Preparing to Launch Your First Novel

By Kathleen Jones, The Quirky Novelist. Please sign up for free updates at ‪http://eepurl.com/ceSobT 

You’re finished writing (and perhaps editing) your first novel, you’ve set up your online platform . . . now what? Exactly what do you have to do to publish, sell, and market your book?

You draw up a schedule filled with tasks and deadlines to keep you on track. Here’s a very brief—and definitely incomplete—schedule that a novelist might follow:

  • Month 1: Submit your manuscript to literary agents.
  • Month 4: Follow up with agents.
  • Month 5: If you haven’t yet found an agent, submit your manuscript to book publishers.
  • Month 8: Follow up with publishers.
  • Month 9: If you haven’t found an agent or a publisher, you might consider self-publishing your book. If you choose this route, set a publication date and apply for an ISBN (or two ISBNs if you’re publishing both an ebook and print book). You can also choose to register copyright for your book. Once you have this information, create cover copy and a title page in Word. Next, hire a cover designer.
  • Months 10 to 12: Once you’ve hired a cover designer, ask him or her to create Advance Review Copy (ARC) and final versions of the cover for both the print book and the ebook. Be sure to add the ISBN to the back cover. Hire a formatter for the ebook and print book.
  • Months 13 to 14: Using a program such as CreateSpace, print several copies of the ARC version of the book; be sure to use the ARC version of the cover. Search for prospective reviewers to review your book before it’s published. Ask the reviewers to email their reviews to you and send them the ARC copies as soon as you receive them in the mail.
  • Month 15: Follow up with the ARC reviewers to see if they received their books. Contact PR firms for blog tours; if they turn you down, consider creating your own blog tour.
  • Month 16: Finalize plans an set up a schedule for the blog tour.
  • Months 17 and 18: Place ads for your book and start the blog tour. At the conclusion of the tour, email each blog to thank them for participating.
  • Month 19: Email ARC reviewers who have not yet sent their reviews to you.
  • Month 20: First, publish the ebook. Next, publish the printed book; be sure to use the final version of the cover and text, not the ARC versions. Add the reviews (from the ARC reviewers) to your book pages on Amazon and Goodreads. Announce the publication of your novel on your social media accounts (author webpage, Twitter, Facebook, etc.), and add your book’s cover, blurb, and link to its purchase page on Amazon to your author site. Finally, send a personal email to the ARC reviewers to thank them.

Then write your next novel and start the process all over again!

Kathleen Jones’ first novel, a midlife comic romance set in the world of stand-up comedy, will be published in April 2018 by Moonshine Cove Publishing, LLC. Visit Kathleen Jones, The Quirky Novelist, online at https://kathleenjones.org/   or on Twitter at https://twitter.com/joneslepidas and sign up for free updates at ‪http://eepurl.com/ceSobT 

 

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The Best Bloggers for New Indie Novelists

By Kathleen Jones, The Quirky Novelist. Please sign up for free updates at ‪http://eepurl.com/ceSobT 

Are you a new indie novelist wondering how to publish, market, and promote your novel? Wonder no more! These bloggers are here to help:

  • Jane Friedman: The mission of Jane Friedman, a former publisher of Writer’s Digest, is to educate writers on all aspects of the publishing industry. Topics covered by her award-winning blog: how to publish your book; how to self-publish your book; writing a novel synopsis; how to find a literary agent for your book; should you hire a professional editor; 5 WordPress themes for professional authors. Visit her at http://janefriedman.com/blog/

 

 

  • Booklife is Publishers Weekly’s site for indie authors. The site provides guidance on topics such as writing tips, marketing, design, and social media, and includes profiles of indie authors, all at http://booklife.com/

 

  • Writer’s Digest’s blog is a treasure trove of information for new novelists, covering everything from literary agent listings and ideas on how to combat author anxiety to writing successful query letters and tips for getting rid of writer’s block, all at http://www.writersdigest.com

 

  • Author Jody Hedlund provides guidance to fellow writers on such subjects as stalled plots, tips for increasing your writing input, and ideas for staying motivated during the long process of writing a novel: http://jodyhedlund.blogspot.ca

 

  • Indie Reader is the definitive resource for indie authors, covering indie books, authors, and independent publishing. Includes reviews of indie books. Visit http://indiereader.com

 

 

 

That’s just a brief sampling of the help available. Indie novelists, you are not alone!

