Category Archives: The Successful Author

The Successful Author

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!

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!

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!

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.”)

Removing Ads from Websites

Ads on Wordpress.com Websites

Removing ads from websites

As part of their business plan, WordPress.com places advertising on your site so they can offset the cost of them offering it to you for free. If you upgrade to a Premium plan, they will remove the ads and provide extra features.

Here is a link that explains it: https://en.support.wordpress.com/no-ads/

While some readers will overlook the ads, others don’t. Another concern is ads for things that you might not like, appreciate, or agree with.

Or you can switch to WordPress.org and enjoy even more features and greater control over your website, and with no ads. This does take extra work and incurs an added expense, but for many people, this is worth it for all the added features and control.

If this is daunting, the WordPress community is helpful in answering questions and simplifying the learning curve. The most challenging step is the first one: finding a host and getting set up. Here’s a post about WordPress.

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!

How to Find a Critique Group

How to find a critique group.

Local Critique Groups

Keep looking for a local group. There may be some, but you just haven’t found them yet. Try bookstores, schools, libraries, and coffee shops—any place where writers hang out. Also, ask every writer you meet if they’re aware of any area critique groups.

Another option is to start your own critique group. It’s not hard. It’s what I did. Again, look online for ideas and recommendations on leading a successful critique group.

Online Critique Groups

As an option, consider an online group. There are many out there. Just do a search. These groups have different goals and various formats, so look them over to find one that’s right for you. And if your first choice doesn’t work, try a different one.

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!

Should You Use an Outline to Write?

Use an outline to guide your writing.

When writing a short story, article, or blog post, I often start with a title, opening line, or concept. Then I start writing to see where it takes me. (Sometimes I have the last line in mind and write to get there.) Though this may result in extra content that I need to cut, it usually becomes part of another article or post. However, recently for blog posts, I’ve been writing to hit bullet points, which is a basic outline.

Conversely, when I start a book, I always have an outline. This gives me a structure to easily move from one item to the next, without wasting time or words. After all, it’s not a big deal to cut 20 percent of a 300-word blog post (60 words), but it would be painful to cut 20 percent of a 50,000-word book (10,000 words).

However, just because I use an outline for books, that doesn’t imply I don’t discover things along the way. When I do, it’s an exciting bonus, which I’m happy to work into the text. Then I update my outline.

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!

Grammar Checking Programs

Grammar checking programs

I once signed up for a trial of grammarly.com. It’s a most impressive grammar checker.

The problem was that it was too sophisticated for me. It flagged many things to check, but I lacked the needed background to comprehend the issues. Many of their suggestions were beyond me. However, I recently took a fresh look at it, and it seems they’ve made it easier to use.

Regardless, the built-in grammar checker in Microsoft Word is a great place to start. Though this still requires the writer to decide which suggestions to accept and which ones to reject, it’s easier to manage. While this won’t catch everything, it covers the basics.

In my experience as a publication editor, most of the submissions I receive could benefit from doing this basic grammar check in Word before they submitted their work. It seems many people have turned off this option (I once did), and some don’t bother to run spell-check either. Don’t make that mistake.

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!

Self-Publishing Versus Pursuing a Traditional Book Deal

Should You Bother to Pursue a Traditional Publisher?

traditional book deal

Traditional Authors

Traditional publishing requires less of the author, will likely result in more book sales, and carries the prestige of a publisher selecting your book for publication. The negatives include the effort to find a publisher, the length of time to publish the book, and earning much less per copy sold—if anything at all.

Indie Authors

A commonly sighted reason to not indie-publish is the requirement to market and promote our books. While it’s true that if we self-publish our books, we must market them if we expect to sell any, traditional publishers also expect you to help promote, market and sell your books. If you can’t or won’t do that, the publisher is unlikely to decide to publish your book. In short, they want authors who can move books.

Hybrid Authors

There is no one right answer. It depends on the goals and priorities of each individual author. Also, some authors do both, depending on the book. They’re hybrid authors, going with traditional publishers for some books and indie-publishing (self-publishing) for others.

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!

Putting Blog Content in a Book

Can You Book Your Blog?

If a blog has a specific focus, could you compile this information in a book and sell it? But some people say you shouldn’t sell anything you’ve offered free. They think you won’t be able to sell something you once gave away (and may still be giving away) on your blog. An agent or publisher will also be concerned, fearful there is no one left to sell to.

putting blog content in a book

However, I disagree.

Though you may have lost some sales, you will pick up a new audience with a book. In addition, some of your blog readers will buy a copy because they want all the content in one place in a convenient format, while others who read some posts won’t read the rest online, though they will read a book. Although it’s best if you can add new content to the book, which isn’t in your blog, this isn’t a requirement.

There are many cases of authors who successfully turned a series of blog posts into a book.

With all the self-publishing options available to us today, I say go for 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!