more true, and that is that hard work pays off. Here’s the thing, I know that I will settle my mind, sit down with a piece of paper and pen and outline (once again) a rough draft, then I will pull the pieces together and go from there. I will go at it day after day, and sooner or later, I will succeed in reaching my goal.

Bottom line, you are as good of writer as your self determination allows you to be, so don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

 

With love and commiseration to all of my crazy writer friends out there!

Meno<3