 

Kathleen Jones’ first novel, a midlife comic romance set in the world of stand-up comedy, will be published in the spring of 2018 by Moonshine Cove Publishing, LLC. Visit Kathleen Jones, The Quirky Novelist, online at https://kathleenjones.org/

or on Twitter at https://twitter.com/joneslepidas and sign up for free updates at ‪http://eepurl.com/ceSobT 

 

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Should You Write Your Novel “For the Market”?

 

By Kathleen Jones, The Quirky Novelist

 

According to popular wisdom, novelists who want to sell lots of books “should” write the types of books that most readers supposedly want to buy, principally fiction that falls within certain established genres such as romance, horror, and mystery.

On the surface, this advice makes a lot of sense. Book publishers are more likely to buy conventional genre novels, mainly because they have large, dedicated audiences. Publishing is a business, after all, and publishers need to sell as many books as possible.

But the reasoning behind this advice is flawed. Sure, there are large audiences for these types of books, but publishers put out a lot of them, creating a lot of competition for readers. The result is too many authors and publishers producing far too many similar novels, novels that tend to be bland, boring, unoriginal, and even superficial.

Lost in the shuffle is a very different type of book fan, a fan who is frequently ignored by book publishers: the sophisticated reader. This breed of reader is hungry for thoughtful, original writing, writing free of stifling convention, writing bursting with complex characters and unpredictable plots, writing that says something fresh and startling about the human condition.

So should more novelists “ignore the market” and write what they want? My answer to that question would be a qualified yes. Yes, more novelists should write what they want to write. That type of writing is more of a creative challenge for the writer and can be more exciting and rewarding for the reader. And the world hardly needs more predictable and pedestrian novels. And serious writers do have the option to self-publish. But . . . it’s hard to sell a self-published novel, even a well-written and professionally produced one. After all self-published authors don’t have the same resources as book publishers.

So serious novelists should continue to write from the heart but maybe, after they self-publish their work and start to sell a reasonable number of copies, they should band together to persuade publishers to make unconventional, challenging novels more widely available.

An impossible task perhaps? Not when you consider the fact that a number of offbeat, critically acclaimed novels have managed to sell well even though they didn’t fit into established genres: Life of Pi by Yann Martel, How to Build a Girl by Caitlan Moran, and almost any novel by Margaret Atwood and John Irving.

Kathleen Jones’ first novel, a midlife comic romance set in the world of stand-up comedy, will be published in the spring of 2018 by Moonshine Cove Publishing, LLC. Visit Kathleen Jones, The Quirky Novelist, online at https://kathleenjones.org/

or on Twitter at https://twitter.com/joneslepidas and sign up for free updates at ‪http://eepurl.com/ceSobT 

 

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Comedians’ Lives Aren’t All That Funny

By Kathleen Jones, The Quirky Novelist

Recently, while writing a novel set in the world of stand-up comedy, I did some research on the real lives and personalities of stand-up comedians. What I uncovered was intriguing—and more than a little unsettling.

It seems that comedians’ minds are wired differently from the minds of average people. A study of 523 comedians from the U.S., U.K. and Australia found that comedians are good at making people laugh because they have the ability to associate odd things and to “think outside the box”—traits typical of people with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder! Their thinking is often manic, which can help them combine ideas to form original and funny connections. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/17/comedians-psychotic-personality-traits_n_4610414.html)

Even more intriguing is the fact that comedians’ flamboyant onstage personalities are often at odds with their introverted offstage ones. And these quiet people are usually not all that agreeable. Stand-up comedy is a very competitive business, and stand-up comedians worry a great deal about others stealing their material. Much of that material involves the telling of brutal, nasty—and funny—truths. Moreover, comedians, as a group, aren’t particularly conscientious, that is, responsible, organized, and dependable. Instead, they tend to be spontaneous and to use aggressive humour directed at the audience or at themselves. (https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/humor-sapiens/201311/how-comedians-are-mountain-climbers)

More relevant to my novel was the research I found on the instability of comedians’ lives. Most of them must travel 40 to 50 weeks per year and perform from Thursday to Sunday to succeed in the stand-up comedy business. Of course, the constant travel takes a toll on their personal lives, and it’s difficult for them to maintain a steady intimate relationship. (https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/humor-sapiens/201306/the-fascinating-life-comedians)

Do you have some insight on the real personalities and lives of stand-up comedians? If you do, please share them with us.

