Finding Balance in Writing and Life

Finding balance.

Personally, when it comes to finding balance, it seems something is always slipping, with the areas of writing, work, and life being in a constant state of tension. Yes, there are times where I may go a couple of days keeping everything in balance, but one little bump in the road and the whole thing falls apart.

The key in finding balance is to continually ask ourselves this question about work-life balance and make whatever minor tweaks we can to move closer to achieving a sustainable equilibrium.

Each writer needs to figure this out, to learn what works best for themselves and their situation. Something common to all writers is that the solution requires intentionality and self-discipline.

One thing we can be sure of, if we don’t strive to make balance happen, it won’t.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

[Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.]

Finding a Writing Mentor

Do you want a writing mentor?

Many Writers Wish They Had a Mentor

The problem is that those who are most qualified to be a mentor are also the busiest, and the people who have time are usually not as experienced.

If you find someone who would make a great mentor, just ask them, but leave them room to say, “No,” because they likely will. As an option, offer to provide them something of value in return. It could be money, but more valuable might be a service that you could offer in exchange for mentoring. If you’re flexible and willing to give them something in return, the answer might just be “Yes!”

Consider Co-Mentoring

Another possibility is to find someone to co-mentor. If you’re both at the same place in your writing journey but have different strengths and weaknesses, then you can help each other grow as writers. This may be a more viable option.

Mentoring from Afar

Last, someone can mentor you from afar. I read blogs and especially listen to podcasts about writing and publishing. I consider these people as my mentors. I’ve never met them and most of them don’t know who I am, but they do mentor me from a distance and help me write better and publish more effectively.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

[Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.]

Five Things You Can Do With E-Books

Five Things You Can Do With E-Books

There is some writing that we almost never see in printed form, due to its length, content, format, market size, or other factors. When it comes to e-books these are no longer issues.

Here are five things we can do with e-books that we seldom see in print.

Novellas

A novella is a work of fiction that falls into the gap between a short story (under 7,500 words) and a novel (over 40,000 words). Novellas are too long for a magazine or literary journal but too short to meet the physical requirements of a printed book. When it comes to an e-book, length doesn’t matter. With e-books, our work can reach an even larger audience and then be fine-tuned. Click To Tweet

Serial Fiction

We all have TV shows we love to watch. We anticipate the next episode to see what happens next. What about books? Yes, the same applies, but waiting a year or more for the next book is agonizing. What if we can read stories in installments or episodes? Although some magazines do this, it’s not too common.

E-books are the answer. Imagine unveiling a 5,000 to 10,000- word e-book every month or so. Just like a TV show, there needs to be a self-contained story that is resolved and a larger story that advances with each installment. We can include cliffhangers and even write seasons.

Poetry

Although there are books of poetry, they’re not too common—unless the author is famous. Most poets toil in obscurity, with few readers ever seeing their work. An e-book solves that. I’m not much of a poet, but if I was (or when I am), an e-book will be the way to go.

Short Story Collections

Yes, printed books of short stories do exist, but they’re not common and are often anthologies or by well-known authors. For most writers, a printed collection of their short stories is a dream that will go unmet. E-books solve that.

Test Marketing

Most authors have critique partners (who give initial input on a book) and beta readers (who help fine-tune things further), but even so, these readers may offer conflicting advice or may not uncover all a book’s issues.

With e-books, our work can reach an even larger audience and then be fine-tuned. That doesn’t mean publishing junk or half-baked ideas. The e-book needs to be the best we can make it. But if corrections are needed, e-publishing makes them easy to accomplish.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

[Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.]

How to Blog Your Fiction Book

We discussed ways to connect our blog with our book, which works well for memoir and nonfiction but not so much for fiction. While the vision is clear to blogging a memoir or nonfiction work, it’s murky when it comes to fiction.

With fiction, we can’t simply blog excerpts from our book because we will either end up posting the complete book online or leave readers frustrated over gaps in the story. Besides, who wants to read an entire book in blog length sections? Doling out the story is too small of segments, over too long of a time, will fail to engage readers.

That doesn’t mean fiction writers can’t connect their blog with their book. Though I’ve not written a fiction book (yet), here are some blog ideas to consider.

  • Blog about the era: If the novel takes place in a different time, be it past or future, blog about the period. For historical settings, you have researched this thoroughly, so reveal what you’ve learned. For futuristic novels, share about the world you’ve created.
  • Blog about the location: If the story takes place in another country – or another world – give details about the setting.
  • Share deleted scenes: Just as movie DVDs often have deleted scenes, your book likely has scenes you didn’t use. Share these with your fans. Do they wish the deleted scene stayed in the book? The one caution is if you want to save the unused scenes for a sequel.
  • Disclose character profiles: Most novelists write character profiles for the protagonist and antagonist, as well as for supporting characters. It’s rare to use all those details in your book, so share the complete profile on your blog.
  • Reveal more backstory: Often there is background information, which although interesting, doesn’t move the story forward. Blogging unused backstory is one more way to engage readers and build excitement for your book.
  • Post short stories about your characters: Have you ever finished a book and wanted to read more about the main characters? Or perhaps discover more about an interesting but ancillary character? Short stories can fill that need in readers, building interest in the book without revealing too much.