 

Visit Kathleen Jones, The Quirky Novelist, online at https://kathleenjones.org/

or on Twitter at https://twitter.com/joneslepidas

 

 

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Help for the Newbie Novelist

By Kathleen Jones, The Quirky Novelist

Starting a new career as a novelist can be a daunting proposition, especially if you’re unfamiliar with the book market and the publishing process. Fortunately, there are a number of practical books that can quickly bring you up to speed:

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Writing a Novel (https://www.amazon.ca/Complete-Idiots-Guide-Writing-Novel/dp/1615640339/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1491933566&sr=8-1&keywords=the+complete+idiot%27s+guide+to+writing+a+novel) by Tom Monteleone

Tom, a professional writer since 1972, penned this friendly guide from a novelist’s point of view. His book covers just about everything related to novels and novelists: the various markets for different novel genres; the core elements that make up a good novel; research, time management, and discipline; rewriting; alternative publishing; and the book publishing process. Above all, Tom emphasizes the fun and creativity involved in writing a novel. As he states in his introduction, “If you want work, go get a gig in a pie factory or selling vacuum cleaners door-to-door.”

Create Your Writer Platform (https://www.amazon.ca/Create-Your-Writer-Platform-Building/dp/1599635755/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1496609136&sr=8-1&keywords=Create+Your+Writer+Platform) by Chuck Sambuchino

Like it or not, all novelists—those who sell their books to a traditional publisher as well as those who self-publish—now need to promote themselves online if they want to develop an audience for their work. Chuck, a prolific blogger who specializes in book publishing, provides a detailed overview of the various types of platforms available to authors—websites, blogs, Twitter, Facebook, newsletters, and more—and dispenses helpful advice that’s custom tailored to the needs of fiction and non-fiction writers.

Book Marketing Is Dead (https://www.amazon.ca/Book-Marketing-Dead-Promotion-Secrets-ebook/dp/B00HC6HQ70/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1496609039&sr=1-1&keywords=Book+Marketing+is+Dead) by Derek Murphy

Derek Murphy, a book cover designer, writing coach, and publishing consultant, demonstrates that online platform building has become a far more effective tool for selling books than traditional marketing. He emphasizes the importance of building relationships on social media and discusses the key elements of an effective author website. He also covers the types of marketing that can work for authors.

Do you know of any helpful resources for new (and not so new) novelists? Please share them with us.

 Visit Kathleen Jones, The Quirky Novelist, online at https://kathleenjones.org/

or on Twitter at https://twitter.com/joneslepidas

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Organizing a Writer’s Life

By Kathleen Jones, The Quirky Novelist

Writers have to deal with an endless stream of paper. Manuscripts, notes, contracts, and other flotsam and jetsam all too easily clutter up our lives.

If you’re starting to get overwhelmed, I have a few suggestions to help you dig yourself out of the mess:

Research Notes

  • Organize your research notes by using separate sheets of paper for every subject covered by your novel.
  • Underline or circle key information in your notes.

Manuscripts

  • Type and proofread each chapter after you’ve finished writing it (if you write in long hand). Be sure to format and number the pages.
  • Print out the chapter. Store it in a cardboard box kept in a safe place. (I keep my manuscripts in cardboard boxes stored in a closet.)

Other Types of Documents

  • Keep track of various types of documents by purchasing colourful cardboard folders (with two compartments per folder) and an equally colourful canvas zip bag from a dollar store.
  • Place specific types of documents in each folder and label the outside. For example, I have different folders for contracts, agents, publishers, editors, author platforms and social media, etc.
  • Store all of these author-related folders in the canvas zip bag, and store the bag (zipped up, of course) in a secure place such as a filing cabinet.

Records of Contacts with Agents, Publishers, and Freelance Editors

  • Purchase a 3-ring binder and colourful tab dividers from a dollar store.
  • Make notes on individual book publishers, literary agents, and freelance editors on separate sheets, and file each sheet alphabetically in the binder. Provide information on the people you contacted, the dates you contacted them, documents you submitted to them, etc.

The task of organizing bits and pieces of paper can be (and usually is!) dull and mind-numbing. But once your system is in place, you’ll have more time to do the work you really enjoy: writing!

Want to Read More?

The staff of Writer’s Relief (an author’s submission service) provide more ideas in “Four Ways to Organize Your Writing (Or Not) Before You Sit Down to Write”: http://writersrelief.com/blog/2012/03/organize-your-writing/

How do you organize your writing materials? Please tell us!

Visit Kathleen Jones, The Quirky Novelist, online at https://kathleenjones.org/

or on Twitter at https://twitter.com/joneslepidas

 

 

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Why Bother to Outline a Novel?

By Kathleen Jones, The Quirky Novelist

The first time I wrote a novel, I had a clear picture of how I wanted it to turn out. But I wrote the chapters out of sequence and let my moods dictate the scenes I wrote on a given day. For example, whenever I was depressed, I wrote scenes full of hurt, loneliness, and heartache. On the other hand, when my life was going well, I wrote more robust scenes, scenes bursting with triumph, optimism, and joy.

My practice of writing whatever I felt when I felt it might have been a successful one if I had laid down a plan for the novel before I began writing it. Alas, I had no such plan, and the various chapters I wrote didn’t fit together at all.

So when I sat down to write my second novel, the first thing I did was to create an outline. That outline took four months to write (I was juggling writing with a full-time job), but it turned out to be a very wise investment of my time and energy. I now knew exactly where my story was going.

How do you create an outline for your novel? Before you begin, jot down the following in point form:

  • First, figure out how you want your novel to begin and end.
  • Next, create the main characters and identify the major problems and conflicts they will face.
  • Then determine the major plot points. This step would involve such things as plot twists, changes in the relationship between the leading characters, etc.

Once you have pinned down these core elements, you can start to create an outline. Some ideas to keep in mind:

  • Try to write the outline in order.
  • Don’t try to write the entire outline in one sitting. Take your time and don’t rush.
  • Outline one chapter at a time.
  • Don’t be afraid to change the outline if some of it isn’t working or if new and better ideas come to mind.

If you take the time to create an outline, you can avoid ending up with a novel that’s nothing more than a mishmash of ideas.

Want to Read More?

Novelist Joseph Finder deals with the pros and cons of outlining novels in his post “Outline or Not?” at http://www.josephfinder.com/writers/tips/outline-or-not/

Do you outline your novels before writing them? Please post your comments.

Visit Kathleen Jones, The Quirky Novelist, online at https://kathleenjones.org/

or on Twitter at https://twitter.com/joneslepidas

 

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How To Generate Fresh Ideas for Your Novel

By Kathleen Jones, The Quirky Novelist

You know how you want your novel to begin and end. You’ve also made firm decisions about the major characters, setting, and climax. But somehow, all of these elements don’t add up, word count-wise, to a 70,000 to 100,000-word novel.

How do you fill in the gaps? By generating fresh ideas that work with your novel. But how, exactly, do you create those new ideas? I found myself in this situation when the word count of the first two drafts of my novel came up short. Fortunately, I stumbled upon a few simple techniques that made a real difference to my third draft:

  • Carry a small notebook and pens in your handbag, briefcase, or the glove compartment of your car. Great ideas seem to strike when you least expect them to. I bought a fat little notebook from a dollar store and jotted down ideas in it whenever I was stuck in a long line at the bank or riding the bus on my way home from work.
  • Set aside fifteen or twenty minutes at a time and think about your plot and characters. In point form, scribble down any ideas that come to mind. For example, since one of the leading characters in my novel was Jewish, I wrote down the word “Hanukkah”. I ended up writing a poignant new chapter in which the Jewish character was forced to acknowledge his loneliness during a Hanukkah celebration with his family.
  • If you’re writing at home, take the pressure off yourself, sit down on the couch, and just let your mind wander. Try to imagine an entire scene, filled with characters, setting, and dialogue, and let it play in your mind like a movie. Then get up and write down the scene before it fades from your memory.
  • Try to think about your main characters every day. I got into the habit of thinking about the leading characters in my novel at the same time every day (early morning and late at night). The more often I thought about my characters, the easier it was to write about them in depth.

Next time you need to expand your novel, try one (or more) of these strategies to get your idea-making machine rolling again.

Want to Read More?

Check out blogger J.R. Hall’s tips in “How to Come Up With Story Ideas” at http://www.writerstoauthors.com/how-to-come-up-with-story-ideas/

What techniques do you use to generate new ideas for a novel? Please share them.