The timing on when to post these ideas varies. Some work great as pre-publication buildup, whereas others lend themselves to post-publication promotion. The key is that fiction writers can support their book with their blog.

Happy blogging.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

[Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.]

Three Perspectives on Hybrid Authors

Be a hybrid author: 3 perspective to consider

A hybrid author is someone who uses both traditional publishing and indie publishing. Though the reasons for pursuing this dual approach are many, there are two base motivations: more sales or more income.

Generally, traditionally published books are better vetted, have higher quality, enjoy wider distribution, and produce more sales.

The benefits of indie-publishing tend to be faster publication, more author control, greater profit per sale, and much faster access to profits.

1) Author Perspective of being a Hybrid Author

For the author, indie publishing some books, while traditionally publishing others, offers the best of both worlds. Taking the hybrid approach results in dual revenue streams and potentially more books on the market with the greater readership. And at its base level, isn’t that what every author wants: more readers and the chance to earn a living?

2) Publisher Perspective for a Hybrid Author

Publishers can have many worries about authors who take the hybrid approach. From a macro standpoint, more indie publishing means less traditional publishing—and that’s bad for the industry.

From a practical assessment, authors who also indie publish divide their focus, time, and energy between two or more projects.

  • This suggests they spend less time writing, so the quality may not be as good.
  • They may have less time to promote their traditionally published books because they spend more time promoting their indie-published works.
  • They could damage their reputation if their indie-published books are not as good.
  • They could confuse their audience (be it called their community, platform, or tribe) if they publish in multiple genres, use different styles, or target different readers.

3) Enlightened Publisher Perspective for a Hybrid Author

While all these publisher concerns are valid, an alternate view is that if these risks can be minimized or controlled, the result can be a larger author platform, a better reputation, and the likelihood of selling more of the author’s traditionally published books.

A hybrid author is someone who uses both traditional publishing and indie publishing. Click To Tweet

To do this, traditional publishers can offer their authors career advice and strategic planning for all their books. They can encourage their authors to pursue greater quality in their indie-published works, even to the point of letting them tap into their network of freelance editors, designers, and marketers.

When done wisely, hybrid authors can benefit themselves as well as their traditional publishers.

[Also consider hybrid publishing.]

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

[Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.]

What’s Next For the Publishing Industry?

The Publishing Industry Is Changing

What's next for the publishing industry?

In round numbers, five hundred years ago the world witnessed the invention of the printing press, changing the way people communicated. This innovation (along with advances in shipbuilding) ushered in the modern era. There’s a definite connection between the printing press and modernity.

Though the technology of printing has advanced greatly in the intervening five centuries, the modern publishing industry has changed little.

The publishing industry of tomorrow will have little semblance with its predecessor from yesteryear. It will emerge newer, better, and more exciting. Click To Tweet

Currently, the modern era is yielding to the postmodern era. One of the chief catalysts of this transition is the Internet. The Internet is to postmodernity as the printing press was to modernity.

The Publishing Industry In the Postmodern Era

With this transition, the publishing industry is undergoing dramatic changes, a transformation that literally happens once every half a millennium. However, the postmodern era and the Internet that facilitated it, does not portend the end of publishing but merely its rebirth.

The publishing industry of tomorrow will have little semblance with its predecessor from yesteryear. It will emerge newer, better, and more exciting—for all who are willing to embrace change and hang on for a wild transition.

I, for one, am giddy with excitement.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

[Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.]

Four Ways to Stay Informed About Book Publishing

Four Ways to Stay Informed About Book Publishing

In the world of book publishing, if we blink, something’s apt to change. Every day there seems to be a new option, a different twist, or better pricing. The best solution for a particular situation soon yields to an even better answer—often within months or even weeks.

Publishing books becomes an art of aiming at a moving target, a goal that ebbs and flows at the pace of a changing tide. New vendors emerge and existing players develop innovations to target a different niche.

How’s a person to keep up?

1. Join Industry Associations

Groups of like-minded individuals offer the means to stay abreast of changing conditions. Members share news and ideas with each other. It’s an easy way to be informed, although merely joining a group isn’t enough; participation is required.

2. Read Blogs

Find and follow blogs, podcasts, and v-blogs of thought leaders and news aggregators. They’re plenty to choose from; pick ones with a voice you like and a perspective you respect. Ironically, reading books about publishing is not the answer; things change too quickly. Even e-books risk being out of date by the time they reach us.