 

Visit Kathleen Jones, The Quirky Novelist, online at https://kathleenjones.org/

or on Twitter at https://twitter.com/joneslepidas

 

 

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How Part-Time Novelists Can Avoid Distractions

By Kathleen Jones, The Quirky Novelist

I know what it’s like to be a “part-time” novelist (a novelist who has to work at an outside job to pay the bills). After working for forty (or more) hours a week, you drag yourself home only to be faced with a mountain of chores. Tired to the bone, all you want to do is to flake out on the couch and watch TV or to curl up with a good book . . . which sucks up the time and energy you need to write your own book!

So how do you avoid distractions, especially when your time and energy are so scarce? If you’re like most part-time novelists, you probably do most of your writing on weekends. A helpful strategy for avoiding distractions is to not do anything else—reading the paper, shopping, doing chores, whatever—until you have written a certain number of pages.

Work alone if you can. Seclude yourself in a quiet room and close (or lock) the door. Tell family members that you can’t be disturbed for a certain period of time.

How long should that “certain period of time” be? I recommend limiting yourself to one or two hours of focused time. Write fast and don’t leave the room until you’ve finished a specific number of pages. When I was writing my novel, I didn’t let myself leave my bedroom until I had written a certain number of pages, usually 3 to 6, sometimes 8. That might not sound like much of an output, but over the course of a year, those 3 to 6 pages added up to a 74,000-word manuscript.

Before you leave the room (and after you’ve finished writing those pages), try to plan your next writing session. I used to do this by scribbling down a brief, point-form outline of the scenes I planned to write. If you end each writing session with this extra step, then your next writing session should be (relatively) quick, efficient, and painless.

Best of all, you’ll have plenty of time left to relax with family and friends . . . or scrub the toilet!

Want to Read More?

Ethan Waldman offers some practical ideas in his post “The Key to Distraction-Free Writing”: http://goinswriter.com/distraction-free-writing/

How do you avoid distractions when you sit down to write? Please post your tips!

 

Visit Kathleen Jones, The Quirky Novelist, online at https://kathleenjones.org/ or on Twitter at https://twitter.com/joneslepid

 

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How to Write Novels When You Work Full-Time

By Kathleen Jones, The Quirky Novelist.

One of the biggest stumbling blocks for aspiring novelists is lack of time. Since it can be difficult for novelists to support themselves on their writing alone—especially unpublished novelists—most of them need to work at a full-time job just to pay the bills. That’s 35 or 40 hours gone every week, plus time spent commuting, taking care of children, doing household chores.

So how does a novelist with a full-time job find the time to write? The secret is carving out a block of time each and every week.

For most employed people, the best time to write, uninterrupted, is the weekend. When I was writing my own novel (while working at a full-time job), I tried to write every Saturday morning. Of course, life sometimes interfered, and I didn’t have the chance to write on Saturday mornings; when that happened, I rescheduled my writing session for Saturday afternoon or Sunday. The important thing was that I tried to write every (or almost every) weekend. I also tried to write in the same quiet place, alone, where I wouldn’t be distracted.

Each week, after I finished writing, I booked the next writing session in my day timer for the following Saturday. Then, after I finished writing each chapter (in long hand!), I typed and printed it out on my computer. After I left work each afternoon, I used the time spent commuting on the bus to review the printed pages for grammar, spelling, and sentence structure, and I made corrections (and reprinted the pages) when I got home.

Finally, I tried to set realistic deadlines for the various stages of creating a novel: writing an outline, doing research, completing drafts, and just about everything else. I booked each of these deadlines in my day timer so that I didn’t have an excuse to forget about them. Of course, I often had to revise these deadlines, but I was still able to complete an outline in four months, research in three months, and three drafts of the manuscript in three years.

So, it’s possible to complete a novel while working at a full-time job, but you need to commit the time (however small), space, and energy to make it happen.

Want to Read More?

Check out Ali Luke’s article, “How to Stay Sane While Building Your Writing Career Part Time,” at http://thewritelife.com/stay-sane-building-writing-career-part-time/

 If you wrote a novel while working at a full-time job, how did you make it happen? Your comments are welcome!

 

Visit Kathleen Jones, The Quirky Novelist, online at https://kathleenjones.org/

or on Twitter at https://twitter.com/joneslepidas

 

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