3. Network

Connect with others. The goal is to listen and to share. Benefits abound when giving, even more so than when receiving.

4. Ask Questions

Requesting advice in a respectful way usually results in new information to consider. People enjoy it when we seek them out and usually offer their opinions to sincere questions. We honor them when we listen to what they say.

As a writer, the key is to always be in a learning mode. Don’t become complacent. Click To Tweet

The key is to always be in a learning mode; don’t become complacent, thinking you’ve figured out all the answers. Never disregard a vendor or idea as not viable. In a moment it could become the exact solution we seek.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

[Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.]

Blogging Your Book

Blogging your book.

I blogged parts of two books, and the posts serve to draw readers into my topic, and then point them to my books.

Some people turn blog posts into a book, while others blog parts of their book once they have written it, and a few people blog the book as they write it.

This works great with nonfiction and memoir, but it’s difficult to pull off for fiction. (See my post, “How to Blog Your Fiction Book.”)

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

[Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.]

Three Possible Problems with Self-Published Books

Self-published Book Problems

Self-Published Book Problems: 3 common mistakes to fix

Self-published books carry a stigma of poor quality: weak writing, shoddy editing, second-rate production, and a product that often screams “amateur.” Unfortunately, this perception stems from the growing evidence provided by many self-published works. Though not all self-published books are substandard, too many are.

Here are thee examples self-published book problems from some of my recent reads:

1. A Lack of Editing

This printed book had a nice cover and looked professional. It unveiled a pleasing storyline and contained no errors (at least that I noticed). What I needed, however, was a thorough copy-edit, as there were continuity issues, implausible events, and an impossible timeline.

Also, the author tied up every loose end to produce a fairytale conclusion for almost every character. Despite many promise, the journey was unsatisfying.

2. The Rough Draft

This novella-length e-book had a decent title and acceptable cover. The storyline was intriguing—and those were the good points. It had significant issues with flow and continuity, but worse yet, I felt I was reading the first draft.

To its credit, the book had a killer surprise ending I never saw coming and delighted me immensely. But, unless someone options this for a movie (which could happen), I see no value to this book—either commercial or literary.

3. Missing Substance

A third book had none of these shortcomings. Well written, it benefited from careful editing and proofreading. The author had an enjoyable voice and wonderful concept.

What this book needed, however, was more substance and the removal of some idealistic recommendations that surely no one would follow. Though the majority of the book had value, the impractical parts threatened to overshadow the rest.

Your self-published book must avoid these three problems. Click To Tweet

This isn’t to imply all self-published books are bad. There are good self-published books out there, which don’t suffer from these self-published book problems. They contain no consequential flaws and are enjoyable or valuable to read.

Unfortunately, in my experience, good self-published books are not as common as they could and should be.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

[Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.]

Consider the Future of Book Publishing

Consider the Future of Book Publishing

What do the days ahead hold for those of us who publish books?  What is the future of book publishing?

Given the rapid changes the industry is undergoing, we anticipate a different tomorrow, but just how much different will it be? Will today’s roles even exist in a decade or two?

Predicting the future or even anticipating what might lie ahead in the years to come is a difficult task. Although the details are unclear, three general outcomes remain assured:

Consumers of Content

Barring a cataclysmic apocalypse with survivors reduced to a subsistence life, there will always be people who will desire and consume content. Generically called art, entertainment, or education, this content could take many forms, including print, audio, video, multimedia, or interactive, but regardless of the formats, consumers will want content.

Producers of Content

As long as an audience exists, content producers will be in demand. Writers will supply content: writing, creating, inventing, and envisioning. In a way, writers will become artists, producing art for their patrons. Their art may take many forms, beyond merely the writing out of their words.

Facilitators of Content

Idealism suggests that future content producers will directly connect with content consumers. While this may happen in limited situations, middlemen will facilitate the transaction in many cases and facilitate the creation in most instances. The transaction facilitators will mass-produce and distribute the content.

Therefore content facilitators will provide today’s agents, editors, graphic designers, and publicists with tomorrow’s work, aiding tomorrow’s writers with their content.

The future of book publishing will be much different, but as long as we can adapt, there will always be opportunities for today’s writers, editors, designers, agents, and publishers. Click To Tweet

The future of book publishing will be much different. However, as long as we can adapt, there will always be opportunities for today’s writers, editors, designers, agents, and publishers. The future is indeed bright—for those willing to see it.

Peter DeHaan is an author, publisher, and editor. He gives back to the writing community through this blog. Get insider info from his monthly newsletter. Sign up today!

[Learn more about writing and publishing in Peter’s new book: The Successful Author: Discover the Art of Writing and Business of Publishing. Get your copy today.]

Discussing the art of writing and the business of publishing